Sunday, September 27, 2009

rabbit takes over blog (for today)

My daughter took these photos. She adores Eli.

It took just a few days with Eli to realize how smart he is.



I had him on my lap on the couch to be petted. Next time he was playing on the floor, he figured out how to jump up onto the couch, even though it was a bit high for his little (dwarf rabbit) self. Rabbits won't leap into the unknown, but once they know what up there, it's a whole new world.



When he wants my attention, he stomps his foot or rattles his cage bars. When he likes how I'm petting him, he makes it very clear that it would be in every one's best interest that I continue.



One day I stepped out of the room when Eli was out of his cage and I returned to find him halfway up the book shelf! He somehow jumped on a little chair, causing it to go next to a box in front of the shelf, which then enabled him to jump onto the middle book shelf. Or so I'm guessing.

You can see it when he is figuring stuff out: the wheels are turning and he will get his way. Now I won't leave him unattended. He's just too inventive.

He's a very sweet, friendly rabbit, though I wouldn't mind if his love affair with my feet came to an end. He likes to lick my feet and nuzzle them. Funny bunny.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

saturday afternoon



Kazula hopes you're having a fine day. She certainly is.

Friday, July 31, 2009

hanging out



Both piggies take turns laying on the fabric tunnel I hung from their bridge. It forms a hammock. With such big heads, I think they like somewhere to rest them.

Petting

Kazula continues to allow petting, but she prefers it when she's laying on her ledge so she can relax and enjoy it. Sometimes if I stop too soon, she comes running to ask for more. Sweet!

Harmony tolerates little nose touches but not much else from me. My daughter can pet her when she's eating but she always seems nervous.

Treats
Lately when I feed them little treats (a bit of carrot, apple, or a grape), they will take the food from my hands and carry it away to eat. Harmony is the funniest because she runs away with her grape like she's just robbed a bank and has to make a getaway. She reminds me of the IKEA ad where the woman yells, Start the car, Start the car! Her expressions are very funny. Sometimes Kazula seems more interested in stealing Harmony's treat than eating her own. Little rascal.

Silliness
The piggies are now seven months old, about half way to full adulthood. They popcorn only about half as much as they did as babies but they still get pretty silly when I'm cleaning the cage each day or visiting. Some mornings before I come to say hello, I can hear them running really fast laps around both levels of the cage. Burn those calories!

Whistling
Several times a day they whistle for me, hoping for a treat, which they often get. Sometimes they have a full lot of food but whistle anyway, probably just recognizing the sound of the fridge opening and closing, or the sound of the metal colander I use for rinsing their greens.

Food
My veggie garden has been a huge help for providing fresh, cheap pig food. Each day we pick parsley and a variety of fresh lettuce greens, in addition to the other rotated fruits and veggies they are allowed.

Antics
They seem to take turns pulling pranks on each other. Sometimes one will block the way to the food area so the other cannot get through. It's particularly funny when Harmony does it because she has the bulk to really block the path. But neither pig is dominant, it really alternates.

The other interesting thing is that they don't hold grudges. Any mishap seems to be immediately forgotten. There's no retaliation or revenge like you see with other animals like cats (which can be very, very funny).

Heat
They go into heat every sixteen days or so but the last time they did (they start a day apart), it didn't last the full three days. I only heard them purr at each other a couple of times and that was it.

Size
If their current size is any indication, these girls are going to be huge at full adult size. Harmony is your standard big pig, Kazula is much slimmer and looks more like a WebKinz than a real animal.

Advice
Guinea pigs are high maintenance pets. They need food and cage cleaning at least twice a day. You could not go on even a short holiday without having someone come in to look after them (mine would not transport well to another location).

Much of the food sold for guinea pigs in stores is not appropriate for their diet. They should not have corn or nuts or seeds. Every pet shop sells the crap and just a few sell good quality and appropriate pellets and hay.

Guinea Pigs Go Hollywood
The new G-Force movie will be terrible for the guinea pig population. More people will adopt them from breeders, which will create another influx of unwanted pets. The ads for the movie show improper handling of the pigs: you should never pick one up under the arms alone: they always need their front and rear ends supported at the same time.

I hate it when movies come out exploiting a particular type of animal. You know they will become the centre of attention for a while and pay the price with over breeding, mishandling, and eventual abandonment.

Guinea pigs in particular are a big, adult responsibility. A young child should never be left to their care or handling.

Lecture over. We love our pigs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Petting News



The picture is kind of blurry but you will note that that is a hand PETTING Kazula! For the past six weeks or so, she has been letting us pet her. My daughter can pet her anywhere in the cage but for me, she likes to lay down on her favourite perch and relax while I pet her. She enjoys a good massage. So sweet!

Harmony will tolerate some petting, mostly in the kitchen area while she's munching hay but she still seems nervous about it. We had a visitor recently who didn't know she doesn't like petting and reached in and just started stroking her. It was so funny to see the look of shock on Harmony's face! She put up with it for about 20 seconds and then ran to hide.

We still don't pick them up but being able to pet Kazula is a major step forward. When Harmony doesn't want to be petted, she tries to nip. Kazula doesn't nip but instead gives a little kick with her back leg or runs away.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Funnies


I like it when Harmony rests her great big head!

1. We love to create new play areas for the piggies each day. They are very curious and get very excited when there is something new to explore.

One day recently I put one of their fabric tunnels on a bent piece of grid and hung it from the side of the cage to create a resting space a few inches off the floor (they like jumping up and down). I kiddingly said to my daughter, The first pig who tries it out gets a nice piece of apple (a favourite treat).

Right then, Harmony stops what she's doing and runs full speed to the new setup and jumps right in!

It was very funny. I'm sure it's a coincidence but we laughed so hard because she not only came to sniff it out but jumped up and in as if she'd been doing it all along. And I did give her a piece of apple: she earned it!

2. I came home the other day and saw my family sitting in the livingroom. I jokingly said, Honey, I'm home. Right then the piggies start wheeking like crazy. They know my voice and they know I'm the one most likely to feed them so when they hear me call out, they now always give a shoutout back. Sweet!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Piggie Cam: Kiss and Run



These two are so silly together.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Piggie Cam: Home Alone



Every so often I place the camera in movie mode and leave it on the floor of the piggie cage. As you will see in this video, the ramp is a hub of activity for Kazula and Harmony.

I'm not sure what they think of the camera. They seem to treat it like some sort of non-threatening visitor. You know they know it's there (because they come up and sniff it so often) but they still continue their usual antics just the same.

