Friday, June 29, 2007

Vet Bedding, Weeks 1 & 2

When I cleaned the cage on June 15th, I couldn't wait to begin this "experiment." The bedding is much thicker than I thought it would be, and fluffier. I knew it wouldn't cover the length of the cage, but some newspaper took care of that and ended up working in our favor.

After setting it up, I placed them in. They walked around carefully. Bobby repeatedly sniffed and bumped his nose to it. I guess he was testing how plush his new floor was.

Phin, however, was more concerned with the new bathroom arrangements and immediately sought out a corner of the cage to make into a toilet. Of course it had to be by the hay rack, which has now been moved a few inches over to keep his huge behind from knocking it over.

Aside from a bit of debris left after maintenance (bits of Timothy grass that are easy to collect by hand or lint roller, or just plain shaken off), it was nice and clean. I did administer a blot test throughout the whole bed. Nothing. Not one damp spot. This thing is just amazing. Friday rolled around, and not a hint of odor was in the cage.

I left it in for another six days, constantly monitoring for odor and moisture. Nothing was wet or smelly (except for the newspapered area to the right). I couldn't believe it.
Now came the next part of the test -- washing the bedding. I was a bit afraid at how difficult this might be. It's a pretty large piece of thick material, so I wanted to be sure that it would fit in the washing machine.

After a bit of maneuvering, I managed to position it perfectly in the machine. I washed it on a regular cycle in warm water with the rest of the pig laundry (which included Bobby's lounge chair).
When I removed it from the washer, I noticed that the boys' brick colored towels left nice layer of red lint all over the bedding and lounge chair. Luckily, the dryer took care of some of the problem, while a sticky lint brush and a quick vacuuming took care of the rest. If it weren't for my own ignorance, cleaning would have required less steps.

And finally, to the right is the final product. It looks almost as good as new! The boys, of course, went to work getting their varying stinks back into their fresh cage.

After two weeks, here are my findings:
Cost: The size we purchased was about $35. This means that it will pay for itself before the month is over.

Odor: There was no smell even after thirteen days of use. The bedding literally pulled any urine beneath itself and away from the boys.

Maintenance: There is some maintenance required. The corner with the newspaper needs to be changed every 1-2 days depending on how active they boys were. We drag poops to the newspapered area, which made for a nice quick clean up. The bedding should to be washed and dried every week, but it is able to go about a good two weeks without causing any harm to them, or our noses. Bits of hay were the only real pain to be honest, but most of them shook off without an issue.

Convenience: It's a bit more maintenance than dumping litter in and out, but it's worth it. The cage is more hygienic, and there's no need to worry about soiled litter getting on the carpet. The boys seem to enjoy the soft, cushy feel beneath their little toes.

Verdict: I will be ordering a few more in different colors. As for the length issue, I'm not sure if I will order a bigger one and cut it to size, or order several smaller ones and cut them into sections to make it easier for cleaning. Whatever I decide, I'll be writing about. But one thing is for sure, so far I am happy with our bedding change and so are the boys.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pigtures: Floortime!

The boys enjoy floortime in the kitchen.

When he's in a new situation or place, Bobby still follows and imitates his Uncle Phin.

It wouldn't be a pigtastic photo shoot without Phin demanding a close-up.

Bobby trots about, looking for fun.

Phin's fluffy butt.

A very sneaky Bobby.

So big, yet so small.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pigtastic Summer Sushi

Partly inspired by Hamster Tracker's Cooking 4 Lucy series, I decided to "cook" up something special for my furbabies. Introducing my attempt at Pigtastic Summer "Sushi" consisting of some of the boys' favorites.

We start with a nice sized cucumber, washed and rinsed. Chop it into about half-inch slices.

Next, core the slices using a small knife or something that can fit the center of the slice. Set aside the cores for later.

When you're done coring the slices, you can set them in the dish or plate. The first attempt at this I tried using a bed of greens (kale shown here). While it looked very pretty, it proved to be chaotic in the end -- the boys ripped the kale from beneath the sushi and made a mess.

Take the leftover cucumber cores and chop them up, discarding the seeds. Usually, just chopping off the sides of the core will do. Next, chop up your piggy's favorites. The photo to the left shows a nice mix of kale and cucumber chopped into beautiful green stuffing.

You're almost done!

Stuff the mix into the cored cucumber slices.

This is generally what the finished product will look like. Photographed here is a mix of cucumber, golden delicious apple, with a bit of bell pepper for color.

Hint: with the right combo of fruits, this could be an excellent veggie treat for you, too. Try chopped cucumber, strawberry, and watermelon.

And now for my favorite part! Share with your your piggy pals and watch them enjoy. Also, some moist pellets mashed with cucumber or apple makes for a nice "wasabi" sauce. ¡Buen provecho!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tales Of Bath Time

Fewer things in this world are cuter than a wet guinea pig, not to mention fussier. Though I have to admit, I am so proud of Bobby. For his first bath, he behaved much better than I expected. In fact, it was his adopted uncle that gave me trouble.

