Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Toys for Guinea Pigs: Mirrors

We just realized that it's been a while since we've reviewed any toys, so we took at look at the toy ideas from Guineapigcages.com to see what we haven't tried yet. One toy idea that the humans could easily set up in our cage was a mirror.

Guineapigcages.com suggests placing the mirror "on the outside of the cage. If they are on the inside, make sure they are pet-safe." Since the humans weren't sure if the mirror was pet-safe or not, they attached it to the outside of the cage with a clip.

Hey, is that another guinea pig? Do I need to assert my dominance?
Wait, I think that's just me.
We know that there are guinea pigs out there who seem to enjoy looking at themselves in mirrors. Some will even rumblestrut, talk to, or lick their reflection. For us, there was a brief moment of novelty when we saw our reflections, and then we quickly got bored and forget it was there. We'll give mirrors 2/5 stars.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat White Peppers?

Readers, I hope you're not sick of reading bell pepper reviews, because we're certainly not sick of eating them! As we've previously mentioned, most bell peppers start out as green, turn yellow and orange, and then eventually end up turning red. However, there are some types that start out as different colors (e.g. purple) before eventually turning red. White bell peppers are just like the purple ones in this regard; they start out as white, then turn peach, orange, and eventually red. The color of white can vary, such as a pale yellow-white or an ivory white. Treat these as green peppers since they haven't developed the sugar content of a red pepper yet; this means you can feed white peppers almost daily.

This one is a pale yellow-white, so maybe this is a White Holland bell pepper.
Can I have some?
Let me just reach in there if you don't mind...
Here's a tip for you non-dominant piggies out there: When your cage mates are trying to establish dominance with each other, that's the perfect time to swoop and grab some food while they're distracted! I may not be the biggest, baddest pig in the cage, but I still manage to eat well.

We'll give white peppers 5/5 stars!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions about Guinea Pigs

In this post, we're going to try to answer some questions about guinea pigs that are commonly asked online.

Q: Where to buy guinea pigs? How much are guinea pigs?
A: Although these questions are frequently asked, we contend that this is the wrong line of thinking. You should think twice before buying a guinea pig from your local pet store! See our post on What's Wrong With Guinea Pig Breeding for details. We'd recommend a good rescue shelter or Craigslist; there are plenty of nice piggies out there currently in need of a good home, which is a better option than supporting commercial breeders.

Q: Are guinea pigs nocturnal?
A: Guinea pigs tend to adapt to the sleep habits of our humans. See our post: "When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?"

Q: What to feed guinea pigs?
A: Basically, you'll want to feed us unlimited hay and water, about a cup of vegetables a day (about 2/3 leafy greens, and 1/3 other vegetables), about 1/8 cup of  quality pellets, and occasional bits of fruit as treats, See our guinea pig food list and our post on guinea pig nutrition to figure out the right foods and the right amounts to feed your guinea pigs.

Q: How to take care of a guinea pig?
A: There's a lot involved with this! For complete beginners, you may want to start by reading GuineaLynx's care pamphlet. After that, you can search our blog (or other reputable sites) for particular care issues of interest. Some of the care issues we've dealt with in the past include:
Q: How long do guinea pigs live?
A: Guinea pigs typically live 5 to 7 years, but we can live longer than this. The the longest living guinea pig lived 14 years, 10.5 months!

Q: Are guinea pigs rodents?
A: The simple answer is yes. Here's how guinea pigs are scientifically classified:
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Suborder: Hystricomorpha
  • Family: Caviidae
  • Subfamily: Caviinae
  • Genus: Cavia
  • Species: C. porcellus
There has been some debate about this in the 1990s, however. While the proponents of reclassifying guinea pigs had some evidence on their side, "guinea pigs are generally considered part of Rodentia."

Q: Are guinea pigs good pets?
A: In my opinion, we're absolutely delightful!

Give me that hay! I deserve it for being so darn delightful!
And, if you've seen our post on guinea pig ownership statistics, you'll see that a lot of humans seem to agree with us. But that doesn't mean that we're right for everyone; see our post on 10 Things You Should Know Before Buying or Adopting a Guinea Pig for details.

Did we answer all your questions, Internet? If not, feel free to add your questions in the comments, and we may take it up in our next Ask A Guinea Pig post!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ask A Guinea Pig: Can Guinea Pigs Sense Emotions?

Question: riordan77piglove asks: "can guinea pigs sense human emotions, like dogs?"

Answer: Great question!

