Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ask a guinea pig: Are lime peels safe for guinea pigs?

It's time for another installment of our Ask A Guinea Pig feature! Andi Rogynous asks: "Columbia doesn't like limes either, but she did eat the rind. do you know if that's safe?"

Thanks for the question, Andi. It's always good to do your research before feeding something questionable to your piggy. As you know, we did a review post on limes a while back, which included the rind. Of course, we hated limes and barely touched them, so eating the rind was a bit of a moot point for us. Still, just in case there are some piggies out there who feel differently, let's dig into this lime peel issue.

Research has shown that citrus peels are "a good source of molasses, pectin and limonene," and have lots of health benefits. Lime peels in particular are a good source of fiber compared to other citrus peels:
Of course, this seems to be human nutrition research, and doesn't necessarily mean that guinea pigs should have it. We've read that a study showed that limettin, a substance found in lime peel, was not found to be toxic to guinea pigs, but haven't seen any other research specifically on guinea pigs and lime peels.

However, we also know that guinea pigs can eat the rinds of other citrus fruits. For example, guineapigcages.com's food chart has orange peel listed as a 2-4 times per week food. In addition, when asked about lemon peels, their diet expert said: "The rind can be fed in small quantities as well."

In addition, we found a thread on the Guinea Pig Forum where someone fed their guinea pig a small lime slice, peel intact, and no one on the forum raised this as an issue:
Image source: PiggieWigs12 on the guinea pig forum; caption: "so apparently special needs Norman loves limes but especially loves lemons!"
Therefore, although the evidence is not 100% ironclad, we're going to say that lime peels are probably safe to feed occasionally (assuming your piggy actually likes them!). However, we should note that limes may have waxy coatings added to them, and should therefore be organic and cleaned very thoroughly. In addition, citrus peels may be high in oxalates, and should therefore only be fed in small quantities.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guinea Pig Psychology: Understanding Guinea Pig Thinking and Behavior

You spend a lot of time with your guinea pig. You probably have gotten to know their personality to some degree. But how much do you know about what science knows about the guinea pig mind and behavior?
What's going on in Broccoli's mind? Does science hold the answers?
Here's a few interesting things to know about guinea pig psychology, according to academic research:
  • A University of Münster research paper found important differences between domestic guinea pigs and our wild relatives (Cavia aperea, AKA the Brazilian guinea pig). 
    • First, "wild cavies are more exploratory and take more risks than domestic guinea pigs. When put in an open field, the cavies explored further, and when put in a dark box they came out of the box and spent more time in the light." 
    • Second, "domestic guinea pigs were more sociable. Although both cavies and guinea pigs were interested in the unfamiliar infant and female, the guinea pigs engaged in more social interaction with the infant and more courtship behaviours towards the female."
  • A Colorado State University research presentation found a few notable behavioral trends. 
    • First, removing huts from the cage led to a decrease in active behaviors, and an increase in putting front limbs on water bottles. However, after a day or so, guinea pigs grew accustomed to the change. and their behavior evened out. 
    • Second, some behaviors were common to most guinea pigs (stampeding and freezing), while other behaviors (popcorning, attempting to climb out of the cage, and excessive water bottle manipulation) are performed only by specific individuals--think of this as part of your piggy personality. Jumping/popcorning tended to be performed by younger piggies.
    • Third, "Guinea pigs are highly active immediately after lights go out, which may indicate that a sudden loss of lighting is a significant stressor."
  • A University of São Paulo study looked at guinea pig courtship by exposing 4 adult males to a pregnant female for 4 sessions, and then a different female during a 5th session, and recording their behavior. They found that the males decreased their investigative behaviors (licking and sniffing) in the 2nd-4th sessions, but the investigative behaviors returned with the new female in the 5th session. They conclude that: "These results are consistent with the hypothesis that guinea pig males recognize individual females and that courtship responses may suffer a habituation/recovery process controlled by mate novelty."
Bottom line: these studies suggest we're risk-averse, social, we don't like change, guinea pigs have both common behaviors (such as freezing) and unique personalities, and males can be quite... amorous.

