The Guinea Pig Diaries – Part 10

The Guinea Pig Diaries – Part 10

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After Penny put the brothers Silver Feather and Mohawk in the box with Black Beard, she left to go to the garden centre to get chicken wire, to put around the base of their hutch-run to stop them escaping.  Tintin and I heard the boys arguing in the box, Black Beard was ordering them about and telling them off for escaping from him! It was then we realized that the boys had squeezed through the bars to escape from Black Beard and have happy adventures on their own. Of course Black Beard wouldn’t have put up with that and he squeezed out of the bars to round them up and tell them off. He didn’t realize he wouldn’t be able to get back in. It was lucky for him that Penny caught him on his first break-out. When Penny returned we watched her put the chicken wire around the base of their hutch-run before she put the boys back.

New Life Emerges

A few days later when Penny was home and Tintin and I were in the lounge with the patio doors open, we heard the most awful screaming coming from the hutch-run. Penny ran outside to discover Black Beard upstairs with Hamlet. Black Beard was barking out orders and threats to Hamlet, who was defying him and refusing to be subservient. The brother’s were young and not knowing any better they were obedient, but Hamlet was his own guinea pig and he wouldn’t back down. It was a serious situation and Penny had to rescue Hamlet before a fight broke out. She put him in a box and placed him in the lounge next to us girls.

It was lovely to have Hamlet next to our cage and he was so excited to be near us. We had lots to tell each other and we chatted late into the night. In the morning after Penny fed us, she went out and bought another hutch-run, it was not as big as the original hutch-run, but the metal bars had smaller gaps, which meant it would keep the brothers and Black Beard in. Hamlet stayed in the bigger hutch-run and he seemed very pleased with himself.

Guinea Pig

After the boys were put in their new hutch-run, it was funny to see Black Beard staring at Hamlet. He looked furious that Hamlet was no longer under his control and he barked out orders. Hamlet returned his stare and did the craziest acrobatics on the top of his plastic igloo on the grass. Hamlet was showing off because he was free from Black Beard’s dominance and he could do whatever he wanted. This outright show of selfish disregard got Black Beard really wound-up and as he got more and more furious, he barked out orders louder and louder. Hamlet just continued doing more elaborate acrobatics. He did somersaults and back flips, and turned the igloo upside down, spinning it around and balancing it on its side. I looked on admiringly at this fit young guinea pig, and I felt myself falling more deeply in love.

Hamlet loved showing off, and Tintin and I laughed so much I thought I was going to give birth there and then! We thought Black Beard was going to have a fit, he got so wound up shouting at Hamlet, and I heard Penny telling him off. ‘‘My neighbours will start complaining about the noise you’re making.’’ But nothing stopped Black Beard.

The poor brothers were really kept under the thumb and you could see they were too afraid to complain or be naughty, as young boys normally are. They were barked at if they did not fall into line or let Black Beard eat first. There was a pecking order for eating, Black Beard then Silver Feather and then Mohawk. Silver Feather started bossing Mohawk around, probably because he was copying Black Beard’s behaviour. Penny bought a run-extension to fit on the end of their hutch-run, to give them more space to run around and the little boys absolutely loved their freedom. They ran around wildly trying to get up to as much mischief as they could before Black Beard started barking out guinea pig swear words, to keep them in line.

I watched Penny in the garden making a run-extension for Hamlet. She had bought chicken wire and wood and was banging away with a hammer, nailing the pieces of wood together. When she had completed the wooden frame, she wrapped a double layer of chicken wire around the frame and nailed it in place. She removed one of the walls from the bottom of Hamlets hutch-run and put the new run-extension in place.

Hamlet sat there looking at all the space he had to run around in five the foot run-extension. You could tell he didn’t know what to do, so after a lot of thought he ran to the bottom and then ran back as fast as he could. He collapsed in an exhausted heap too worn out to attempt another exploration of that magnitude. The next day, he decided to walk slowly around his extension to find the best patch of grass to eat. It took him a few days before he was really comfortable with that amount of space and I loved watching him, he was so funny.

Guinea on Grass

Every now and then Penny would let us guinea pigs run around the garden unrestricted and that was great fun. Poppy found it a bit disconcerting to have so many guinea pigs running around, what she considered, to be her garden. Once she walked around the hutch-runs to be confronted by me. I rubbed noises with her and she bolted out of shock. A few days later Poppy ran around the hutch-runs to be confronted by Hamlet and expecting the same friendly exchange she waited for the familiar nose rub, only to have Hamlet bear his teeth and chase her out of the garden! Tintin and I couldn’t stop laughing. We were glad the snobby Bengal had at last met her match. She no longer looked down her nose at us guinea pigs after that.

