Meet Nutmeg

DSC_0416I am awaiting a pro-quality shot once the Missus returned home. For now, this one must do.

I decided to call him Nutmeg on account of his black and brown fur. While the little General watches proceedings from an elevated position, I believe that Nutmeg might become the boss soon. He is clearly interested in the job.

The Saddest Thing

20140228_110847The saddest thing on Earth (or at least one of the very saddest things) must be a lonely Guinea Pig. While they are usually quite perky, a lonely Guinea Pig just sits in the corner with little appetite and dropping ears. Funny how you can see the ears dropping even though they are never in a different position, but something about the entire posture, the absence of whistling and lack of appetite is just heart-breaking.

So, first things first. The first sad news is that Castor, the black Guinea Pig with the white twirl on his head (pictured here), perished on July 22nd, 2014 as a result of an unidentified illness. (A dead Guinea Pig also is a pretty sad thing, really.)

While away on a business trip, I decided not to replace Castor, but when I saw the little General as sad as described above, the decision was easy. The new one, not named as yet, got 24 hours indoors to cope with the initial shock of the move. All the time, he sat with the exact same expression of loneliness, so I brought the two together for a few hours on Sunday. It’s as if I flicked a switch; immediately, both start acting normally and eat, and are of course quite excited about the new mate.

Of course, now they need to fight for dominance. The surviving General hasn’t woken up to the new situation, or is generally submissive. It is very clear that the new little bugger wants the job as top dog.

They’ll get all day together tomorrow (and maybe I get a decent photo of the new recruit). Starting Tuesday, they should be together all day and night.

Rain Sweet Rain

2011-04-23 1524I never thought I’d be so glad to see it raining, but I am quite happy with the present not-a-downpour not-a-drizzle all-penetrating soggy traditional English rain. I think it indicates the arrival of a warm front form the west, which is most welcome here. Any warmth, indeed.

I have also been watching the minimum overnight temperatures. These seem to hold above freezing now, even only by a small margin. I hope this will be enough for the garden to spring into action, and I am sure it will be enough for the boys to consider a move to the great outdoors.

All I need now is a break from the rain so that I can prepare their summer palace.

[UPDATE:] The rain stopped and the boys have now moved into their summer palace. It doesn’t quite feel like summer yet, but everyone is pretty excited – most of all those furry friends.

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Cavia Porcellus Update

c-and-pI just realised that I have two almost identical photos of myself with Castor (bottom) and Pollux (top), how nice.

You might know that Pollux died in January. Still makes me sad when I see him, he was such a beauty. (And one greedy little gourmand, too!)

I shall team up with the W7 in-house photography department for a similar set of photos once the little General and Castor move back into the great outdoors. They still enjoy their winter holidays in the relative warmth and comfort of our hall, and the little General isn’t little at all any more.

 

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Cavia Porcellus Update

theBoysSome of you have wondered how the two Guinea pigs are getting along in the snow and cold, and I am happy to report that they are getting on fine in the relative warmth of our hall. It’s too cold outside, especially for the little one which hasn’t had a chance to grow a fat layer or winter fur.

I am mighty proud of them. I really am. They didn’t have much of the gentle step-by-step introductions, but were housed together in a cage pretty quickly (on account of the weather turning cold and snowy). After 36 hours of very high excitement with constant squealing and running about, sniffing and calling each other, but without any significant fighting, they settled in incredibly well. The older one clearly adopted the little one, giving shelter and protection, and the little one clearly accepted. They even call each other when I take one out of their cage, how sweet is that?

So, all is well. All we need now is a turn to milder weather so that they can return to their larger run in the garden.

 

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A Mini-Cutie

DSC_1564Life is sad and lonely with only one Guinea pig, both for a Guinea pig and a human. Come and meet the youngest and cutest member of the family: he-who-has-yet-to-be-named, approximately 8 weeks old. A coffee and toffee coloured British shorthair. However, the great grandmother must have had a fling with an Abyssinian one, as he’s got a few rosettes over his back.

He’s staying in hiding right now, and has yet to meet and become friends with Castor. We’ll take it one step at a time though; the little one has to relax a little first, get used to me, and will then be gradually introduced to Castor and the outdoors life, some time next week.

As to the name, the race is still on, and you’re welcome to contribute your suggestions. Given that Castor is still with us, I though Sugar would be suitable (as in Caster Sugar), or General (as in General Custer). I’m leaning towards General, considering that the little one is bound to be lower in the pecking order, but suggestions are most welcome.

Edit: the neighbour, also German, suggests P. Rauxel. Not bad, Herr Kern!