Also worth noting: piggies get a lot of good exercise by having ramps and lofts in their cages. Our piggies must go up and down the ramp dozens of times a day. Sometimes they are going upstairs for food, but often they are just goofing around. Our cage also have a half level shelf in the first floor which they love to sleep on and jump on and off. It's a good, active life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

notes on changes in Guineaville


Here are some changes that have happened during this fourth month in the lives of Harmony and Kazula:

1. The piggies started sleeping out in the open. Prior to this, they always slept in the security of a hidey. I attribute this change to a greater level of comfort and security. Yay us!

2. Heat Cycles (every 15-17 days, according to g.p. medical sources):
Harmony went into heat on March 31. The purrs and hip sways last about 3 days. Kazula went into heat on April 1.
Next cycle: Harmony went into heat on April 16. Kazula didn't seem to be in heat again until late on April 18.
That puts Harmony on the 16 day cycle and Kazula at 18 days. We'll see what happens next.

I'm eternally grateful that going in to heat is not a messy affair. It's just a behaviorial change, from our standpoint, and it can be very sweet and funny as well as intense. All we see is lots of purring, hip swaying, and nose to nose touching.

A friend said her guinea pig never seems to go in heat. Perhaps these behaviors are only present when there is more than one pig to act it out on? I want to find the answer to this.

3. We moved the eating / peeing area of the cage to one of the upper lofts. This makes it way easier to keep the cage clean. They will poop anywhere anytime, which is find because herbivore poops are totally inoffensive and easy to sweep up. And because they do most of their peeing while eating, all the pee is soaked into the old towel under the kitchen fleece. I change that one daily and the rest of the cage only needs a fleece and towel change on a weekly basis. Simple!

Also, by isolating the kitchen, hay only gets on that small section of fleece. I change that piece daily and just sweep the hay off the fleece into the compost bag. Done!

4. I made a hay rack for the eating area. I bent a spare cage grid into a tight U shape and hung it on a wall. Soon after, Kazula managed to jump into from one side of the open U and couldn't figure out to get out. I had to touch her rear end to get her to jump along and off it. Goofball! I then added coroplast sides to keep her from repeating the episode. While they will eat what's on the fleece first, it's good to keep spare dry grass and hay in the rack in case they run out while I'm out in the day. Gotta keep those ever-growing teeth chewing!

5. Dominance
We're starting to see some adult behaviours such as quests for dominance. In the past few days, Harmony has been really asserting herself with Kazula. I've seen Harmony use the bulk of her body to block Kazula from walking across the bridge to or from the kitchen area. I've also seen Harmony sort of snap at Kazula after they touch noses. I think I might have heard a growl too. Once I saw Harmony take a light nip on one of Kazula's ears. No mark, no wheek, no blood, but it was a definite sign of the quest for dominance. This is all very funny coming from the one piggie who is the biggest chicken in the cage.

6. Petting / Contact with the Humanoids
We continue to move closer, ever so slowly. My daughter has been able to pet Kazula for about 20-30 seconds at a time, but only when she has kind of cornered her first. If she has an escape route, she'll still run away.

Kazula likes to be near my hands and will touch noses with me! Sometimes I really feel like she's trying to get me to pet her but her skittish side over rules it.

I bring my hand to Harmony many times a day and just let her sniff it. Sometimes I take it away before she is done so it doesn't seem like I'm always imposing on her. Progress is slow but steady. Ultimately we're hoping they'll be so big and happy that they can't much escape us and will enjoy more petting. They are so ridiculously cute that it's really hard to hold back and not snuggle them.

7. Growth
Both piggies have been growing a lot. They are about 3 times the length they were when we got them 2.5 months ago. On May 1st they will be 4 months old. Wow. Apparently growth continues until they are 15 months old. Yikes. Good thing we have a huge cage!

8. Funny
When I place a stack of hay in the kitchen area, Kazula always burrows under it and makes it fly around by heading butting the hay into the air. Harmony ends up with hay on her head as she stands there eating and watching. It's quite funny but hard to capture with the movie camera so far...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Piggie Morning Workout Video



Harmony has just completed her Certification as a Fitness Instructor. To celebrate, we made this video. Put on your finest Jane Fonda-esque workout clothes and get ready to sweat!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

dining up high



We converted one of the cage lofts to a kitchen (which for guinea pigs really means a kitchen/bathroom). I added a half level shelf to give a hiding place by the food (below it), since the girls always like to have somewhere to flee to if there is a sudden sound. Kazula has converted this shelf into her eating spot. She loves to sit up there and be served her hay and veggies.

The kitchen idea really cuts down on the daily cleaning time. Hay is only served in that area, so the fleece in the rest of the cage stays hay-free. They also do most of their bathroom business in the kitchen so cleanup elsewhere is minimal. The change from serving food in the lower level to the upper loft confused them for about half a day, and then they settled in just fine. Where the food goes, they go.

We're still not able to pet or pick up the piggies, but they are very happy to hand feed, and they call me to visit them several times a day. Just whistle if you want me!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

sweet harmony



Harmony was by far the most fearful of the two piggies when we got them. Now she's the most affectionate with me, always coming up and sniffing my hands and wrists when I'm cleaning the cage. She seems genuinely pleased when I come chat with her. She's found that special little place in my heart.

There is absolutely nothing cuter or funnier than when Harmony is excited and starts racing and popcorning around the cage. Because she's quite big, it's both goofy and endearing. She's a sweetie.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

look how far she's come

Kazula was such a tiny, nervous little girl when we got her at six weeks old:



Now, almost two months later, she's much happier, healthier, and more confident:



The magic formula:
love, patience, a big cage, healthy food, and companionship.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

getting a skittish or shy guinea pig to warm up to you

From what I understand, some guinea pigs will always be skittish and resist human contact. Others, with time and patience, become trusting and start enjoying some interaction. A lucky few people have very docile pigs that don't mind being picked up and petted. I think they're the ones that get to be YouTube stars. The rest of us may get there, or close to it, with lots of time and patience.

Here's what has worked for us so far. This has taken place from age 6 weeks until 12 weeks:

1. Provide a safe, secure environment, with regular meal times. You'll know things are set up right if the piggies play happily when you're not there. If they don't play or run around at all, something is not right. The probably will either be the cage setup or their health or both. Check everything and see a vet if needed.

2. Talk with the piggies whenever you can. Encourage everyone in your household to do this as well. You want them to get familiar with everyone. And for now: hands off! You have to do this in very small, patient steps. If you got the piggies to be cute pets for your little kids, you may be in for some disappointment. Each guinea pig is different. Just like people.