These findings may not be too surprising to people who have guinea pigs. It only takes minimal exposure to guinea pigs to know that we're freaked out by the unknown. I can also relate to disliking changes in the environment; I can remember how stressful it was when my new humans first brought me home. I also remember having to put up with plenty of Broccoli's "investigative behaviors" when I was the new pig on the block. But now that we've put all that drama behind us, we've become good friends, showing that "more sociable" side that the first study mentioned.

Turning off lights causing stress in guinea pigs might surprise humans, though, since you probably don't see what we do after the lights go off. Maybe it would help if you tried dimming the lights slowly rather than turning them off suddenly?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the Word: Perth Royal Show Cavy Racing

It's time for another look at guinea pig attractions around the world! This time, we're taking a look at a guinea pig competition down in Australia.

The Perth Royal Show is "an annual event that is a mix of amusement park rides, markets and agriculture shows." One of the annual attractions at the Show is Cavy Racing, which "has become a tradition at the event and never fails to draw crowds. While it isn’t a race that stops a nation, when the cavies hit the track there will be plenty of excitement and laughs."

Here's a video of one of the races:

Turns out this one wasn't much of a race, but we're guessing some races are more competitive than others!

Long-time readers may recall that this isn't the first guinea pig race we've showcased on our blog; the guinea pig attraction in Colombia was also a race. Colombia's race seemed more like an informal street performance, compared to this giant community event. We should also point out that while these races are cute, there could be some issues with events like this--see our post on guinea pig pageants.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Guinea Pig Volunteering as Therapy Animals

We previously talked about flying with guinea pigs, and in the course of that discussion, briefly touched on the different special classifications of pets (service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals), and what implications they had for flying. We'd like to talk more about the therapy animal classification in general, not just in the context of flying.

As we said in our previous post, therapy animals "provide affection and comfort to various members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, and schools." Although this does not entitle you to special access on airlines, it does make a difference in people's lives. The organization Pet Partners has a page on the benefits of the human-animal bond. Here are just a few of the benefits they cite:
  • "A therapy dog has a positive effect on patients’ pain level and satisfaction with their hospital stay following total joint arthroplasty (Harper, 2014) [1]."
  • "The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (O’Haire, 2013) [4]."
  • "Pet owners have higher one-year survival rates following heart attacks (Friedmann, 1980, 1995) [8,9]."
Some of these health benefit citations are dog-specific, but did you know that guinea pigs are able to become volunteer therapy animals through Pet Partners? Pet Partners "is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interventions." They accept volunteer applications from 9 species: dogs, cats, equines, rabbits, guinea pigs, llamas and alpacas, birds, pigs and rats. Guinea pig volunteers must be at least 6 months old, have lived in the owner's home for at least 6 months, and be well-behaved. They even have worksheets they use to evaluate prospective volunteers:
Not struggle to leave? That sounds like a tough exam. Strangers can be scary!
Guinea Pig Today featured an article on some piggies who participated in the Pet Partners program, which showed how not every piggy is cut out for this line of work:
"Why didn’t all of Erin’s guinea pigs join her? Being a therapy pet requires very special traits. Erin’s three other female cavies are fun at home but don’t have personalities suited for therapy work. Rosie, an albino with striking red eyes, was considered for therapy registration, but there was concern that her red eyes might make people feel uneasy. Val, adopted from a friend who could no longer care for her, is the most active guinea pig and never sits still. Sally, their newest addition, is still a bit skittish and shy. Erin tells Guinea Pig Today, “Her personality reminds me of that of a cat – she can be affectionate or stand-offish, depending on her mood.” 
Daphne and Sienna have a special talent for sitting long periods at a time and Erin decided only these two sows would be registered. After supporting hospice for 25 years, Erin had a hunch guinea pigs would work well with patients who benefit from animal visitation but have difficulty working with the therapy dogs. Daphne and Sienna weigh less than two pounds and can gently lay on patients while being stroked."
There were a lot of hoops to jump through, but they eventually were approved and became therapy animals:

Photo caption: "The therapy animal teams at Hospice are wonderful. Here we are with two of our friends, Kelly and her handler (left), and Gus and his handler (right)."
 And how did the hospice patients react to Daphne and Sienna? Quite well, according to this Casper Journal article:
The guinea pigs’ hospice visits are also different from the dogs’. Whereas most of the canines sit beside the patient’s bed, the guinea pigs have more direct contact.
“They’re light so they can be on people’s laps and chests,” Erin said. “Some people sing to them.”
She recalled her first visit, to a woman who had been unresponsive for a while.
“I put the guinea pigs on her lap, and she sang to them, in her own language,” Maggard said. “Those experiences are just delightful!”
There were only 21 registered therapy guinea pigs with Pet Partners in 2013. Do you think you have what it takes to join the elite ranks of therapy guinea pigs? If so, feel free to reach out to Pet Partners about volunteer opportunities!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchoke)?

Hi everyone. Lola (2) here. I have to share a source of some minor frustration for me. Since I'm a bit of a latecomer to the Cavy Savvy family, I missed out on the opportunity to review a lot of foods out there. Sometimes I'll just list off foods that I'd like an excuse to eat--Apples? Blueberries? Corn? But after I list each one, Broccoli will inform me that they've already reviewed each of them before I got here. It took some digging, but I finally found another food that guinea pigs can eat that hasn't been done already: Jerusalem artichokes. So let's do the review!

Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple and topinambour, according to Wikipedia. They can be eaten by guinea pigs, but this should be considered a special, rare treat only. This is because they have high sugar, low vitamin C, and a not-so-great calcium-phosphorous ratio. So you'll only want to feed this one in small portions 1-2 times per month.
This is a Jerusalem artichoke. Doesn't look like much, does it?

Make sure your human peels and cuts it for you.

Food review time! It's been too long!

Crunch, crunch, crunch! I love it!
Aside from the poor nutritional profile, we've got nothing bad to say about Jerusalem artichokes. They're delicious, and we wasted no time in gobbling up our small portion. We look forward to the possibility of having more next month. 5/5 stars!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guinea Pig Cop

As we've shown on this blog, there are a lot of talented guinea pigs out there. There are guinea pig painters, musicians , and even fortune tellers. Now you can add police officer to the list!

Meet Elliot, the New Zealand Police Department's guinea pig. He doesn't do high-speed chases and shoot outs with bank robbers as far as we know, but he does deliver useful safety messages:
Caption: "Did you know that a piggie's top speed can be around 9km/hr? Not me, I have gone a bit overboard on the carbs lately and need to lighten up, so I go even slower. I am not too fast and that's the way I like it - slow is safe!  Keep this in mind when you are driving near any schools tomorrow. Remember people, the kids are going to be out and about walking and biking, and crossing roads. Like me, they are small and unpredictable, so you have to watch out! Keep an eye out for school patrols and please do your part in keeping our kids safe. Drive to the conditions, reduce your speed and stay alert. Oh, and eat your greens....always eat your greens. #schoolsback #crossingpatrol #constableelliot #eatyourgreens"
Caption: "'Just the facts ma'am...'"
You can find more Elliot at the New Zealand Police Department's Facebook page. Good job keeping New Zealand safe, Elliot!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Inokashira Park Zoo Guinea Pig House Revisited

We don't generally like to repeat ourselves, and we've already done a guinea pig attractions around the world post on the guinea pig house in Inokashira Park Zoo. However, since the humans actually got a chance to see this guinea pig attraction in person, we figured that our loyal readers may appreciate the opportunity to get a closer look at this one.