Many humans seem to think so. Some of their comments include:
  • "Oh yes, I have found they certainly understand human emotion...also when one has died, they behave differently too. They are very intelligent and sensitive."
  • "I think they absolutely respond to our emotions. When I first got Elsa, and thought something was wrong with her, I started crying while I was holding her, and Miss Elsa crawled up and snuggled under my hair like she knew I felt bad and needed cheering."
  • "My girls know my moods. If I am down or depressed they snuggle more with me."
According to a poll of of TED community pet owners: "48.7% percent of you said that your pet has a good understanding of your emotions. And 71.5% of you said that your pet helps you through hard times often—with an additional 14.2% saying that there’s one major event in life that your pet helped you get through." We should point out that the poll respondents were mostly dog and cat owners, and only a handful had guinea pigs, however. Still, the poll fits with the aforementioned comments specifically from guinea pig owners.

There was also a scientific study that looked at how the brains of dogs responded to human emotion, which found: "It turns out that both species have an area of the brain that is tuned to the 'emotional valence' of a voice, meaning it responds more strongly to positive emotions than negative emotions. And for this region, it doesn’t matter whether the voice is human or canine; a burst of laughter is equivalent to a playful bark." The author argues "that because dogs and humans... have regions dedicated to processing voices, this skill probably dates back 100 million years, to the common ancestor of humans and dogs." Let's take a look at the chart of mammal evolution from the article:

You may notice that "Guinea Pig" is also listed on the chart (last entry under the brown "Rodentia" section) as sharing a common ancestor. The article states that if this "theory is correct, then all or most of those species also carry the voice-sensitive brain area." As far as we know, there have yet to be any equivalent studies on guinea pigs where scientists scan our brains while exposing us to human emotions. We should also point out that this scientific study was hearing-based, and some of the humans who felt guinea pigs could sense emotions claimed that we "can also tell how you're feeling by scent." Therefore, scientists might also want to consider having humans physically present when they study guinea pig emotions so it's not just restricted to hearing.

I'm sensing a human who loves me!
Or, they can just skip the scientific studies and ask us directly on this blog. Since you asked, we'll answer directly. Yes, we're sensing that you all feel a sense of incredible awe at our cuteness! (Did we get it right? We did, didn't we?)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Guinea Pigs Play Basketball!

We'd like to share a cute video we found of some very smart, well trained piggies who have learned to play basketball! Watch this riveting game and cheer on your favorite pig!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Red Kuri Squash?

Red kuri squash goes by several other names, including: Japanese Squash, Orange Hokkaido Squash, Baby Red Hubbard Squash, and the Uchiki Kuri Squash. We'd like to add another name to that list: Lunch! Red kuri squash is a winter squash, and we can eat winter squash 2-4 times per week.

Red kuri squash looks like a smooth pumpkin.
Tastes pretty good.
No, it's not your plate! Stop hogging it! I'm the dominant pig!
Broccoli liked red kuri squash enough at first to try hogging the plate, but then he gave up and ran off to eat hay that had fallen on the floor. Buffy and I both grazed on the plate for longer, but I think the humans had put down enough squash cubes for three piggies, and with only two of us eating, we had our fill without finishing it.

By the way, these things are pretty big, so a lot of the red kuri squash will go to your humans, who like to apply heat and ingredients that make it unsuitable for piggies to eat. It's important that you reward your human for good behavior like bringing you home new foods to try!

Although pretty good, this squash wasn't our favorite, and we got a little bored of the flavor partway through eating it. Therefore, red kuri squash gets 3.5/5 stars!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Multicolored Peppers?

We're not quite sure what name we should use for these peppers. The farmer's market that the humans got them from simply labeled them as "Colored Peppers." But colored just means having color, which all bell peppers do, so we think calling them "multicolored peppers" would be better.  We also think that "rainbow peppers" might be a good name, but we found out there's a type of pepper called a Bolivian Rainbow Pepper, which is a hot pepper, not a bell pepper. We definitely don't want there to be any confusion, so we're going to avoid that term so no one thinks it's okay for guinea pigs to eat hot peppers. (Let's repeat this so it's absolutely clear: Bell peppers are fine for guinea pigs, but not hot peppers!) Therefore, we're going with the term "multicolored peppers."

So what's the deal with these multicolored peppers? As we previously mentioned, peppers generally start out as green peppers, and as they mature, then they turn yellow and orange, and finally they become red peppers (or other colors like purple, depending on the variety) when they're fully mature. From what we've gathered from looking at pictures of maturing peppers, this color change process doesn't happen evenly across the entire pepper. Parts of the pepper will start changing color before others, so you'll end up with multicolored peppers like these:

So this is a natural process, not some kind of Frankenstein pepper? Got it. Let's eat it!
As for how often to feed them, we recommend treating them as the type of pepper they most closely resemble. If it's mostly green, you can treat it as a green pepper and feed it almost daily. If it's mostly red, treat it as a red pepper and feed it 2-4 times per week. If the colors are pretty evenly mixed, go with the more restrictive category (2-4 times per week).

So tasty! I'm going to enjoy my pepper chunk away from the dominance struggle of those two.
Hey, where did that reddish pepper chunk go that I had my eye on?
This should come as no surprise since we love peppers of all colors, but we give multicolored peppers 5/5 stars!