My guinea pigs are all kinds of cute, and they pack a lot of personality into those little pea brains!
I adopted Casper from a shelter, where she ended up after being found in a parking lot. She was quite the scaredy pig initially; the first time I had a cuddle with her on my bed, she bolted from me and launched herself off of the side of the bed. Once she learned a little more about how to be a guinea pig from her new sisters Oreo and Cookie (who passed away earlier this year), she got much calmer.
She has the most gorgeous, thick, luscious hair. In this picture, I’ve fluffed it up, which she’s definitely not impressed with. She spends a lot of time preening.
When she was younger, she used to jump on top of the wooden hidey-house, which you can sort of see in the picture below. She hasn’t done that for a while, and I’m not sure if it’s because she’s older or if she’s just fatter. She continues with her playful behaviour of careening around the cage doing laps.
Oreo is the one of I’ve had the longest of this bunch. She likes to give kisses even without me forcing them on her.
She’s also a designer pig. She likes to chew hair, but not all of the time. I’ve never figured out what triggers her spurts of barbering. She gives Casper haircuts, and she even chews off pieces of my hair if I’m holding her and my hair is within reach. Oreo is smaller than Cookie was, so when I got Casper, Oreo was immediately selected to be Casper’s playmate. Oreo’s pretty playful herself, but I think she sometimes wishes Casper would take a chill pill.
Peanut, also known as Peanut Potato, is a quirky little man. He’s got an unusually pointy snout, which I think is adorable, and one of his many nicknames is Snouty McSnouterson. He likes to fart, and while that’s something that guinea pigs can do, it’s not something I’ve ever noticed any of my other ones doing.
Normally, when guinea pigs want food, they make a high pitched wheek noise. But not Peanut Potato. Early on, he decided that chewing on the cage bars was much more insistent than wheeking. Apparently, the other piggies agree with him, because now, no one wheeks; they just let Peanut go to town.
He’s also jumped out of the cage a few times. Either that, or gone flying out. It seems to happen after skirmishes with Butternut.
When I adopted Butternut, his name was Oreo. Since I already had an Oreo, he needed a name change, and I wanted something ending in -nut to go with Peanuts. Butternut was the first thing that popped into my mind.
Butternut is a feisty little monster. He’s not a fan of being held, although he’s more tolerant than he used to be. He likes to fight with Peanut, which isn’t very nice.
He loves playtime on my bed where he can do his horndogging to show off for the girls. Guinea pigs can stand up on their hind legs to grab food, but Butternut is the first one I’ve seen doing it as a mating dance.
Sounds they associate with food
They may not have the biggest brains, but they’re experts at recognizing sounds associated with their favourite foods.
Sometimes just opening the fridge is enough to get them excited, or opening the crisper drawer. They really get excited by the rustling of a plastic produce bag. Celery is the go-to veggie that I give them, and when they hear the crack of me breaking a stick of celery into pieces, they know for sure that food is on its way.
They’re very good at discriminating between different kinds of plastic rustling. Besides produce bags, there’s also the bags for treats, hay, and food pellets. The order of preference for the girls is the sound of celery, then treats, hay, and pellets. The boys get more excited about pellets than hay.
The boys respond to the treat bag rustling by sticking their faces out of the cage door, as shown in the picture above. If it’s the pellet bag rustling, they’re more likely to perch with their paws on the rim of the food bowl; in this scenario, Peanut is always to Butternut’s left. And literally, those are always their positions with respect to the food bowl.
Honey, I’m home!
If I’ve been gone for more than a few minutes, me opening the front door is a signal for food time. Sometimes they get excited as soon as I open the door, while other times, they’ll wait a minute or two.
The piggies’ routine is based on my routine. Sometimes, if I don’t get up right away when I wake up in the morning, they’ll hear me rustling around and start clamoring for food. This varies a bit of over time, but right now I’ve got them used to the idea that they don’t get celery until I make my second cup of tea, so it’s unusual for them to try to get me out of bed. And yes, they can distinguish when I get up for the second cup of tea.
Around noon, everyone gets a treat, and if I walk past the girls’ cage around that time, Casper will stick her cute little face out of the cage door to remind me that it’s treat time.
Reacting to other noises
Aside from food-related noises, they react to various other sounds. Some sounds scare them, and they’ll freeze or run into their hidey-houses. Some sounds interest one or more of them, and they’ll perk up their head and make a purring kind of noise. Oreo does this sometimes if I sniffle, and the other day Butternut did this when I was playing a video made by Maja of Lampelina. I haven’t been able to figure out what it is that makes certain noises interesting, but only to some of them and only some of the time.
So there you have it, my guinea pigs and their funny little ways. If you have pets, do they have any fun quirky behaviours and personality traits?