Posted by: kerryannekay | February 24, 2012

Please excuse my guinea pig…he’s not normal…”

A rare moment of quiet for Alfalfa.

Many people have asked me why I allow my guinea pig to freely roam my apartment.  I usually just explain that he is ‘strong-willed’ and it’s easier this way.  The looks I get range from shock to bewilderment.  However, that is the truth…my guinea pig will not stand to be caged up.

This whole situation started right after I rescued Alfalfa.  He was very hyper and liked to run around his cage.  I had the cage on a small table.  He quickly managed to knock it off of the table and on to the floor with him inside of it.  After a quick emergency visit, I was advised by my vet to place the cage on the floor and to create an addition for the cage.

I made the door of the cage into a ramp by weaving cardboard into it, placed a piece of chloroplast on the floor, placed a fleece on top of it and made a fence to keep the pig in his new play area.  This was a temporary situation.  However, I soon discovered that my guinea pig was able to manipulate the cage or eat through the zip ties I used to secure them.  I came home one day to find that Alfalfa had eaten though four zip ties.  Worse, they were nowhere to be found.  Another emergency vet visit followed that discovery.  Now I had a willful guinea pig and one that was making a habit of needing the vet.  What could I do?

Day after day, I tried a bunch of different ways to keep my guinea pig in his cage.  Each morning I would tell him, “Alfalfa, be a good boy and stay in your cage.”  That didn’t work.  One day I spent an hour searching for the thing only to find him sleeping behind a box under my bed.  He gave me the death stare.  I broke out in tears.  How was I going to live with this monster?  I turned to the internet.  People made some weird suggestions; some were helpful and some were just mean.

Finally, after the second month of being greeted by the guinea pig that just would not stop I just gave up.  I said, “Fine, if you want to roam the house I’m not going to stop you!  I won’t feel bad if you eat something and kill yourself!” I went around and piggy proofed the apartment the best I could.  Alfalfa followed me.  He sat and watched me move wires, cover areas, block off others, and just move things around.   I was still in tears.

I walked over to the fridge and opened it.  Of course, Alfalfa was there waiting to be fed.  So, I took out a carrot and offered it to him.  I held it about four inches above his head not wanting to place it on the carpet.  He stood up on his back legs and took a bite out of the carrot.  When he was done chewing, I offered him another bite.  Again, he went up on his back legs and took the carrot.  I sat down and began to talk to him saying “up” with each time I held out the carrot.

Alfalfa was a quick learn.  He mastered up in less than two weeks.  He now does it when offered a tasty treat.  That’s the day that I realized that I couldn’t cage up my guinea pig.  He was just too different.  I’ve tried to train him to do a circle.  He starts and then runs off and runs back.  That’s his version of a circle.  I just tell him each time he tries, “That’ll do pig…that’ll do…”

– ME

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