Sunday, June 26, 2016

Guinea Pig Breeds: Peruvian Guinea Pigs

Let's talk some more about guinea pig breeds! We've previously talked about texels and skinny pigs. The breed I want to talk about today is closer to the texel in the hair department: the Peruvian, which is a long-haired breed. The ACBA gives the following description of the Peruvian's appearance: "Coat grows generally back to front, multiple rosettes, mature coat covers face."

That''s a lot of hair! Do Peruvians have faces? (source: Wikimedia)
Oh good, they do have faces! (source:
The Peruvian originated from Latin America, but were developed by English and French guinea pig breeders. They can come in a variety of colors:

That's a lot of colors! (source: ACBA)
Their top coat can reach two feet long, and their under coat can reach 7 inches long. Unlike American Shorthair guinea pigs (like Broccoli and Lola), Peruvians require a lot of hair trims. Although some websites recommend daily brushing of Peruvians, some Peruvians absolutely hate it, and you are probably better off just sticking to regular trimmings. Regular trimmings can help prevent waste and bedding sticking to their fur.

Look how long that hair gets! (source:
Hey, you! Get a hair cut! (source: The Wheekly Reader)
In addition to having to worry about keeping their fur clean, Peruvians are also more susceptible to heat stroke than other breeds.

Clearly, Peruvians are a little more work than the average guinea pig, but some humans find their big mop of fur to be irresistible. If you're one of these humans, be aware that this is an uncommon breed, so you might need to search a bit to find one. As we've said before, adopting a guinea pig is much, much better than buying from a pet store. Peruvians do turn up occasionally on Petfinder (for examples, see: Ivy, Marley, Ringo Star, and Lumi). You can also check Craigslist and your local guinea pig rescue. In fact, as of the time we're writing this, there's a Peruvian named Casimir at our local rescue who needs a good home!

Here's a Peruvian eating some parsley:

Have you ever owned a Peruvian? If so, let us know about your experiences in the comments section. We love to see pictures, too, if you want to share!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Washing your Guinea Pig's Fruits and Vegetables

Most humans do not grow the fruits and vegetables they feed to their guinea pigs themselves. Therefore, they don't know what's been done to them during the growing, harvesting, and shipping process. So why does this matter? One issue with unwashed fruits and vegetables is the threat of food borne germs/illnesses. According to the CDC, every year, 1 in 6 American humans will get some kind of food borne illness, and there are about 250 known food borne illnesses out there they can get. Here are just a few of these food borne illnesses:
  • Botulism
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Cyclospora
  • E. coli
  • Listeria
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Vibrio
We also know that us guinea pigs are vulnerable to at least some of these same food borne illnesses as well. For example, the Merck Veterinary Manual says: "Campylobacter GI disease has been reported in exotic pets (eg, ferrets, mink, primates, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and rats)." In addition, according to one veterinarians's website, while Clostridium perfringens is normally not a problem for healthy guinea pigs, it can be an issue if the gut flora has been disturbed by antibiotic usage.

I hope this pineapple chunk is safe to eat! It's quite tasty.
In addition to food borne illnesses, another concern is pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "USDA tests found nearly three-quarters of the produce samples it analyzed in 2014 to be tainted with one or more pesticides." EWG points out that there are not a lot of studies on how safe or dangerous being exposed to these pesticides are, but what studies do exist are concerning. They recommend eating organic to help avoid pesticides, although even organic produce should still be washed.

So what's the best way to wash your fruits and vegetables? The FDA recommends just washing them under running water. The University of Maine recommends using distilled water, and the University of Colorado says you can add a half cup of vinegar per 1 cup of water to reduce bacterial contamination, although this may affect the taste. You should follow the FDA recommendations at a minimum, and perhaps go the extra step of using distilled water and/or vinegar if you want to be extra-safe. Some scrubbing may also help.

Fruits and veggies you may want to be extra-safe (i.e. buying organic and using the extra-safe washing methods) with include what EWG calls the "dirty-dozen," who have been found to have more pesticides than usual: "strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Guinea Pig Statue in Germany

It's time for another installment of our guinea pig attractions around the world series. We've previously taken you to India, the Netherlands, Japan, and Colombia. Now we're going to take you to Germany. Be warned, though--This one is much more somber than the other attractions.

The Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany is an animal health research facility on a small island. They mainly study livestock health. Outside of the institute, you will find this statue of three guinea pigs:
Three little pigs. (image source)
So why is there a statue like this out front? As one article explains: "These three guinea pigs were set here as a reminder to all that pass through the facility, to respect and remember the animals that donate their lives to research...  Today the statue pays tribute to the animals that have, and continue to donate their lives to save both humans and animals across the globe." As we warned you, this is pretty somber stuff. I think I may have actually lost my appetite from thinking about this.

Okay, it's back. I've decided to replace these gloomy thoughts with thoughts of carrots. Human, go to the kitchen and make it happen!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Fortune-Telling Guinea Pig in India

It's time for another installment in our guinea pig attractions around the world series! We previously told you about the Cavy Village in the Netherlands, the Guinea Pig Bridge in Japan, and the Guinea Pig Races in Colombia. Today, we're going to showcase a fortune-telling guinea pig in India:

We love chewing on paper, too! That human better grab that card quickly if he wants to keep it. (image source: Open Magazine)
The story here is that this man, S Govindaraj, is a street fortune teller in Bangalore, India. He used parrots in the past to pick his cards, but then parrots became a protected species, so he switched to a guinea pig named Ganesh (pictured above). He charges 20 rupees for read your fortune (that's about $0.30 for you humans who care about that money stuff), and will do birthdays and other functions.

The article about Ganesh was written in 2013, and said that Ganesh had been with his human for five years. Given that guinea pigs live about 5-7 years, it seems likely that Ganesh may no longer be with us. However, the article also mentions that Ganesh had a guinea pig apprentice who was only a few months old named Murugan. Murugan may be in charge of reading fortunes now.

If anyone has seen an update to this story, or has actually been to Bangalore and experienced guinea pig fortune-telling, please let us know in the comments section!