Monday, September 4, 2017

Guinea Pigs and Solar Eclipses

Humans here in the United States caught eclipse-mania a few weeks ago due to the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Do guinea pigs react to solar eclipses? Is there anything you should be concerned about when they happen?

Because animals behave differently during night and day, as you can imagine, they can get confused during a solar eclipse and behave as if it suddenly became night time. According to a National Geographic article, "modern astronomers and eclipse chasers have also reported wild and domestic animals noticeably reacting to eclipses: Dairy cows return to the barn, crickets begin chirping, birds either go to roost or become more active, and whales breach in the seas."

There's actually an app for nature-loving humans called iNaturalist that allows users to record their observations of nature, and during the eclipse, they had a special project called "Life Responds" to systematically track how animals responded to the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, while there were plenty of dog and cat observations, we did not find any guinea pig observations in the project records. However, there were some observations of our distant relatives on the evolutionary family tree:
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - "No squirrels were seen - but there was A LOT of squirrel chatter all at once at 2:41pm! Reminded me of their warning call when a snake or raptor is about."
  • Domestic Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus ssp. domesticus) - "Grooming itself and eating, which it usually does around 4 PM"
  • California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) - "Squirrels bothered tourists as usual during the eclipse."
Kind of a mixed bag here, but looks like a lot of our distant cousins didn't even notice the eclipse.

On a related note, is there anything you should be concerned with regarding a solar eclipse? Humans have been very concerned about eye damage from looking up at the solar eclipse without proper eye protection, causing a condition called solar retinopathy. This can happen from staring at the sun during regular times, although ordinarily, your body feels pain and tells you to stop it. Is this a concern for guinea pigs? There was a debate about this on the Guinea Lynx Forum:
  • WindeSpirit: "I've been seeing a number of things about folks protecting their dogs & cats from the upcoming eclipse, but nothing about for the other indoor animals... In particular, those that have a window close to them or access to seeing out of, specially from floor height. Please take a simple precaution measure and close blinds, hang up sheets if need to.  Remember, piggies can play statue so easy, and sleeping with eyes open? One can only guess at what sort of damage that could potentially happen to them, and their sight is poor enough as it is. Better not to risk it with such a easy thing to do."
  • Kimera: "I don't understand what you are afraid of. Eclipse reduces the amount of sunlight, not making it stronger or more dangerous in any way. Eye protection, for example, very dark glasses, are necessary only for curious people who want to look directly at the sun to observe the eclipse."
  • crowcrash: "For future reference: The concern is that because the light is more dim, animals will look up or stare at the sun because it doesn't hurt to look up at it. But it will still damage their eyes."
  • kailaeve1271: "I am late as well, but I should let everyone know animals do not naturally look at the sky for no reason except if they sense a bird or something in a tree. Animals don't just stare at the sun. They just assume it is getting late outside. Trust me your animals are safe."
  • WindeSpirit: "To answer, what I am afraid of during eclipses? A piggy who normally sleeps in their safe and happy sunny spot suddenly starts bumping into things as if she had a stroke. Unless any one of the tests afterwards came back a false negative, which was unlikely. The vets only other conclusion was to ask about the partial eclipses, access to sun & exact day it started, that was both positive. We could only figure that the lack of sun allowed whatever natural instincts for her eye to look towards the sun, and assumed she was asleep when it happened since that would have been the ideal position, not to mention the position she usually was in, while in her sunning spot. Perhaps the shadow on her made her think I was standing outside and her eye naturally gravitated? ...The point is, there are times where enough of circumstances happen that can get a animal to look up... the piggy I was speaking about above was our Cotton princess. She lived a long and happy life, though she didn't sunbath as much the following 4-5 years, I ended up having to get a sun lamp."
So it sounds to us like guinea pigs probably don't care much of about solar eclipses (us two being the exception since we write a blog that makes us interested in just about anything guinea pig related), and will probably just ignore it. But there's at least one anecdote of a guinea pig being hurt by a solar eclipse, so it might be worth taking a moment to block off windows during the next one.
Although the risk is slim, it wouldn't hurt to take precautions to protect my eyes!
It will be some time before the next solar eclipse, but it's still something to keep in mind!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pink Pearl Apples?

Have you ever stopped to consider all the many wonders of nature that are out there? There's such a huge variety of things to look at, sniff, and--most importantly--chew on. And just when you think you've chewed on it all, nature finds something new to surprise you with. Sometimes the surprise is even hiding inside of something familiar. Take today's food review, for instance. You have what appears to be a regular, old apple, but cut it open, and... SURPRISE!

Wow! It's pink!
Yes, it's pink inside! Hence the name, pink pearl apples. These apples are only ripe from late August to mid-September, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to join in the fun.

Like all apples, we can have pink pearl apples 1-2 times per week.
Why are you giving me that look, Lola? You have your own.

