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neoma
12-26-10, 02:15 pm
I adopted Ginger and Cocoa (http://s82.photobucket.com/albums/j262/nyneoma/Piggies/?action=view&current=IMG_0111.mp4), two short-haired males, from Petco three weeks ago. They had been brought in by two different owners who no longer wanted them. At Petco, they had been caged together without fighting. I wanted two anyway, so I brought them home.

DH and I have had pet birds for nearly 20 years. We have (or had) cockatiels, budgies, conures, a European starling and a chuckar partridge. Lucky the chuckar (http://urbanbird.weebly.com/1/post/2009/09/and-a-partridge-without-a-pear-tree.html) (a rescue), who was my "lap bird," died on July 4 (http://urbanbird.weebly.com/1/post/2010/07/sad-4th-of-july.html); she had a partially formed egg inside that the vet couldn't remove. It was going to break and become septic, so I decided to have her put to sleep. She died in my arms at the vet's.

Lucky's house was a large rabbit cage. After Lucky died, I told DH not to throw the cage away. I missed Lucky terribly -- she would sit on my lap for long stretches and let me ruffle her soft feathers.

I wanted a cuddly animal to fill the hole left by Lucky. I did lots of research. I considered hamsters (too small) and bunnies (too bouncy and destructive). Finally, I decided on guinea pigs.

Ginger, the alpha pig, is very gregarious. He's an explorer and an inventor of games. His best game involves climbing up my shirt and hanging out on my neck and shoulders, then running down my arm back to the safety of the couch. Cocoa is quiet and timid. He is content to crawl into my lap or nuzzle under my chin for long snuggles.

In these three brief weeks I have experimented with three different beddings: Carefresh, aspen shavings and fleece. I really wanted fleece to work. I loved how I could see the poops without searching for them and just scoop them up. Unfortunately, we don't have a washer and dryer in our apartment. I learned really quickly that washing fleece by hand is difficult and time consuming and not very efficient.

Aspen shavings are light weight and efficient, but end up all over my apartment.

I think that I'm going to settle on Carefresh, even though it's pretty pricey.

The boys get a fresh rack of hay every day, which I replenish when I get home from work. They get Zupreem pellets. And they get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, with an emphasis on those which are rich in vitamin C.

I bring the piggies out for couch time in the evenings (more if I'm working from home and on the weekends). They sit with me on the couch, which is covered because of the birds, for at least an hour.

I would like to make a C&C playpen for them so they can play on the floor safely.

I love my boys. I really didn't expect them to be so interactive or affectionate.

Oh, I am a member of a British guinea pig forum. They have been very nice and welcoming. Since I'm in the U.S., I was pleased to stumble upon this forum. I want to learn as much as I can about good piggy care.

Deb's4Pigs
12-26-10, 02:45 pm
Welcome!! This forum and guinea lynx are the best forums to learn about guinea pigs.

neoma
12-26-10, 03:14 pm
Thank you for the warm welcome, Deb's4Pigs! I am amazed by the amount of info at guinea lynx. And I have barely begun the scratch the surface here at this forum.

louie_joey
12-26-10, 07:45 pm
Hello and welcome! Unfortunately, Zupreem pellets are not very good quality. You should really switch to something of higher quality such as Oxbow, Sweet Meadow or Kleenmamas (all available online.) How big is your cage? The bare minimum size for 2 pigs is 7.5 square feet, but for 2 males you really want 10.5 square feet, which is equivalent to a 2x4 c&c cage. Make sure to check out the stickeys in the Diet and Nutrition section- they are extremely handy. Cute pigs!

Once again, welcome to GPC!

cam767
12-26-10, 08:08 pm
Welcome! Ginger and Cocoa are cuties. Ginger looks like our boy Levi.

I'm very sorry to hear about Lucky. I had tears in my eyes when I was reading her story. I'm glad she knew your love before flying over the bridge.

You can still use fleece. You would need several sets (3-4) to have to hold you over in between trips to the laundry mat. Someone on here used a diaper pail idea to hold their fleece in until laundry day. Not sure if that is feasible for you but wanted to toss it out there just in case.