3. Spend lots of time cleaning the cage or simply standing near it while talking. Guinea pigs can learn simple tricks after about 30 repetitions. It's probably the same with getting comfortable with you. Expect at least 30 good interactions for them to start bonding with you.

4. Never get between the piggie and its escape route. Each piggie needs at least one hidey hut. If you are cleaning the cage, make sure your hands are not blocking the route to the hidey. Over time, the piggies will start playing while you're cleaning, but only if they feel like they can make a run for it if they need to. Be mindful of things from the piggie's viewpoint.

5. Expect nothing and be delighted in every small step forward. Never ever try and force behaviour. Think of them like little kids. How do you win the favour of a child? Same things: safe, trusting environment, plus time and patience.

6. Don't try and touch the piggies. Just be there available for them to explore you. If you have a big open floor cage, go in and sit down and let them sniff around you. Otherwise, just put one or two hands in (depending on what they're comfortable with) and chat with them and watch.

7. If there are sudden noises while you're with the piggies, keep talking calmly. Gradually they will take more comfort in your voice more than noticing the noise.

8. When placing food in the cage, over time, start lingering a little longer and longer. After a few weeks, you should be able to keep your hand still near the food and have the piggies comfortable enough to come nibble it with your hand nearby.

9.Identify favourite treats and use them. Harmony and Kazula love apple, which they shouldn't have much of. After a few weeks, I can now take tiny pieces in my finger tips and entice them to come to me for hand feeding. I always use the word 'apple' which then seems to get them sniffing the air and coming to me. I hold the piece firmly until they get it with their mouths and pull it away. When they take it, I say 'good girl!'. Even if they drop it, I always praise them. Guinea pigs are never to be reprimanded. They don't understand it. All they will do is fear your anger. Keep it kind and gentle.

10. At six weeks, our piggies would hide if we came near the cage. By 12 weeks, I'm a welcome visitor. Sometimes Kazula even whistles for me to come over! I can place the food in the cage with no problems. They like to sniff my hands and circle around my wrists. If they do frighten, they come back right away to investigate things further.

11. My newest technique is 'Hello'. When they are playing in the cage, I put my hand in and place my knuckles near their noses, one pig at a time. I don't stick out a finger for them to sniff because they are still assuming my hand=food and have accidentally bitten me. It was a gentle bite but my startle startled them. So instead I use the backs of my hand so there's nothing to bite. I say hello, let them sniff, and then gently pull my hand away. I do this as many times a day as I can. The idea is that we will get them comfortable with my hand without expecting there always to be food with it. Gradually I hope to open a finger and perhaps (much further along) touch them. But for now, it's small steps and lots of patience. If they are going to overcome their skittishness, I think this is the most likely way.

I'm not sure what the next step will be. It always seems to become obvious to me when we get there. In other words, the piggies are the boss.

Progress so far:
6 weeks - always hiding when we're around, not even allowing photographs from a distance
to
12 weeks: calling us over, comfortable with our hands nearby, sometimes touching their noses to us; posing for closeup photos.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

bathing guinea pigs

Some people give their guinea pigs baths. Since ours are still very young and not yet interested in being handled, the decision to do this has not come up. In the mean time, the girls do a pretty good job washing themselves.

I've noticed that instead of drinking from the water bottle, Harmony will sometimes get the water to drip out and then use it to wash her face and body. Clever!

In this short clip, Kazula uses the excess water on the lettuce to have an impromptu washing session:



Did you know guinea pigs have four fingers on their front paws/hands but just three toes on their back ones? Yup, it's true.

Guinea Pig Sounds

This is the list of guinea pig sounds from Wikipedia [guinea pigs]:
Sounds I've noticed
(To play the wikipedia sounds, I had to modify a plug-in in my windows media player to accept .ogg files.) It's interesting to play them and compare to what I'm hearing with our piggies.

Harmony and Kazula are now 3 months old. They made no sounds when we first got them at six weeks, then one day Kazula let out a little wheek when she knew her veggies were arriving, and Harmony soon imitated it.

Once in while the piggies will be close together and I hear what sounds like baby birds chirping. It's a sweet, very distinct sound.

A squeal or a shriek, I imagine, is like a very loud wheek. The closest we've heard is once when Harmony was being picked up and clearly did not like it.

Harmony was once gnashing her teeth which made a chattering sound. It was apparent that she was hoping for a treat.

I'm not sure if we've heard rumbling, chutting, or whining. The girls get along really well so dominance has not been an issue yet. They also come into heat around the same time so one is not particularly driving the other nuts with desire.

I heard a lot of what I think was bubbling and purring when the girls were in heat recently. Otherwise, they seem to use these little birdy voices to converse.

Like all animals, I suspect their voices and sounds are far more complex than this list here. It's now known that all song birds have unique qualities to their voices and song melodies. I know I've heard a lot more from our pigs than what's listed here. The trick is to catch it with the recorder! You never know when they're going to do something.

My favourite sound is when Kazula whistles for me. It's much like a human using their fingers to make a high pitched whistle sound. She has done this a few times so far when she seems to want me to come over and say hello. Very sweet!

Resources
Jackie's Guinea Pig Sounds also provides listening files of common guinea pig sounds

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

kazula blue eyes

When she was new to us, Kazula's eyes were very blue. Now they're darker but in some light the blue (and red) shows up:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Harmony's best side



There are few things funnier than how Harmony's bum wiggles when she runs full speed around the cage!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

going going gone







Harmony's philosophy: eat and run.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

rabbits popcorn too!

Please welcome a special guest star to our blog today: Eli the popcorning bunny!



When we first got Eli, we weren't sure what this crazy jump was all about. Eventually we realized that it's his way of jumping for joy, the same way happy guinea pigs do. And it's certainly entertaining.

Friday, March 27, 2009

meeting on the bridge

The piggies always make time to stop and chat:



They have several distinct sounds they use for conversations.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

the poser and the runner

Kazula ("Zuzu") likes to stop and pose for the camera:



Harmony, on the other hand, tends to whip right by:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

12 weeks update



You know things are settling in nicely with our piggies when I can finally get clear close-ups. Yay!

Here's some notes from our week/wheek:

Co-Attachment
Twice this week I noticed Harmony waking up and wheeking in a wee panic that she didn't know where Kazula was. She gets up, runs wheeking to find her buddy, then calms right down. I think she's the most sentimental and bonded of the two. I also think she's strongly bonding with me. She seems to really enjoy it when I dote on her, talking and praising her. But we're still on a hands-off basis, all talk and no touch. But if I was a G.P. Whisperer/psychic, I'd say I'm certain she wants to be petted but is just overcoming her skittish instinct.