My pink apple!
Admittedly, it tasted just like any other apple. But that's not a problem for us, as we love apples! The splash of color was a nice surprise, too. 5/5 stars!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ask A Guinea Pig: Guinea Pig's Average Heart Rate?

It's time for another installment of our Ask A Guinea Pig series, where we answer questions from our readers! Here's today's question: Kathy Newman asks: "What is a guinea pig's average heart rate?"

Answer: We actually found a fair bit of variation in the answers out there, but the general consensus seems to be that it's somewhere around 200 - 319 beats per minute. (For comparison, in humans, "A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute," according to the Mayo Clinic. So guinea pig hearts beat quite a bit faster!)

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, a guinea pig's resting rate rate is 200-300 bpm:

Doctors Foster and Smith's pet education website gives slightly different numbers: 240-310 bpm. Also, an article in Nature claims that: "guinea pigs have a heart rate of 200–250 beats per minute." In The Biology of the Guinea Pig (Joseph E. Wagner, ed.), they reported that in a 1971 study, "They recorded a mean rate of 275.5 beats per minute as a normal resting heart rate. A range of 229 to 319 beats per minute demonstrated wide individual variation. They also reported that the guinea pig, while often appearing quiescent, is keenly aware of environmental changes as reflected in heart fluctuations. Introduction of a rat into a guinea pig cage caused a distinct bradycardia (25% less than resting rate)" This reminded us of one of our previous Ask A Guinea Pig posts on dogs and guinea pigs, where we cited an anecdote about guinea pigs been much less scared after the dog passed away.

Interestingly, in The Biology of the Guinea Pig, they also note a 1972 study "reported that the heart rate was significantly (P < 0.001) slower in summer than winter." This might help partially explain the different numbers. They also provide the following table, summarizing past research on guinea pig heart rates:

And, if you were curious how you might actually go about measuring a guinea pig's heart rate, we found an article from 1998 describing their process:
"The investigated animals were familiar with a daily standard procedure which included weighing in a plastic basin since their first day of life. In order to avoid disturbing the animals we used this procedure as base for our heart rate measurement: The head of an electronic stethoscope (Bosch, Germany) was built in the weighing basin in a way, that it was directly under the chest of the Guinea pig (figs. 1 and 2). By using an underneath accessible adjusting device the stethoscope’s head could always be adjusted in an optimal position without touching the respective animal with the hands. The electronically amplified heart rate sounds and the animal’s identification were recorded with a commercial two-speed dictation machine (Sanyo, Japan)."

Keep those questions coming!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the Word: Berkley 510 Skateboarding Guinea Pig Mural

We've highlighted many guinea pig attractions around the world, but let's not forgot that our own country is also part of the world, and has its' own guinea pig attractions worth highlighting!

At 510 Skateboarding in Berkley, California, there was a controversy over a mural back in 2009. They had a 16 foot tall mural on the side of their business that went against the local signage laws because it included their name. An article in Berkleyside shows this mural of a guinea pig as the mural in question, although we're a little confused since the original article said it was a "rainbow mural" (possibly just meaning the colorful background?) and had the business name's name on the mural, which we didn't see until we saw the little"510" patch on the sleeve. (Is that what all the fuss was about?) Here it is:
Photo from Berkleyside (Source); Photographer: Rannie Turingan.
After seeing how old this story was and all the controversy, we figured that the mural was probably gone. However, thanks to Google Street view, we found out that it is still there:
Still there as of April 2017!
Any humans live in or near Berkeley? Go check it out and get your picture taken in front of this super-cool mural!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Guinea Pig Cuddle Cloning

We recently did a post on guinea pig cloning--something that's not quite available yet for guinea pigs, but is available for dogs and cats, so it's probably not too far off in the future. Until then, there is another option for those who can't wait: a guinea pig Cuddle Clone! As their website explains:
"We make soft, adorable, customized stuffed-animal versions of people’s pets called Cuddle Clones. All you have to do is submit at least one picture (although several are preferred) and choose a few customization options (eye color, ear position, tail position) and we’ll send you your very own Cuddle Clone."
Unlike ViaGen Pets, Cuddle Clone does offer a guinea pig "cloning" option:
Here is Bear and his Cuddle Clone.
Gypsea & Cuddle Clone.
Like real cloning. Cuddle Cloning seems expensive. (At least, we think it is. Even after all this time, it's hard to wrap our minds around that money stuff that humans care so much about.) The regular price for a Cuddle Clone is $249, although they're current having a limited summer sale of $149 for a guinea pig. Even though this is a lot less than the $25,000-$50,000 that actual cloning costs, we still don't think our humans will go for it. It's always an option for the future, though, since you just need pictures rather than genetic samples!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Guinea Pig Cloning

Ever since Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996, the idea of animal cloning has been moving more and more from the realm of science fiction to science reality. There is now a company in the United States that offers pet cloning services called ViaGen Pets.