Of course, Bobby initially had a moment or two where he wanted to leap out of the bathroom sink. Fortunately, he's too small and could barely reach the area around the sink. He was doomed to clean, bubbly goodness. Here's a photo of him, growing used to his bubble bath. There were moments he had fun with the bubbles, which was cute to see. In case you're wondering, I used Pet Scentsations Small Animal Shampoo in Sun Ripened Raspberry. I love how this brand comes in several different aromatherapy scents, and is cruelty-free.

If I knew earlier that Pet Scentsations offered Honey Oatmeal, Tea Tree, or even Spearmint & Eucalyptus, I would've purchased it earlier for Phineas instead of using Aveeno as my vet suggested. I'm glad I know for next time though.

I carefully bathed Phin using Aveeno Oatmeal Soap, and then ran a warm colloidal oatmeal soak for him to sit in while I gave him a massage. The massage relaxed him until it was time to rinse him off again; then all hell broke loose.
To make a long story short, I had to rinse him off while holding him. My t-shirt was soaked through, as was some of my hair. I guess he figured if he had to get bathed that I was going down with him. Silly pig. Here's a photo of him a bit drier and much happier.

So despite pig protests and lots of splashing, the boys are both clean, and they won't have to worry about bath time for a while. For more photos, check out the First Bath photo album on Flickr.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

First Bath

More photos and details to come.

Happy Father's Day to the daddies of children and furbabies alike.

Friday, June 15, 2007

That'll Do Piggle

Yesterday evening, I trimmed Phin's nails without incident. He put up very little protest, and I was able to finally trim those horrid curly claws he had growing out. As this was his first nail trimming with me, I didn't take any pictures because I didn't want to spook him.

Before the trimming commenced, I spent some time with him. I don't know if other guinea pigs care for massage or not, but I can personally vouch for two that have responded well towards it. When he was calm, I lifted him up gently and got the clipper ready.

With his arms and feet in what I can only describe as a zombie position, I was able to cut his nails without him squirming. At first, he was annoyed about having been moved from his warm and cozy spot on my lap, but he was bought off with treats of course.

His reward for being so awesome: a couple of extra Critter Berries. It was a good evening.

I'm still waiting on the new bedding, as well as some cavy-related goodies I ordered for myself. Until then (or next update), I will leave you with a fun photo of Phin's awesome nose.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things Done, Things To Do

It arrived sooner than I thought. The Cavy Health Record Books (one for each of the boys) we ordered were here in time for their follow-up visit with the vet. I was so pleased! It's an impressive resource.
The visit went well (of course I'm sure the boys would disagree). They received another shot of Ivomec, and that was that. She suggested an oatmeal bath for Phin's dry skin, so once their new bedding arrives, I'll give him a nice warm bath to ease his skin and wash off the dander. Bobby will get a bath as well. Having them both fresh and clean will be great so that I can start using their brushes to groom them.
Because they were such good sports, I made sure they were rewarded with lots of extra head scratches, snuggles, and treats. I bought alfalfa blocks for Bobby, and toys for them both -- a stuffed carrot, and a stuffed apple. Bobby took to them immediately, pushing them around with his nose (I wish I had my camera on me!) and popcorning around them, while Phin looked at them with suspicion.

Tonight we ordered a couple of toddler gates for floortime. This will eliminate the sad excuse for a play pen we have now, plus we won't have to sacrifice our carpets. I keep thinking of things to get for the boys, so I think it's time for something for myself. Perhaps a new bag? We shall see. That's about all for the moment. As you can see, things are absolutely pigtastic.

Photos from, and

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bedding Time

Since putting the boys into the new cage, I've been thinking that Care Fresh isn't going to cut it anymore (even if it is one of the better bedding products out there). So after doing a bit of research, I came across Palace Pet, which sells veterinary bedding. Chris and I just finished ordering one so we can give it a try.

Fleece and vet beddings get mixed reviews, but that can be said of everything else. If this bedding is good at keeping moisture and bacterial growth at bay, and is as sturdy and reusable as it claims, just buying a few will be more economical in the long run than buying large bags of Care Fresh every couple of weeks. A bag of Care Fresh is good for two cage cleanings, and whatever is replaced after daily maintenance. Because the cage is pretty big, and houses only two pigs reusable bedding make sense.
Aside from the features it discloses, the site also donates 5% of the purchase to any charity you choose from their list (which has nothing to do with anything, I just think that's cool).

Above is a photo of the color we chose. Once it arrives, I'll be sure to write my observations (and of course, my opinion). It if works out, I'll probably buy enough to last a month and cut them into strips in order to make the bottom of the cage paneled. The pigs already have their own laundry load, so it would work out perfectly. Until then, check out the site, or share your advice/opinions.

Photo Of The Wheek: 06/10/07

06/10/07: Bobby enjoys a fresh breakfast salad this past Saturday morning.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pigtastic Project No. 1: Tepee, Attempt #1

Last week, I made a sorry excuse for a tepee. Well, it wasn't that bad, but it could look much better. The boys liked it alright, but aesthetically speaking it's an eyesore, and I'm reluctant to add it to the new cage.