Notice that the guinea pig house has special hours.
The humans showed up between 11:30 - 13:30 (AKA 1:30 PM), and saw these "Resting" signs.
These plush guinea pigs were nearby, and could be handled at any time, however.
When you visit, it's good to get there early. There's a line to pet the guinea pigs!
Once you get through the line, everyone gets to pick a guinea pig to pet.
You get about 15 minutes of petting time, and then the next group of people in line get their turn.
After petting the guinea pigs, you can always see all the other animals in the zoo. Or, you can get right back in line and wait your turn to pet guinea pigs again!

Have you seen any guinea pig attractions that you think we should feature on the blog? If so, let us know in the comments section.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Guinea Pig Tuxedo Outfit

According to Wikipedia, "The most popular uses of the tuxedo in the United States at present are for formal weddings, galas, balls, formal proms and formal nights on cruises."   What if you're a male guinea pig who's been invited to one of these formal occasions? Sure, that fur coat you were born with is fine for most occasions, but there are special occasions where you may need to kick it up a notch. Case in point, this video:


The humans brought back this tuxedo guinea pig costume from Morugumi in Tokyo, so I'll be prepared for my next formal event! (Bring on the guinea pig wedding invites!)

Is that my size?
It fits. Do I look dapper in this?
All dressed up and nowhere to go!
I looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself, but like all costumes we've tried, I looked forward to getting it off. After all, the fur coat that Mother Nature gave me is the most comfortable outfit of all.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Music for Guinea Pigs by PetTunes

In a recent post, we talked about music made by guinea pigs. Now we want to talk about music made for guinea pigs. We recently discovered "PetTunes," which describes itself as follows:
Pet Tunes uses sound repetitive rhythms and key notes designed to relax and calm your pet. If you pet has sleeping problems or anxiety problems or is even stressed during fireworks, you should try our music. It will calm your guinea pig, rabbit, dog, cat, hamster... in other words, any species!
And sure enough, they have several songs intended for guinea pigs, such as this one:


But does it actually work? We started by checking the YouTube comments on their guinea pig music videos. Here's a sampling of them:
  • "he fell asleep in my hands I carried him to his cage and when I closed it it made a sound and he woke up"
  • "This was too relaxing for my Guinea pig ,caramel,She peed on me lol"
  • "The moment the guinea pigs heard this song, their life was changed"
  • "I played this to keep my Guinea pig quit and she didn't care about the music she just was chewing on my phone case!"
  • "My guinea pig was hopping and jumping all over me while I was holding her. I started playing this and she just stopped, listened, and crawled into the blanket that was on my lap! She's currenly just cuddling up in the blanket and she actually just purred. She loves this! This music is working wonders for her!"
Not 100% positive, as you can see, but positive enough that we decided to try it for ourselves:
Apologies for the messy cage in this video. (We're about due for a cleaning! Humans, get on that ASAP!)

It was actually kind of relaxing. I was rattling my bars shortly before the video started, and after the music started, I just wanted to munch on pellets and sip water. I fell asleep after about 15 minutes. (Broccoli was already asleep.) So it was good at first. However, at about 30:58, they included some sort of horrible alarm noise that woke us both up and made us wheek in terror! Why would they include this? Is this a prank or a mistake?

Our conclusion is that PetTunes seems like a good idea in theory, but someone needs to test this out with actual pets before putting out songs like this.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cavy Savvy 2017 Spring Giveaway Winner Announcement!

It's time to share the wealth that our humans brought back from Japan! We used a random number generator to choose the winner of the 2017 Spring Giveaway, and the winner is ...

Arwen and Eowyn!

Congratulations! You just some Guinea pig stickers, coasters, and a marshmallow from Morugumi, the Japanese guinea pig cafe and specialty store! (Long-time readers may remember that Arwen and Eowyn also won a Thanksgiving costume back in 2014. That just goes to show that it pays to be a long-time reader and enter every time!)

Please email us your current mailing address to cavysavvyaguineapigblog@gmail.com within 5 days and we will send mail you your prize. (If left unclaimed, we may choose another winner, so don't delay!)

