Monday, February 13, 2017

We Have Babies

Last Saturday we had to wake early for music. A few of the kids went downstairs ahead of me. As I was about to come down, Elaina runs to the stairs and yells up, "NUTMEG HAD HER BABIES!" I bolted down the stairs to see THIS:

Four brand new babies, still damp from birth. Momma had already eaten placentas, sacs and most of the bloody hay/bedding. Guinea pigs are prey animal so they will get rid of every bit of birth scent and blood. Nutmeg was still cleaning up the fourth baby. We had missed the birth by mere moments, as guinea pigs give birth very quickly and very quietly.

Look at those sweet babies! HOW did they all fit in her, though?! Ignore the brussel sprout, ha! That was leftover from the night before, and mom apparently hadn't eaten it. I tossed it and all the wet hay and wet bedding soon after this pic.

The first baby I held was the runt. He was struggling to get up and use his back legs. We named him Pepper, because he looks just like our ground pepper. His nickname is Squirrel, though, because he also looks like a squirrel, minus the bushy tail. (As an aside, the other boy I nicknamed Moose. Ten points if you get it.)

Mom and one of her daughters. Same coloring but this one is an Abyssinian (has rosettes, or swirls, in her fur) whereas mom is an American (smooth haired, no rosettes).

Babies' first group photo! We need to weigh them daily to make sure all are gaining, so we thought we'd get photos as well. We only had them out for a few minutes. Unlike other creatures, mom won't mind and won't reject them. To tame guinea pigs, it is actually good to handle them from birth.

This is one of my favorite pictures. She is always snuggling her babies. She is SUCH a good momma. They climb on her, they force themselves under her chin and under her body, they follow her like little ducklings around the cage... it is seriously the sweetest. I've never had a pet give birth.

And here they are! The boys are on top, the girls on bottom. Elaina named all of them. Pepper (aka Squirrel), Snickers (aka Moose), Licorice (aka Lefty), and Reese's (aka Chewy).

We are keeping the girls. The boys will be removed at 3-weeks-old and I'm already dreading it. They're going to cry for their momma but they can also impregnate her and their sisters at that age. We don't want to breed. They won't need Nutmeg's milk by that age, and they already eat solids, as of a few hours old. As far as what will happen with the boys... Daniel wants us to adopt them out. It'll be hard to let these babies go. We can't adopt them out until they're 6-8 weeks old so they'll still be with us for a bit longer.

They're 8-days-old today but we've all been sick so I haven't gotten them out for more photos. They're already a lot bigger and everyone was nursing and eating just fine, so I never needed to supplement.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 2017

My photos posted backward! Here are some January happenings at me casa.

The boys and middle girls switched rooms! Yes, my boys are in a pink room. Whoever assigned genders to colors gets a huge eye roll from me. This room is the smallest bedroom so we decided to put the smaller kids (boys) in here and move the bigger, middle girls to the larger bedroom with their twin beds. Judah is kind of getting too tall for a toddler bed but the room is small. By the time we're ready to move, Thea will get his toddler bed and Judah will go back to a twin. He actually sleeps curled up so it's perfect. He was just stretching out here to be goofy.

Someone was having a hard time going in her diaper so I sat her on this toddler potty seat that snaps onto the toilet and she went poo. She's gone several times in the toilet since that day. She's 16-months-old. Hopefully this means easy, breezy potty training?! She's my last one in diapers.

School has been chugging along. The kids are loving Mystery Science. They watched a video on protecting yourself from harsh climate, including a blazing sun. The project associated with the video lesson was to make your own sun protection from random things.

We joined a homeschool co-op. We're still in the "getting to know you" phase, as far as adults go. The kids have made a few instant friends. Our first visit included a special visitor from Paul Mesner puppets here in KC. They got to make puppet superheroes and then my boys, not shy whatsoever, got up in front of all these strangers and shared their puppets and a little story.

Silas made Batman, naturally (he's obsessed) and Judah made Flash.

Someone got a haircut! Her bangs were constantly in her eyes. They need to be trimmed again but look at how boo-ti-ful my baby girl looks with her sweet bangs and little Boo pigtails (Monsters, Inc. reference). She was actually super cranky here but managed a pic without her screaming.

Still no guinea pig babies. Any day now! (See last post.)

