Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bummed Out Bertie

Years ago, I discovered that guinea pigs could pine, ration their food and throw a snit.  Teddi and Eclair introduced me to all three of these concepts.  They would suddenly curb their eating if I was gone longer than two days, even though I had someone come in to feed them and they were given plenty to eat.  Then, when I got home, Eclair would give me the stink eye and turn her back on me.  (My dad's cat used to do that, and then check over his shoulder to verify my dad realized he was being snubbed.)  Such attitude from such a small little rodent.  Then, after 20 minutes of giving me the cold shoulder, Eclair would wolf down food, non-stop, for what seemed to be forever - as if to catch up on what she hadn't eaten in the last few days.  A full tummy returned me to her good graces and our normal routine would resume.

I couldn't understand where Eclair learned this, or where it came from.  I never saw this behavior in another guinea pig... until now.

I was away for a few days last weekend, and Rob took care of the pigs.  Overall, it should have been the normal routine, but he reported that Bertie seemed out of sorts all weekend.  Pinni wasn't quite herself, either, but ate with gusto when food was presented.  Bertie was sulky and unenthusiastic.  I was told she didn't bite the bars the whole weekend.  It's always a bit worrying when bad pigs suddenly behave well.  Something is wrong when they stray from their errant ways.

I still don't understand what triggers this reaction.  I've been thinking of what Bertie and Eclair have in common.  They were fairly young when they came home with me - Eclair was seven weeks old and Bertie was six months old.  They're also a bit smarter than most pigs I've had and may have noticed that I was missing.  Pinni, I suspect, didn't notice or didn't really care, as long as the food kept coming.  A pig needs priorities.

They got weighed, just to ensure the change in attitude wasn't due to illness.  Pinniped got squeezes because, well, she's Pinni.  And bar chewing resumed within hours of my return home, because one must chew the bars for carrot.

Ah, yes.  All is right with the world again.


  1. And I thought my girls were little fussbudgets! None of them are quite themselves when we vacation either, and no pigsitter seems to meet their approval.

  2. Woody is an absolute brat. He kicks over his pigloo when we have been away.

    When my twin and I went to university we left our guinea pig, Polly, with our parents. My mum adored Polly and would carry her around like a baby during the day. The parents went to Australia for 6 weeks and on their return Polly was furious, sulked and peed on both of them.


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