Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Guinea Pigs And Their People

By Joanne Colangelo
Joanne Colangelo volunteers for a number of animal rescue organizations. She shares her experiences and stories of guinea pig interaction.

guinea pigs looking at camera
Photo Courtesy Joanne Colangelo
The piggies run up to see Joanne.
guinea pig on blanket
Photo Courtesy Lisa Stanley-Folly
Shayla looking sweet while resting.

I have never met a guinea pig I didn’t simply melt over. No matter what their color, age or personality, I find them absolutely precious little critters. Perhaps it’s their round bodies, expressive eyes or mushy lips that makes them so endearing.

We piggie owners often refer to our guinea pigs as “masters,” because they have a way of making us hop to their commands. I love shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables knowing the response I receive in return. Their voracious chow down reminds me of growing up around the Sunday afternoon dinner table with my own Italian family as a child.

The amount of enjoyment you receive from your guinea pig depends on your interaction with it. Obviously, the more time and positive attention you give, the better your relationship, as with any animal. My guinea pigs often call to me. They produce a specific sound to target my attention, which they get, of course! Just recently, Spicy sang her special little whistle, and I knew she needed me. Sure enough, when I approached her, she was anxiously awaiting my arrival – and more pellets. My favorite of all is their wheeks and whistles in response to me calling out, “Piggies!” They get so excited and so do I.

People who don’t know much about guinea pigs often ask me, “What do you do with them?” They don’t fetch balls or play with string, but they are fun. Even without handling them, I love to watch them. When they are running around “popcorning” (happy little jumps in the air) or just sleeping, they’re fun to look at. Have you ever seen a sleeping guinea pig? They are so cute!

Best of all is when I actually interact with my guinea pigs. All my girls get up on their hind legs in anticipation of their daily greens and squeal in excitement. By using food, some guinea pigs have learned tricks, such as circling or to hop up onto their owner’s hands. Their warm, furry bodies make them great cuddle partners when watching TV or reading, and my Merri likes to snuggle under my neck and rest. She also loves to lick me and gaze into my face. I’d like to think she sees me as her loving Mommy and is not counting my wrinkles.

Grooming is also a special one-on-one time with each piggie. In addition to checking for any physical changes to their bodies, it’s our time to “talk.” My guinea pigs are very responsive to my voice, and when I speak low and sweet, it’s very calming to them. They actually like being brushed if I start slow and gentle and they’re great listeners. It’s also a great way to lower my blood pressure! Some pet-parents play hide-and-seek food games and create fun obstacle courses in large areas of their homes. Others belong to clubs or show their guinea pigs, which is a wonderful way to create friendships with other piggie lovers.

I’m actually hearing squeals as I write…I think someone is calling Mommy to play!

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Guinea Pigs And Their People

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Reader Comments
Hey Joanne,
People ask me the same question about what do guinea pig 'do'. And I give them an ear-full cuz I think piggies are so Entertaining. And both of my pigs are always doing 'funny' things and making me laugh. I can't think of anything I'd rather do, then just watch my babies play. I Loooooves me some guinea pigs...Wheeeek! :-)
Leah & PS & BP, Charlotte, NC
Posted: 10/20/2008 12:56:48 PM
you make it very difficult for me to stay piggie
Marion, Minneapolis, MN
Posted: 10/8/2008 3:21:11 PM
I love and look forward to your piggy blogs, Joanne! I hope that lot's of the 'non' guinea pig lovers look at them in a new light after reading what you've written. Or even people that already have piggies will treat theirs with a new understanding and respect. You're so cool!
p.s. Thanks for using my 'daughter' Shayla's photo!

Lisa, San Diego, CA
Posted: 9/13/2008 3:41:14 AM
What a very nice article! Joanne is one of the greatest animal "champions" there is! Your students are lucky to have such a wonderful teacher!
Cheryl, Peekskill, NY
Posted: 9/12/2008 9:04:29 AM
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