I walked into my local PetCo on October 3rd, 2020, at 5:03 am to pick up some hay and treats for my babies. It’s a common thing for me to look at the guinea pigs they have for sale just to appreciate how cute they are. However, every time I look at them, I think, “They’re cute, but they aren’t my pigs.” Today was different. I had my hay, had my treats, ready to leave when I looked at the pigs for sale. There was one hiding in a little plastic house. I had difficulty seeing it and stared at it, praying for it to come out, for 20 straight minutes. From what I could see, it looked like an Abyssinian guinea pig. Abyssinian guinea pigs were my favorite breed and I could already feel myself wanting to adopt it. Finally, the little furball emerged from his plastic green house and I started to cry.
No, it was not the Abyssinian of my dreams, but it was better than I had ever imagined. He had the face of an Abyssinian but the body of a Peruvian. I was enamored and I sprinted to the closest associate and asked to see him. With Covid-19, I wasn’t allowed to touch him unless I adopted him but seeing him out of the cage melted me to my core. I knew it was spur of the moment but my plan was to give Sugar Bear a friend since he was going stir crazy with loneliness. I had a cage for the little one to quarantine in and told the associate I would take him. I walked out with hay, treats, and a new baby. I instantly took him out of his little cardboard box and sobbed in my truck holding him. My roommates thought I was insane when I got home. Adopting him was the best decision I had ever made.
He was, and still is, incredibly soft. He was about 5 weeks old when I adopted him and he still has the cutest little baby face and mohawk. He was quiet, gentle, and calm the first month we had him. I also called my fiancé when he was on his way home. I said, “I love you, don’t kill me, but we have a 6th guinea pig.” He was originally frustrated but then he held the baby and understood. We struggled with a name but then a ton of friends said “Appa! From Avatar: The Last Airbender!” It stuck and it worked. I also did research and learned that his breed is called a Sheba. He requires monthly haircuts and a lot of upkeep to keep tangles out.
He was a very shy little guy. He was hesitant to try new veggies and treats. He hid a lot and wasn’t keen on being outside of his small cage. Just shy of 2 weeks later, I introduced him to Sugar Bear.
This was my first time bonding boys. Boys are notorious for being difficult to bond, but these two did great. I introduced them in a neutral space outside on my balcony. There was some bickering from establishing a hierarchy but they calmed down within 15 minutes. I then deep cleaned Sugar Bears cage and placed them both inside. They haven’t had any real serious issues since their bonding. One thing to remember when bonding any pigs is to look at the sizes, ages, and personalities. Sugar Bear is boisterous and energetic. Appa was calm and shy. Sugar Bear was also nearly a year older than Appa, so that helped a lot. Sugar Bear is also still much bigger than Appa.
The tell tale sign to see if boys have bonded is if they can eat from the same piece of food together. I offered them a bell pepper and they chewed on the same slice together. To solidify the bond, I bathed them together. Bathing can be stressful, and the two of them being the same stressful situation can actually strengthen their bond. Sugar Bear is as obsessed with Appa as I am. He loves to follow him around and purr by him and wants to do everything he does. They’re a great match. Having a buddy actually changed Sugar Bear completely. He used to be aggressive and we weren’t able to pet him or hold him. Now, he loves to be held and kissed and purrs when pet. Appa became less shy and his personality really started to shine. They truly compliment each other.