It was only a few days after that incident that I went into labour. Tintin was so scared of giving birth, I think she was keeping her babies inside her longer than necessary. I had four beautiful little babies, two girls and two boys. I found the process of giving birth quite painful at first, but the last baby being smaller, slipped out easier than the first three. As each baby came out I had to tear off the membrane covering them and I licked them vigorously to stimulate their organs and to get them to breath. They were my first litter and I was so proud of them. I loved them dearly.

Each one of them had their own personality and they were a bit of a handful running around after only a few hours of birth and demanding milk. Like all female guinea pigs, I only have two nipples and this presented a problem with so many mouths to feed. It was a case of the first ones to get underneath me, were the first ones to get fed and sometimes they wouldn’t get off my nipples to give the other two a go. Snowflake was the last baby out of my womb and as such she was smaller and slower, so I had to make sure she got her fair share of milk and was not pushed out by the others. She was a sweet little thing.

Baby Guinea Pig sitting in Hands

At two days old they all started eating the same food as me, which was a relief. It meant I didn’t have them hanging off my nipples all the time, but they were still demanding milk at five weeks old. My beautiful nipples were never quite the same again. They became long and stretched. Not that I was vain, I cared more for my babies than the way I looked.

A few days before my babies were born Tintin had another fungal infection. It didn’t look like ring worm. Her skin had a weeping scaly patch and her hair was falling out. Penny had to put her in Lucy and Holly’s old cage to keep me and my babies away from the infection. Tintin seemed to have a weak constitution and was not a strong guinea pig like me. At four weeks old my babies all got ringworm to varying degrees and I got it again from my babies. More stress and hard work for me and Penny, I think the fungal spores from Tintin must have got into my cage. Fungal infections are the scourge of guinea pigs and I was very upset that my beloved babies were affected, but there was nothing I could do but trust in Penny’s ability to heal us.

Tintin gave birth to her babies in the afternoon one weekend, so luckily Penny was in the house to give a helping hand. I heard Tintin silently crying and I went to the edge of my cage to see what was happening. Her first three babies were born dead, we couldn’t understand why, and Tintin was devastated. She was so out of her comfort zone and so upset that she refused to look after the last baby that came out of her womb alive. She had taken off the membrane sac, but she wouldn’t let it near her to feed. Penny was really upset and she tried to save the baby by giving it watered milk in a dropper, but it died within an hour of its birth.

Tintin went into a bad depression and Penny put her back in the cage with me. We all had ringworm, so I suppose it didn’t matter that Tintin was joining us. I was given the responsibility for bringing Tintin out of her depression and giving her life more meaning. So, I gave Tintin dual responsibility for looking after my babies and she proved to be a very good aunty and wet nurse, giving my nipples a well needed break. She was very loving and affectionate to my little ones and they all grew to love her. She helped me with their grooming and education and she soon perked up when she learnt how much fun it can be to look after youngsters.

Tintin took her role seriously and she licked my babies clean when they got grubby or wet from jumping in the water bowl and she tried to help me discipline them, but they were a rowdy bunch. They would shout at each other from each end of the cage and jump on and off the wooden houses we slept in and they always made a total mess of my comfortable bed. Snowflake had the cute but annoying habit of sitting in our bowel of guinea pig muesli while she ate, and then she would urinate and let out lots of pellets. She didn’t mind eating what she had defecated on, but the rest of us were fussier and cross about her disgusting habit. Penny did try giving us two bowls of muesli, but Snowflake insisted on jumping into both bowls! I did try teaching her acceptable guinea pig manners, but she wouldn’t listen to anything I said. Tintin had a bit more patience with her and eventually Snowflake decided she was too big to urinate and defecate in the muesli bowls!

Patcheous was a wild little boy, who looked really cute with one patch over his eye. He had Hamlets personality and acrobatic abilities and we spent ages watching his antics and laughing. The other two babies Ginem and Harold were a little more sedate and better behaved. But when Ginem turned three weeks old and got her confidence, she was even wilder than Patcheous. I was finding it hard to control those two and Tintin had just about given up with them.

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