Sexual Maturing
It's confirmed: along with the low purrs and circling around each other, I saw Kazula do the hip sway which indicates maturation. Welcome to the door or womanhood, piggies. Please note that it will be beyond difficult to ever find a good man in your cage. This first occurs in females at 2 months old, so I may have missed the first cycle or two.

Eating Styles
Kazula likes to hand feed, hoard a pile of food, and then eat.
Harmony takes one item at a time, gobbles it up, and then gets more.
If Kazula wanders off from her stockpile, Harmony helps herself.
It kind of works out since Harmony is much plumper than skinny Kazula.

Trust
When I was cleaning the cage this week, for the first time I blocked off the top of the ramp so the piggies would stay up top while I cleaned down below. This seemed to startle Harmony. Both were curious about the blocked door, but Harmony seemed skittish from it: a little less trusting of me for a few minutes afterwards. She also seemed a little jumpier the rest of the day. I'm not sure if that's what caused it or it was coincidental, but it does seem that while they love having existing and familiar things in the cage changed up each day for variety, they are very vary of entirely new things or changes. If I change too much at once, they stick to one area of the cage, near the food for a day or so.

Toy
We tried hanging a play toy with a bell on it and romaine attached. Kazula first ran away, as she always does, and then continued to investigate, gaining a little more courage with each sniff. I have video of this which I'll put up. I hope to compare it to future footage of them playing with the toy (so optimistic!). Eventually she did nibble some of the romaine off but the movement of the toy seemed too much. Harmony would have no part of this new adventure. I took it down. I'm sure in the future some time they will be ready for such silliness but not yet. Small steps. Their happiest play time is still cage cleaning time: they love to sniff around my hands and run and popcorn. Id' popcorn too if someone was cleaning my house for me every day!

New Idea for a Simple Cozy
I found some fleece children's winter hats at the thrift store. By adding a similar sized embroidery hoop near the opening, it creates a nice cozy house that stays open. It's a good compromise between snuggling and hiding. We'll see what the girls think....

Update: It took about a week for the piggies to play with these hats. I eventually removed the hoops and now sometimes they run under them and then fling them up (fun).

Think Before You Buy
Snack Shack: edible hut for small pets. If you read the ingredients listed on the packaging, you will learn that this item is made from sawdust and honey. Now, clearly those two items are not on any credible list of a guinea pigs dietary needs. It was a kind gift, but it's now out of the cage.

Handling
We've started trying to touch the piggies a little bit. The occasional touch here and there. They certainly like to approach my hand on the bottom of the cage but tend to flee if I move it toward them. I know most pigs don't like to be picked up but some don't mind the holding and petting. It's just the transportation that's the issue. We'll be patient and just keep trying.

Food
This week's surprise hit is green pepper. Kazula in particular gobbles it up. Each pig is also very fond of apple. I give tiny bits from my finger tips to build trust with this special treat (it's high in sugar so can't be given too often).

I feel like they eat a lot of hay and produce. I'm curious if this will slow down when they're done growing. Sometimes the volume of hay bobbled up is really amazing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Homemade Piggie Tunnel

I admit my enjoyment of our new guinea pigs went way up when I realized I could sew stuff for them. It's fun to see how they play and then devise safe toys to make for them.

This is one of their fabric tunnels. We were going to sew hidey houses but noticed they are skittish enough that they seem to like two exits on any hiding space, so they won't feel trapped. Hence, the tunnel.



It's about 12" long and the opening is about 6" across.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Cage - Still Under Renovations



We're still renovating the cage to suit the piggies but here's how it looks today. These C&C homemade cages (Cubes & Coroplast) are named according to how many cube grids are used. In our case, the cage is 2x5 on the lower level, with two 1x2 cubes on the upper level, plus the bridge adjoining the two lofts. The base of the cage is approximately 6' long by 30 inches wide. In other words, these two sweet piggies have lots of room to run around.

Coroplast is another name for corrugated plastic. It can be scored and folded to fit the cage base and provide protective sides. The waterproof surface keeps the cage from getting stinky because under the fleece, towels, and newsprint, it can easily be wiped clean with diluted vinegar and/or water.

As you can see from the photo, our piggies enjoy using a lot of fabric tunnels. I sew these myself using faux/synthetic sheepskin-like fabric, and cotton scraps, plus some polyester quilt batting inside. Every day when we're cleaning the cage and spending time with the piggies, we move some of the tunnels around which they enjoy a lot.

They love to explore safe, new combinations. In fact, they are so comfortable with their tunnels, that I use them to introduce them to anything new: just aim the tunnel at the new item and they run through and sniff out the new addition.

Resources:
Here in Canada, I found Rubbermade cubes (sold as make-your-own stackable shelving units) in the storage department at Home Depot (13 grids with connectors for $19.99 CAD). I also saw them at WalMart. There are other ones at Canadian Tire, in a chrome finish.

The corrugated plastic comes in a few sizes. I picked the biggest pieces that I could still fit in my car. At Home Depot, it's found in the Door Department along with plexiglass type panels.

I had to piece sections together for the cage so I joined them with duct tape, being sure to place the tape on exterior surfaces that the piggies couldn't come into contact with.

A package of small zip/cable ties is also useful for joining various sections and cubes together. I also used them to secure the ramp to the loft and attach the ramp roof (which makes the piggies feel safe to travel up and down).

Upcoming:
I'm thinking about adding a second bridge under the existing one and doing some cosmetic work to make the whole thing spiffier. Stay tuned, piggie lovers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

hand feeding Harmony

Harmony will just about always break (and brake) for parsley:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

11 weeks - patience rewarded

Big changes have been happening this week. First of all, the piggies are really warming up to us.

Food and Handling
We've gone from initially having to leave food and step away for them to eat, to gradually hand feeding them at the side of the cage. And now this week I have been able to put my hands right in the cage and hand feed them from there. Our patience is really paying off.

Harmony really loves apple, and while she shouldn't have much of it, I use tiny pieces to hand feed her. Because she has such a skittish nature, it's very touching to have her trust me this much. While we're hand feeding, a person might make a noise or cough or something and that might send them hiding, but they always come back right away and continue on. It's as if their nature is becoming a background situation and their desire to interact with us is starting to overpower it.

I will remain patient because I see the payoff already but I can't tell you how much I want to be able to eventually hold them on my lap and pet them. It seems we're on our way. Small steps.

