Ask the Cavies

Ask the Cavies

Last updated: 24 Jan 99


Cavy Chronicles A Day in the Lives of Five Cavies Ask the Cavies Cavy
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Fourteenth Edition

06 Mar 99

Some Health Questions

Steve Gloyeske (steveg@one.net): Hi - My female just gave birth to three babies on 1/22/99. All are doing fine. I was wondering if I should give her anything extra to eat other than the usual while she is nursing? She's eating and drinking fine, but she's starting to look a little thin. Also, I had our male neutered 3 weeks ago, so my question is, even though he is neutered, will he still continue to try and mate with her when she comes into estrus?

Wheeker: We are not experienced with having pregnant piggies here, though we have heard that you should increase the vitamin C in her diet. Also, if she is getting a bit thin from nursing, you might try to add a bit more of the foods that she enjoys eating. As for your little boy ... yes, he will most likely continue to try to mate with her. He probably does not know he cannot make any more children.

Debbie (taztheterrible@hotmail.com): Hi, I have a female guinea named Butterscotch. Today I noticed that she was chewing an her apple like she always does. I took her out of her cage and discovered that she had no upper teeth. She is about six months old. Do guinea loose their teeth like kids do? I'm worried that it might affect her diet.

Wheeker: No, guinea pigs do not have "baby teeth" like human children do. However, they do have teeth that continually grow, so your guinea pig will probably grow her teeth back within a couple weeks. However, loosing teeth may be a symptom of a deficiency in her diet (or they may have just broken off in a fall). If you haven't been supplementing her diet with vitamin C, you should conscienciously include this in her diet daily. My favorite is parsley, but most dark green veggies are rich in vitamin C (I also like a bit of spinach, but not too much). If Butterscotch continues to lose her teeth, you may want to take her to the vet and have him do a profile on her to see if she has any deficiencies.

NNorcross@aol.com: We have a male cavie that is approximately 11 weeks old. While we are thrilled that he chooses to deficate and urine in only one corner of his cage, we are not very thrilled that he chooses this same corner to sit and sleep. This makes for a very messy little fellow. We had another guinea pig a few years ago (a female) and she did not do this. Any suggestions on how we can prevent this?

Wheeker: Well, this is certainly a touchy subject. Some piggies just decide to do this. You may try to make it so he needs to move around to get to food and water. That might encourage him to move around a bit. Also, he may be bored, so perhaps giving him things to play with (a paper roll, bells or other things hanging from cage walls, hard plastic cat toys, etc.) may get him out of that corner. Of course, that may make him decide to use the whole cage as a bathroom as well ...

Some Environmental Questions

Kerry Kastle (kkastle@worldnet.att.net): I am trying to locate a really good home for my guinea pig, Fluffy. Right now I have him in a 20 gal. low aquarium but I've read that they need to have a place to play and eat aware from their potty location. I've heard of a guinea pig crate that is about 30" long, 20" wide and 18" high with a low loft. I haven't been able to find one like anywhere. The ones that come close have wire floors. I want to expand my cavy family but don't want to until I'm sure I have the right set up. Any suggestions?

Wheeker: There are some cage makers like Martin's Cages that will make cages any dimension you'd like. We have never ordered from them, but you can contact them and ask if they make solid floors. If anyone has any other places that make large enclosures for guinea pigs, please let us know and we will publish them here.

Sue (cepete@burgoyne.com): I have been using pine shavings in my guinea pig's cages. Because of a skin irritation, my vet suggested I might try another bedding. I purchased a large bag (50 liters) of Carefresh for $18.00. This is about triple the price of what I have been paying for the pine. Is this an expensive price? Do you have a source for this product that would be less expensive. I think this bag will only last me about 21/2 weeks. Any suggestions for a more ecomomic solution?

Wheeker: That seems like a normal price for Carefresh. At times, it goes on sale, but not often enough. For that reason, we use a combination of pine and hay on top. Perhaps you might try using a thin layer of Carefresh with something on top, or mix Carefresh with aspen. If anyone else has other ideas, please let us know and we will publish them here.

Rob Kirchoff (dogheadz@webtv.net): I have a question about setting up my water bottle. How will this g pig know where the water is at and how to get it out and how will I know if it is too high

Wheeker: One thing our mama does to let newcomers know about the water is she holds it in front of the new piggie, puts it in her mouth, and gives a gentle squeeze. This lets the piggie know that there's water in the bottle. She continues to do this a couple times a day until she sees the piggie drink on her own. As for how high, the tube should be about the same height at your guinea pig's nose when she is standing normally.

