The Pet Project – Part 6
My parents decades ago forbade the three of us at home to have our own pets. My mom would quip that there were already three monkeys at home, and she didn’t have the energy to take care of any more haha! I reckon that, in a sense, I felt that I missed a part of my childhood when growing up, that I’ve gone full-on with having different pets as our family friends now that we’re our own family unit.
The childhood reliving started off with aquariums, then Stacy our Syrian Hamster a year ago. Our care for Stacy has settled into a pretty organized routine, since she’s such an easy animal to care for – whether is it her dietary preferences, cleaning her enclosure, or playing with her. So much so that I reckoned it was time for me to add new persons to our family. And this time, it was guinea pigs, known also as cavies, next!
To be absolutely clear though, neither of our kids asked to keep guinea pigs (though now that we have them, they’re thrilled). It was all Daddy LOL who’d prepare, construct, decide and subsequently care for them. After a fortnight of reading up on the environments that would be required, and long-term challenges and care for them – one of the most useful resources I’ve found on YouTube is a wonderful channel of a lass based in Europe who video blogs of her five Cavies – I was good to go.
We’d get two cavies. Unlike hamsters, cavies are very social – and unless you’re able to spend all your breathing time with them, they need another member of their own species to play and interact with when you’re not at home.
Some cavies have beautiful long-hair coats, but I concluded that helping them keep their coats luxurious was going to be too challenging. So, I looked out specifically for short-coat cavies.
Most of the pet store cage enclosures would be too small, and the ones that are big enough – at least 2 by 3 feet – are routinely very expensive for what they offer, and also have design quirks that I hoped to avoid – e.g. bases that were far too deep. So, I’d build my own enclosure, and make sure that it’s not only easy to clean, but also easily expandable. More on that in the next post!
I was mindful of whether the two cavies would get along, so I had a strong preference for acquiring them as a pair who were already introduced and oriented to each other. SPCA had none available for adoption. I checked out also personal ads for adopters, but the owners putting up their cavies for adoption – routinely, interestingly, also asked for adoption ‘fees’ to make sure that their pets would not be re-sold again. Odd sort of practice, with some owners even asking for fees that were as much as what one would pay for in stores. As I had only a window of five days off work to build their enclosure and acquire cavies, I waited for as long as I could to adopt, before turning to pet shops for them.
Say what you will about some of the irresponsible pet breeders out there, but the Nex outlet of Pet Lovers Centre – where we also bought Stacy – seems to be a responsible establishment with an eye to really care for the pets they sell. We’ve been to numerous outlets of the store, and very often will observe their staff diligently clean and scrub down every enclosure, and replenish supplies. Contrast that to some of the pet stores we’ve seen elsewhere who cramp half a dozen cavies into a smaller enclosure than what Pet Lovers Centre would normally set aside for a single pet.
We don’t see them sell pairs of cavies at the same time normally there too, but – by sheer luck perhaps – stumbled on exactly two boars for sale three days ago. They were from the same litter, so were already introduced. Both were a little pricey though – $180 compared to the usual $125 as they were the premium breeds. We made sure that every one of us four were in favor of it, since while Daddy will be able to do all the menial cleaning and feeding work, it was going to be a total family effort to socialize with our two new members.
The purchasing process was a little, well, involved! The store staff practically interrogated me to ensure that I knew what I was getting into, that I was already familiar with their broad social habits, and had their feeds and enclosures ready. Thereafter, it was a ten minute introduction where Hannah was shown how to pick-up, carry and stroke them – under the careful supervision of the staff. We took the opportunity to personally carefully inspect both cavies a second time to ensure they were of the same gender, then bought both home.
More in the next post!