Saturday, March 29, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnips?

Turnips are root vegetables. We've read mixed reviews from different guinea pig owners on this one. One person said they were "an instant hit," while another person said turnips are "usually not much of a success story." We'll just have to decide for ourselves, then! We can eat turnips only 1-2 times per week because they are high in sugar and oxalates. Turnips leaves, also known as turnip greens, can also be fed to guinea pigs (see our previous post for details).

This is a turnip. The humans peeled the outside, and cut up the inside part into cubes for us.
New food! I want to try it! I'm so excited that I forgot where the exit is!

Not bad...

Our verdict our turnips: Not bad, but not the best vegetable we've ever had. We each had our fill, and then left a pile of chunks behind for the humans to clean up. We'll give turnips 3/5 stars.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Miner's Lettuce?

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), also known as Indian lettuce or winter purslane, is a leaf vegetable that miner's ate during the California Gold Rush for its vitamin C to prevent scurvy. (Vitamin C is very important to piggies as well, so we may rename it "Piggy Lettuce" if we really like it!) It's typically considered a forage food for guinea pigs, but our humans were able to find it in a grocery store the other day. Good job, humans!

No information was provided on how often we can eat miner's lettuce, so out of caution, we're going to say no more than 1-2 times per week in small amounts.
This is miner's lettuce.
Wow, this stuff is amazing! 

As you can see from the video, things got a little crazy when tried miner's lettuce! I had to fight Broccoli at one point to hold onto the piece I'm eating, and then he and Buffy got into a little tussle over a piece. We ended up devouring it all in less than a minute, so then I had to go ask the humans if they had any more.

I highly recommend this stuff up for your guinea pig if you can find it. Our humans managed to find some at an organic market. You can also forage for it if you know what you're doing, or even buy the seeds off

We give it 5/5 stars!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Do Guinea Pigs Dream?

We've previously blogged about the sleep habits of guinea pigs, in which we talked about when we sleep. But have you ever wondered what's going on in our minds when we're asleep? Do we dream just like humans do?

Am I dreaming?
According to Psychology Today, "All mammals share the same neural structures that are important in sleeping and dreaming." The article also quotes some research on rats that shows similar brain activity while asleep as when they run through mazes during the day. In other words, they're dreaming about that maze they just ran through.

Similarly, on the guinea pig forums, we saw someone who claimed their guinea pig was moving his legs in his sleep, and someone who claimed they saw their guinea pig's eyes moving rapidly during sleep, just like human REM sleep.  (REM sleep, or rapid-eye movement sleep, is when dreaming generally occurs.) Someone else claims they saw their guinea pig chewing in his sleep. Just like the rat who dreams of running mazes, it's a safe bet that your guinea pig is probably dreaming about the stuff he or she was doing that day. So make sure you're nice to your guinea pigs if you want us to have good dreams!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn?

Popcorning is when guinea pigs suddenly jump up, much like when humans make popcorn from corn kernels. Guinea Lynx describes popcorning as "(breaking) out in a joyous bouquet of romps and jumps," which is a nice way of describing the behavior. We don't have a good video of any of us popcorning at the moment, so we're going to use other piggies to illustrate:

Their names are Buttercup and Cream. 

You may have noticed that in this video, the baby guinea pig jumps pretty high when popcorning. This is to be expected because as we grow, our bodies grow more than our feet do.

What does this behavior mean? In general, it means we're happy and excited. Many guinea pigs will start popcorning because we're excited about the food our humans just gave us. Other times, we may just start popcorning randomly because we're feeling playful.

Popcorning can also show emotional excitement in a negative way, however. For example, some guinea pigs popcorn when they're startled by loud noises, like music or vacuum cleaners. Sometimes, popcorning can be combined with rumblestrutting (which is when we make a rumbling noise and walk with a sway; we'll probably do a post on this in the future). Someone called this behavior "rumble-corning." Rumble-corning is typically an aggitated display of dominance.

One forum poster described popcorning as "a kind of piggy exclamation-point," which is a great way of putting it. It could mean:
  • "Food time! I'm so excited!"
  • "Time to play!"
  • "What is that noise! That's scary!"
  • "Hey! Other piggy! Stop sniffing my butt!"
  • "I'm the dominant pig around around here, and don't you forget it!"
You'll probably be able to figure out we're trying to say with our popcorning by looking at the context. Readers, have you seen your pigs popcorn? What were they trying to say to you?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Green Peppers?

We recently did an "Ask A Guinea Pig" post on whether we can see colors. In the post, we mentioned that there was an experiment done where guinea pigs were given different colored water bottles and food bowls to see which one they preferred. Bell peppers come in a variety of different colors, so we think there might be some potential to set up a color preference experiment here as well. Give us lots of peppers in different colors, and see which ones we eat first and/or most. What do you say, humans? (We love experiments that involve giving us food!)

As we mentioned, bell peppers come in a variety of different colors. We've already reviewed red and orange peppers, which are both common colors. Today, we're reviewing green bell peppers, After this, we'll just have yellow peppers, and the less common colors (such as brown and purple).

