In the battle for guinea pig supremacy... only one can win.

Sunny vs Toffee

Growing up in Montreal, our family had a series of guinea pigs. First there was Ginny, who came home from the pet store already pregnant (I've since learned this is a sign of a really irresponsible establishment). One traumatic evening while the parents were out, our babysitter rushed us to our bedrooms when we shouted in alarm, "There's something coming out of Ginny!" By the time mom and dad got home, there were three new baby piggies: Popcorn, Raspberry and Patches. We found good homes for Popcorn and Raspberry and kept Patches to keep Ginny company. Eventually Ginny left us, and Frisky joined the family.

When we moved to Australia in 1993 we left them all behind, and I've been wanting guinea pigs again ever since. Meet Sunny and Toffee, the two newest additions to the family. They are both very cute, but they don't always get along so well.

We picked up these two fellas on January 29th. They're brothers, and we're guessing they were 6 weeks old at the time, which makes their birthday December 18th.

Since the last time I kept guinea pigs (or cavies, as they are called by more serious people than me), the Internet has arrived on the scene, and I've learned that many things I thought I knew about these chirping fuzz-balls were completely wrong. For instance, feeding them watery foods like iceberge lettuce is quite unhealthy for them. Also, the distinct, high-pitched trilling noise they sometimes make is an unhappy/aggressive growl--not a contented purr. This discovery caused a little trauma in the first couple of days, as Jess had happily perfected several ways to make the piggies "purr" based on my "expert knowledge" of guinea pig behaviour before we looked it up.

Something else we're learning the hard way is that male guinea pigs tend to fight for dominance. This especially happens when there's a female around, but boys have their bad days either way. Sunny had a particularly cranky day on Thursday, and Toffee expressed his displeasure with a nip to the nose. With one of our boys bleeding (however slightly), I was pretty upset. We made some calls, and on veterinary advice had the boys booked in for some, er, "modifications".

By the next day, however, it was all brotherly love again (the nice kind). Feeling a little better about their prospects together, I did some further research, which suggested that having guinea pigs neutered is not a clear cut solution, so to speak. In fact, there are quite a few sources claiming outright that neutering has little or no effect on guinea pig behaviour, and that the operation should only ever be done for medical or contraceptive reasons.

The lady at the vet's office seemed annoyed when I called to cancel the procedure, but when I asked her if she thought it would really make a difference she just vaguely answered, "Well it might calm them down a bit." For now, our boys' "boys" are safe, but if they start fighting again we might have to arrange for more spacious living quarters, so they can each have their own territory.

More photos in the gallery.