Sexual Maturation
I think my girls are coming of age. If I was a betting woman, I would say that Harmony is perhaps two weeks older than Kazula, though we'll keep their guesstimated dates of birth as January 1, 2009, and Harmony seems to be getting her first glimpses of womanhood.

I haven't read up on it much but here's what I've noticed:
Harmony started doing this deep purr in recent days. Kazula sometimes answers it with her own purring. Sometimes they are sitting still when they purr but other times they are actually running and playing. I can't tell if it's sexual, contentment, or something else. My gut tells me it's a hormonal thing and they are happy.

Along with the purr, Harmony started nuzzling Kazula's neck. She'll do about three strokes with her nose and purr deeply while doing it. I can't tell you how many times I've checked for a penis, worried that she's actually male and ready to reproduce! NO. NO. NO. There are zillions of unwanted pets on this planet and I do not want to breed more. That's why we got two females: no breeding, no accidents. Just two loving pets in a caring home.

So, no penis on that girl but lots of desire in her, I think. Kazula doesn't nuzzle Harmony but she deep-purrs too. I don't know if she's just imitating Harmony or her time is coming too. If I'm way off on this, feel free to leave a comment telling me what's actually going on.

First Feud
When I'm hand feeding the piggies, I try to keep them both eating so they can trust what I'm doing and not squabble about equal portions. However, once this week I gave Kazula a piece of romaine. Harmony was hungry and zotted over and took it from her. Kazula took it back. Harmony lashed out. I don't know exactly what she did because it was over in a flash (less than a second) but it seemed to be a sort of growl/hiss/bite gesture of some kind. It was interesting because this is the first annoyance they've shown each other besides escaping the other's butt sniffing. I gave Harmony her own romaine and that ended that. It was a very minor episode but a new behaviour, for sure.

Mom Love
This week when I was cleaning the cage, taking my time so I could entice them with my charms, both piggies came over in turn and nudged my hand with their noses. They each then ran off but it was another huge step. I know they look forward to cuddles as much as I do. Lots of times when I'm passing by the cage I'll flirt with them, using my voice to lure them over and have a little hello. They're very receptive to this and so cute. We're become fine friends.

These are not pets for the impatient or insensitive. And I'd never leave a child in charge of their own guinea pigs. It takes a lot of care and supervision but it's also very enjoyable. I find it very relaxing to clean their cage and chat with them each day.

Emergency Preparedness
It recently occured to me that one downfall of having such a big, comfy cage is that it is not portable. I'm going to keep a suitable carrier cage (with a towel in it) under our cage table. If there was ever an emergency where we had to hurry to the vets or flee the house, I could quickly pick up the piggies and bring them to safety.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Piggie Cam: The East Wing



I've dubbed the loft areas the West and East Wings. For reasons only known to guinea pigs, the girls spend a lot of their time in the East wing. Perhaps half the fun is running across the bridge to get there.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Piggie Cam: Coming When Called



I could tell around 8 weeks that the piggies seemed to be recognizing their names. Each name sounds distinctly different (Harmony versus 'Zuzu') and they respond accordingly. In this footage, Kazula (Zuzu) comes over when I call her. At the end, Harmony is on the bridge behind her and patiently waits to get by.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Piggie Cam: Food Cam



Harmony is not aggressive with Kazula, but whenever Kazula wanders away from her food, Harmony helps herself.

Off-camera, Kazula came over and sniffed my hand by the camera. Guinea pigs are very sweet, curious creatures.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 weeks - training the pigs

Let's get something straight right here. Training a guinea pig should be a mutually enjoyable thing. I would never do any of it if I didn't feel certain that the piggies like and desire the experience. We have sort of fallen into word command training (or whatever you want to call it) as we noticed that the piggies instinctively seem to do things that suggests they enjoy the process. They seem to be teaching me and I follow along.

For instance, as the girls have warmed up to us, they are now accepting some hand feeding. Along with this, when they have gobbled up some romaine and want some more, they wait at the side of the cage near us and stand on their hind legs. We have used this opportunity to teach them 'stand'. They now stand up for food.

Here are the voice commands (with food incentives) that we have decided to try:
1. Stand Up - they can do this now
2. Circle - we'll start this when they are hand feeding from within the cage
3. Upstairs (to get them to come upstairs in the cage to say hello)
4. Downstairs (to get them to come downstairs to the food area at meal time)
5. Their own names (they seemed to recognized their different names around 8 weeks)
6. Shake hands (later when they are comfortable with climbing on our hands)
7, Kisses = almost touching my nose to theirs at side of cage. They do this now though I hesitate to really touch in case they think my nose is food.

We thought it would be a good idea if we all used the same words and approaches for these commands. I do the most cage care so they are most responsive to me so far but they definitely like our whole family which is great.

Skittishness
We had a big change this week. While I was cleaning the cage (sweeping the hay and poops off the fleece with a little dustpan and broom), Harmony came right up to me and licked my hand. Considering she is by far the most skittish of the two pigs, this was a big event. I was quite honoured to have her trust me this way.

Fun and Play - Change Things Up Daily
In a way it seems contradictory to their skittish nature, but the piggies definitely enjoy having daily changes to their cage. I spend as much time as I can with my hands in the cage, cleaning up and just being near them, and at each cleaning I move their hideys around, creating new play scenarios. They are always interested in changes and chat about whatever I do and fully investigate it. I love it when they get silly, climbing on their hidey tunnels and racing around.

I've been looking for inexpensive but safe ping pong balls to add to the cage in case they will play with them. Other people seem to use various bird toys such as mirrors and hanging chewy wood toys. I haven't found anything yet at a good price that seems right but I'm on the lookout. It's so hard to trust a product that says 'Made in China' to be truly safe for piggie to chew on.

Photos
Many of my photos are taken by leaving my camera turned on, recording video, and then placing it on the floor of the cage. I later snatch still photos from the footage. It's blurry but better than nothing. It seems that the piggies are either racing around and hard to photograph or hidden and sleeping at this point. I'm sure they'll settle down when they're old and plump.

Chewing
I had used duct tape to hold the corrugated plastic together on the outside of the cage (where they couldn't get it) but Harmony managed to find some she could get to and had a little chewfest. As soon as I found this, I removed it. She then took to chewing the corrugated plastic at the top of the ramp. To stop her, I bought plastic project spines at Staples and covered it up. This plastic is too thick for her to attempt chewing and that seemed to stop it.

Some guinea pig advice says to always have wood available to chew, some warns that treated woods are toxic, but some raw woods are also harmful. I haven't sorted this out yet... For now they have their hay to munch on as much as they like.

