Sunday, June 03, 2007

Guinea-Pigs Galore

Ruby and Diamond

Ever since we lost our last guinea-pig, Squeaky 2, to death by unspecified causes, our rabbit, Speedy, has been on his own. He seemed rather depressed and lonely, as he had come to us with a guinea-pig companion. We didn't want to become inadvertant rabbit breeders, so I'd had half an ear listening out for a new guinea-pig. The friend that we'd originally got them from had had a tragedy involving a Jack Russell running amok in the small animal enclosure, pet shops seemed to be all out of guinea-pigs. A few months went by. Friends visited with their new pet, that they hadn't wanted to leave alone at home overnight, a young female rabbit! Speedy exploded from his inertia into interested action and the children came in saying "Speedy is squashing Toffee!" Any hopes that she was too young to reproduce were dismissed and they had to be kept seperately. His alertness receded after they left and he was alone once more, with only ravening dogs drooling on the other side of the wire for company, in between the children's visits.

Finally I heard that the pet shop were getting some guinea-pigs. I rang to make sure and took the children into town yesterday to look at them. There were two. A mother and a young male. The children of course loved the little one. Their mother, revealing sentimental tendencies usually well in hand around temptation to multiply the mouths to feed in our household, felt bad about leaving the mother all on her own in the pet shop. There was also a possibility she was pregnant. Fuzzy thoughts about it being nice for the children to experience baby animals clouded my judgement and we brought both home with us. Practical issues cleared the fuzziness all too quickly. Speedy was thrilled with his new companions, but showed every inclination to mate with the mother guinea-pig, regardless of species and pregnant state. The young one smelled of her so was also "squashed" intermittantly.

My hopes of them all sharing Speedy's large cage faded - I had lumbered us with the necesssity of building a new cage, possibly two to keep the male and female guinea pig apart once she has the babies. They can all share the main enclosure but we'll have to give them seperate outside time if Speedy maintains his interest in "squashing" the others. Speedy is still lonely and now frusrated as well!

I spent a while searching the internet for information on breeding guinea-pigs and on keeping rabbits and guinea-pigs together, but ended up with far too much conflicting information, plus anxiety about a, hitherto unknown to me, potentially fatal bacteria that rabbits can pass to guinea-pigs, plus the information that they have completely different body language to each other, rabbits enjoying constant grooming of each other, whereas guinea-pigs protest with vociferous squeaks. Guinea-pigs need more vitamin C than rabbits and so should eat a differently balanced diet etc etc. Ignorance was certainly bliss, as the previous Squeaky had co-existed perfectly happily with Speedy.

The children spent ages trying to find names for the new arrivals. All my food related name suggestions, such as Ginger and Fudge were rejected. Squeaky 3 was decreed to be unlucky after the short lifespan of the previous holders of the name. Eventually my son came up with Ruby and Diamond, which seemed to fit them just right.

Now we just need to build another cage and make contact with the previous owner to find out how old Ruby is and how many weeks pregnant...and maybe find a rabbit companion for Speedy - internet info mentioned that it was now common to neuter rabbits so that they could live as a pair without populating the entire neighbourhood. I don't whether that is usual here in South Africa?

Youngest also has plans to get herself a bird and some fish.............


  1. Welcome Ruby and Diamond! May you live shiny, happy lives that last much longer than that of Squeaky 2, may you avoid Jack Russells and being squashed by over-friendly rabbits. Ask Kit to feed you some of her delicious-looking naartjie sorbet - it's sure to have tons of Vitamin C in it.

  2. Love that last sentence - Youngest also has plans to get herself a bird and some fish....:)

    Congratulations on your new family members!

  3. oh dear. We lost our guinea pigs to heat exhaustion last (Aus) summer, but the hubby refuses to replace them this time (he had the pleasure of cleaning the cage).

    Your new ones look cute and well loved! They breed pretty quickly though. Good luck.

  4. Ruby and Diamond are adorable. Here's to a long and "fruitful" life! Will there be babies?

  5. They do look adorable... I can see how easily that would overcome good judgement! Good luck with the coming crop of guinea piglets and I hope the novelty of "squashing" wears off for Speedy!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!