Sunday, November 10, 2013

In which we have a new furball in the family....

Meet Jasper.

He's (obviously) a guinea pig. He's also a baby and very, very, very, very, very shy. He's been spending most of the last couple of days in his little hideaway hut, but we were able to convince him to come out for a photo op. As you can see, he looks like two different guinea pigs depending on which side you're looking at.

"Does it say anything about watercress in there?" Maddy said, coming in from the kitchen with a bag. The dandelion greens we found in the supermarket weren't as big a hit as she thought they'd be. After she cooked some for her own dinner, she realized they were kind of bitter, to say the least.

"No. It says no purslane, though. And easy on broccoli because it causes gas." I'd say that's one problem none of us need.

"Better not." She looked at the bag. "I'll wash the romaine/arugula mix, then."


I don't know if Zaphod has noticed the new furball in town. Maddy thinks he has and is slightly jealous, but if he is, he's showing it by being extra cute and sweet and cuddly. He's been begging (successfully) to come out and play all day.

"Are all degus like that?" I said, watching him get yet another head scratch.

"I don't know. From what I was reading online, I don't think so." Maddy gave him a peanut and shut the cage.

 "Like on a message board?"

She nodded. "I never joined it. They'd have my head in no time. You see, I only have the one."


"So according to them, I'm a horrible evil mean person who's abusing her poor innocent degu because I didn't give him a companion to live with. They say the minimum you should keep is three. Now, never mind that they have post after post after post from people whose degus are pretty much killing each other and have a complicated six to eight month process for even introducing two so that maybe they won't try to kill each other when you put them together and they still insist that they need that precious, precious companion or else they'll go insane and won't even live a year."

And this one is what? Four years old now and - well, I don't think he's insane, although I'm not sure that spending ten minutes running around your house squeaking with a wooden hamburger in your mouth is normal. Even for a degu. Nor is breaking out of a Critter Keeper while your person is cleaning your cage and proceeding to knock over a bottle of Delta Ceramcoat and spill it. All over everything. Never mind that the reason he was in a Critter Keeper was that he'd chewed the bottom out of the holding cage he was supposed to be in.

"He chewed the bottom out of his original cage, too," Maddy said. "It was a good thing I was home when he did it. I was able to nab him and stick him in an old fish tank while I went out and bought one of those wire cage toppers for it. At two PM on the last Saturday afternoon before Christmas. I wasn't pleased. And those wire cage topper thingys basically suck. It was a pain in the butt to take on and off to clean and I couldn't really reach into it to take him out. I finally ended up ordering the cage he's in now from a place in Oregon. I needed one that was all metal. That's another thing with that online group. Apparently you're also a bad person if you don't build your own cage or have one custom built, because of course the evil bad mean pet stores don't sell good cages. Never mind that they also insist on wooden-bottomed cages for degus."

Somehow, I don't think an enclosure should double as a chew toy. But that's just me.

There's another thing about degus. As Maddy discovered after she got Zaphod, you'll be reading the list of ingredients on anything you buy for them very, very carefully. As it turns out, they came into the pet trade via the medical research route - they were first imported from South America for diabetes research. Simply put, they can't have sugar.

"Apparently their bodies can't process it. And wouldn't you know, just about every small animal mix has either sugar beet molasses or cane molasses in it to bind the pellets together. And of course the little furbag won't eat degu pellets." Luckily she found one brand of small animal mix that doesn't have sugar in the pellets that he'll actually eat. And he loves timothy grass hay, although she still has to be careful not to buy the kind with dried fruit added.

So, with all that - would you get another one?

"Of course!"

(Yes, that's Zaphod. Or his nose, anyway. It's hard to photograph someone who wants to see if the camera is edible....)

And PS - Jasper is out sniffing around his cage. Finally....


  1. Oh Wow Jasper is sooo Cute - I Love Guinea Pigs and the sweet little sounds they make! Looks like Maddy is taking wonderful care of welcoming him home. Zaphod is Really CooL, and obviously Loving life there! What fascinating info about the sugar, I never knew that - very good research! Enjoy your lovely pets - Thank You! ~ LuV TiGGy

  2. Aww, they're both adorable. I love pig-pigs, ad like Tiggy said, their super sweet little sounds. So cute.

    I'd never seen a degu until I saw Zaphod on your blog. Now I feel like I learned something!