Saturday, April 13, 2013

(10 Things You May Not Know About Getting A Pet Guinea Pig)

I've been wanting to make this post ever since some resent very upsetting events took place. Anyone that knows me well knows I have guinea pigs and I love them. They also may know that very soon I won't have guinea pigs and it makes me sad. (:-() This post is an honor of my guinea pig friends that I will have to say good bye to very soon.

*You Most Likely Are Going To Need To Get Two Or More! 
I didn't know all that much about guinea pigs when I first got Sugar from my friend, though soon after I started doing a lot of research and I learned that the one thing that would make Sugar happiest wasn't  me, but a friend. I knew as soon as I could I would get Sugar a (female) friend and then she could be even happier! Though when I learned that I did, and even now, seem to have difficulty sexing guinea pigs. (I have tried my best from the very beginning, but I failed more than once and for that I'm sorry) After I moved to Texas we bought Spice from a pet store. I thought Spice was a girl (and I did check) and the people that worked at the pet shop assured me Spice was a girl. To make a long and painful story short, Spice was not a girl. (More on my story later in this post, keep reading!)

* They Need A Lot Of Space!
People recommend guinea pigs as apartment pets, but I wouldn't. At home Sugar's cage took up most of my room and I still felt like she needed a little more space. I kept hamsters when I was really little, so when I got baby Sugar I used my left over things from my hamsters. That worked for a while until she grew up(and she did so fast)! I fashioned a guinea pig play pen into a cage to be cost effective (the pen was a little less than 10 dollars). When I moved to Texas the room was bigger so I had space and Sugar had the same amount of space she did before. That was when we decided she was lonely and it was time to get Spice (see above point). That worked out great fine, though they could of used more space we simply didn't have it. I was happy Sugar had a friend.

*It Is Very Very Easy For One To Get Pregnant!!!
When I came back from a visit to see my family in Indiana, Sugar was huge. We thought she was just getting fat, because she did seem to hog the food and water a little. We were worried about Spice starving and her becoming obese, not that she was pregnant (after all a girl can't get another girl pregnant right?). Wrong! Spice was a boy. I didn't realize how bad this situation would become at first. Sugar had her cute little babies and everyone loved them and we separated them form Spice and put Spice in the  only other cage we had. Everything was pretty much fine for a while. I researched what I needed to do and thought I accurately learned how to sex guinea pigs (after spending hours only researching that very topic). It was very hard to hold the little ones still, but we truly thought this time we would avoid all future accidents! Did you know a guinea pig can get pregnant again right after giving birth and a pregnancy is always very dangerous for the female, ESPECIALLY back to back pregnancies like that. Also that the boys are fertile and ready to mate after 3 weeks and they need to be separated promptly form their mother and sisters. That is why I wanted to make sure I put Sugar with a girl, but things didn't work out that way, sadly.

*Bedding and Food Can Be Very Expensive (Especially in the Cases of Accidental Pregnancies.)
Suddenly I had 6 furry mouths to feed and I had to change the bedding and clean the cage almost every single day. It is about 20 dollars to refill on food and bedding at our local stores and they went through all of it in a few days.

*Guinea Pigs Are Not Just Bigger Versions Of Hamsters!
Guinea pigs are more like bunnies, but more defenseless. They are fragile little creatures that can't run in a ball or wheel no matter the size, because it will hurt their spine. People market things that can hurt guinea pigs TO guinea pigs! I bought things for Sugar at PetSmart when I was there and I ended up with quite a lot I couldn't and never have used. Guinea pig harnesses shouldn't be used they will hurt the guinea pig's delicate spine! I bought one, looked it up, and sure enough I never used it. They are much higher maintenance pets than hamsters. Guinea pigs need their nails trimmed regular and they need something to chew so their teeth don't become over grown. Also guinea pigs would not survive if let free outside!

*Guinea Pig's Bodies CANNOT Make Vitamin C!
They need to be given fairly expensive vitamin supplements and regular veggies high in vitamin C so they don't develop scurry! My supplement bought at PetSmart wasn't doing the job apparently because Sugar developed Scurvy a while ago (I made a post about it). I was so scared when Sugar became ill with scurvy, it was so terrifying! I gave her all my time every single day, she couldn't move her back legs and I fed her extra extra veggies filled with vitamin C (example, bell peppers). I did everything I could think of and searched on the internet everyday for a solution. Then Sugar got better and I was so so happy. That horrible experience is one I won't ever forget!

