This is my "pet blog". It's mostly for my notes, but if you find something useful or entertaining, well, good!
Updated the Guinea Pigs checklist.
I added Bedding info to the Guinea Pigs page. I also fixed up some of the older "bloggy" news items, converting them to [mostly] present tense for consistency.
I created a forum to accompany these pet-related pages. I did this so that I could have somewhere to discuss places to get the best Carefresh prices.
NOTE: The 2006 entries are in chronological order (rather than reverse chronological). They have a narrative flow, and are intended to be read in order.
We got our first pet, a guinea pig, today. His name is Donovan. He fits in the palm of my hand. He's really cute, but skittish.
Donovan died. Just kidding. (ha ha ha ha ha)
I tried hand-feeding him lettuce and he didn't eat any of it. Good thing, because I later found out that you're not supposed to feed guinea pigs (iceberg) lettuce because it gives them diarrhea.
I finally "caught" Donovan eating. I hadn't seen him eating before. It was exciting to see him eat.
Do parents get excited when their babies eat? I always thought those sorts of "accomplishments" were boring. Your baby crawled two feet? Whoop-dee-doo. I can run a marathon. But you know, maybe if everyone becomes a parent (or guinea pig owner), they'll start to at least understand why other "parents" get so excited.
Today we finally got Donovan to drink from his water bottle. We did it by pushing it against his mouth. He was very thirsty. He now knows how to drink!
We are so happy. Soon we'll be putting up his refrigerator art.
We've been doing lots of research. We are beginning to think that Donovan needs (a) a bigger cage and (b) a companion. I'm hesistant to buy another guinea pig, since Donovan is already consuming so much of our time/attention. (yes, the novelty of seeing him drink had worn off.)
On a semi-impulse, I decided to buy a cage after work. It was heart-breaking to see little Donovan hiding in his tiny cage all by himself all day. A bigger cage would at least let us add more toys and hiding spots for him. It's also decrease the poop density and let him get more exercise.
I called some pet shops. While talking to them about our critter and possible caging options, I decided to go ahead and buy another guinea pig too.
I figured that the best time to introduct two [male] guinea pigs is when they are: (a) young and (b) in an environment that is new to both of them. Getting another guinea pig ASAP and moving them both to a new cage would minimize the chances of territorial aggression.
We tried a couple of pet stores, looking for "perfect" guinea pigs and large cages. I only found one guinea pig for sale, and it was much bigger than Donovan, so I decided to skip it. I couldn't find any good cages, so I decided to try the place we had gotten Donovan.
We were lucky. There was a guinea pig for sale. It was Donovan's old cage-mate, and possibly a brother.
It wasn't as cute as Donovan. It was bigger, less fluffy, and had a more pointed nose that made it look like a rat. (For all we know about guinea pigs, it might actually be a rat). It was also very fidgety. It hated getting picked up, and wiggled and clawed. Hmmm.
But I was determined. I wanted a second guinea pig, and this one seemed like the best match for Donovan, even though we might not like it as much. It already "knew" Donovan, and was only a little older/bigger. And it was available.
So we got it. And another cage. A big cage.
That night, I connected the two cages. When everything was "perfect", we put them in together and watched to see if they'd kill each other. It felt a little like the Colliseum.
So what did they do? They squirmed around each other making "cooing" noises. They kept sniffing each other's butts and crawling past/over each other. A couple times it looked like they were nipping. Most of the time it was two cooing, intertwining fur balls. It was hard to tell what was going on.
Well, if this was "fighting" it was pretty tame compared to what I've seen my parents' dogs do to each other. I figured it'd take them forever to do any damage. So I went upstairs to go make a ramp to connect their two cages.
A couple minutes later, G came running upstairs, in distress. "He's biting Donovan!" she cried. "He's biting Donovan!"
I hurried downstairs to see the carnage. Hmmm. They were doing the same thing as before. Just rubbing and sniffing and chasing and twining. Well, I didn't see any blood, and they didn't seem to be "going for the jugular".
So we watched them for a bit. Nothing changed, really. Since there wasn't any "escalation", I decide to just let them get their dominance stuff sorted out. So I went back to ramp-making.
I finally got a rough ramp made out of cardboard. I looked too slick for them to use, but I was tired, and wanted to go to bed. So we tried to hand-feed the new one and teach him to drink water. He was much harder to control than Donovan. It wasn't until 10 that we finally got him to nibble on a couple veggies and drink some water.
G was still worried that they'd attack each other during the night. She wanted me to put them into separate cages. I thought it was unwise to separate them, since they might becomes territorial over whatever cage was "theirs" for the night.
We ended up compromising: I put them in separate cages, but gave them the ramp that connected the two cages. I figured that since the ramp was hard to use, they had to really want to be near the other one (for good or evil) in order to cross it.
We went to bed.
We woke up to a sad sight. There was blood all over the cage where we had put Donovan. The big guinea pig had scratched or bitten one of Donovan's eyes out. We found the eye in the water bowl. It was so gross. Both of Donovan's hind legs were chewed off too. But he was still alive.
Oops, did I write that? Sorry, April 1 is just a couple days away. Okay, I'll be serious now. :) Rewind. Play "alternate ending".
Actually, G came running into the room saying "they're sleeping together!" The big one had crawled over the ramp to Donovan's cage. G found them curled up in the cardboard tube together.
At first, I was skeptical. I thought that maybe the big one had gotten over the ramp to Donovan's cage but couldn't get back. And then they fought for the single hiding spot in that cage, which was the cardboard tube. And fought until they got tired. And fell asleep, still mad at each other, still trying to "claim" that tube.
Well, my theory was [probably] wrong. Later that day, while I was taking a lunch break, I found them laying side-by-side in one of the soft "tunnels" in the big cage. There were plenty of hiding spots, but they chose to lay together.
They seemed fine. They'd coo when walking near each other, but they didn't chase eachother anymore. They were both eating and drinking.
In the evening, we witnessed them cooing to each other. It was definitely communication. One would start cooing and the other would answer. They would move towards each other, "touch base" (at which point the cooing lowered in pitch), and then hang out together. They really seemed to enjoy being together.
We put them to sleep with no fears of them getting along. Our main worry now is nutrition. They're not eating their veggies! They're also not drinking much water.
Good news: we finally picked a name for the big guinea pig: Coffee. He's big and black, but is more sensitive than he looks (like the "Coffey" character in The Green Mile). He also acts like he drinks too much coffee: he's much more nervous than Donovan and even peed on me tonight! It's nice to finally have a name for him.
Today I started my pets site. I did it for the same reason I created the travel site: I didn't want to have to email my notes to people. We're trying to define schedules and diets for the guinea pigs, so I figured I might as well do it on a web page.
How are they? Mostly, the same as yesterday. They like to huddle together, especially when I'm disturbing them.
Today after I put them down from picking them up, they acted hyper. They chased each other, making low cooing sounds. I thought I saw some teeth chattering, but it didn't last long. I also may have seen some scent marking (butt dragging), but I'm not sure.
Coffee also "porcorned" a bit (twitched spastically, jumping a little into the air). Supposedly, porcorning is a sign of happiness. But they chased each other before and after the "porcorning". Hmm. I wish I understood guinea pig behavior better!
Well, at least most of the time they're calm. I can understand that bit.