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These pigs don't taste like pork
Member Name: thehonesttruth
Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus if you want to be posh about it) is a kind of rodent originating from South America, especially Ecaudor, Peru, and Bolivia. Now, I say rodent, but don't go imagining a rat or a mouse - they're much sweeter and fluffier . They don't look a lot like pigs either really, and their only similarity with pigs is that males are called Boars and females Sows. That's where the similarity ends though - you can't use guinea pigs to hunt for truffles for example, and although many indigenous South American communities regard them as a food source, I doubt they'd produce decent crackling .
In fact, I came across some research online that in some South American countries, pictures of the last supper depict Jesus and the twelve disciples eating a feast of ---- roasted Guinea Pig.
I also found a few recipes, but I'm going to assume that the credit crunch hasn't affected you so much as to cause you to eat your pets, and that you are instead interested in perhaps keeping Guinea Pigs as a pet, or already do so and want a little more information .
In the wild, Guinea pigs usually live in a community with several females to one male, together with their offspring . They also prefer to use another animals shelter or burrow rather than making the effort to dig their own . Now, while that set up may work in the wild, I don't recommend keeping several females with one male in a pet situation, and I'll explain why .
A little over two years ago, my dad decided he would quite like some guinea pigs . He went to the local petshop, purchased a run and accessories, and two guinea pigs, Megan and Maisie . Maisie was a smooth haired ginger colour, very friendly from the start, particularly when there was a chance of food about . Megan was a punk, with a great big sticky up bit of hair, and a real mix of colours .
Time went by, and my dad began to feel that maybe he should get another guinea pig to keep them company - after all, having fallen completely in love with the first two, he had taken his bed to bits and made them a massive run! So, into the mix came Molly, a chocolate brown guinea pig who would go up and nibble at anyone . What my dad didn't know, upon purchasing Molly, was that Molly wasn't as innocent as her big brown eyes would lead you to believe!
Oh no, Molly had certainly had more than her fair share of carnal knowledge. But we didn't know that . My dad panicked as she grew bigger - he thought she was eating too much, so sought advice from the vet on a good diet for guinea pigs. Still she grew .
Maybe she was taking all the food and the others were not getting enough - so he purchased another cage so he could feed her seperately . But still, she grew.
Maybe she was really ill - so he took her to the vets . Where he learned that she was pregnant.
Molly went on to have 3 babies . Pip, Squeak, and Milly . My dad really didn't know how to sex them, and they didn't seem to have any visible erections or anything, so after several sessions of looking at them and scratching his head, he decided they were all girls .
Within a few months, Megan, Maisie, Molly, and Millie all started to look a little plump. A little rounder in the bum area . A little ...pregnant . Before he knew it, there were more babies .
Which is how I come to have my own Guinea pigs, Florence and Dotty/Mary/Susie. I named one, and my daughter named the other . Except she can't decide on a name , so it changes every few minutes. Good thing I'm not expecting these guinea pigs to fetch sticks or do tricks, cause one of them is perfectly entitled to an identity crisis.
Both mine are black with ginger patches, looking as though they have been slung on by the random flicking of a paintbrush! I love them, and find them utterly adorable and incredibly easy to look after, but before you take on a guinea pig as a pet, there is stuff you should know .
They were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, but rather than seeing them as the food source they were previously considered to be, we went 'Aaaaaaw, they're so cute!' and adopted them as pets instead .
There are many different terms for different colour combinations on guinea pigs , as well as for different hair types and textures. The information can be found in plenty on the internet, and is really rather technical . I can't pretend to know it off by heart myself, so I won't include it .
Guinea pigs ideally (unless you intend to breed and welcome babies) should be kept in same sex pairs , or larger groups provided you have plenty of space and they are all same sex . They like company, and someone else to squeak at . If you do keep a mixed pair, be aware they breed like rabbits.
Speaking of Rabbits, its generally considered not the greatest idea to house them with rabbits for various reasons . Firstly, rabbits do like to stretch and kick, and have quite strong hind legs, whereas guinea pigs have pretty weak bones in general, so could sustain some injury from a rabbits kick . Also rabbits do carry some diseases which are particularly evil if a guinea pig gets them , as well as having very different dietary requirements .
Guinea Pigs can happily live outside during warmer months, although you will need to make their hutch or run secure against foxes and cats, which both like a nice nibble of guinea pig if they have a chance . If you lay your run on the grass where they can nibble, guinea pigs will very quickly strip the patch bare, and need to be either moved on, or supplied with straw bedding . You also need to make sure guinea pigs are sheltered from rain and excessive heat if kept outside, and they will need to be moved indoors during colder months .
Personally, I prefer to keep mine inside year round, but to place them outside to nibble for a couple of hours each day . They have a large cage with a solid plastic bottom and a wire top, lined with plenty of hay. I do kee them out of direct sunlight though, I have a nice little alcove in my room which keeps them nice and cool .
Guinea pigs are not particularly fond of social niceties . They will often poop in their food bowl, and scatter their food all over their cage . For this reason, you should clean their cage quickly once a day, and give it a thorough clean once a week . You should not use ordinary household cleaners as the fumes and ingredients in these may cause problems for your guinea pigs. Hot water is fine, or many pet shops sell specialised cleaning products . You should also bear in mind the you'll need somewhere to put your guinea pigs safely while you clean their home - my dad and I both use wicker baskets .
Guinea Pigs like to be handled regularly, they love the attention ...and they even make purring noises when you stroke them just right . They also squeak and pip a lot, especially when they know food is on the way - and believe me, they learn to recognise the sound of you coming up the stairs with food!
Speaking of food, guinea pigs are herbivores, and love a diet of vegetables and garden leaves . Dandelions and clover are particular guinea pig favourites, but it's also good to give them some vegetables and fruits , such as cabbage, broccoli, carrots, parsley, and cucumber . They should not be given much spinach or lettuce, as this gives them indigestion, and they shouldn't be given too much fruit, as the acidity can cause teeth problems . However, an occasional bit of apple, melon, or grape is fine, but stay away from the more acidic citrus fruits . The occasional dog biscuit is also good for grinding down their teeth.
Some people recommend adding chocolate or honeyed items into their diet - personally I don't like this, as they wouldn't come across these foods in a wild situation and are not designed to digest large amounts of sugar .
Guinea Pigs need grooming to stop their fur matting at least once a week, and will occasionally need their nails trimmed . I'm a little squeamish about cutting their nails, so I get the vet to do it every so often, which costs me about 5 quid .
Its also a good idea to give them a small amount of guinea pig food in pellet form each day, as this is usually tailored to guinea pigs specific dietary needs. I personally reccomend Wagg . And, if course, they need a clean filled water bottle each day .
They also like to play, and I suggest lengths of plastic piping as excellent tunnels for them, and these are easily obtained from any DIY store . You can use empty pringles tubes washed out, but be aware that guinea pigs will chew through these pretty fast .
The average lifespan for a well looked after guinea pig is between 5 and 8 years, so only take on on as a pet if you can give it love and attention for that long . They do need to be handled, groomed, and cleaned out regularly.
I haven't covered breeding in this review - I have no experience as a breeder, but I'm sure the information is readily available through a quick google search.
Overall, I recommend guinea pigs as pets - they are incredibly friendly when well handled, easy to feed, take very little energy , and are cute fluffy and lovely!
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