*Introducing Guinea Pigs Can Be A BLOODBATH!
 When one of our guinea pigs began escaping the floor cage he was moved to another cage, he was already getting along fine with the two other boys since they were 3 weeks old. The two times we tried to reintroduce them when the boys moved to another cage, one of the babies viciously attacked the adult! The first time he bled and had a seizure and it was terrifying. We thought they just weren't reintroduced well enough so later we tried again (we didn't want Spice to have to be caged alone). This time it happened again, but Mckinley acted quick and saved Spice, but not himself. He now has a huge gash on his finger where Pepper latched on and wouldn't let go. Introducing guinea pigs can be very dangerous!

*Guinea Pigs Are Very Hard To Find A Home For!
 I was thrilled when I first got my guinea pig, I had no idea they were difficult to find homes for, but they are. If your guinea pig has accidental babies you can't keep you will learn this quickly. Shelters are usually full and children that want one have parents that don't. Though people always want a puppy, it seems guinea pigs are quite harder to place. I have been looking for homes for my baby guinea pigs with little luck. I have had more homes bail on me than come through.

*Sexing Guinea Pigs Is Hard!
 At least it is for me apparently! I thought I knew without any doubt what sex the babies were when a couple of days ago the one family that gave homes to two of our babies called. They were given one girl and one boy and the girl was pregnant. I was completely crushed and still am. I was wrong again and who knows what my baby "boys" that have been living together are now!

*Just Don't Buy Guinea Pigs From Pet Stores!
 That is what started all of this, buying a guinea pig from people that didn't know what they were doing. I know you see the guinea pig in that small cage with 3 other guinea pigs and you want to help it, but pet stores don't know the sex of their guinea pigs! That means they house girls with boys and more than likely all the girls are already pregnant and will cause you the same problems. I have also heard awful stories about pet store guinea pigs dying a few days to a week after they were purchased. Once you have really thought through adopting a guinea pig based on these and countless other factors, please go to a knowledgeable guinea pig resque. If you life in my area (DFW metroplex or surrounding areas), please look here they take wonderful care of their pets and even have a waiting list of pets to be admitted. They were so nice and helpful to me over email when I told them of my difficult situation.

If your curious of my whole situation just read on. I thought I had the babies separated correctly and all I had to do was find them homes and fix either Sugar or Spice and everything would be fine. One day Mckinley was supposed to be watching the guinea pigs (I had few decent options for caging and I was out cleaning the cages, three at the moment.) When I returned I was horrified to find Mckinley asleep and Spice in the cage with Sugar! It was a horrifying sight and it was then I was told that the guinea pigs needed to go. We could not handle or afford more babies. Since then I have been trying to find a good home for all of my guinea pigs with little luck. That's when I found out my sexing of the babies wasn't entirely correct, but I truly thought it was. Sugar was already in with a boy I thought was a girl for a very long time. I have no idea at the moment how many other gender mistakes there had been. We can't house the guinea pigs we have already, we simply don't have the space. So I will have to say goodbye to my beloved pets and that is not something I want to do. I have lost so much sleep over this and it has consumed my days. Because of all the mistakes that have taken place recently I am loosing my friends and I will certainly feel lost. This isn't something I want to do, but they need to be placed in more capable hands. Guinea pigs are far more high maintenance than you may think. This has become a nightmare for us. I am not a bad pet owner, I tried my best and I loved my guinea pigs so much. I will really miss them, but we can't afford more disasters and if the cycle of babies keeps occurring there will be. I am very sad about this so you will have to excuse my emotional moments within this post. I just hope I can help anyone reading this to know if they are really ready for a guinea pig! What happened to me can happen to anyone!

You may be ready for a pet or need something to love, but certain pets will be for you and certain pets will not and research is the key!

Before you get a guinea pig ask yourself a few questions, 'Do you have space?' 'Are you committed to them for their 5 to 7 year life span' 'Do you really want a caged pet?' 'How will you get yours?' 'Can you afford it?'

Guinea pigs can be more effort and work than a pet dog, in many cases a cat or a dog is more the pet you may be looking for. Make sure you do not get a guinea pig just because you couldn't have a cat or dog where you live, unless you really want one and do the research involved.

You may have been in my situation and understand, but what I would like to do is prevent at least one person from finding themselves in my difficult situation!

There I did it, this post was in honor of my guinea pigs, I don't want any other guinea pigs or owners to go through this.

Sugar was my little girl
She rode with me across the country
I nursed her when she was sick
Now she's going away
and I'm the one who feels sick
I just wish she could be here to nurse me back to happiness too <3 :-(

I believe I have found a home for her and I just home she will be safe, loved, and happy there for all of her days.

I'll miss you Sugar!! I'll be back with more posts when this is all straightened out and I can smile again.

See you then. <3 :'(

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