Some Relationship Questions

Teresa (shadowhand@sinclair.net): Hi! I got a piggie (LolliePop) about two months ago, then another about two weeks later. (DooDah) I got DooDah because everyone told me how sociable g.pigs are. These two seem to dislike each other. They sleep at opposite ends of the cage, and sometimes show posturing behavior. (showing dominance struggles) I don't recall ever seeing them show affection for each other. If I take one out of the cage the other "wheets", but I don't know if its because she wants the other one to stay, or if she just wants out, too. Are they likely to adjust, in time, or will they always seem to dislike each other?

Wheeker: They may not dislike each other at all. If they are not really aggressive towards one another (like clacking their teeth or actually fighting), they just may not be the cuddling type. Sometimes we like to sit next to each other in our enclosure, but most of the time we each sit in different corners. Same thing happens when we get on the floor, we often like to make a piggie train and go exploring, but there are times when we like to just be on our own.

Maggie (cnd01540@mail.wvnet.edu): Could I be pregnant? My humans bought a companion for me. They thought he was a she. Well Annabel is now Elvis. He is much smaller than me. I am three years old and never been pregnant. I am afraid I may die. I am not getting any fatter, and I don't think he did anything to me because I rarely let him near me. He did keep running around smelling my butt though. I don't know what to do.My humans think my pelvic bones have fused together and I won't be able to give birth. I don't know if I am even pregnant. I need help. Am I going to have little Elvi running around?

Wheeker: You may be. You'll find out soon enough. If you are pregnant, you're going to have to tell your humans to take you to the vet. He'll be able to tell you if you need to have an operation and then you can plan on a date. However, if you were skillful enough, perhaps Elvis was not successful in his intentions.

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Thirteenth Edition

25 Jan 99

Some Health Questions

Maggie (saltnpepper@btinternet.com): I have a guinea pig who seems to have lost a little weight. She is fine in herself, eating and everything, but she is just a little skinny. What can I feed her to make her gain weight? Also, another pig has flaky skin. It is not mites, and it does not bother him, but I have tried everything to get rid of it. Can you suggest anything?

Wheeker: What does she like to eat? When I started losing weight, mama and papa started feeding me more of anything I liked. Some of my favorites are Shredded Wheat and most vegetables and a bit of apple. Mama also noticed that I ate more when I drank more so she started holding the bottle for me. I like drinking more when mama holds the bottle for me.

The flaky skin might be from low humidity or something like that, so you might try getting a humidifier. We have one in our room now but now that it is raining, it stays off most of the time. Or it could be from not getting enough good food. Make sure he is eating a good healthy diet with a quality pellet and good fresh veggies. If he starts scratching alot or losing hair, you should consider going to the vet.

David and Heidi (hdh@megalink.net): Santa just brought us a guinea pig. He seems to act fine, but we just noticed one eye is slightly discolored. It appears to be a little cloudy. There is no discharge and it seems like he can see. He is approximately 8-9 weeks old. Any ideas what might be going on?

Wheeker: You might want to have it looked at by a vet if it remains for more than a week. It could just be that he poked himself on a piece of hay and it might heal on its own. However, it could be an infection or something else, so keep an eye on it (your eye, that is).

Tmhatch@aol.com: I have two questions regarding my piggie, Olive's health. One is whether it is possible to give too many vegetables per day to her. She loves carrots and spinach and celery and always squeaks for some whenever I'm in the kitchen. The other is about the vitamin supplements you can put in their water. I read that during winter months it is a good idea to use them because veggies do not offer the same amount of vitamins as in summer months, unfortunately Olive doesn't seem to like the taste of the Oasis Vita-Drops. Is one brand superior to the others in nutrition as in taste?

Wheeker: We do not think you can give piggies too many veggies, but then, I would write that regardless of the answer since mama sometimes reads this column and I would not want her to use it as an excuse not to give me veggies. Just make sure Olive eats some of her pellets and lots of hay and you should be okay.

As for the vitamins, he may just not be used to the taste. You might try giving a really small amount at first and then increase the dosage until it's the recommended amount. Mama just told us that she is going to switch our vitamins today since she just finished the last bottle. I think it is called Poly-Vita-Sol (made for human babies). We will let you know how we like them.