Our humans recently had a chance to speak with a company representative, and they said that they only currently offer their services for cats and dogs. This is because it takes a lot of research and development work to discover a reliable cloning process for each animal species, and it's probably no surprise that there are a lot more cat and dog owners out there to sell their services to. Also, their services are currently pretty expensive; they currently charge $50,000 for dog cloning, and $25,000 for cat cloning, although they hope to bring the cost down to $5,000 in the future. (They also offer genetic preservation services for $1,600 to save your pet's DNA for possible future cloning.) However, given how far animal cloning has come in the 21 years since Dolly, who knows how this will change in the next decade or two? Guinea pig cloning could become both available and affordable for the average human.

Here's the process works, according to one of their brochures:
No guinea pigs yet..
Of course, we may want to step back and ask an obvious question here: Why would you want to do this? Why wouldn't someone just accept a guinea pig (or other pet) created the way nature has been making them up to this point? According to veterinarian Alice Villalobos, “As a veterinary oncologist also focused on palliative care and hospice for dogs and cats, I see how this could become a more accessible opportunity for those who want to have an option for a continuum with a genetically similar pet who they are on the verge of losing.” These sentiments seem to match the user reviews on the ViaGen Pets Facebook page:
  • "Thanks to Viagen and their great staff I have peace of mind knowing there is a piece of my angel out there waiting for me! I can hardly wait to hold her in my arms again."
  • "It's never easy losing a "pet", especially when you think of them as family and their health declines almost overnight. Preserving our cat's cells helped with the grieving process because even though she is no longer with us, her cells are preserved! No matter what we decide down the road as far as cloning, it's nice knowing there are options."
  • "You gave Casanova a second chance at being able to continue his lineage (as Casanova is almost 17 now and his sperm are inactive). Casanova 2.0 one day will be able to continue Casanova's family tree"
We think this is all understandable. I remember how painful it was to lose our cage mates Buffy and Lola 1, and perhaps having a clone of them would have made the loss easier to accept. On the other hand, if you have room in your home for another guinea pig, creating a new cloned guinea pig in a surrogate mother seems like a missed opportunity to adopt one of the many guinea pigs who are out there and needs a good home.

What are your thoughts on guinea pig cloning? Let us know in the comments below!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ask a guinea pig: Are lime peels safe for guinea pigs?

It's time for another installment of our Ask A Guinea Pig feature! Andi Rogynous asks: "Columbia doesn't like limes either, but she did eat the rind. do you know if that's safe?"

Thanks for the question, Andi. It's always good to do your research before feeding something questionable to your piggy. As you know, we did a review post on limes a while back, which included the rind. Of course, we hated limes and barely touched them, so eating the rind was a bit of a moot point for us. Still, just in case there are some piggies out there who feel differently, let's dig into this lime peel issue.

Research has shown that citrus peels are "a good source of molasses, pectin and limonene," and have lots of health benefits. Lime peels in particular are a good source of fiber compared to other citrus peels:
Of course, this seems to be human nutrition research, and doesn't necessarily mean that guinea pigs should have it. We've read that a study showed that limettin, a substance found in lime peel, was not found to be toxic to guinea pigs, but haven't seen any other research specifically on guinea pigs and lime peels.

However, we also know that guinea pigs can eat the rinds of other citrus fruits. For example, guineapigcages.com's food chart has orange peel listed as a 2-4 times per week food. In addition, when asked about lemon peels, their diet expert said: "The rind can be fed in small quantities as well."

In addition, we found a thread on the Guinea Pig Forum where someone fed their guinea pig a small lime slice, peel intact, and no one on the forum raised this as an issue:
Image source: PiggieWigs12 on the guinea pig forum; caption: "so apparently special needs Norman loves limes but especially loves lemons!"
Therefore, although the evidence is not 100% ironclad, we're going to say that lime peels are probably safe to feed occasionally (assuming your piggy actually likes them!). However, we should note that limes may have waxy coatings added to them, and should therefore be organic and cleaned very thoroughly. In addition, citrus peels may be high in oxalates, and should therefore only be fed in small quantities.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guinea Pig Psychology: Understanding Guinea Pig Thinking and Behavior

