Last Sunday, my sister Joy surprised me with a text. “Check your email for important bulletin!” I was so intrigued I immediately opened my email.
I saw this:
A walking ball of fur with eyes! “Her name is Walnut.” Our other guinea pig, Moonball, is an American shorthaired cavy, so the prospect of caring for a fancier breed was exciting. Walnut is approximately 4 months old, what they call a Sheltie or Silkie. A cavy with Justin Bieber hair. My brother-in-law Tristan picked her out of a lineup at the Northeast Greenhills Sunday Market, and paid P500. He says he was enamored by her black button eyes and teddy bear looks.
Joy and Tristan decided to get another cavy to keep Moonball company, because they’d read that cavies are social animals. Moonball is now a year and a half old, so it was interesting to see how she’d bond with another cavy half her size. Walnut was skittish, and tended to run away everytime Moonball would attempt to smell or lick her. Good thing we had a couple of shelters – a huge PVC T-joint and an overturned plastic basket with cut-out sides – inside what we like to call the cavy-tat.
Tristan would occasionally capture Walnut so Joy could give her a dose of Vitamin C from a syringe, and so Walnut would get used to handling and grooming. Right now she fits on Tristan’s palm:
Joy also rebuilt the cavy-tat from a 2×3 to a 2×4 Stack-and-Rack cage held together with cable ties with a coro-plast box inside. The coro-plast (corrugated plastic) box is lined with an extra-large garbage bag and old newspapers, followed by a green plastic mesh floor where poop and urine could pass through. This makes it easy for us to collect the poop and newspapers for my mom’s composting needs.
In the evenings after dinner we like to sit on the sofa and watch Walnut and Moonball run around or eat. Since they’re still getting acquainted, there’s a lot of chasing going on. Walnut is a perky little thing; despite being wary of the bigger Moonball, she has learned to spend more time out in the open instead of hiding in the T-joint all the time.
Right now Moonball is about 800 grams and is about as big as a puppy. She is well socialized with humans, so she actually enjoys being picked up and cuddled every so often. She’s also potty-trained – she only pees and poops on the old newspaper folded in the corners of the cavy-tat. We’re hoping Walnut catches on.
Cavies have a lifespan of about 4-6 years, given the best possible care. We plan to enjoy these two pets for as long as we can.