Also make sure to read the nutrition section. There is lots of great info in there. Fruits should not be fed often because they are high in sugar. Some people give them once a week. I tend to give them once a month or every other month. I try out new veggies as treats instead.

neoma
12-26-10, 08:49 pm
Hello and welcome! Unfortunately, Zupreem pellets are not very good quality. You should really switch to something of higher quality such as Oxbow, Sweet Meadow or Kleenmamas (all available online.) How big is your cage? The bare minimum size for 2 pigs is 7.5 square feet, but for 2 males you really want 10.5 square feet, which is equivalent to a 2x4 c&c cage. Make sure to check out the stickeys in the Diet and Nutrition section- they are extremely handy. Cute pigs!

Once again, welcome to GPC!louie_joey, thank you for your warm welcome and for your suggestions. I appreciate your suggestions. I am curious as to why Zupreem isn't good quality. I will read the stickies in Diet and Nutrition.

I need to measure the piggies cage. I'll get back to you on the dimensions.


Welcome! Ginger and Cocoa are cuties. Ginger looks like our boy Levi.

I'm very sorry to hear about Lucky. I had tears in my eyes when I was reading her story. I'm glad she knew your love before flying over the bridge.

You can still use fleece. You would need several sets (3-4) to have to hold you over in between trips to the laundry mat. Someone on here used a diaper pail idea to hold their fleece in until laundry day. Not sure if that is feasible for you but wanted to toss it out there just in case.

Also make sure to read the nutrition section. There is lots of great info in there. Fruits should not be fed often because they are high in sugar. Some people give them once a week. I tend to give them once a month or every other month. I try out new veggies as treats instead.
Thank you for the compliment about my handsome piggies. :D And thank you for your condolences about my beloved Lucky. She brought such joy to our lives. She was gentle and loving and knew that we loved her.

I think that fleece is going to have to go on the back burner until we have immediate access to a washer and dryer.

Thank you for the heads up on fruit. I definitely will read the nutrition section. I want to be an informed piggy mom. :)

sdpiggylvr
12-26-10, 09:52 pm
Welcome to the forum! As others have said, you have beautiful pigs. :)

Because your pigs came from a pet store, you want to double check the genders. Many pet store employees are not trained at all in guinea pig care or sexing and go off what they read on the pet store-printed brochure...that's one of the reasons it's not a good idea to ask a pet store employee about anything. Anyway, you should double check that your pigs are actually both boys so you don't have any babies on your hands: http://www.guinealynx.info/sexing.html

Zupreem is not the best choice for pellets for several reasons. I checked the ingredients list (http://www.zupreem.com/sites/zupreem.com/files/Nature'sPromisePelletsInfoSheet_1.pdf)and found that it contains corn products and beet pulp, which are both low-quality in terms of nutritional value. Corn is not a normal food source for guinea pigs and it may contribute to allergies. There is no legal definition of "corn," as well, so you really don't know what these "corn products" actually are. All around, Zupreem is a low-quality pellet that you want to avoid.

Instead, you can find healthy, wholesome pellets from Kleenmama's (http://www.kmshayloft.com (http://www.kmshayloft.com)). Her Timothy Choice Pellets are best for adults, and her Alfalfa Choice Pellets can be fed to guinea pigs under six months. If you are unable to order online, you can find Oxbow pellets in pet supply stores which are also acceptable. Oxbow pellets have been found to have more calcium than Kleenmama's. This extra calcium can help form bladder stones, which can really only be treated by surgery. Oxbow Cavy Cuisine is recommended for adult guinea pigs, and Oxbow Cavy Performance is best for guinea pigs under six months. You can also order Oxbow online, at PetFoodDirect (http://www.petfooddirect.com (http://www.petfooddirect.com)) and Drs. Foster & Smith(http://www.drsfosterandsmith.com (http://www.drsfosterandsmith.com)).

As a new piggy owner, I'm going to brief you on the basics:

Your guinea pigs need unlimited hay at all times. It is necessary for proper functioning of the digestive system. High-quality hay is available at Kleenmama's as well. Oxbow also sells the next best in hay. Their Oxbow Western Timothy Hay is available in pet stores and online at PetFoodDirect (http://www.petfooddirect.com (http://www.petfooddirect.com)) and Drs. Foster & Smith (http://www.drsfosterandsmith.com (http://www.drsfosterandsmith.com)).

