Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Introducing my family - part 1

Welcome back!

Today I thought I'd introduce you to our family of pets and how they found their way into our life. In future posts I'll take you back to look at previous members, all of whom hold special places in our hearts, but let's start here...

Guinea Pigs

We currently have ten pets in our life, 4 guinea pigs, 3 hamsters and 3 hens. Lets start with the piggies...

family pets guinea pig indoor hutchThe girls live in two hutches which have been wonderfully modified by Mr PB to form a 'library' of piggies in our kitchen.

Tilly and Phoebe live in the upstairs half, and Molly and Emmeline in the downstairs.

Each hutch has 3 full levels, and a half level which we call the 'hay lofts'. Ramps access each level, and the girls have places to eat, sleep, stretch and run around.

We'll talk about the hutches properly another time, today is about the piggies themselves.

They all get fed Burgess Excel Tasty Nuggets with Mint, daily, with the majority of their diet being good quality hay, plus a range of vegetables, grass and occasionally fruit. I don't give them supplements, you shouldn't need to with a good balanced diet, and as you can see from the photo (right) they have two bottles of water per pair of piggies. With so many levels, it's important they can find water whenever they need it.

Part 1 - Phoebe and Tilly

family pets guinea pig
family pet guinea pig
Phoebe and Tilly came to us in the summer of 2015. We had just lost one of our previous pair of girls to sarcoma, a particularly invasive type of cancer. That left behind Poppy, who was very down and struggling with health issues herself.

We wanted to try to bond Poppy with a pair of baby guinea pigs to encourage her to enjoy her life again, and so that when she eventually passed away, we would not be left with another single piggie that needed to be bonded with a new friend.

Time was of the essence, and we went to our local Pets at Home to see if they had any youngsters available. We checked the Adoption section first, but there were only rabbits, hamsters and gerbils looking for new homes, so we moved on to the 'new' pet section with fingers crossed and holding our breath.

The boys' half of the enclosure had lots of baby guinea pigs in a multitude of different colours, and a couple of different age groups all in together.

In the girls' half I could only see one baby, which not ideal. She was mostly white with one brown ear and a brown patch coming down over one eye. Her other eye was quite quite blue! As we talked to her, she darted into a nearby pile of hay, out of which sprang a much smaller tri-coloured tortoiseshell baby! Judging by the size difference, they were probably from different litters, but were already used to living together. Two baby girls for Poppy!! Success!!

With MrPB standing guard over them, I went and found an assistant, and after answering lots of questions about our set-up, guinea pig knowledge etc, these two little bundles of fluff came home with us.

We moved the babies into a smallish indoor run on the kitchen floor, with lots of hay, hiding places, water, dried food and some vegetables. After letting them settle in for a couple of days, getting used to the sounds and smells of their new environment, we divided the run in half and put Poppy on the other side of the barrier.

family pets guinea pig bonding session introductions
Poppy and Tilly
Poppy was unsure of the new girls initially, but as she had got older she became a very gentle girl, and quickly we were able to start removing the barrier, allowing them to be in together. Things were going so well, but then poor Poppy took a turn for the worse. We took her took the vets and agreed that the time had come to put her to sleep. It was so sad, and Phoebe and Tilly were left slightly confused.

Now they are approximately 18 months old, both are very well with real personalities, Phoebe thinks she should be in charge but Tilly likes the quiet life and tends to ignore her. In frustration Phoebe starts plays both sides of the argument, being grumpy and rumble strutting one moment, whimpery and oppressed the next. She absolutely ADORES Mr PB! She will fall asleep on his lap, let him fuss her in the cage, speak to him, but merely tolerate me, she's such a daddy's girl! Little Tilly is adorable with both of us, showering me with piggy kisses on my nose, but she seems to have a teeny tiny bladder, as she can only manage to be out for a cuddle for about five minutes before she's asking to go back home again. They are a very special five minutes though.

They both love going out on the grass for a run around, and are very effective lawn mowers. Indoors they interact with us constantly. Phoebe is very feisty and shouts loudly when she thinks it's time for her tea, or she hears the fridge door open, and both have learnt that when we make a double 'kissing' sound or hold our hands above our head saying 'Doodoo!' (like exclaiming 'ta-dah') they have to beg at their bars for a treat (vegetable or forage, not shop-bought), this trick is also known as 'up-pig'. Phoebe like to taste all the fresh food before Tilly gets a look-in, she nibbles all the best bits off and then moves onto the next piece. It's a constant game of trying to out-wit her so Tilly can have something that hasn't been pre-chewed!!

Next time...Molly and Emmeline

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