My Guinea Pigs
Home Up My Guinea Pigs My Pigs Cont Guinea Pig Care

I was first introduced to these unlikely house pets when I turned five. Mom and Dad had wanted to get me a pet, and didn’t want to get a large animal that would require a lot of care, such as a cat or dog, but didn’t want to get a mouse, gerbil, or hamster which, if it escaped, would be impossible to catch. In the end, they decided that the slow, round, plump, poor sighted guinea pig that couldn’t jump high or squish flat would be perfect. I still remember looking into the glass aquarium (we didn’t know aquariums were bad, back then) and seeing this thing that looked like my little stuffed hippopotamus sprinting wildly away from my hand (it turns out that some guinea pigs can be very fast when necessary). This animal later became Spice, the first in a line of herbal guinea pigs. 

Unbeknownst to us, Spice was pregnant when Mom and Dad bought her, so we had the pleasant (in my case) surprise of waking up one morning to find that the three babies had be born in the night. I named them Pepper and Cinnamon, and I’m sad to say that I forget the last ones name. Mom said that I would have to find homes for them, so one went to my uncle’s family, another went to a neighbor, and I’m sad to say that I forget who got the last one. In any event, they were short lived, since two of them died shortly afterwards — one of them was of an infection contracted from my uncle’s other guinea pigs, and the other from some other infection or disease. Pepper, the one given to a neighbor, turned out to be a source of allergies, so he was given to a man who was working on their house at the time, and I never found out his fate.

After having Spice for a year or two, Steve and I convinced Mom to let us get another pig, to keep her company, and so Gypsy entered the scene. This one was “Steve’s” pig, so it wasn’t a spice. Gypsy was much more energetic and louder than Spice, but they got along well, eating grass and wandering around the house under our supervision, and generally having a good life. It was during this time that I “taught” Spice to climb stairs. All that really happened was I would put her on a step, and push her bottom forward, until she was right up against the next step, and then she would lift herself up, and scrabble around until she managed to get herself up, but at the time it seemed like a great achievement.

All good things must end, and Gypsy’s was a tragic ending. Our second floor has two stairways coming up to it, with a hall going along one side of a stairway, with a wooden railing to keep you from falling over onto the stairs, and in–between the steps coming up and the hall going horizontally there is a four inch or so gap, where you could drop rubber balls and things onto unsuspecting people beneath you. One night I was holding Gypsy, and I wanted to give her to Steve for some reason, and he didn’t really want her, for another forgotten reason, and in the end, I pushed her against his chest, and let go, under the assumption that he would get her. I’m not sure if I was just being stupid, or if he was being stupid, or if the stupidity was equal all around, but the end verdict was that he didn’t get her, and she fell onto the hall floor, and somehow flopped through a slat in the railing (there is a couple inches of raised wood to prevent things from being dropped on the hall floor and then being kicked off, so it was highly improbable that she would do that — flop over the three inch or so raised wood, and through a narrow space), and fell to the first floor. Dan went and picked her up, and quickly handed her to me, and while she appeared to be somewhat dazed, I had some faint hopes that she would recover, so we put her back in her cage, and left her until morning, when we found that she had died in the night. Unfortunately, the very qualities that convinced Mom and Dad that guinea pigs would be good pets contributed to their demise, and unlike normal rodents to which a single story drop is nothing, it was fatal.

After the sad loss of Gypsy, things slowly went back to normal, and we continued to have plenty of fun and misadventures with Spice for a couple years, until one year (I must have been ten) we had our annual family reunion, and I left Spice at home with lots of food and water, since it was only a couple days, she wouldn’t need more than I gave her, and the place we were going didn’t allow pets. We came back from the reunion in two cars — I, for some reason, was with my grandmother and grandfather (Nana and Poppa, also known and Margaret and Douglas, respectively, who were visiting from Hawaii) in one car, and the rest of my family was in the other, and we arrived first. The first thing I did was go down to the basement to check on Spice, and there I found here, dead. I went back outside and just sat on the steps for a long time, until Nana came out and asked if there was anything wrong, and I said no, that I was fine, and she went back inside, most likely realizing that some was wrong, but that there wasn’t much she could do about it if I wouldn’t tell her what it was. Eventually the rest of the family arrived, and I had to tell them, and we had a burial in the back yard, next to Gypsy’s grave. I had dozens of reasons why I was to blame — I didn’t give her enough food (although Dad pointed out that she had plenty of food and water left), I didn’t give her vitamin C tablets (guinea pigs need vitamin C just like humans), I kept her down in the basement which had drafts that can be lethal to guinea pigs, I gave her Iceberg lettuce which contains laudanum, which is bad for pigs, and on and on. Mom and Dad claim that it was just that she was old and died a natural death at five years of age, but I still have doubts. She has been the only pig of mine that has possibly died a natural death, sadly.

After Spice died, I really wanted another guinea pig, so eventually Mom and Dad got me Thyme. He was an Abyssinian, or rough haired pig, which have little swirls or rosettes, while Spice and Gypsy had been American Short or Smooth haired guinea pigs, with plain short hair. I had had Thyme for a relatively short time (only a couple of months) when he came down with a mysterious illness. The symptom was an apparent weakness that inexplicably came upon him. In one instance, he was hiding in my shirt (which they all love to do), and I felt him sort of twitching or vibrating, and I suddenly realized that he wanted to get out, but he didn’t have the strength to pull himself out of my shirt. After a day or so of this and poor eating, he died, and was buried with all the other deceased guinea pigs in the back yard.