My Adulthood Guinea Pigs

I knew I wanted to get a guinea pig once I got into my first apartment in 2018. I started doing research, making a list of all of the things I would need, and educated myself on basic care knowledge that I didn’t know from my childhood guinea pig experiences. I moved into my apartment in early April and had purchased a guinea pig cage a few weeks prior. I then slowly started gathering hay, pellets, vitamin C supplements, treats, toys, and other essentials. I presented my capstone presentation on April 30th then immediately left to adopt a guinea pig. During this time (and as I write this), we were in quarantine. People in my city were starting to get stir crazy and were resorting to adopting small pets to keep them company. Guinea pigs were sold out for the most part but I tracked down two nearby. I drove with my fiance and my roommate there and instantly saw a little female ginger and asked to see her. She was placed in my arms and she was incredibly soft and I said “yep, this is it.”

Mocha outside of her cage the first day we adopted her.

She was in the cardboard pet carrier for a total of 2 minutes before I took her out. We got her some spinach and bought duck cloth from Joann’s as a temporary cage base since my actual base hadn’t come in the mail yet. She climbed onto my shoulder like a parrot and sat there for the entirety of the ride home. We named her Mocha on account of her coloring. She wasn’t an Abyssinian or an American Short Hair and it took about a week to figure out that she is a Cuy. Cuy’s are known to be one of the top guinea pigs that are returned to pet stores because of how difficult it is to tame them, which we found out first hand. Cuy’s are also considered a delicacy in South America, which makes me a little sick to my stomach. Mocha hid the entire first week of her living with us and required the cage to be covered with a blanket in order to eat or drink.

We tried to get her on a routine. I cleaned her cage when I first woke up and treated her to fresh veggies (which she refused to take from my hand and refused to eat if she knew I was watching). I would try and put her in a little play pen to run around and have “floor time,” which she hated. I would take her out and rub her for 15 minutes before bedtime. Nothing seemed to work and she didn’t really improve. It was so sad to see her act this way, even though it was a common theme for her breed, and we decided she needed a buddy.

Linda and Mocha in their cage.

I searched every store in the area and no one had a single guinea pig due to the pandemic. I was starting to worry about her well being when a friend of mine came forward with a proposition. He had three guinea pigs, two boys and a girl. The boys would fight the girl to a point where they had to be separated just so she could eat. He asked if I would be interesting in taking the girl, named Linda, so that she would have a better quality of life away from the boys, he wouldn’t have to buy a separate cage and eventually another female guinea pig so she wasn’t lonely, and so Mocha could have a friend. I agreed and he drove her down to us on May 10th.

Linda is an American Short Hair and is double the size of Mocha. Mocha spent most of the first day hiding from Linda and letting out shrill squeaks if Linda came near her just because she was terrified of everything, even her own shadow. Something I’ll get more into on this post is that female guinea pigs have to fight it out when they’re starting the bonding process, which was extremely difficult to watch. Luckily, they got through it for the most part and can now live safely together. Mocha still lets out a screech when Linda wants to smell her bum but Mocha also screams regularly.

Considering Linda had lived with two boys for nearly a year now, we do have some concerns that she may be pregnant as she’s constantly eating and is absolutely massive. We don’t really know what we would do if she was, but that’s not something we worry about too much since it isn’t confirmed. We’ve included Linda on the now typical routine of small veggies in the mornings and cuddles at night. The two girls have very distinct personalities that are really funny to learn as the time goes on.

Mocha is a little baby princess. She’s actually started to love nightly cuddles sessions and gets the zoomies for cilantro. She doesn’t like abrupt noises or movements at all and will absolutely scream about it. She loves snuggling in her very fluffy bumble bee bed and chewing on her favorite rice flour toy. Thanks to Linda forcing her out of her shell, she doesn’t need the cage to be covered in order to eat and has finally learned it’s safe to take food from my hand. She hates baths and hates anything, especially Linda, touching her bum. I use a fleece bedding in their cage that has a built in pocket for burrowing. That pocket is Mocha’s safe space and would probably exist in there until she dies of old age if it was possible. She also adores kids and is a complete ham for kids.

Linda and Mocha on their first day together.

Linda, my fiance and I joke, is like a middle aged mom of three that lives in an upper middle class suburb and regularly attends PTO meetings. She’s huge and would eat herself sick if possible. She’s quite heavy and has drank more water in the few short days we’ve had than I think I’ve drank water in the past 5 months. She also hates the action of being picked up. She likes cuddles and rubs but having a hand go under her stomach freaks her out. She uses her back foot to push said hand away from her and scuttles into her plastic igloo. She’s a little food aggressive right now as she’s had to fight two male guinea pigs for food for almost a year so it’ll take her a little while to realize that she can have all of the food she wants with no issue.

Given Linda’s food aggression and Mocha’s naturally timid nature, we have two sides of the cage dedicated to food and even two water bottles. In the past 24 hours, the girls have gotten better at eating from the same food and drinking from the same water but the second section of food and water is still available if needed. However, they’ve made great strides from where they started and it’s only been three days. Mocha squeals a lot less about Linda being in her space or touching her. Linda has gotten Mocha to become more brave about eating when uncovered. Mocha still get a little freaked out when Linda touches her but I have caught them snuggling on occasion. We’ve had guinea pigs for less than a month and we’ve been so consumed by them that it’s a little crazy to believe the improvements have happened in such a short amount of time. I look forward to what the future holds for my girls as my love for them grows by the second.

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