You spend a lot of time with your guinea pig. You probably have gotten to know their personality to some degree. But how much do you know about what science knows about the guinea pig mind and behavior?
What's going on in Broccoli's mind? Does science hold the answers?
Here's a few interesting things to know about guinea pig psychology, according to academic research:
  • A University of Münster research paper found important differences between domestic guinea pigs and our wild relatives (Cavia aperea, AKA the Brazilian guinea pig). 
    • First, "wild cavies are more exploratory and take more risks than domestic guinea pigs. When put in an open field, the cavies explored further, and when put in a dark box they came out of the box and spent more time in the light." 
    • Second, "domestic guinea pigs were more sociable. Although both cavies and guinea pigs were interested in the unfamiliar infant and female, the guinea pigs engaged in more social interaction with the infant and more courtship behaviours towards the female."
  • A Colorado State University research presentation found a few notable behavioral trends. 
    • First, removing huts from the cage led to a decrease in active behaviors, and an increase in putting front limbs on water bottles. However, after a day or so, guinea pigs grew accustomed to the change. and their behavior evened out. 
    • Second, some behaviors were common to most guinea pigs (stampeding and freezing), while other behaviors (popcorning, attempting to climb out of the cage, and excessive water bottle manipulation) are performed only by specific individuals--think of this as part of your piggy personality. Jumping/popcorning tended to be performed by younger piggies.
    • Third, "Guinea pigs are highly active immediately after lights go out, which may indicate that a sudden loss of lighting is a significant stressor."
  • A University of São Paulo study looked at guinea pig courtship by exposing 4 adult males to a pregnant female for 4 sessions, and then a different female during a 5th session, and recording their behavior. They found that the males decreased their investigative behaviors (licking and sniffing) in the 2nd-4th sessions, but the investigative behaviors returned with the new female in the 5th session. They conclude that: "These results are consistent with the hypothesis that guinea pig males recognize individual females and that courtship responses may suffer a habituation/recovery process controlled by mate novelty."
Bottom line: these studies suggest we're risk-averse, social, we don't like change, guinea pigs have both common behaviors (such as freezing) and unique personalities, and males can be quite... amorous.

These findings may not be too surprising to people who have guinea pigs. It only takes minimal exposure to guinea pigs to know that we're freaked out by the unknown. I can also relate to disliking changes in the environment; I can remember how stressful it was when my new humans first brought me home. I also remember having to put up with plenty of Broccoli's "investigative behaviors" when I was the new pig on the block. But now that we've put all that drama behind us, we've become good friends, showing that "more sociable" side that the first study mentioned.

Turning off lights causing stress in guinea pigs might surprise humans, though, since you probably don't see what we do after the lights go off. Maybe it would help if you tried dimming the lights slowly rather than turning them off suddenly?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the Word: Perth Royal Show Cavy Racing

It's time for another look at guinea pig attractions around the world! This time, we're taking a look at a guinea pig competition down in Australia.

The Perth Royal Show is "an annual event that is a mix of amusement park rides, markets and agriculture shows." One of the annual attractions at the Show is Cavy Racing, which "has become a tradition at the event and never fails to draw crowds. While it isn’t a race that stops a nation, when the cavies hit the track there will be plenty of excitement and laughs."

Here's a video of one of the races:

Turns out this one wasn't much of a race, but we're guessing some races are more competitive than others!

Long-time readers may recall that this isn't the first guinea pig race we've showcased on our blog; the guinea pig attraction in Colombia was also a race. Colombia's race seemed more like an informal street performance, compared to this giant community event. We should also point out that while these races are cute, there could be some issues with events like this--see our post on guinea pig pageants.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Guinea Pig Volunteering as Therapy Animals

We previously talked about flying with guinea pigs, and in the course of that discussion, briefly touched on the different special classifications of pets (service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals), and what implications they had for flying. We'd like to talk more about the therapy animal classification in general, not just in the context of flying.

As we said in our previous post, therapy animals "provide affection and comfort to various members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, and schools." Although this does not entitle you to special access on airlines, it does make a difference in people's lives. The organization Pet Partners has a page on the benefits of the human-animal bond. Here are just a few of the benefits they cite:
  • "A therapy dog has a positive effect on patients’ pain level and satisfaction with their hospital stay following total joint arthroplasty (Harper, 2014) [1]."
  • "The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (O’Haire, 2013) [4]."
  • "Pet owners have higher one-year survival rates following heart attacks (Friedmann, 1980, 1995) [8,9]."
Some of these health benefit citations are dog-specific, but did you know that guinea pigs are able to become volunteer therapy animals through Pet Partners? Pet Partners "is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interventions." They accept volunteer applications from 9 species: dogs, cats, equines, rabbits, guinea pigs, llamas and alpacas, birds, pigs and rats. Guinea pig volunteers must be at least 6 months old, have lived in the owner's home for at least 6 months, and be well-behaved. They even have worksheets they use to evaluate prospective volunteers:
Not struggle to leave? That sounds like a tough exam. Strangers can be scary!
Guinea Pig Today featured an article on some piggies who participated in the Pet Partners program, which showed how not every piggy is cut out for this line of work:
"Why didn’t all of Erin’s guinea pigs join her? Being a therapy pet requires very special traits. Erin’s three other female cavies are fun at home but don’t have personalities suited for therapy work. Rosie, an albino with striking red eyes, was considered for therapy registration, but there was concern that her red eyes might make people feel uneasy. Val, adopted from a friend who could no longer care for her, is the most active guinea pig and never sits still. Sally, their newest addition, is still a bit skittish and shy. Erin tells Guinea Pig Today, “Her personality reminds me of that of a cat – she can be affectionate or stand-offish, depending on her mood.” 
Daphne and Sienna have a special talent for sitting long periods at a time and Erin decided only these two sows would be registered. After supporting hospice for 25 years, Erin had a hunch guinea pigs would work well with patients who benefit from animal visitation but have difficulty working with the therapy dogs. Daphne and Sienna weigh less than two pounds and can gently lay on patients while being stroked."
There were a lot of hoops to jump through, but they eventually were approved and became therapy animals:

Photo caption: "The therapy animal teams at Hospice are wonderful. Here we are with two of our friends, Kelly and her handler (left), and Gus and his handler (right)."
 And how did the hospice patients react to Daphne and Sienna? Quite well, according to this Casper Journal article:
The guinea pigs’ hospice visits are also different from the dogs’. Whereas most of the canines sit beside the patient’s bed, the guinea pigs have more direct contact.
“They’re light so they can be on people’s laps and chests,” Erin said. “Some people sing to them.”
She recalled her first visit, to a woman who had been unresponsive for a while.
“I put the guinea pigs on her lap, and she sang to them, in her own language,” Maggard said. “Those experiences are just delightful!”
There were only 21 registered therapy guinea pigs with Pet Partners in 2013. Do you think you have what it takes to join the elite ranks of therapy guinea pigs? If so, feel free to reach out to Pet Partners about volunteer opportunities!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchoke)?

Hi everyone. Lola (2) here. I have to share a source of some minor frustration for me. Since I'm a bit of a latecomer to the Cavy Savvy family, I missed out on the opportunity to review a lot of foods out there. Sometimes I'll just list off foods that I'd like an excuse to eat--Apples? Blueberries? Corn? But after I list each one, Broccoli will inform me that they've already reviewed each of them before I got here. It took some digging, but I finally found another food that guinea pigs can eat that hasn't been done already: Jerusalem artichokes. So let's do the review!

Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple and topinambour, according to Wikipedia. They can be eaten by guinea pigs, but this should be considered a special, rare treat only. This is because they have high sugar, low vitamin C, and a not-so-great calcium-phosphorous ratio. So you'll only want to feed this one in small portions 1-2 times per month.
This is a Jerusalem artichoke. Doesn't look like much, does it?

Make sure your human peels and cuts it for you.

Food review time! It's been too long!

Crunch, crunch, crunch! I love it!
Aside from the poor nutritional profile, we've got nothing bad to say about Jerusalem artichokes. They're delicious, and we wasted no time in gobbling up our small portion. We look forward to the possibility of having more next month. 5/5 stars!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guinea Pig Cop

As we've shown on this blog, there are a lot of talented guinea pigs out there. There are guinea pig painters, musicians , and even fortune tellers. Now you can add police officer to the list!

Meet Elliot, the New Zealand Police Department's guinea pig. He doesn't do high-speed chases and shoot outs with bank robbers as far as we know, but he does deliver useful safety messages:
Caption: "Did you know that a piggie's top speed can be around 9km/hr? Not me, I have gone a bit overboard on the carbs lately and need to lighten up, so I go even slower. I am not too fast and that's the way I like it - slow is safe!  Keep this in mind when you are driving near any schools tomorrow. Remember people, the kids are going to be out and about walking and biking, and crossing roads. Like me, they are small and unpredictable, so you have to watch out! Keep an eye out for school patrols and please do your part in keeping our kids safe. Drive to the conditions, reduce your speed and stay alert. Oh, and eat your greens....always eat your greens. #schoolsback #crossingpatrol #constableelliot #eatyourgreens"
Caption: "'Just the facts ma'am...'"
You can find more Elliot at the New Zealand Police Department's Facebook page. Good job keeping New Zealand safe, Elliot!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Inokashira Park Zoo Guinea Pig House Revisited

We don't generally like to repeat ourselves, and we've already done a guinea pig attractions around the world post on the guinea pig house in Inokashira Park Zoo. However, since the humans actually got a chance to see this guinea pig attraction in person, we figured that our loyal readers may appreciate the opportunity to get a closer look at this one.

Notice that the guinea pig house has special hours.
The humans showed up between 11:30 - 13:30 (AKA 1:30 PM), and saw these "Resting" signs.
These plush guinea pigs were nearby, and could be handled at any time, however.
When you visit, it's good to get there early. There's a line to pet the guinea pigs!
Once you get through the line, everyone gets to pick a guinea pig to pet.
You get about 15 minutes of petting time, and then the next group of people in line get their turn.
After petting the guinea pigs, you can always see all the other animals in the zoo. Or, you can get right back in line and wait your turn to pet guinea pigs again!

Have you seen any guinea pig attractions that you think we should feature on the blog? If so, let us know in the comments section.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Guinea Pig Tuxedo Outfit

According to Wikipedia, "The most popular uses of the tuxedo in the United States at present are for formal weddings, galas, balls, formal proms and formal nights on cruises."   What if you're a male guinea pig who's been invited to one of these formal occasions? Sure, that fur coat you were born with is fine for most occasions, but there are special occasions where you may need to kick it up a notch. Case in point, this video:


The humans brought back this tuxedo guinea pig costume from Morugumi in Tokyo, so I'll be prepared for my next formal event! (Bring on the guinea pig wedding invites!)

