The guinea pig pictured above is named LP. Don’t let her adorable appearance fool you. She’s a vicious beast with an insatiable blood lust.
As I’ve written about before, my girlfriend and I own guinea pigs. Today’s her birthday, so I promised I’d write a guinea pig-centric blog. Anyway after years of having them, I finally got bit by one. Here’s the story.
Guinea pigs are generally low maintenance. You throw down some lettuce every day, maybe a cucumber or a piece of green pepper, and that’s about it. It’s a great out for when you don’t want to eat your vegetables. Just chuck it to the rodents and opt for the chips. It’s like having a compost heap where the compost gets rid of everything instead of making a smelly, inconvenient pile.
There are also a lot of them. They’re pack animals, so you have to have a lot of them so they’ll feel comfortable. At least that’s what she told me when we first started going out. Sounds like something the guy at PetsMart told her to clear out his guinea pig surplus. “Look I’m gonna be honest with you, if I don’t sell 10 more of these by next week my kids don’t get Christmas presents. By the way do you need a snake? I can get you a deal. Buy one boa constrictor, get the second half off.”
When you have pack animals that means they have to establish a hierarchy. One of them passed away last fall, leaving three in the cage to battle for who was the new alpha. It’s like a much cuter, cuddlier version of prison.
The day after their fearless leader went to the great guinea pig cage in the sky, I walk by to see two of them getting into a massive, knockdown drag out brawl. It was an absolutely furious battle, like one of those cartoon fights where there’s just a big cloud of smoke with fists appearing outside it every few seconds.
Now I have no idea how to referee a guinea pig fight. Most of the time they’re non-confrontational. It’s not like you see guinea pigs showing up on Worldstar Hip Hop getting into it in parking lots. So I do what I usually do when they squabble with each other: I stick my hand in to shoo them away.
I would soon find out that was a huge mistake.This wasn’t a mere squabble.
LP lept at her combatant pig but was intercepted by my hand. Which she bit into, thinking it was her opponent. Instinctively I drew my hand away. After all, I’d handled being nipped by a puppy before, that’s all this could be like right?
She sunk her teeth in there deep. So far that as I pulled my hand up, SHE CAME WITH ME. As I pulled back, she came loose and HELICOPTERED DOWNWARDS about two feet back into the cage.
This all happened within a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity.
Now I’m freaking out because there’s no way I didn’t just murder this guinea pig. Or even worse, make it into a special needs case. I’m going to be pushing this thing around in a miniature wheelchair and spoon feeding it for years. I can kiss my comedy career goodbye. Hard to get to gigs when you’ve got to spend your evenings cleaning a rodent’s leg braces. Then I’ll have to start a petition to get my vet to build a handicapped accessible ramp installed in front of his building, even though she’d always be transported in a carrier anyway. What does that matter? She should have the option to walk to the vet on her own if she wants.
Much to my relief, and immediately afterwards my chagrin, she rebounded right away. That was the good news. The bad news was she went looking for another fight. She was going on pure adrenaline now, like a boxer who’d come to far to be denied the knockout. This time I was able to corral all three into separate areas of the cage until tensions subsided.
As the ceasefire commenced, I looked down at my left hand. On it I had a giant gash, bleeding pretty bad. You’d think I’d just been shivved in the yard, if shivving was done right above the pinky. It didn’t hurt but it warranted a trip to the doctor’s office. I partition the cage into three separate cages and wrapped my hand in a makeshift bandage of paper towels and pressure. I headed to the nearest urgent care clinic to stretch the limits of the definition of the word “urgent.”
I go to the doctor and show them the wound. It’s deep, but not quite deep enough for stitches. The doctor casually asks me how I got it. I laugh and say, “Oh, it was from our pet guinea pigs. They got into a scuffle and I pissed off the wrong one.” I’m trying to break this up with a little humor. I get that that isn’t the funniest line ever uttered, but you’d think she gave me a little laugh, or a smirk.
She gives me nothing of the sort. “Have they had their shots recently?” This went from a silly household pet mishap to a fullblown trial for my guinea pigs. I almost expected her to start asking me if they’d come after me like this before. “Mr. Eltringham if there’s a problem you can tell us in confidence. We’ll send the Pet Police over now.”
They ended up giving me a ridiculously huge bandage for it. Visual evidence:
The finale to this story is that I was fine and the offending guinea pig is now set up in her own partitioned section of the cage with frequent visits with the one she didn’t fight with. Whenever I need advice on how to handle the pigs I talk to her her like Clarice consulting Hannibal Lecter.
The takeaway for you? If you are going to buy rodents in bulk, please…make sure they get along. And if they don’t, don’t stick your hand within a ten mile radius of their fight. Just sit back, start placing bets, and enjoy the show.
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