Meet the Pigs! & Our Piggy Story

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These little gals have been my best kept secret for a while now. Sometime in October, Kyle and I became guinea pig owners. I have been waiting for months to finally post about them online. I am happy to introduce my little cavy herd! 

This journey basically started out because I wanted a rat. I know, I can feel your judgement. A rat? Yes, a rat. Being a psychology student, I just wanted a rat named Zimbardo in my life. I went out are started looking into rats and rat care and along the way I met this little handsome Abyssinian and fell in love. I asked the lady at the store if I could hold him and he just puddled into my arms with purrs. I was sold. However, I couldn't just walk out with him without asking Kyle, who was in a 3 hour class at the time, and without any clue how to care for him. I placed him back in the cage with a kiss and told him I'd be back. I dragged Kyle to the same store the next day and he was, of course, sold but his friends were still there. Kyle warmed up to the idea of having a guinea pig and within the week, we started looking for a furry friend. 

We started out with one, my princess Belle, She was sweet and lovely and had a bit of sass in her. I loved her personality and Kyle picked her out. We quickly learned that she needed a friend when we brought her home or else she wasn't going to be happy, no matter how much we loved her. Within a couple of days, we did a hunt for the perfect companion, Dixie.  Dixie and Belle hit it off right away and were instant friends. We did not have any fighting between them. Belle basically told Dixie that she was the top pig in their herd of two and Dixie just went with it without a care. 

Princess Belle! When I hold my hands out, she likes to stand up and put her paws up on them. She's such a cutie! She also likes neck and chin rubs and running around with Dixie.

Dixie is our most social piggie. She likes running in circles for 10 minutes straight and her favorite snacks are corn and cilantro. She has crumbs all of her face int his picture, haha!

Now how did we end up with four? Well, I'll tell you. Kyle loved our two babies so much that he had to have a third... and a fourth. Our third, Roux, as well as our fourth, Sophie, are what I call my "store rescues." I found out with some research that apparently there are guinea pig rescue shelters (and the one near us does not ever have any guinea pigs, which is great that there doesn't seem to be any who need a home but sad because I would have rescued them and loved them). I also found out that a lot of the big chain stores that sell guinea pigs are getting their babies from breeding mills and that these stores do NOT understand guinea pig care at all. I'll admit, it was a learning process for me, but putting 8 pigs in an aquarium? You've got to be kidding me.... but anyways! We were buy some of their hay at these big stores and always check on the guinea pigs to see how they were doing. 

Roux was the first one we "store rescued." Something about her seemed so sweet... but too sweet. She wasn't quite as active as the rest and she appeared rather docile. My intuition knew something wasn't right, but she was ADORABLE and Kyle fell in love with her instantly. He held her and it was all over. He purchased her right away and my gut told me to get her to a vet right away. We brought her home and unfortunately, we were snowed in that night. With the next couple of days of snow, I started to notice that her fur was thinning out on her nose... My intuition was right. She started showing signs of ring worm on her nose and ear rapidly. We gave Roux her own space to play in, sadly alone, and got her to a vet as soon as we could and had a ring worm culture done. Fortunately, it wasn't ring worm but it was definitely fungal and our vet was the bomb at treating the fungal infection topically and orally. Her fur took about a month to grow back and her white stripe on her nose wasn't the same again.

This is Roux during her treatment phase and hair regrowing. By this point, she was already becoming very active and eating like she had been starving. I wanted to show a picture of the patch of fur missing so if anyone else sees this and has a piggy fur baby who seems to be losing fur in this spot.... Please, go to a vet! 

And then there was Sophie <3   Sophie was like Roux in that she was a "store rescue." We joked about getting a fourth pig, and ultimately a bigger cage, for a few weeks. We knew that I was going to build a 13+ square foot cage for the fur babies, but we were just hinting at the idea of getting a fourth pig. It was really up to whether we had the room for all four of them to be happy together. Well, we were once again at the pet store looking at hidey huts and willow balls for them to play with and I noticed something really odd about this one guinea pig. She looked like she was eating hay out of one of those hay ball things you see in stores, but I couldn't see her head... Where did her face go?! Of course, I immediately started calling for a store assistant because the poor thing had her head stuck in between the wires! I was so angry. I could see her trying to push her head out of the ball with her feet on the sides of it. The person came for help and was just like "Oh, she always does that. She's fine. She can get out if she wants to."  I basically told them to bug off and give me the baby. She was barely 10 weeks old. Kyle bought her right away and we went home to design our new cage for the herd.  As soon as we got home, we started to notice her sneezing a lot. The next morning, her little nose was filled with green snot. Ew!  We brought her to the vet and got her treated for a upper respiratory infection. So glad we caught it right away and saved her from that store. With her being crammed in the aquarium with other pigs, I bet her URI would have went unnoticed and she may have died. Today, she is feeling much better and has just finished her two weeks of antibiotics, which she loved more than treats haha!

Sophie is a sweet little baby with a crested head. She likes cuddles and nibbling on everything.
Her favorite nap-time buddy is Belle.

There ya'll go! My best kept secret. I hope to write some more posts about what I have learned about guinea pig care, especially with understanding signs of illness and baby-proofing cages and toys. Now they have a 14.5 square foot cage with a kitchen area and the coolest fleece patterns and a herd of happy, happy pigs who popcorn and wheek when I come home from school. I couldn't ask for a better group of little fur babies.