Friday, 3 September 2010

Surrogate Mother

Just in case you were wondering (and obviously you were) I’m done with the guinea pig sitting now. My short spell as surrogate mother to the three furry wonders came to an end on Sunday and I am most relieved to say that we all made it through the experience alive.

Guinea pigs were a new realm for me. I remember wanting one when I was young only to have Mum declare that they were smelly (an accusation I have frequently heard thrown in their direction, I can confirm they do not stink. Or else my nose doesn’t work.) and I couldn’t have one but could have a hamster instead.

And so Bunty entered my life. Yes that’s correct, I named her Bunty after the weekly comic that I would get from the Newsagents next door.

I would love to paint a glorious picture for you of how I’m such a huge animal lover and really I think I am but I hated that hamster. I hated it. She was nippy and bitey and I developed a complete phobia of picking her up in case my hand fell off. My only real pleasure came from cleaning her out and giving her a nice fresh cage, only to be horrified when she messed it up (a problem I also had with the guinea pigs admittedly, can’t they be trained to use a litter box like cats? Do they really just have to crap everywhere?). Smudge and Belinda, our cats at the time, used to sit either side of her cage, watching her swing from her bars like a pirate and there would be just the teeniest, tiniest part of me that would sort of, kind of wonder what would happen if one of them got hold of her.

Bunty finally came to pass 2 long years later. I don’t really know what she died of, we came down one morning and she was lying in her cage sort of rocking/shaking and not long after that she died. I did cry, I’m not a complete heartless beast, and she was even given a full burial service, thanks to the fact that my Dad was tongue and grooving the downstairs toilet and had some spare wood to make a coffin. Bunty still (as far as I know) resides under a tree in the back garden.

I will still linger outside the cages of hamsters at Pets At Home but my favourites are really the guinea pigs, despite the way that they scurry about and try to get away from you when you desperately try to reach into the enclosure to touch them.

I am happy to report that these guinea pigs lived up to all my expectations and more. They are basically a perfect size, not too small that they creep you out but not so big that they scare the hell out of you (I must be the only person on earth to be massively a little bit scared of big rabbits). You can sit them on your lap and they won’t move and are happy to just sit there and be petted, unlike cats which will only tolerate petting for so long. All they’re really interested in is grubbing about and just being guinea pigs. Brilliant.

I have to say however that the whole cleaning out of the cage would begin to wear thing after a while. Much as I like animals I can be a bit of commitment-phobe at times, probably why I like cats so much. Guinea pigs are a commitment, you need to be there to give them their fresh stuff in the morning and change their water bottles and you need to be there at night to clear out any muck and let them have a little run around in their outdoor run. It’s kind of a big responsibility and whilst it was one I was happy to do for one week in the middle of summer, having to do it in the dark and the rain in the depths of winter doesn’t sound as appealing to be honest.
Much as I would like a guinea pig, I don’t think I’m ready for it just yet. I’d rather wait until I was a parent and let my child have one. That way I could pass cleaning and general care responsibilities on to said child and dress it up as a ‘learning experience.’

Wait a minute.

It seems strange that I’ve just said I would rather get a child before a guinea pig. Not living in reality? Me? I don’t think so.

(If you were wondering, Apple is the brown one, Blossom is the white one with evil red eyes and Poppet is the sandy coloured one and, quite frankly, my favourite. How could she not be given this picture...?!)


  1. I love guinea pigs. I used to have two when I was younger - unfortunately they were a breeding pair and the male was randy as hell, but that's another story. When the female died, the male came to live in the house. He used to enjoy sleeping in front of the fire and wandering into the kitchen to help himself to something from the vegetable rack. Aw, I miss him.

  2. have you ever met julias rabbit rose?

  3. oh my....these are adorable shots!

  4. You just crack me up!!! You are so funny!! However - reality check. When you are a parent, and your kid pesters you for a pet, and they say they will look after it and clean it out etc - DONT BELIEVE THEM!!!! They do it for about - a day - and then it gets left up to the mother. xxxxx

  5. What great Guinea Pig photos - lovin the last one of Poppet.

    I took Violet to see the Guinea Pigs @Pets at Home on Thursday - we love going there to look at the animals and fish. I definitely need a Guinea Pig in my life.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  6. Aww they are cute. I've never had any sort of small animal, always cats & dogs. I used to get Bunty too when I was wee!!

  7. They are so beautiful, just perfect litle bundles of fur. I particularly love the lips; who knew Guinea Pigs had proper lips!

  8. How can you be scared of rabbits, they're soo cute. I think 2 years is about the max for a hamster, it was very lucky to get a proper little coffin. Those guinea pigs do look quite cute.

  9. I can assure you that having a child does mean animal cages get cleaned out! I have fell for this many times - 'Please Mum, we will look after it and clean it out, we promise'. Sadly a week later they have lost interest in the new addition and muggins is left with the mucking out! If I was you I'd cut out the middle man and just get a guinea pig! S x

  10. Guinea pigs are wicked - my current facebook profile is of my friend's guinea pig and I've superimposed a moustache on him...

    As for cleaning them out...we used to have rabbits and guinea pigs...I still sometimes dream (an reoccuring dream) that I've forgotten to clean them out and years have passed and they haven't been fed and I am like 'oh no!' but when I go to find them, they are just scraping by - just so I rescue them in time. I guess years of cleaning must have built up in my brain...a habit my sleeping brain is like 'er...why aren't you doing this anymore?! Uh oh!!! Have you forgotten?! Arghhhh!!!'

    Fun stuff... xxx

  11. You've made me really REALLY want a guinea pig now.

    Sadly, I don't think my landlord would appreciate it...

  12. Guinea pigs are pretty much the best things ever. Apart from rabbits, and tbh I'm never going to let you meet Willow because she is massive and weighs over seven pounds. Weighty Lb pounds, not pound coins. When she lays down it's like when you leave bread dough to prove before baking it.

    I think you should get some guinea pigs ;-)

  13. SO CUTE, and I echo what Dorothy said about the lips!

  14. awwwwwwww that last picture is SO CUTE!!!


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