Did you know that guinea pigs are in the rodent family? And those rodents, in general, have a philosophy that they can: fit into, squeeze into, run under, run over, climb over, climb under, flatten out, or fatten up to go ANYWHERE regardless of the size of the opening. Fred and Lamont take the rodent philosophy very seriously.
I got home on Monday from school and greeted the boys. The first thing I do is open their cage and put up a small fence to allow them to explore. The area of the fence has been slowly increasing in order to get them used to free-ranging the house. After the initial crazy pig session, zoomies, and popcorning marathon, I will clean their cage out. I usually pick them up and place them in the play area. Neither enjoys being kicked out of their home. They will try to push and squeeze past me to get back in. I’m a mean mom and won’t let them in until I’m finished with the hand vacuum. Then I right the cage and usually have to take out the house garbage. So, I left the cage door open with the fence out in the living room and took out the trash.
I expected to come back into the house, play a bit with the boys, and then feed them dinner before eating my own. They had other plans. As I walked into the house, I was greeted by Fred standing at the door. “Hey, dude,” I said turning and closing the door behind me. As I hung up my keys on the peg, I realized that Fred was out of his assigned area. I turned and it was his queue to bolt. “Freeeaaahhhh…” came out as he ran towards the bedroom. I sighed in frustration. I wanted Fred and Lamont to be free-rangers but not until I was comfortable with their behaviors around the house.
I took two steps towards the bed room and saw black and white streak out from behind me and into the kitchen. “La – moooooooont!” I yelled. “Damn it!” I cursed. “They are both out!” I stood there in the middle of the living room listening for a tell-tale noise of guinea pig trouble. A heavy silence hung over the house. ‘Oh, these two are good…’ I thought to myself. ‘Alfalfa would always make noise and give himself away…not these two…’
“Fred, Fred,” I called to my AWOL guinea pig. Fred sometimes comes to his name. So, I called again, “Fred, Fred, Freddie…” The chocolate furred butt-head came trotting out from the bedroom. “Hey,” I remarked as casually as possible, “You think you could go back in your areas? You know… where you belong?” The last part came out a bit strained and Fred suspected something was up. He started to put out a curiosity pinging noise.
Usually when Fred does his curiosity noise, Lamont will join in and come out to see what his brother is so interested in. That’s exactly what happened. Lamont came trotting out of the kitchen making ‘what’s so interesting’ noises. They both stood in the middle of the living room exploring their surroundings, having a good old GP brother time, and ignoring mom. “Excuse me, gentlemen?” They both stopped exploring and looked up at me. “I’m going to open the fenced area and both of you are going to go back in there. You have not received the ‘free-ranging’ clearance status. Ok?” I turned around, bent over, and moved the fence. “The house is now open. Let’s go!” I demanded and pointed at the ground.
Why do I always think that my guinea pigs are going to listen to me? They never do. In fact, they always do the opposite of what I tell them to do… *sigh* Well, that’s exactly what happened. The boys bolted again. Fred took off for the kitchen and Lamont ran to the bedroom. All I could do was sit there and shake my head. It was like having two Alfalfas in the house. Ok, they don’t bite but, my goodness, these two were turning out to be a handful.
I had figure out how to outsmart guinea pigs. I could do it, right? After all, I am a physics teacher. If anyone was capable of outsmarting two guinea pigs, it was me…right? Then an idea hit me: FOOD! They are both hearty eaters. Fred weighs 1250 grams and Lamont weighs 1050 grams. I casually walked over to the kitchen and began to prepare their dinners. As I did, I sang the feeding song, “Pig, pig, piiiiiigs, oh, my pig, pig piiiiiigs!” I called as I chopped.
It worked. By the time I was through the third variety of vegetable, both boys were sitting on the rug outside of the kitchen singing back for their food. They both did the “I’m hungry now!” dance. I just chopped and prepared their food as if they weren’t sitting there. I continued to sing, “Pig, pig, piiiiiigs, oh, my pig, pig piiiiiigs!” It was driving them crazy. They were in a frenzy wheeking and dancing. I giggled as I cleaned up.
Turing around, I eyed my audience out of the corner of my eye. “Uhhhh, has anyone seen two guinea pigs, pig, piiiigs that need dinner?” I sang to the room. Both boys popcorned in response. As I walked I sang to the pigs, “Oh, where oh where could my guinea pigs be? Oh, where could they beeeeeee… I have too much fooooood for me…” Fred and Lamont got the hint and started wheeking as they followed me.
When I got to the cage, the boys ran in and went right to the kitchen area. “Oh, look!” I teased; there are my guinea pigs… I thought I had lost them!” The boys were singing for their food with all of their might. I couldn’t tease them any longer and put the food bowl down. Both almost jumped into the bowl. I walked back over fence and put it back in place. I heard both boys eating. I turned to see two happy, healthy guinea pigs enjoying their dinner. “Well, boys,” I called to Fred and Lamont, “That’s one point for me… You can’t outsmart me. I was trained by the best. I’m Alfalfa’s mom…”
Update: All is going well with the new boys. I can’t tell you how much joy they bring it. It’s wonderful having a pair of guinea pigs in the house. I’m such a nervous wreck that I’ll do something wrong with them. And my goodness, holding both of them at the same time is a challenge. But it’s so worth it when they snuggle into my neck and let out a sigh of contentment. All I can think is, “Yeah boys, I love you too…”