Thank you to everyone who entered. If you didn't win this time, don't worry, there's always next time. Be sure that you are a follower of Cavy Savvy if you want to be considered for future giveaways. To follow us, just click the "Follow" button on the right.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Guinea Pigs Make Music With Makey Makey

One thing we find fascinating is technology that guinea pigs can use. We all remember the guinea pig bridge in Japan that Parry Gripp called "the latest guinea pig bridge technology," right? And also the automatic guinea pig feeder using Arduino? Well, we just found about about some new guinea pig tech that we must share with you!

There's a device called a Makey Makey that can allows you to connect random household objects to a computer with alligator clips, and have them each be considered different buttons. Someone had the brilliant idea to use a Makey Makey to turn their guinea pigs into musicians!


Okay, so it might not be the most amazing song we've ever heard. They may need a little practice. But no musician starts out as Mozart on day 1, right? Keep eating those musical veggies, piggies! We'll buy your album!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cavy Savvy 2017 Spring Giveaway!

As we mentioned in our last post, our humans recently went to Japan and visited some guinea pig-related attractions, including a guinea pig cafe and specialty store called Morugumi. They got some really cool goodies that we've decided to raffle off to our loyal readers!

Here's what the winner gets: Guinea pig stickers, coasters, and marshmallow! (The marshmallow is a treat for humans, by the way. Just because a guinea pig is on it doesn't mean we can eat it.)
Doesn't that stuff look awesome and adorable? Don't you want to win it for your human? If so, here are the giveaway rules:

  • You must be a resident of the continental United States.
  • You have to be a follower of this blog. To follow us, just click the "join this site" button on the right.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this blog post expressing your interest in participating in the contest.
  • All entries must be received by April 15th, 2017 at 12:00 pm (US Eastern time) to be eligible.
  • One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries and announced on this blog on April 15th sometime after the giveaway closes.
  • The winner will be instructed to email us to provide us with a mailing address to send the prize to. Winners must provide us with a mailing address within 5 days to receive their prize. If we do not receive a response in time, we will randomly select another winner from the eligible responses. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Morugumi Cafe and Specialty Shop

As we mentioned in a previous post, we were staying at the veterinarian while the humans were out of town. The humans went on quite an adventure on the other side of the world, and we wanted to let our readers know about one of the guinea pig attractions they found.

Although we've already done two posts on guinea pig attractions in Japan, this will be the first time that our humans are actually bringing back first-hand experience of an attraction. (They also got a chance to visit one of the previously-mentioned attractions for themselves, so we might post on that in the future.)

In Tokyo, Japan, there is a neighborhood called Jiyugaoka where you can find a cafe and specialty store devoted entirely to guinea pigs! The place is called Morugumi, and if you're a human who loves guinea pigs, this is the place for you!
Fun awaits you on the second floor!
It's not a very big place, but their walls are lined with guinea pig merchandise for sale, both functional and ornamental:
Tunnels! Pellets!
Plush guinea pig toys!
Guinea pig books! Ceramic guinea pigs! Cuddle cups!
Ceramic guinea pig cop!
Little plastic guinea pig toys!
Little plastic guinea pig play set!
Guinea pig coasters!
And humans can reward themselves while they're here with some guinea pig themed human treats. (Don't feed these sugary human treats to your guinea pig, of course.)
Soda with guinea pig marshmallow, coffee with guinea pig art and a different guinea pig marshmallow on the side, and fondant guinea pigs. Can you handle this much cuteness?!
Those fondant guinea pigs on the side aren't just sold that way. The cafe will give you fondant to shape and paint with food coloring, allowing you to make your own guinea pig. If I could easily hold a paint brush, I might want to try that out!

By the way, the humans brought back a couple extra items from Morugumi, and we are considering holding another giveaway for our loyal readers. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Product Review: Supreme Petfood's Science Selective Guinea Pig Food

Hello there, readers. The humans recently went away on travel, and as we discussed in our post on guinea pigs and airplanes, it's usually best not to take your guinea pig with you on flights. Therefore, we were boarded at the vet until they get back, which is a little like going on vacation for us. There's all kinds of exotic sights and sounds to see there. (We honestly don't get why humans like exotic sights and sounds so much. They're a little scary, seeing as how they could indicate predators!)