Rear Sniffing
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, they have started sniffing each other's rears. One will get a whiff and follow the other around. It's something they obviously don't enjoy being the recipient of but they enjoy being the instigator. Silly piggies.

Size
By my estimates, they have already doubled in length and weight. They look like pubescent piggies now, not quite teenagers. I still don't have a scale but there's no mistaking how big they're getting.

Milestones
Ten weeks ended up being another great milestone in their acceptance of us. I can now clean the cage without scaring them. They just play around my hands and sometimes approach me for a sniff. I so look forward to being able to pet them or perhaps have them on my lap.

Piggie Cam
Is it just me or does sweet Kazula look like a sheep? She's very comical and because she's still so slender, she runs like the dickens!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Piggie Cam: Kazula in the loo



These two are very organized with their p&p locations. I'm not sure how I got this lucky but it sure makes for easy cleanup.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Piggie Cam: Kazula loves the bridge



Kazula looks like a very funny sheep with her tiny feet and fluffy body. So cute.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Piggie Cam: Hand Feeding



We knew we had turned a corner when both Harmony and Kazula started hand feeding at the side of the cage.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Piggie Cam: Dinner is Served



This footage captures a variety of sounds: chat and purrs, as well as some funny popcorning. Just because Harmony's a lot bigger doesn't mean she can't jump the highest!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

9 weeks - more renovations

Guinea pigs are very, very sweet. No two ways about it. They are very loving and attentive. And I can't help dreaming up more ways to enhance their lives. I think we've got mutual crushes on each other. They are trusting me a lot more, and always seem excited to see me, and I love spending time with them.

Exercise and Play
Each morning when we come down to the cage, the piggies wake up and become very active. They run really fast laps around the bottom cage, tear up and down the ramp and now, whip across The Bridge.

Yes, we have expanded once again. I bought another package of cage grids ($20 for a pack of 13 at Home Depot in the shelving department). I bent three of them into U shapes to form the bridge and used the rest to create a second loft area on the other side of the cage.

When we introduced the new area, the piggies were so excited I thought they were going to fly right out of it! Because of their extreme popcorning, I added some top guards for now to ensure we don't have any unfortunate events. For whatever reasons, running across the bridge and down the ramp seems to be one of their favourite things these days.

Sleep
Guinea pigs are nappers. They will play for a while and then take cat naps to recoup. It's always interesting to see where they choose to sleep. Initially, the girls would sleep rather upright with their eyes wide open. As they have become more and more comfortable with their home and us, they sleep in more relaxed positions. They usually conk out in separate hidey houses. In the early weeks they wanted to be side by side in separate houses. Now they will sleep in hideys on either level of the cage, not necessarily near each other. I feel really happy when I see them totally flaked out, their bodies completely relaxed. I take it as a sign that they feel safe and it's also the cutest thing you'll ever see.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Piggie Cam: Hidey House Confidential



At 8 weeks of age, the piggies were still too skittish for me to film them up close, so I started turning the camera on and placing it in the cage. I don't always get the best angle but it is fun to see life from their vantage point.

Notice how they hide sideways in their tunnels when there's human noise, and then resume play when the coast is clear. And despite their skittishness, there's always time for popcorning!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Piggie Cam: How the cage used to be



This footage shows a few early blunders:
-we have removed the Snack Shack after learning that they are made from sawdust and honey (and a few other things). Anything edible for the piggies to play with should be made of foods they are actually meant to eat! It was a kind gift for their housewarming but unfortunately turned out to be a pet store cash grab.

-lots of piggie owners like the pigloos but Harmony and Kazula are so wild in their play that I worried about them hurting themselves running in and out. While they are young and wild, we're sticking with soft/fabric hideys.

-the round husk hut was not used until I added a fleece pad inside for comfort and secured it to the cage wall. After doing that, they designated it as the The Loo. Funny and tidy, I must say.

-this is our ramp in its early stage. You'll notice the piggies don't run up there. They only started using it when I covered it like their tunnels. Then, it was playtime, people!

-while they are playful and popcorning (happy), I still can't come close at this point or they hide. By ten weeks, I could approach them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Piggie Cam: Kazula in time lapse



I accidentally set the camera to time lapse while filming Kazula. The funny thing is, it doesn't look that different from regular footage: she's very fast when she'd doing laps and playing!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

8 weeks - cage improvements & first wheeks!

Water
When we got our piggies, we got some pet store sales advice that turned out to be wrong/not helpful. I know this won't come as a surprise to many of you who love animals and realize that sales come before proper care and knowledge at a lot of these stores.

We were told that one big water bottle would suffice. I knew from my reading that the piggies would probably get enough water from their veggies if they were hearty eaters (they sure are!), but I also noticed that they never touched the water bottle. After some reading I learned that it would be wise to have at least two water bottles: and small ones at that: the size of their little mouths. The big water bottles are way to big right now.

The piggies had been drinking from a shallow water dish. To switch them to the bottle, I placed the dish beside the small water bottle spout for a few days. This got them investigating the water bottle. Eventually I removed the water dish (which was interfering with their lap-running route) and now just provide fresh water daily with the two bottles (big and little). I rarely notice them taking a drink. They seem to be satiated from their wet veggies, but I'll always keep the bottles there just in case.

Cage Improvements: Moving Up
You cannot explore guinepigcages.com without admiring all the two-level cages. We added a 2x2 grid loft and built an access ramp from double-thickness corrugated plastic. Because we are taking the laid back approach with our pigs, we didn't want to force them to use the ramp or loft so we left it to their initiative.

One day I was cleaning up and discovered Kazula on the second floor. She had braved it up the ramp but evidently did not yet know her way back down. It was kind of sweet and sad at the same time.

I thought about it a while and it occurred to me that because they were so hidey and enjoyed their tunnels so much, I should try making the ramp like a tunnel.

Ta-da! As soon as I added a ramp roof, they were up and down that baby like nobody's business! The loft became a favourite play place. I will post some videos that show the new loft.

First Wheeks!
Around 7-8 weeks old, our piggies got their voices. We had only heard very faint chatter from them up until this point, but suddenly one day when I was getting hay from the bag, Kazula did her first wheek. It was so sweet in her little baby voice. She did it a few times that day and by the next day Harmony was wheeking too. They are still so young so their voices are fairly soft. I imagine there will be some major wheeking in our future.