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Domestic News

DSC_0855 - CopySad news today.

Pollux, the curly salt-and-pepper Guinea pig, died during the night. Even though the wound to his ear was healing (seemingly) nicely, and in spite of antibiotics, I assume a lingering infection caused his death.

Oh, that’s just too bad.

(Apart from that, yes, we are still well but a little too busy right now for regular blog updates. Give me another few days…)

Schlitzohr

DSC_0009Many of you will know about the considerable difficulties administering a pill to a cat (for those who don’t, here’s the classic tale of How to Give A Cat A Pill). Many of you will know about the ease of wrapping a pill into bacon for administering a pill to a dog, but how do you give antibiotics to a Guinea Pig?

Easy:

Grab it under the front arms and lift it. The little bugger will squeak, thus open its mouth. Squirt the medicine into the mouth using a small syringe, and your furry friend goes Nom nom nom food!

Pollox cut his ear somehow, so I took him to the vet to have the dangling bits of ear trimmed off, and to get some antibiotics for him. Great stuff from the vet by the way: rung 9:06 AM on New Year’s Eve, saw the good doctor at 9:30, back home 9:56. Brilliant short-notice service! (http://www.ardenhousevets.co.uk/)

Happy New Year!

 

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A Lifestyle Choice

DSC_0035As the nights and days get colder, I am thinking about my Guinea Pigs. Well, I am always thinking about my Guinea Pigs, but the cold makes me think about their welfare more than normal.

They have a sheltered spot in the garden. They have a shed and other hiding places. They have space to run, rocks to climb, places to be alone, places to hide and places to huddle up. They have no rain and little draft, no predators, no famine, no drought. Basically, they have nothing to worry about. But then, of course, they haven’t got their freedom. They aren’t free to roam the Andes and, probably worst of all, they aren’t free to mate. They need to get along with each other, can’t call a friend or escape to the pub for a few hours.

Which life would you prefer?

A life in the open wilderness, with all the mating and roaming you want, and all the dangers that come with the environment, or a life in a house with a garden attached, several times as big as the house, with absolutely nothing to worry about, and gourmet food and drink delivered to your doorstep every day.

 

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Fruits of My Labour

polluxHere are the first fruits of my labour: at long last, the W7 Petcam is live! You can see it right here, in the right side bar of the main page.

The view isn’t great because the boys are under a reflecting acrylic sheet to keep them dry. I’ll think of something, maybe move the camera. I have now thought of something, and moved the camera. You can now look them into the eye, if they happen to look into yours.

For now, I am pleased with the current state of affairs.

You can manually refresh the image, or switch to Auto mode. In auto mode, the image refreshes automatically every few seconds, but the longer you watch, the slower it gets. You can’t make it bigger or change to live video, however. This is designed on purpose to preserve my Internet bandwidth.

Castor and Pollux say “hi.”
Enjoy.

Guerrilla Weeding

polluxI was curious how much longer it would take, but the wait is over: I got challenged and put to the question on my way home from the gym. “What are you doing there?” the man wants to know.

When I explained that I was picking Dandelions in this gentleman’s alleyway, "a weed to you and me but heaven for my Guinea pigs," he did what every decent man should do: His suspicious face melted away, replaced by a smile and an inviting gesture.

We had a brief conversation about the eating habits of Guinea Pigs, concluded with the repeated invitation to harvest dandelions in his alley way.

I like life’s little moments. There’s so much latent aggression in the streets of suburban London, and many people in the street look at me suspiciously when I bid them a good morning. Nice to know normality also remains part of suburban life.

 

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Castor & Pollux

Castor (bottom) and Pollux (top)Meet Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins, who have now taken up residence in my study while I am building their outdoors pen. Two Guinea Pig boys. Castor is a mostly black British Shorthair with a white curl right on top of his head, Pollux is a salt-and-pepper Abyssinian with big curls, making his hair stand up straight where the curls meet. Both are very lovely, but only Pollux is immortal. 

The boys settle in really well. They quickly learned to associate my voice with food; now we are learning about trust and about being held. One little step at the time, but the speed of progress is very nice. I buy their sympathies with food, of course. Regrettably, they don’t like celery greens very much, of which we have an abundance in the garden.

Dandelions and Sow Thistle are already a thing of the past in our garden. I have now taken to roaming the streets…

Oh, and fighting also seems to be a thing of the past. They fought heavily for little over an hour (with breaks and loud squeals) and appear to have established a hierarchy now. Not sure if the last word is said on that already, as the dominant one, Pollux (shown on top as is fit for his rank), is more shy than the more inquisitive Castor.

More pictures are right here.

 

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