Friday, December 12, 2014

Many Updates Including New Cages!

I'm long overdue for an update it appears!   My reason for sharing all of this with you is so that you understand that guinea pig keeping isn't perfect.  They are living creatures with personalities that have ups and downs.   Things can change with their compatibility, health, or other things can come up when you least expect it.   What I want you to take from this, is that it's not all bad!  You roll with it and make the changes needed to make it work (this sometimes takes some attempts to get completely figured out) and then things come out even better in the end.  It will be more enjoyable for you and your guinea pigs, knowing that you can handle any obstacles in the way and improve as a result.  It would be unfair for me to only tell you the great things and post cute pictures and never let you know that bumps in the road occur too.   So here we go with the update!

After Chance recovered from his long illness explained in the prior posts, I waited three months and integrated Chance in with the others.  They had been doing occasional lunch "play dates" to get used to each other before going into the same cage.  I had also been making some small rearranging changes to the cage so it didn't feel exactly the same when Chance was added in mid-October.   Unfortunately a few weeks later, Dan and Chewy, who had been living together all along began to fight.  Sometimes things change with guinea pigs, and it isn't always known why.   Chewy would continue to chase and mount Dan, who would turn around and fight Chewy.  That didn't deter Chewy.   I tried dividing Chewy for a bit and tried reintroducing him, which did not work.  Then I tried putting Dan over the divider for awhile and reintroducing, but that wasn't effective either.   This meant, it was time to update the cages to two permanent cages. I had been considering some new cage ideas for awhile, and this meant the time is now!

In the meantime, Chewy did have some small scabs to heal from his squabbles with Dan.  While monitoring that, I found a small lump on his shoulder.   A vet visit followed, and it was opened up a little bit to determine it was an abscess. Chewy then was put on antibiotics and much of it was cleaned out. There is a deeper capsule that could not be easily gotten to, and the vet feels that if it heals ok, and doesn't get bigger or cause any issues, it may be best to leave that small encapsulated part in there rather than surgery, so long as it doesn't bother him. We are now monitoring that and have a recheck later this month.

So back to the cage changes!   We decided to do two C&C cages 2 cubes by 5 cubes each.  Our hope was that Chewy and Chunky could live in one, and Chance and Dan in the other, however our attempts did not work.  Chewy started to behave aggressively toward Chunky, so Chewy will remain alone and the other 3 boys will live together in the other cage.

We picked up two new pieces of coroplast - both dark blue and cut them accordingly for our 2x5 cube size.  We also built table like stands to hold each of the cages, one taller than the other so they could overlap. 

A very dear friend made pillow cases out of my fleece for me to stuff pieces of uhaul padding in, along with some coroplast to keep it stiff to make for easy cleaning.  I can remove the insides and wash the fleece and uhaul pads separately.   These are similar to a product called Fleece Flippers - if you haven't heard of them, you should look them up and consider purchasing!  They are very awesome, and in the future I may buy some actual Flippers when the vet expenses calm a bit.  In the meantime, what I have is working fabulously!   No more taking huge pieces of fabric outside and shaking it, and I no longer need an assistant for cage cleaning.  I am just brushing off each individual section at a time into a can and then throwing the fabric in the wash.  Perfect!   I will get into later on another post what I am doing with the guinea pig waste from the cage - another big change that's making winter cage maintenance easier.

You will notice in the pictures I now have storage under the cage.  I purchased underbed type storage containers to keep their food and clean laundry in, underneat the cage.  I also put up little hooks to store the cage sweeping supplies and water bottle brush.   It works out so much better!  As you can see, we set up their little Christmas tree too.