Saturday, March 12, 2011

Introducing Lola

Hiya, humans! I'm Lola, the dominant pig in the cage. You see, when multiple guinea pigs live in a pen together, one of us has to be crowned top pig. We determine this ourselves within just a few days of living together. When I first entered the cage, I met two other female pigs (or "sows"). I went up to one of them and sniffed her face, as if to say, "Hi! I'm Lola!" But she ended up biting me, and now I have a small hole in my ear! Not cool. The pig that bit me, Annie, has since passed away from kidney stones, but I'll never forget her. How could I, with my pierced ear?

I'm also an American Short-Haired, the most common breed of guinea pig. I'm what you probably think of when you imagine a guinea pig, with shiny, straight, short hair. My cage mate, Buffy, is a texel, a rarer breed with curly, long hair. I think she looks sort of like a mop. Or a toupee. But enough about her for now. I'm the one you want to hear about, because I'm the dominant one and I know best about what we're all about! Here is a picture of me:

My favorite things include: carrots, red bell peppers, picking on Buffy (so she knows who's boss), wheeking at all hours of the day and night, and my nightly dose of vitamin C.

Guinea pigs are one of the few animals that need supplemental vitamin C. I get 4 units of liquid vitamin C per night in a little plastic syringe. It is delicious, and it's vital for me and Buffy.

And even though I enjoy teasing Buffy, there are some types of teasing that aren't good for guinea pigs to engage in. If you see one of your guinea pigs bite another pig hard enough to draw blood, of if the teasing seems to go on continuously, or if it basically looks like one pig is mauling the other, you need to separate them before one pig could get seriously hurt. Occasional chasing, butt sniffing, hair biting, or chasing is okay and is healthy because it helps us determine our places in the hierarchy.

In the wild, guinea pigs form herds, so it's important for us to know who the lead pig is. Want to know something cool? In the wild, when we are threatened as a herd, we have an awesome defense mechanism: WE STAMPEDE! Can you imagine a group of us running across the ground as fast as we can? Though you won't see much of that type of behavior in domesticated pigs, it's good to know our wild cousins are brave.

Here in the cage, my needs are simple. I need unlimited amounts of timothy hay (Oxbow brand is my favorite), clean bedding changed weekly (Carefresh is the best, since the natural oils in wood shavings can irritate my fur), fresh fruits and veggies (about 1/2 cup a day) and some vitamin C by syringe in my mouth at night. Never give it to us mixed in our water bottle or with a needle, just a plastic, needle-free syringe at night is fine. We never eat Alfalfa hay because we are older than 2 months, and if we eat Alfalfa hay now it might cause bladder stones, which can be deadly. Alfalfa hay has too much calcium, so it should only be given to very young pigs and pregnant mothers.

As for my cage, I have enough room to run around and only live with female pigs (or a neutered boar, if I were to get another cagemate in the future). I live in a 2 foot by 4 foot cage, which is really easy for my human to clean since she just scoops up all the litter with a dustpan once a week and replaces it with fresh Carefresh bedding.

Once a week, I'll review a new food in a segment I'll call "The Weekly Wheek". Goodbye for now!


  1. Ah this answered my question about the size of the cage. Our C&C cage is 3" x 5" and takes up so much space.... I might have to look for a cage like yours. I haven't figured out if Oliver or Reese is the dominate. Oliver was the first but sometimes I think Reese is the instigator of trouble. They co-exist very well though....

  2. I co-exist with Buffy quite well, too--I get my way, she gets my leftovers. It's a great system! --Lola