Obviously, you should have fresh water available at all times as well. You should change the water daily and wash it every few days. I wash all my bowls and water bottles once a week. You may want to have two water bottles (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002LNX9NO?tag=thislittlep0d-20&camp=14573&creative=329585&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B002LNX9NO&adid=1398CK6PD0KNSTBPHGZY&)in case one becomes faulty or slips down out of reach of the pigs when you're not home.

Even if your cage is of proper size, I still recommend making a C&C Cage. They are easy to customize, fun to design, and make any pig happier. They offer lots of space, an easy-to-clean design, and make it easy to interact with your little friends. If it isn't apparent, I highly recommend them! Visit the main site of this forum, http://www.guineapigcages.com (http://www.guineapigcages.com) for information on where to buy, how to make it, and more. For cubes, Seville Classics (http://sevilleclassics.com/products.php?cid=0,0,0&pid=212)has great prices. They offer a set of nine grids for only $8 plus shipping. You'll also need coroplast. You can find that in sign shops, and it comes in an 8' x 4' sheet. For a much cheaper price, go straight to the distributor. GE Polymershapes/Saber Polymershapes (http://www.sabicpolymershapes.com/polyshapes/PShapes/branchlocator/branchlocator.jsp) has been a great place for coroplast for me. Call your nearest location and ask them to set aside a sheet or two (depending on how large your cage is--if it's over six grids long, you'll need two sheets). I get coro all the time from them for only ten dollars.

Vegetables are also important as far as cavy care goes. You need to feed a variety of vegetables daily, with small amounts of fruit every week or two. The main staples include lettuces (red leaf, green leaf, romaine, endive, escarole), cilantro, bell pepper (green, yellow, or red--but red can only be fed once or twice a week because of its high sugar content). This forum has great veggie charts (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/diet-nutrition/22156-read-me-guinea-pig-nutrition-charts-poisonous-plants-list.html) and sample menus (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/diet-nutrition/24770-sample-veggie-menus.html) to help you out.

You should allow your pigs to each have about an hour daily of exercise (http://www.guinealynx.info/exercise.html) (they can exercise together) in a piggy-proof area of the home with a few toys (http://guineapigcages.com/toys.htm) and tunnels. This much-needed change of scenery is necessary to guinea pig happiness.
Your guinea pigs will need a few soft, comfy beds and other hideys to snuggle in. A few good places include Jens Custom Crafts (http://www.jenscustomcrafts.com/) and the Cozy Cavy (http://cozycavy.com/).

It's important to get a good cavy-savvy vet (http://www.guinealynx.info/vet.html) in order before the time comes when you actually need it. I also recommend starting a vet fund and saving a percentage of your money. Guinea pig vet care can quickly become expensive since these animals are considered exotic animals.

I encourage you to check out Guinea Lynx (http://www.guinealynx.info)and read through all the information it has to offer. Your best resources will be the websites you find online. Many books in print today are outdated and have equally outdated information. You must be wary of the information you read, and never take a pet store employee's advice as true.

Good luck! Remember, we're always here in case you have any questions.

neoma
12-27-10, 12:46 pm
sdpiggylvr, thank you so much for taking the time to write such an informative and thoughtful post.

Yes, my piggies are definitely boys. I checked. They have boy parts. :)

I really appreciate your analysis of the Zupreem pellets and your explanation as to why Kleenmama and Oxbow are better.

My boys have unlimited Timothy hay. They love their hay.

I do change their water daily and clean the bottle out well once a week.

I appreciate the explanations regarding the C&C cages.

Cocoa and Ginger run around on the couch for at least an hour every evening. They climb on me, get cuddles, chase each other... I do want to make them a C&C playpen so they can safely move playtime to the floor.

Veggies... We're good. We have probably been giving them too much fruit. Now that I know better, we won't.

I have an excellent vet in a practice that sees lots of exotics. I have spent a small fortune on vet care for my birds, so I am aware of how quickly it can add up. My pets' health is of primary importance to me.

I am working my way through Guinea Lynx. I am very impressed by the quality and quantity of information there.

Again, I thank you for your post. And my boys say "thank you" for saying that they're good looking piggies. :D