Is that my size?
It fits. Do I look dapper in this?
All dressed up and nowhere to go!
I looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself, but like all costumes we've tried, I looked forward to getting it off. After all, the fur coat that Mother Nature gave me is the most comfortable outfit of all.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Music for Guinea Pigs by PetTunes

In a recent post, we talked about music made by guinea pigs. Now we want to talk about music made for guinea pigs. We recently discovered "PetTunes," which describes itself as follows:
Pet Tunes uses sound repetitive rhythms and key notes designed to relax and calm your pet. If you pet has sleeping problems or anxiety problems or is even stressed during fireworks, you should try our music. It will calm your guinea pig, rabbit, dog, cat, hamster... in other words, any species!
And sure enough, they have several songs intended for guinea pigs, such as this one:


But does it actually work? We started by checking the YouTube comments on their guinea pig music videos. Here's a sampling of them:
  • "he fell asleep in my hands I carried him to his cage and when I closed it it made a sound and he woke up"
  • "This was too relaxing for my Guinea pig ,caramel,She peed on me lol"
  • "The moment the guinea pigs heard this song, their life was changed"
  • "I played this to keep my Guinea pig quit and she didn't care about the music she just was chewing on my phone case!"
  • "My guinea pig was hopping and jumping all over me while I was holding her. I started playing this and she just stopped, listened, and crawled into the blanket that was on my lap! She's currenly just cuddling up in the blanket and she actually just purred. She loves this! This music is working wonders for her!"
Not 100% positive, as you can see, but positive enough that we decided to try it for ourselves:
Apologies for the messy cage in this video. (We're about due for a cleaning! Humans, get on that ASAP!)

It was actually kind of relaxing. I was rattling my bars shortly before the video started, and after the music started, I just wanted to munch on pellets and sip water. I fell asleep after about 15 minutes. (Broccoli was already asleep.) So it was good at first. However, at about 30:58, they included some sort of horrible alarm noise that woke us both up and made us wheek in terror! Why would they include this? Is this a prank or a mistake?

Our conclusion is that PetTunes seems like a good idea in theory, but someone needs to test this out with actual pets before putting out songs like this.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cavy Savvy 2017 Spring Giveaway Winner Announcement!

It's time to share the wealth that our humans brought back from Japan! We used a random number generator to choose the winner of the 2017 Spring Giveaway, and the winner is ...

Arwen and Eowyn!

Congratulations! You just some Guinea pig stickers, coasters, and a marshmallow from Morugumi, the Japanese guinea pig cafe and specialty store! (Long-time readers may remember that Arwen and Eowyn also won a Thanksgiving costume back in 2014. That just goes to show that it pays to be a long-time reader and enter every time!)

Please email us your current mailing address to cavysavvyaguineapigblog@gmail.com within 5 days and we will send mail you your prize. (If left unclaimed, we may choose another winner, so don't delay!)

Thank you to everyone who entered. If you didn't win this time, don't worry, there's always next time. Be sure that you are a follower of Cavy Savvy if you want to be considered for future giveaways. To follow us, just click the "Follow" button on the right.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Guinea Pigs Make Music With Makey Makey

One thing we find fascinating is technology that guinea pigs can use. We all remember the guinea pig bridge in Japan that Parry Gripp called "the latest guinea pig bridge technology," right? And also the automatic guinea pig feeder using Arduino? Well, we just found about about some new guinea pig tech that we must share with you!

There's a device called a Makey Makey that can allows you to connect random household objects to a computer with alligator clips, and have them each be considered different buttons. Someone had the brilliant idea to use a Makey Makey to turn their guinea pigs into musicians!


Okay, so it might not be the most amazing song we've ever heard. They may need a little practice. But no musician starts out as Mozart on day 1, right? Keep eating those musical veggies, piggies! We'll buy your album!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cavy Savvy 2017 Spring Giveaway!

As we mentioned in our last post, our humans recently went to Japan and visited some guinea pig-related attractions, including a guinea pig cafe and specialty store called Morugumi. They got some really cool goodies that we've decided to raffle off to our loyal readers!

Here's what the winner gets: Guinea pig stickers, coasters, and marshmallow! (The marshmallow is a treat for humans, by the way. Just because a guinea pig is on it doesn't mean we can eat it.)
Doesn't that stuff look awesome and adorable? Don't you want to win it for your human? If so, here are the giveaway rules:

  • You must be a resident of the continental United States.
  • You have to be a follower of this blog. To follow us, just click the "join this site" button on the right.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this blog post expressing your interest in participating in the contest.
  • All entries must be received by April 15th, 2017 at 12:00 pm (US Eastern time) to be eligible.
  • One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries and announced on this blog on April 15th sometime after the giveaway closes.
  • The winner will be instructed to email us to provide us with a mailing address to send the prize to. Winners must provide us with a mailing address within 5 days to receive their prize. If we do not receive a response in time, we will randomly select another winner from the eligible responses. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Morugumi Cafe and Specialty Shop

As we mentioned in a previous post, we were staying at the veterinarian while the humans were out of town. The humans went on quite an adventure on the other side of the world, and we wanted to let our readers know about one of the guinea pig attractions they found.

