I've had guinea pigs before, but I, like many others did not do any research on them, so their care wasn't the greatest. After the last of the previous generation passed away, I went on a hiatus. We had 4 previously at one time, and they all passed away one by one. I knew that it was because of me not caring for them properly. And after one long guinea pig-less year, I decided, I needed guinea pigs in my life. I (still not doing any research) got a 6 month girl from PetSmart*, and named her Mocha. She lived in a tiny-ass cage, but we were best friends.
*Don't get animals from pet stores, btw. All of mine post-Mocha were either from shelters, rescues or private rehoming.
When Mocha was about 3-4 years old, I got a guinea pig magazine for Christmas (single issue, not a subscription). They had an interview with the owner of Cavy Spirit Rescue, Teresa Murphy, who talked about these DIY cages she developed, called C&C cages. Guinea pigs, she explained, do like to run and play, despite what people think. They need exercise like other animals, so big cages are an absolute must. This is where the C&C cages come in. Because you're never going to find a cage bigger than 30 x 18in in pet stores (and if you do, it will be obscenely expensive), the best solution was to built one. You can use whatever guinea pig-safe materials you can find, but the easiest way to build a cage is a sheet of coroplast (corrugated plastic) and wire storage cubes from Bed, Bath & Beyond and such.
My mind. Was. Blown. Here I was always told, guinea pigs don't do anything. You don't need a big cage for them. Etc. And while I believed it, I just thought it was depressing, that they couldn't be taken more seriously as pets like dogs or cats. But hey, there is a lady who runs a rescue for guinea pigs, that says we SHOULD take them more seriously, like dogs or cats. She and her supporters always say, "guinea pigs aren't boring. They're just bored."
She and her supporters always say, "guinea pigs aren't boring. They're just bored."
To test this out, I placed Mocha on my bedroom floor to see what she would do. It took a few tries for her to get used to the vastness, but soon, she was exploring, doing zoomies, etc. I went ahead and upgraded her cage from her tiny ass 2x1 ft to a 2x2* C&C (still not big enough, but overwhelming huge for her at first), and then to a 2x3* C&C, and to a 2x4* and finally a 2x5*.
*Note that the standard C&C cage (built with wire storage cubes) use the 14in wire grids as a unit of measurement, instead of feet or meters. So if someone mentions as 2 x 4 C&C, they mean it's 2 grids wide and 4 grids long. And most grids at 14in, so a 2x4 C&C is actually bigger than a 2x4ft cage.
I went to Teresa's site for C&C cages, and it opened a new world for me. Not only did she talk about cages, she also mentioned general care (they need hay, toys, friend(s), etc). Thanks to this new level of knowledge, Mocha with her eternal patience while I stumbled around, still trying to figure out guinea pig care, stuck with me for an entire 8 years (aaand ironically, her designated birthday was August 8—8/8, so there was something magical about that).
The previous generation of guinea pigs was Old Guinea Generation. This current one is the new one, so New Guinea Generation.
(And Mocha bridged the gap between the two.)
New Guinea Generation was founded when I started fostering two male guinea pigs from a private rehoming situation. Because they weren't pulled under any particular rescue, they were put in a queue of other pigs also waiting for rescue (usually pigs from shelters, Craigslist, etc). Their names were Peanut and Butter—I wasn't told who was who. So Peanut became the tortie one because he was smaller, and the agouti becoming Butter. Later on, I found out that their names were flipped around originally, with Peanut being the brown one (I guess he looks like a giant peanut).
But you know? I think their names just fit their personalities better with the way I named them. Peanut was kind of spicy and had a lot of attitude. Butter was very mellow and chill, and would just melt when you pet him.
Four months went by and I still had them. I wasn't new to fostering, but this was the longest I ever had fosters for. And well, I didn't have any other guinea pigs at the moment, soo...well...you know.
Having two guinea pigs was great! Neither of them got lonely because they kept each other company. But eventually, they went to war with each other over some power dispute. And the war would not end, not even with neutering. Peace was finally had when I built a Great Wall in their cage. And they could only see each other through said Wall, and could still talk, but each had his own territory. And thus, Clan Peanut and Clan Butter were born.
They became lonely, despite having the other to talk to. Because guinea pigs are social animals , they wanted another pig to live in the same space as them. They just didn't want each other. So I introduced each to a baby girl guinea pig (baby girls are the most submissive you can get with guinea pigs, and P&B were extremely dominant, so I welcomed submissive), and everyone was happy (except when Belle went through her rebellious teenage years...but other than that, they were happy).
Peanut and Butter both retired to the Rainbow Bridge within the past several years. But new guinea pigs are always joining our team. One day, I hope to reunite the two clans. Because honestly? Having to maintain one cage is easier than two.
Mocha Licorice Cappuccino