Martha Lamson (WTL730@aol.com): Is it safe to have a male guinea pig, less than a year old, neutered or might he suffer from infection or abcesses due to the surgical procedure?

Wheeker: Yes, it is relatively safe to neuter a guinea pig that is older than three or four months. Of course, complications are always possible, but if you take some precautions, you can minimize them. Find a vet that is experienced with performing surgeries on guinea pigs if you do not already have a vet. Ask about his experience and success rate with guinea pigs. Ask for additional instructions to follow after surgery if he does not provide them. Keep the incision place clean and watch for any sign of infection or irritation.

Some New Owner Questions

Stephanie Houser (RSKJRAK@aol.com): We got the guinea pig for our daughter for Christmas and we were wondering how long it takes til he gets used to us and enjoys being held and petted. Right now he seems to not want anything to do with us. I don't know what to tell my daughter.

Muriel (muriel-schipper@wxs.nl): Hi, I just got a new cavy of about 12 weeks old. He's adorable but really wild. How do I tame him? Another thing is that for the past two days he's been acting real wild and when I cleaned his cage I noticed a bald spot above his eye. Also, he keeps shaking his head. Could he have earmites? How do i get rid of them?

Wheeker: Taming cavies just takes time and patience. Just keep handling him gently and talking to him quietly. It can take weeks or months before he trusts a big person like you to pet him.

As for his other problems, it sounds like he might need to go to the vet. A shaking head can be a sign of mites or an ear infection. Your vet will be able to tell you what it is.

Whiskid and Mommy Mopsy (Whiskid1@aol.com): My guinea pig had babies Sept. 5, 1998. When we seperated them, we made a mistake so now we have a pregnant guinea pig. Maple is now with her mom, aunt, and sis. She is about 4 months old. Is she too young to sucussfully give birth? She is the size of her aunt. Will the brother be lonely with no one to keep him company?

Wheeker: Maple is not too young to give birth, but her brother might be lonely if all by himself. Since Maple is going to have babies soon, you probably do not want to get a friend for him. However, you can keep his cage by the others so he can at least talk to them, even though he cannot snuggle with them.

Lauren (H_O_I@hotmail.com): Hello there, We love Maya our 4 month old guinea! From the start she sort of nibbled bit our hands but now she's more at home ,sometimes she will bite really hard. I read the other entry you answered that it's a response to something she doesn't like at that moment. With ours it's when we make a sudden movement or approach her from a certain angle (maybe she can't see us very well?) and suddenly she'll bite you in the chin or something while sitting on a shoulder. Is there anyway to train her not to do that?

Wheeker: You can try to train her, but it's most likely just a reaction to being startled. Instead of trying to get her to change her behavior, it would better to make sure she knows you're coming.

Wheet-Wheet and Coco (Budk8@aol.com): Hi! Although our "parents" are grownups with children and grandchildren of their own they are having a difficult time sexing my cage buddy and me! My name is Wheet-Wheet and my friend is Coco and we both have two teets and mom and dad think we are girls and want us to be happy and healthy together. Can you give them some clear advice on being absolutely sure? I'm about 3 months old and Coco is 4 weeks old please help the old folks with their dilema they are worried because I follow Coco around sniffing her bottom and rumbling a lot.

Wheeker: Well, Wheet-Wheet, telling your mom and dad that only girls have two teats was a great way to get another friend. All guinea pigs have them. The way mama checks to see if she's looking at a boy or girl is by gently pressing right above the anus and seeing if something pops out. If it does not, then it is most likely a girl. It becomes easier to tell when you get older (like you, but it might be a little difficult to tell on Coco).

As for the sniffing and rumbling, all guinea pigs do it, especially with a newcomer. But if you are doing it all the time you are probably a boy.

Andrea (HairBalls9@aol.com): I give my 6 week old guinea pig pine bedding. Is that bad for them?

Wheeker: Kiln dried pine is fine, and most pine pet beddings are kiln dried now. We have been on it our whole lives (well, it is under our hay). You can read more about it at the Safe Pet Bedding FAQ.

Thanks for your questions. Please keep writing. We got so many questions this month ... maybe we can beat it next month?

Cavy Chronicles A Day in the Lives of Five Cavies Ask the Cavies Cavy
Resources
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Copyright 1998, 1999 M. E. Barr.

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