Anyway, while we were being dropped off, we saw samples of a new guinea pig food called Science Selective, so we decided to make time for a new product review since we knew we'd have plenty of time. We couldn't even wait until we got home to try them, so the humans fed them to us in our travel carriers.

We like how the packaging looks. That doesn't really factor into our rating, though.
I'll try some!
She will too!
It tasted pretty good, although it was a little hard to stay focused on the merits of the product while we're in the midst of such anxiety-provoking change. But there are other considerations besides just taste, of course. We also have to look at the ingredients, which include the following: Alfalfa meal, whole wheat, wheat feed, soybean hulls, soybean meal, flaked peas, linseed, sugar beet pulp, soybean oil, fennel seeds, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, dried dandelion, dried nettle.

Here are some concerns about some of these ingredients:

  • Alfalfa - Appropriate for young and pregnant guinea pigs, but not for general adult use. It has high levels of calcium, which can lead to stones. The product information page does say that it contains "Calcium 0.8%, Phosphorus 0.5%," which means that it falls within the recommended ratio of calcium to phosphorous of 1.5:1 to 2:1. However, even if the ratio seems good, we'd still be concerned about the total amounts of calcium and phosphorous being too high, even if the ratio is good.
  • Beet pulp - "Considered low-quality fiber that can clog the villi of the intestine"
  • Fennel seeds, Soybean oil - Seeds and oils are too high in fat, and often come from seed byproducts with little or no nutritive value
  • Calcium carbonate - As we've previously noted, we're having a tough time reaching a decision on this one. Oxbow uses it, and they use an advisory board of scientists and vets, but some have raised concerns about it anyway.

Unfortunately, due to these ingredient concerns, we're going to have to only give Science Selective Guinea Pig Food 2/5 stars. There are worse foods out there so we won't give it our lowest rating, but you can certainly do better. We're going to stick with our Oxbow pellets!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lola's trichofolliculoma removal and Deslorelin implant placement surgeries

Well, hello there, readers! We first wanted to let you know that the humans have caught and removed that little furry jerk that's been scampering around at all hours of the night. Good riddance, I say! Finally some peace and quiet.

But wouldn't you know it? As soon as you solve one problem, life throws another one at you. And this new problem is of the medical variety, which I would say in worse than our little home invader. You may remember way back when I was first introduced to the blog almost a year ago (has it really been that long?), I wrote: "I had a small lump on my back, but the vet said it was just a clogged oil gland, similar to a pimple, and that the vitamin C would help with that." That turned out to not really be the case; the lump just got bigger and bigger, which the humans asked about on subsequent vet visits, but they kept saying it was best to leave it alone. Just recently, a new symptom appeared: there was some fur loss near the lump. The humans made another vet appointment for me when they noticed this.
I am not a fan of this.

Diagnosis, please?

After giving me a physical exam, the vet said that I had two issues: trichofolliculoma (a benign follicle tumor), and cystic ovaries ("solid or fluid-filled pockets in or on your ovary"). They diagnosed this by noting crustiness by the nipples, areas of thinning hair (not consistent with mites or other causes), and a lump they could feel on the ovaries. I then had surgery to take care of both issues: removing the lump, and getting a Suprelorin (Deslorelin) implant, which will slowly release hormones into my body. The hope is that this will take care of the hair loss and the cystic ovaries; they said it might even make me feel calmer.

 In the aftermath of the surgery, the humans are now giving me Enrofloxacin (antibiotic), Meloxicam (pain killer), and Cisapride (GI mobility drug). I've also got a shaved patch with stitches on it, so I'm not looking my best at the moment. Hopefully, I'll be back to normal soon, though!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mice in the house with Guinea Pigs

Earlier this week, the humans were sitting on the couch, watching television, when we overheard one say to the other: "Are the piggies still in their cage?"

