Monday, 28 November 2011
A new London - Isabella
We left Candace on her own to see how she'd be without Stacy before rushing to replace her, although we were tempted to do so. Guinea pigs are generally very sociable creatures and should not be kept without a friend/cellmate. The guinea pig hotel where she spent her summer holiday kept an eye on Candace to see if she was interested in and agreeable to other guinea pigs around her, and as she was happy to chat and sniff other girls through her cage and through their respective runs (they don't chuck them in together) we decided that a replacement would be a good idea.
Candace seemed noticeably sad and lonely after her holiday ended. I know to some people it seems silly to project emotions on an animal, but even Mr London (who is not as sentimental about animals as I can be) agreed that she did look sad. Her home is in our dining room so she does have company, but it's not the same as someone from the same species. Candace was also the more passive and sociable of our two guinea pigs, and while Stacy would probably have been happier as a solitary pig, we agreed it wasn't satisfactory for Candace.
We looked, quite hard, for a replacement from a rescue home. Unfortunately, they all prefer to re-home in bonded pairs and we couldn't find any solitary female guinea pigs looking for a friend. I completely understand this - if you do let someone take a single guinea pig and you are left with a single she or he can't be re-homed on their own, and they do honestly get quite fond of each other (or learn tolerate the other one, in Stacy's case).
We finally bought a new guinea pig from a pet store. I still struggle with my conscience over this; I really wish we hadn't had to do it, but Candace was looking increasingly sad and listless. She has perked up noticeably since we brought Isabella (we're sticking with names from Phineas and Ferb) home. Isabella is tiny compared to Candace; I really don't like to think how she'd have gotten on if she'd gone from being in the big container inside the pet shop to being in an outdoor hutch as they're more typically kept.
If you are considering getting guinea pigs, I'd urge you to look for rescue pigs rather than buy from a pet shop. Our biggest worry was that Isabella would be a) not a girl or b) already pregnant. As guinea pigs gestate for 72 days, we still don't know for sure that she isn't (we're booking a visit to our vet to check). Guinea pig 'bits' (to put it delicately) don't look that different in the girls and boys, and though we've had a quick look and are pretty sure she is a girl, I'm not a guinea pig expert.
Here's the video of their first meeting. For some reason it isn't full screen (we took it on the iphone) sorry!