I've decided to share the steps I took to make one, as well as the mistakes I made in making the pig tepee.

You'll Need:
Three wooden dowels, twine (or thick wire), scissors, measuring tape, chalk, fabric (not shown), needle and thread (not shown).

Step One: Fasten two of the dowels together with twine to form two sides of a triangle.

Step Two: Fasten the third dowel to form a tripod.

Step Three: This is where I made the mistake, so read on.

Measure out and cut the fabric. When you cut the hole DO NOT cut it the way I have (shown here). Leave a border and cut a hole an inch or two away from it. In other words, there should be a hold in the middle of Spidey's head, not a "bite mark."

Step Four: Drape the fabric around the tripod. If you cut the fabric properly, there will be no need to sew the top the way I did. You live and you learn.

Step Five: Let your dear little furbabies enjoy!

Of course, there are better methods of creating a tepee... simpler ways... like towels and clothes pins. I could just smack myself. Anyway, be sure to visit this link to view photos of cavy tepees.
And if I ever decide to do mine the right way, I'll be sure to post it.

Completed Cage

Finally! The cage is done, and the boys are making themselves at home. It was great to see them so curious and excited about their new home. For the time being, we've decided to keep them in the living room until we move the Bear's computer desk to the future game room.

I admit, I'll miss greeting them first thing in the morning (they were in the loft, a few feet away from our bedroom door), but they'll get to see us most evenings, and they'll see me practically all day during my days off, like today. That reminds me, today is weigh-in day.

The Bear picked up an adorable sofa chair for the boys. While he wasn't sure they would care for it, I was positive at least one of them would take to it. Leave it to Mr. Curious to take a sniff at it. Bobby seems to be the one to like it. Phin prefers his pigloo.

To see some more photos of the cage, click here.

My next order of business is to start sewing up cavy cozies. I haven't sewn by hand in a very long time (aside from mending the occasional hole in a shirt, or loose button). Not too long ago, I picked up some fabrics: Spider-Man (which I used at my first attempt at a pig teepee), USA, baseball, and white fleece. I still have a great deal of Spider-Man fabric left, so I might make an extra cozy, or try making a better teepee.
I couldn't believe how hard it was to find a fabric that wasn't incredibly feminine, and while I was tempted to pick up some animal print fabric, I decided that sticking with the bachelor pad theme was best.

I'll be sure to post the end product of that venture, as well as my first (and second) attempt at a teepee.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Under Construction

The construction of the piggy condo has begun. Pictured to the right is the first level, along with the storage level beneath it. So far, so good.

I called the vet today, and so far the culture taken from Phin is negative. They had a marvelous time during floor time today, playing with their new toys -- a double tunnel, a crinkly tunnel, and a pigloo we picked up yesterday (we also picked up some organic wheatgrass and a hanging basket for veggies/treats). Speaking of which, yesterday marks a full week since the boys have been with us.

They had a ball but Phin was pooped after a bit. Such is the life of Uncle Phin -- playing hide and go seek with little Bobby, then tag, and then pig racing all over the play pen. The Bear and I had a few good laughs over the boys. I took so many photos I'm going to have to upload them to Flickr.

I will have photos of the new condo once we've finished building it. For now, enjoy a couple of pigtures.

Bobby enjoys his new crinkly tunnel.

His royal highness Phineas Q. Butterfat is the king of his own little castle -- a pigloo modified for his large frame.


Motivational Pigtures:

Photo Of The Wheek: 06/03/07

Taken 06/03/07. After dealing with Bobby's popcorning insanity, Uncle Phin gives up and plops down while Mom and Dad begin setting up the skeleton of their soon-to-be cavy condo.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

First Vet Visit

I took the boys to the vet on Thursday for an exam and got more than I bargained for. I ended up paying twice what I though I'd pay which, of course, means something was wrong.

The reason I was in a rush to get the to the vet in the first place was the fact I noticed Phin constantly scratching and barbering himself. The vet gave him and Bobby a shot of Ivomec (despite their protests) and poor Phin had to have hairs plucked for a ringworm culture. Now I'm sure Phin doesn't have ringworm, or else the foster family that cared for him would have had it, too. But it's better to be safe than sorry, and ruling it out is worth it.

Aside from that, it was just business as usual -- some poking, prodding, blinding, and general humiliation to make sure they're all clear. I didn't receive a phone call about the stool sample, which is great news. They were just glad the nightmare was finally over after everything.

That same day, the C&C cage arrived for the boys but the vet and I decided it would be best to keep in the temporary cage for the time being. While I hate to do so, it's just not worth it to put potentially infested pigs in a new (and much larger) cage. When this nightmare of waiting for the culture and their follow up visit (Tuesday after next) is over, we can rest easy and set up the piggy condo.

They were over the trauma after some rest and Orchard Grass, and Bobby's back to popcorning and annoying his Uncle Phin when he's trying to sleep.