"Yes. Why?" The other human asked.

That was the moment the humans realized they had a mouse in the house, and began a minor panic. Humans can be really funny that way. They love us, but they're terrified of another much smaller rodent species?

Anyway, the humans got down all all fours, shining flashlights to confirm what they saw. Once confirmed, they immediately rushed out to Home Depot and bought some non-kill, humane traps to catch it.

Image of the mouse the humans saw not available, but here's a picture of a mouse invading a guinea pig cage from the Happy Cavy blog. (image source)
So what's the big deal about mice? Well, according to the CDC, "Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent." Huh. I guess the humans weren't being so silly after all. Get that jerk out of here, humans!

Here are some things you should know if you have mice invade your happy guinea pig home:
Wish us luck catching the interloper!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

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

It's time for another installment in our guinea pig attractions series! Last year, when we posted about a fortune-telling guinea pig named Ganesh in India, we figured that was a pretty unique attraction. Today, we learned it's not quite as unique as we thought. It turns out that there's another fortune-telling guinea pig in Sofia, Bulgaria:
What does it say? I'm dying to know! (source: The Inconsistent Nomad)
This guinea pig attraction was described by Carla on The Inconsistent Nomad blog. While exploring Sofia, Bulgaria, Carla and her friends came across a man on a street corner with a guinea pig on a newspaper-covered plate:
Andre turned to us to translate.  "He says it's a fortune-telling guinea pig.  We pay him, and the pig tells us our future." Who needs the Nevsky Cathedral when you can get a guinea pig to predict your future?
We paid out the hefty sum of about 25 cents.  The man pulled out a box of of cards wrapped in very thin paper, very similar to that box of cards containing the god-awfully impossible questions in Trivial Pursuit.  He held the box in front of the guinea pig.  The pig leapt onto it and began to rifle through the cards with his front legs.  He suddenly stopped, bit down onto a single card with his teeth, and pulled it out for the man to take.  He unwrapped the divinely inspired/randomly selected card and proudly presented it to us. 
Unfortunately, they'll never know what was in their future, as the card was in Bulgarian. If any of our readers happen to visit Bulgaria, keep an eye out for fortune-telling piggies, and make sure you have a way to actually read the card!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Yu Choy?

Yu choy goes by several alternative names, including: "Green Choy Sum, Choisum, You Cai, Cai Hua, Yai Tsoi, Caisin, Flowering White Cabbage, Mock Pak-Choi or False Pak-Choi." We're going to stick with Yu Choy, which is what Blue Apron calls it. It's popular in China, and is similar to Bok Choy. According to the diet expert at Guineapigcages.com, yu choy is "similar to broccoli and contains high amounts of A and moderate amounts of calcium ... It can... be fed once or twice a week in small portions."

Yu choy is also the latest in a series of new foods we've been able to try, thanks to our human's subscription to Blue Apron. Keep up that cooking thing you guys like to do, humans!
This is yu choy (image source: specialtyproduce.com).

Not bad.

What do you think, Lola?

Not bad.
Before giving our rating, I'd like to provide a disclaimer. The pictures above show way more Yu choy on our plates than we're actually supposed to eat. The humans would have taken it away well before we ate anywhere close to that amount. It makes for better photos if you're actually able to see the food we're eating, but we don't want anyone thinking this is actually the proper amount to feed your guinea pig.

Now, back to our review. Lola got a little bored and wandered off after a minute of munching on Yu choy. I was a bigger fan of it, but eventually got bored as well. It's not a bad food, but it's no carrots. And the health warnings about vitamin A and calcium should also be taken into consideration. We'll give Yu Choy 3/5 stars!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Guinea Pig World Records, Part 2

Last year, we posted about some interesting guinea pig world records, including the oldest guinea pig, the longest jumper, the highest jumper, and the fastest runner. It looks like another guinea pig world record may be on the verge of being set:
This is Ginger. She might be famous soon! (image source: Union Leader)
Ginger is a guinea pig who lives with her human, Briana Drouin, in Hooksett, NH. Just this month, Ginger gave birth to 10 baby piggies at Northside Animal Hospital. While 2 of the 10 were stillborn, the other 8 are alive and thriving so far. Their names are: Bean, Coffee, Ginger Jr., Peanut, Almond, Coco, Chocolate and Brownie Jr. Ginger's human Briana was quite surprised, as she was told to expect about 3 baby guinea pigs.