Do we have a favorite color pepper?
We're allowed to have green peppers almost daily. As we mentioned in our other pepper post, green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers all come from the same plant, but are at different levels of maturity. Green is the least mature, red is the most mature, and orange and yellow are in the middle. Green peppers are less sweet and more bitter than red peppers; as they mature into red peppers (or whichever color that variety of pepper becomes when it reaches maturity), they become sweeter, and the higher sugar content means you can't feed them to us as often.

They're all good to me.
There are a couple exceptions to this, however: "Permagreen Peppers" and "Staysgreen Peppers" are two varieties of green pepper that are still green when they reach maturity. According to a website that sells seeds, the Staysgreen Pepper was developed "to provide consumers with high sugar, green fruit that tastes as good as a mature red pepper." So, if you happen to get one of these types of green peppers and they're mature, you should probably treat them like a red pepper and only feed them to us 2-4 times per week.

I can't choose a favorite. I like them all!
Just like red and orange peppers, we're giving green peppers 5/5 stars!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ask A Guinea Pig: Can Guinea Pigs See Colors?

riordan77piglove asks: "Is it true that guinea pigs like the color green?"

Answer: Interesting question! We hadn't heard anything about this before, but we found this claim in a children's book called Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald. It would also make sense, given that the majority of what we eat is green.

In order to have color preferences, you first need to distinguish colors, so let's start with the question: Can guinea pigs see colors? According to one scientific study:
"Guinea pig retinas contain rods with peak sensitivity of about 494 nm and 2 classes of cone having peak sensitivities of about 429 nm and 529 nm. The presence of 2 classes of cones suggests a retinal basis for a color vision capacity. Behavioral tests of color vision were conducted that verified this prediction: Guinea pigs have dichromatic color vision with a spectral neutral point centered at about 480 nm"
This is pretty technical stuff, but it basically means that we can see colors, although not as well as the average human. We found one blog commenter who claimed guinea pigs can't see red, although we haven't found any other evidence to support this. According to Guinea Pigs: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Katrin Behrend, guinea pigs are "excellent in differentiating colors, particularly yellow, red, blue and green" (p. 46). Another scientific study claims that guinea pigs have "green color sensitivity," so regardless of whether or not we can see red, we should be able to see the color green just fine. (For further debate on what colors guinea pigs can see, take a look at this Guinea Lynx thread.)

Also, scientists have tested guinea pig vision by putting lettuce, a vegetable without much of a smell, in the same colored bowl again and again, so that the piggy learns to associate the food with the color of the bowl alone. The piggy sought out the bowl with the lettuce, even if when the bowls were rearranged. If we couldn't see color and couldn't smell the food, then we'd have no way of running to the right bowl.

So the evidence is pretty clear that we can see most, if not all, colors. But do we have a preference? In our experience, we don't have strong color preferences. We will go into whichever pigloo is convenient at the time, rather than picking one color consistently, for example. However, we did find a high school honors thesis that attempted to test this question. For this thesis, the students had four colored food bowls and water bottles (yellow, red, blue and green), and measured which ones the guinea pigs ate and drank out of the most. They found that piggies ate the most out of the yellow bowl and drank the most out of the blue water bottle. It's a clever experiment, but we'd like to see more evidence before we're ready to believe that yellow and blue are the best colors. The authors admit they had a small sample size, which could be an issue. We're also wondering if there could have been a social aspect to their results; perhaps the dominant piggy picked the blue water bottle and the yellow food bowl, and the other piggies just followed his or her example. (Or maybe the smallest piggy picked those colors, and the dominant piggy kept coming over and purposely stealing from him or her!)
Yellow food on a blue plate, which are supposedly a guinea pig's favorite colors. (We tend to like red foods, to be honest!)
Have you observed your piggies showing a preference for foods, bowls, bottles or bedding of a certain color? Let us know in the comments section, and keep those questions coming!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Product Review: Carefresh Colors Soft Bedding, Pink

We've tried several types of Carefresh soft pet bedding at this point: Natural, Confetti, and Ultra. The only differences we've found are the color and the price (so our humans tell us, despite our lack of interest). The same holds true for our latest review: Carefresh Colors Soft Bedding. Carefresh Colors comes in four colors: blue, pink, purple and green. We're reviewing the pink type.

That looks interesting.

You know, we could have had the humans make a heart out of this stuff for Valentine's Day. Oh well, maybe next year.

It's so pink!
As with all Carefresh soft beddings, we appreciate how soft it is, how well it controls odors, and how it's safe/non-toxic (unlike that awful Kaytee bedding we recently tried). So what did we think of the color? We liked it! It was a fun change of pace, just like the confetti bedding. However, be aware that like the ultra bedding, our poops will be very noticeable in contrast with the bright color. And, similar to the confetti bedding, you'll pay more for less bedding with Carefresh Colors compared to Carefresh Natural. (Which is fine if your humans aren't the type to complain about money. Our humans care, though!)

We'll give Carefresh Colors Soft Bedding (Pink) 4.5/5 stars!