By the end of week 8, they knew to wheek whenever someone opened the fridge (which is located in eye-shot and about ten feet from their cage). Whether they are hungry or not, if they're not napping, they wheek for the fridge. Very optimistic, these piggies are!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Piggie Cam: Skittish but playful



While filming this, my daughter was preparing food in the kitchen. Notice how they flee at every sound.

Also note the Law of the Piggies:
Never enter an occupied hidey.

Piggie Cam: Morning Workout Video

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

7 weeks - switch to fleece bedding

I spent much of the first week reading everything I could about how to care for these two little sweeties.

I knew we had not chosen the right setup because in the first few days I would find Harmony in the pigloo and Kazula balled up in a corner of the cage with no where to go. I felt terrible. My searches led me to guineapigcages.com, where I discovered a lot of valuable information.

1. You can use fabric such as fleece in guinea pig cages. I had assumed they would chew it. Mine do not. This means you can line the cage with washable fleece instead of using commercial, disposable bedding. Our piggies were scaring themselves in the cage because when they would try and run and play, their feet would slip on the bedding and make a noise that frightened them. The day we switched to fleece, their level of contentment and playfulness transformed. They haven't had a day without popcorning (jumping for joy) since.

2. You can sew hidey houses and other accessories your piggies. This is my territory! I've always loved to sew (never with instructions, just intuitively) and I have a lot of leftover fabric from my hand-dyed fabric business, so this opened up a whole new world. Piggies can use hidey houses, piggie beds like cats use, hammocks suspended slightly off the cage bottom, and stuffed toys to drag around.

3. Each piggie needs their own hidey house. This doesn't mean one always uses the same hidey, but there always has to be at least one available for each pig. I felt terrible in our first week when I found Kazula balled up in a corner of the cage because Harmony had taken over the hidey house. And it wasn't Harmony's fault: she is definitely much more skittish and really needed to hide. But Kazula needed a warm safe place to hide too.

I set to work immediately and transformed the cage. I found fleece blankets at the thrift store and I had a supply of old towels.

Fleece Bedding
-bottom layer is newspaper
-middle layer is towels
-top layer is fleece blanket, cut to the floor size of the cage

Kitchen/Bathroom
I noticed that some cavy slaves (piggie owners) choose to have a bathroom area at one end of the cage with disposable bedding and then a fleece area. I suspected that our two girls might cling to a familiar area and avoid the fleece so I decided to go all-fleece. I also would rather wash fleece than buy and throw out Carefresh.

Our piggies p&p (pee and poop) where they eat, so I put extra towel and newspaper under the fleece in that area. We designated one end of the cage as the kitchen/bathroom and that has worked out really well. The hay determines where they p & p. They always go in the same areas so clean up is predictable and simple.

Diet and Nutrition
There is a very helpful list here [http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/diet-nutrition/22156-everything-you-need-know-about-guinea-pigs-diet-read-me-nutrition-charts-info.html] of what guinea pigs can eat and how often. People sometimes think they can have the same diet as hamsters and rabbits and this is not the case at all. Think of the food chain: if any one type of animal had the identical needs of another, the chain would not work. We stick to the recommendations on the list, and wish that we all treated our own bodies with the same care!

This week (week 7) I introduced parsley. They had been having the usual hay and pellets, as well as romaine, carrot, and celery. Kazula came and sniffed the parsley and then ran for her life! I've noticed that whenever I change something in the cage or offer a new food, one piggie will check it out and then go tell the other about it. You can actually hear them chatting about it. Then the second pig will come have a look. They're really curious animals. It reminds me of my (dearly departed) cats who would also investigate anything new we would bring into the house, and usually end up sleeping in whatever box or shopping bag was associated with it. Piggies are so sweet.

On this day, Kazula had a funny response to the acute scent of the parsley, ran and told Harmony. Harmony was still extremely skittish at this point but she still came and had a nibble. And then gobbled up the whole thing. Parsely is still Harmony's favourite food, though each day seems to have different tastes. Kazula is a romaine girl. Though I feed both of them a variety of veggies.

I notice they gobble up the easy-to-chew foods first (romaine and parsley) and then come back to the 'working foods' like carrot, celery, red and green peppers, cucumber, and so on. Zucchini is a least favourite and often doesn't get fully eaten.

Introduction to the new fleece bedding
The day we switched them to fleece bedding was really memorable. They ran around completely uninhibited and popcorned (guiena pig talk for jumping for joy) like we had never seen before. I also sewed a couple of fleece tunnels, lined with a synthetic fabric meant to be like sheepskin (they are about 12" long and the openings are approximately 6" in diameter). They loved their tunnels immediately. That night they each slept in a relaxed position for the first time since we had them. I glanced in to see Harmony with her arms (are they called arms?) and legs spread wide, head relaxed on a fold of the tunnel. Bliss!

The piggies never chew the tunnels but they do monkey around on them: sometimes they jump over them or climb on top of them, squishing them down. But then they run inside and plump them back up with the tops of their heads! So cute. I think it's a fun game for them. I'm going to post some videos showing their hidey tunnel monkey business.

Between the fleece bedding and the comfy hidey tunnels, I felt like we were finally on the right track. Next came the loft and ramp....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

6 weeks- new arrivals


Our two female guinea pigs, Harmony (left) and Kazula were adopted at approximately 6 weeks old, which would place their date of birth around January 1, 2009.

Since we got them, we have learned a lot about providing the best care for them, but this will outline how we started, some errors in judgement and improvements made. We didn't know much about guinea pigs (besides all the myths that people repeat)so we decided a good starting point is to base all decisions on health and safety first.

Size and Appearance
We were told the piggies were from the same litter but I found this disputable from the get-go. Harmony is short-haired and round, Kazula is long-haired and skinny. Harmony's instinct is to run and hide. Kazula's instinct is to walk away backwards to get away. There's lots of other differences as well. Not to say all piggies from the same litter should act the same: what siblings do? But there seemed to be fundamental physiological differences that made me suspect different litters. The hair differences seem obvious but I have no idea if that can happen in one litter. They also have very different responses to a variety of situations. But who knows? They are certainly bonding very well.

Both piggies were about palm size when we got them. They had more length than that but you rarely see it because they're usually hunched in a ball if they're visible. I don't have a scale yet but I they were certainly lighter than a small apple. Tiny and so dear!

Cage
Prior to their arrival, I built a 2x5 grid open top cage with corrugated cardboard insert. The actual cage size is about 30" x 72". It's a lovely, large space that allows them to run around and play. Gone are the days (or they should be) of confined spaces with painful wire tray bottoms and poor air circulation. I feel like I owe Snowball, the school guinea pig we took care of for the summer after Grade 2 way back in the 1970's, a very big apology for a whole bunch of reasons. All living creatures deserve better. And hopefully, when you know better, you do better.