Briana thinks that Ginger may have broken the world record for the largest litter of guinea pigs. The previous she record she found was 9 baby guinea pigs, set in 1992 in Australia. Guinness is investigating, and it will probably take them a few weeks to verify if this is a new record or not.

If you live close to NH, be aware that Briana will be putting them up for adoption. It could be a chance to take home an adorable piece of guinea pig history!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Guinea Pig Molar Trims and Malocclusion

Broccoli here, everyone. I've got to tell you all about the latest chapter in my ongoing dental problems. The humans recently noticed that when I eat, I would occasionally open my mouth very widely and tilt my head. That, along with a 50 gram weight loss, led them to take me to the veterinarian to get checked out.

Give it to me straight, doc. Will I be able to continue chewing on things normally?

The veterinarian said I needed a molar trim. Guinea pig teeth are constantly growing, and we need to wear them down by eating consistently. If the teeth start getting too long, that makes it harder to eat, which means they get less worn down and grow even longer. It's a nasty cycle that can get worse and worse if left untreated. Fortunately, our cavy savvy humans know that regular weigh ins are the best way to detect problems, and seeing a minor but consistent weight loss made them more vigilant for other issues.

The technical term for overgrown teeth is malocclusion. Guinea Lynx gives the following malocclusion warning signs checklist:
  • Does your guinea pig seem to work at chewing like he has something caught in his mouth that he or she is trying to unstick?
  • Is there exaggerated ear movement when he chews?
  • Is there discharge from the eyes or nose (can indicate an abscess)?
  • Does he seem to chew to one side?
  • Are the front teeth even and lined up?
  • Does he eat at the same rate/speed the other pigs eat at?
  • Can he rip and tear?
  • Can he eat the peel as well as the apple from an apple slice?
  • Does he chew (carrots in particular) and let little pieces drop out of his mouth?
  • Does he pick up a pellet in his mouth and let it drop out again?
  • Does he show great interest in food, yet not eat?
  • Is he steadily losing weight?
  • Is he drooling?
If your guinea pig shows these warning signs, make sure you take them to the vet as soon as possible to get checked out. After my molar trim, I'm back to eating normally, and feeling good!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Alcosa Cabbage?

Happy (belated) new years, loyal readers! Who's ready for another fun year of food and product reviews, and other guinea pig fun? Presumably you are, if you're still reading this, and we love that you are! Let's kick off 2017 with a new food review, shall we?

After doing the blog for so many years, it's been getting harder and harder to find foods that we haven't review yet that we know are okay for guinea pigs to eat. There were times we worried that we'd have to retire our food reviews because we've simply eaten everything we can in the produce section at the grocery store. Fortunately, the human are subscribed to Blue Apron, which sometimes provides unusual types of produce we've never heard of. (For example, see our review of Atlas Carrots.) Recently, the humans got an "Alcosa Cabbage" from them, which is another new one to us. We looked it up, and it turns out it's a type of savoy cabbage. This means we can have it 2-4 times per week, but only in small portions because it's a gassy food.

New food!

I'll take this row, and you take the other row. Deal?

Hey, who gets the middle row?
We couldn't reach an agreement on who got the middle row, and it turned out to be a free-for-all. It was a little chaotic, but we each got our fair share of cabbage in the end. Wish the humans would give us more, but we know we got a fairly generous portion as-is, and we can't eat too much cabbage at once. Oh well.

Alcosa Cabbage gets 5/5 stars!