Although we've already done two posts on guinea pig attractions in Japan, this will be the first time that our humans are actually bringing back first-hand experience of an attraction. (They also got a chance to visit one of the previously-mentioned attractions for themselves, so we might post on that in the future.)

In Tokyo, Japan, there is a neighborhood called Jiyugaoka where you can find a cafe and specialty store devoted entirely to guinea pigs! The place is called Morugumi, and if you're a human who loves guinea pigs, this is the place for you!
Fun awaits you on the second floor!
It's not a very big place, but their walls are lined with guinea pig merchandise for sale, both functional and ornamental:
Tunnels! Pellets!
Plush guinea pig toys!
Guinea pig books! Ceramic guinea pigs! Cuddle cups!
Ceramic guinea pig cop!
Little plastic guinea pig toys!
Little plastic guinea pig play set!
Guinea pig coasters!
And humans can reward themselves while they're here with some guinea pig themed human treats. (Don't feed these sugary human treats to your guinea pig, of course.)
Soda with guinea pig marshmallow, coffee with guinea pig art and a different guinea pig marshmallow on the side, and fondant guinea pigs. Can you handle this much cuteness?!
Those fondant guinea pigs on the side aren't just sold that way. The cafe will give you fondant to shape and paint with food coloring, allowing you to make your own guinea pig. If I could easily hold a paint brush, I might want to try that out!

By the way, the humans brought back a couple extra items from Morugumi, and we are considering holding another giveaway for our loyal readers. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Product Review: Supreme Petfood's Science Selective Guinea Pig Food

Hello there, readers. The humans recently went away on travel, and as we discussed in our post on guinea pigs and airplanes, it's usually best not to take your guinea pig with you on flights. Therefore, we were boarded at the vet until they get back, which is a little like going on vacation for us. There's all kinds of exotic sights and sounds to see there. (We honestly don't get why humans like exotic sights and sounds so much. They're a little scary, seeing as how they could indicate predators!)

Anyway, while we were being dropped off, we saw samples of a new guinea pig food called Science Selective, so we decided to make time for a new product review since we knew we'd have plenty of time. We couldn't even wait until we got home to try them, so the humans fed them to us in our travel carriers.

We like how the packaging looks. That doesn't really factor into our rating, though.
I'll try some!
She will too!
It tasted pretty good, although it was a little hard to stay focused on the merits of the product while we're in the midst of such anxiety-provoking change. But there are other considerations besides just taste, of course. We also have to look at the ingredients, which include the following: Alfalfa meal, whole wheat, wheat feed, soybean hulls, soybean meal, flaked peas, linseed, sugar beet pulp, soybean oil, fennel seeds, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, dried dandelion, dried nettle.

Here are some concerns about some of these ingredients:

  • Alfalfa - Appropriate for young and pregnant guinea pigs, but not for general adult use. It has high levels of calcium, which can lead to stones. The product information page does say that it contains "Calcium 0.8%, Phosphorus 0.5%," which means that it falls within the recommended ratio of calcium to phosphorous of 1.5:1 to 2:1. However, even if the ratio seems good, we'd still be concerned about the total amounts of calcium and phosphorous being too high, even if the ratio is good.
  • Beet pulp - "Considered low-quality fiber that can clog the villi of the intestine"
  • Fennel seeds, Soybean oil - Seeds and oils are too high in fat, and often come from seed byproducts with little or no nutritive value
  • Calcium carbonate - As we've previously noted, we're having a tough time reaching a decision on this one. Oxbow uses it, and they use an advisory board of scientists and vets, but some have raised concerns about it anyway.

Unfortunately, due to these ingredient concerns, we're going to have to only give Science Selective Guinea Pig Food 2/5 stars. There are worse foods out there so we won't give it our lowest rating, but you can certainly do better. We're going to stick with our Oxbow pellets!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lola's trichofolliculoma removal and Deslorelin implant placement surgeries

Well, hello there, readers! We first wanted to let you know that the humans have caught and removed that little furry jerk that's been scampering around at all hours of the night. Good riddance, I say! Finally some peace and quiet.

But wouldn't you know it? As soon as you solve one problem, life throws another one at you. And this new problem is of the medical variety, which I would say in worse than our little home invader. You may remember way back when I was first introduced to the blog almost a year ago (has it really been that long?), I wrote: "I had a small lump on my back, but the vet said it was just a clogged oil gland, similar to a pimple, and that the vitamin C would help with that." That turned out to not really be the case; the lump just got bigger and bigger, which the humans asked about on subsequent vet visits, but they kept saying it was best to leave it alone. Just recently, a new symptom appeared: there was some fur loss near the lump. The humans made another vet appointment for me when they noticed this.
I am not a fan of this.