A pic of Nutmeg today at about 60 days pregnant.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wheek Wheek

We have some new family members! I am the proud grand-mommy to Basil and Nutmeg, two female guinea pigs that we rescued. Elaina has been saving up her money all year to get her own guinea pigs and all of their supplies. We were originally going to get guinea pigs from the pet store but then I started looking for unwanted piggies in our area. I contacted a few people on Craigslist, with no response back. Finally found some local girls who rescue guinea pigs. They don't have an official rescue but they're doing their best out of their own homes.

There were only a few females available. I've only ever had females (I've had six other guinea pigs in the past) and that's what we/I wanted anyway. The two girls we ended up getting were also bonded (get along together) which makes it much easier. We were told Nutmeg, the brown one, could be pregnant as she was housed with a male before going to the rescue. The rescuers said they were having a hard time homing her just for that fact alone. . Well they found the right grand-mommy for these piggies because if there's one thing I love, it is pregnancy and birth.

Basil, a young Crested American. She's got spunk. I think the rosette (swirl of hair on her head) gives her special spunk powers. Her nickname is Sassy, for obvious reasons.

 We built them this big C&C cage (cube and coroplast). It is sturdier than it looks. No, they won't jump out. We do have to build temporary taller walls because any babies that Nutmeg has CAN jump and get out of these holes. Which could result in a serious fall or getting eaten by our dogs. Guinea pig babies are born ready to run around and eat food within 24 hours so we have to be prepared in case she has babies overnight without our supervision. The upside down shoeboxes make for a cheap hidey for the pigs. Elaina ran out of money so we will make them beds and hideys, or buy some real soon. Pet store cages are too small for guinea pigs. They want you to spend money so they will advertise them and try to sell you on them. Guinea pigs NEED room to run and to keep them mentally and emotionally healthy.

This is Nutmeg, eating while laying down. Hard to see here but she was totally chilling on her side and lazily chewing some hay. It's normal for pregnant guinea pigs to lay down to eat and drink later in pregnancy. It's also hard to see here but she's pretty wide in the back (see pic below from two weeks ago: she's wider now). We are thinking 1-3 pups, most of us guessing she'll have 2. I say 3. We'll see! Guinea pigs can have 1-6 babies.

Nutmeg is so sweet and trusting. Guinea pigs are prey animals and very timid. Sudden movements, loud noises, etc. will cause them to run and hide. If I start talking to them and walk up to the cage, Nutmeg is the first to come over and say hello and will let me pet her while she eats! Basil will come up to say hello but won't let me reach in and pet her (yet, maybe not ever).

My 7-year-old is modeling just how big the cage is that we built. It is temporarily set on cinderblocks (it's secure) so that dogs can't get them. We've been putting the girls away in a traditional pet store cage ONLY overnight until we can build a secure lid. Our cat jumped in there and was shocked to find himself IN the cage and not sitting on top of a lid. The cat doesn't mind them, but the dogs.... ugh. They want to eat the pigs. So they're up high for safety at the moment. We will be building a lid this weekend.

 Nutmeg two weeks ago. I was weighing her and thought I'd hold her up a little to see her "saddlebags" as I call them. I should take a new picture some time today to compare. Next week we will be on birth watch!

And here's a pic from two weeks ago to show the size difference between these two girls that are only a couple months different in age.


Do you have pets?
Have you ever had a guinea pig, or do you have any now?


*Have any care questions because you're interested in guinea pigs? I have raised guinea pigs as a kid and teen, and now again. I have a lot of information if you want details on housing, food, general care, etc.

**Wheek Wheek in my title = the happy sound guinea pigs make when they're happy to see you or want some veggies and treats!

***Please note that Nutmeg was not intentionally bred. It is a common tale that people end up with pregnant rodents due to accidentally housing males and females together. I believe she was given up to the rescue because of accidental pregnancy. Sexing guinea pigs is tricky because their genitalia look very similar. It is dangerous for guinea pigs to get pregnant and give birth. We rescued her to give her a great chance of success in her pregnancy and eventual birth. I personally don't advocate breeding guinea pigs and won't provide information on doing that. Again, we were just trying to give her a home when no one else would take her. We are very aware that birth could kill her and/or her babies. But hopefully all will be well because we are monitoring her closely, and hopefully I will have baby piggy pics to share soon.