When piggies are full-grown, they can have lower grid walls around their cages, but our wee babies became such wild jumpers in the first few weeks, leaping for joy during playtime, that I opted for tall, protective sides around the cage for now. Kazula is so light, when she jumps with excitement, she can actually leap right over their hidey houses (6-8" off the ground). I'm pretty sure when they're plump and older, the leaping won't be nearly so vigorous. But for now, the cage is a sort of playpen.

Bedding
We hadn't heard about the benefits of fleece fabric as bedding yet so we initially used synthetic fluffy bedding (Carefresh). It's quite expensive and not compostable. I was very pleased to switch to fleece bedding which is both very comfortable for the piggies and washable. The leftover hay (from feeding) and poops and newspapers go in our composter. More on this later.

Security
We purchased a plastic pigloo for them to hide in until we could find something more appealing (to both them and us). Later I learned a big lesson about hidey houses: one is not enough. And because both piggies are such wild runners and jumpers, I was a little worried about having too many hard surfaces in the cage. But we started with a pigloo....

Skittishness
Both pigs were very skittish upon arrival, though Harmony was much more wary than Kazula. In the first few days, we would rarely see them, as they would remain hidden from sight. They would venture out to play but I couldn't get close enough to take photos or movies for the first two weeks or so. I only got the photos at top because they had no voices when we got them so they weren't yet able to express their displeasure with being picked up with a WHEEK. We had big changes at 8 weeks and then again at 10 weeks (as I'm writing this), where they became much more trusting of us.

Food - Diet and Nutrition
We purchased a bag of Timothy hay and knew to provide unlimited hay. Before we smartened up with the hidey houses, Harmony would use the pigloo and Kazula would hide under the hay. Big hint: each piggie needs its own hiding place, plus an extra one that they can share.

We also purchased guinea pig pellets with vitamin C. Piggies are to eat hay, pellets, specific fresh vegetables and some occasional fruits, and have unlimited water (through a water bottle) each day. They are not to have any nuts or seeds, cooked foods, animal products (meat or dairy) or anything else. They are herbivores. I like this because their diet is a lot like mine and their poops are completely inoffensive.

It's very disturbing to see the guinea pig 'treats' sold in pet shops and grocery stores. Most are made entirely of things that piggies are not ever supposed to eat. You really have to read every label and when in doubt, don't buy it!

P & P
While we had the synthetic bedding, they seemed to pee and poop in random areas. This all got sorted out when we switched to fleece (more on this later). In short, the hay eating area is a natural spot for peeing and pooping, which actually makes things very organized and fairly easy to clean.

Handling
Initially, my daughter would pick them up to have a little cuddle. Harmony would try and hide up on her shoulder in her hair because she was so nervous. Kazula was more accommodating but still obviously uneasy about it. Everyone dreams of having the wonderfully affectionate and non-skittish piggies you see on YouTube videos, but this is something that develops over time, and for some piggies may not happen at all.

After some research, we decided to tame them on their own terms. We would only pick them up if we really had too, and we'd simply get them really familiar with us as we went about our daily business, tending to the cage and simply living our lives. I'll discuss this more as the weeks go by. The goal was to get them so comfortable with us and trusting that they would approach us for both food and affection. If they turn out to be skittish for life, it won't be because we jolted them into it. It will simple be their true natures. We're hopeful that with continued time and patience, both piggies will learn to trust us and enjoy our company.

Are Guinea Pigs suitable pets for kids?
Not really. Though these piggies belong to my 11 year-old daughter, I assume primary care. They are much more labour intensive than cats or fish, but I also find it very soothing and rewarding. But because of their skittish natures and the caution required when handling them, I really wouldn't ever want to see a young child in charge of one.

I've also found that I seem to be the one in the family with the desire to spend a lot of time with them each day. I take my time cleaning the cage and feeding them so they can simply get familiar with me and warm up to us. I always have fresh veggies ready in the fridge so anyone can offer them a little snack and a chat. But young kids: no. Find another pet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Piggie Cam: Kazula in time lapse



I accidentally filmed Kazula the guinea pig in time lapse. Funny enough, she moves so fast it's not that different than the usual. She's 8 weeks old in this footage.

Piggie Cam: The East Wing



The east side loft in our guinea pig cage is a favourite hangout. Here Kazula and Harmony are 10 weeks old. The use the husk hut as a loo and one of them is usually sleeping in the fabric hidey tunnel. At 8 weeks, they still would not approach me. Now they come close when called.

Piggie Cam: Coming when called



At ten weeks of age, Kazula and Harmony now seem to recognize their names and come when called.

Piggie Cam: Food Cam



While Harmony is not aggressive with Kazula, she will snatch her food away whenever Kazula isn't paying attention.

Piggie Cam: Kazula in the loo



When I secured their husk hut to the wall and added soft fleece inside, Kazula and Harmony immediately christened it as The Loo.

Piggie Cam: Kazula loves the bridge



The piggies love to race up their ramp and run across the bridge. This entertains them every day. This footage show how Kazula enoys being called by name and is learning the 'downstairs' command/request.

Piggie Cam: Hand Feeding!



Two weeks earlier, we couldn't imagine the piggies warming up to hand feeding. But here we are. Both Harmony and Kazula now seem to enjoy it, and sometimes even prefer it over self-serve veggies.

Piggie Cam: chat, purrs, and popcorning



At 9 weeks old, Kazula and Harmony were still too skittish for closeups, so I turned the camera on and placed the camera in the cage. Here they do a lot of chatting, purring, and some popcorning.

Piggie Cam: Home in transition



This early footage of our piggies at 8 weeks old shows a number of things we have since determined are not safe or useful in a guinea pig's cage. We have improved the cage with fleece bedding, soft hidey tunnels, created a kitchen / bathroom area, covered the ramp, added a second loft area...You get the idea. You can't do too much in the name of piggie happiness.

Piggie Cam: Hidey House Confidential



At 8 weeks old, Harmony and Kazula are still too skittish for me to take photos or film of them at close range, so instead I set the camera and place it on the floor of their cage. In this video, they are playing and popcorning until the threat of humans passes by....

Piggie Cam: Skittish but playful



At 8 weeks old, the piggies are still too skittish for me to stand nearby with the camera, so I resorted to standing back or leaving it running on the tripod. Here you can see them popcorning and playing but fleeing whenever the kitchen sound become too much.

eli the popcorning bunny

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