Diagnosis, please?

After giving me a physical exam, the vet said that I had two issues: trichofolliculoma (a benign follicle tumor), and cystic ovaries ("solid or fluid-filled pockets in or on your ovary"). They diagnosed this by noting crustiness by the nipples, areas of thinning hair (not consistent with mites or other causes), and a lump they could feel on the ovaries. I then had surgery to take care of both issues: removing the lump, and getting a Suprelorin (Deslorelin) implant, which will slowly release hormones into my body. The hope is that this will take care of the hair loss and the cystic ovaries; they said it might even make me feel calmer.

 In the aftermath of the surgery, the humans are now giving me Enrofloxacin (antibiotic), Meloxicam (pain killer), and Cisapride (GI mobility drug). I've also got a shaved patch with stitches on it, so I'm not looking my best at the moment. Hopefully, I'll be back to normal soon, though!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mice in the house with Guinea Pigs

Earlier this week, the humans were sitting on the couch, watching television, when we overheard one say to the other: "Are the piggies still in their cage?"

"Yes. Why?" The other human asked.

That was the moment the humans realized they had a mouse in the house, and began a minor panic. Humans can be really funny that way. They love us, but they're terrified of another much smaller rodent species?

Anyway, the humans got down all all fours, shining flashlights to confirm what they saw. Once confirmed, they immediately rushed out to Home Depot and bought some non-kill, humane traps to catch it.

Image of the mouse the humans saw not available, but here's a picture of a mouse invading a guinea pig cage from the Happy Cavy blog. (image source)
So what's the big deal about mice? Well, according to the CDC, "Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent." Huh. I guess the humans weren't being so silly after all. Get that jerk out of here, humans!

Here are some things you should know if you have mice invade your happy guinea pig home:
Wish us luck catching the interloper!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Guinea Pig Attractions Around the World: Fortune-Telling Guinea Pig in Bulgaria

It's time for another installment in our guinea pig attractions series! Last year, when we posted about a fortune-telling guinea pig named Ganesh in India, we figured that was a pretty unique attraction. Today, we learned it's not quite as unique as we thought. It turns out that there's another fortune-telling guinea pig in Sofia, Bulgaria:
What does it say? I'm dying to know! (source: The Inconsistent Nomad)
This guinea pig attraction was described by Carla on The Inconsistent Nomad blog. While exploring Sofia, Bulgaria, Carla and her friends came across a man on a street corner with a guinea pig on a newspaper-covered plate:
Andre turned to us to translate.  "He says it's a fortune-telling guinea pig.  We pay him, and the pig tells us our future." Who needs the Nevsky Cathedral when you can get a guinea pig to predict your future?
We paid out the hefty sum of about 25 cents.  The man pulled out a box of of cards wrapped in very thin paper, very similar to that box of cards containing the god-awfully impossible questions in Trivial Pursuit.  He held the box in front of the guinea pig.  The pig leapt onto it and began to rifle through the cards with his front legs.  He suddenly stopped, bit down onto a single card with his teeth, and pulled it out for the man to take.  He unwrapped the divinely inspired/randomly selected card and proudly presented it to us. 
Unfortunately, they'll never know what was in their future, as the card was in Bulgarian. If any of our readers happen to visit Bulgaria, keep an eye out for fortune-telling piggies, and make sure you have a way to actually read the card!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Yu Choy?

Yu choy goes by several alternative names, including: "Green Choy Sum, Choisum, You Cai, Cai Hua, Yai Tsoi, Caisin, Flowering White Cabbage, Mock Pak-Choi or False Pak-Choi." We're going to stick with Yu Choy, which is what Blue Apron calls it. It's popular in China, and is similar to Bok Choy. According to the diet expert at Guineapigcages.com, yu choy is "similar to broccoli and contains high amounts of A and moderate amounts of calcium ... It can... be fed once or twice a week in small portions."

Yu choy is also the latest in a series of new foods we've been able to try, thanks to our human's subscription to Blue Apron. Keep up that cooking thing you guys like to do, humans!
This is yu choy (image source: specialtyproduce.com).

Not bad.

What do you think, Lola?

Not bad.
Before giving our rating, I'd like to provide a disclaimer. The pictures above show way more Yu choy on our plates than we're actually supposed to eat. The humans would have taken it away well before we ate anywhere close to that amount. It makes for better photos if you're actually able to see the food we're eating, but we don't want anyone thinking this is actually the proper amount to feed your guinea pig.

Now, back to our review. Lola got a little bored and wandered off after a minute of munching on Yu choy. I was a bigger fan of it, but eventually got bored as well. It's not a bad food, but it's no carrots. And the health warnings about vitamin A and calcium should also be taken into consideration. We'll give Yu Choy 3/5 stars!