Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This little piggy

We bought two guinea pigs. They are tiny - babies really - with swirly fur. One of them has motley caramel and black and white sworls and we have called her Daisy. The other one is ginger and white. I would have called her Hazel but frankly I expect some loyalty from my guinea pigs so we settled on Holly. I am trying to bond with them but ever since my husband took a good look at their twitching whiskers and said: "They really are rodents aren't they?" I've struggled.

I told my friend we were getting them and she offered us a hutch. This is the friend with the world's most fabulous house complete with "box" room (full of boxes ready to send gifts to godchildren) and dead tigers on the floor. She said: "Really it's a hen house, but there's nesting boxes in there they could use." I agreed and she said she would bring it round on Saturday night. We waited and waited. No sign of a hen house so my husband rang her. It turns out that our "guinea pig hutch" was 10 feet by 4 feet and they couldn't get it into their horse trailer. These eight-week old guinea pigs are the length of my palm, I can only think that when I said: "We're getting guinea pigs", my friend heard the words "We're getting Afghan hounds."

We borrowed a cat box for their first night and resolved to revisit the garden centre the next day to buy a real guinea pig hutch. It was just as well because a variety of guinea pig fanciers up for bank holiday weekend had convinced us that "Daisy" was suffering from gender misidentification. "Daisy-or-maybe-it's-Donald" went back in her box and back to the garden centre. I'm no expert on guinea pig genitalia, but "Daisy-it-could-be-Donald" did not look like "Hazel-You-Tube-If-You-Want-To-Holly". The assistant who sold us the guinea pigs had already said breezily as she ladled them into their cardboard boxes: "We can't be sure but we think they're both girls". "We can't be sure but we don't think you'll get pregnant" - it's not a marketeer's dream for condoms is it?

There was a different girl in the pet section this time and she was ready for us. She took a look and shook her head. Daisy was definitely Daisy. Perhaps I seemed sceptical because she asked: "Do you want to see what a boy guinea pig looks like?" I don't know what I expected - perhaps I thought she might say "Do you see, they've got longer tails" or "You can always tell a boy guinea pig by the shape of its ears." Instead, she scooped one up, flipped him on to his back and splayed him as if she was cracking the spine of a paperback. There, in all its glory, was a guinea pig penis popping out to say hello. It was tiny but I have not been able to shift the image from my head since. I may have been permanently damaged. Perhaps this girl thought I had never seen a penis - I have no idea how she explained the three children with me. I said something like "Right. OK. Well that's definitely a penis then" just to reassure her I could recognise one. After that, we went home.

25 comments:

Granny on the Web said...

What a lovely smiley story. Glad you sorted out not just the hutch, but gave the kids a sex lesson as well... courtesy of the blasé assistant.
What a huge hoot!

Love Granny

rosiero said...

Let's hope the guinea pigs can tell the difference!

ladythinker said...

Let's not be 'sizeist' here. "It may be tiny but . . " as you know size is not the important thing.

sunshine said...

If I were you, I would not show this post to hubby. He might not take well to the idea that having seen HIM helped you to identify that itty-bitty guinea pig's equipment!

That said -- these two ladies should provide so much laughter and fun for your whole family. Will there be any issue with three children and two pets? As in little legs pulled off in a tug-of-war?

Eliza said...

Oh you were so right to check. I can remember my parents getting me and my brother two "boy" Gpigs - six months later we had twelve!

Iota said...

You have to get a copy of this book for your kids:
Bob and Brian: the tale of two guinea pigs, by Georgie Ripper.

It's up there with The Tiger who came to Tea (well, perhaps not quite, but it does have the endearing image of two guinea pigs sitting in their hutch playing I Spy together).

I'm not being paid to promote it. It's just that we recently got a hamster, so I was trying to track down children's books about hamsters, and that's not a very rich seam to mine, so I had to branch out a little.

Rebel Mother said...

OMG - how I laughed. Guinea pigs penis! Perish the thought. I am trying to forget the graphic image....

sophie said...

EVEN IF IT IS VERY VERY SMALL?

Moonspinner said...

I'm laughing so hard, I can hardly type!

Ciao said...

That has just brought back to mind the rabbits we had, when friends found out we were thinking of getting some we ended up with theirs........... After a very productive Easter 27 baby bunnys, I got a book out of the library now I can sex rabbits, you do it the same way that you were shown..........

Rob-bear said...

OH my goodness. With all the misadventures thusfar, I hope you don't catch guinea-pig flu (H1N1.5).

Gennasus said...

I wonder if this situation arises often? Does the same poor little guinea pig get upended for demonstration purposes on a regular basis? What must he be thinking?!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Don't want to alarm you but NO-ONE can tell a female guinea pig apart from a male. I know because I have many friends whose guinea pigs have mated. Maybe you'll need that large hut for them after all!

"Moaning Mum" said...

i think everyone is blithely glossing over the fact that you yourself even realised that guinea pigs (however child friendly) are probably a mere chromosome or so away from being rats or mice!

Trust me, a rodent infestation earlier this year has put ANY small, scurrying, beady-eyed creatures on my 'hate list'.

Ever since someone told me that pigeons are really flying rats I've had to re-jiggle my inner tally of what constitutes a pet and what constitutes a pest.

Umm...you probably hate me now :)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It would have been more shocking if the penis had been bigger perhaps.

CJ xx

Drags said...

I don't know if you've ever had small rodents before, but they have a horrible habit of dying....suddenly. I can never erase the sight of my then nine year old son staring at the teeny inert form at the bottom of the cage one sunny morning....four days after we had bought said hamster. I know they say pets help children deal with death, but he was traumatised, which is dealing with it in a way, but not in a good way. Good luck.

Mimi said...

Oh my God!Up to the going-back-to-the-shop bit, this was almost identical to our rabbit story. However,in the 9 years we've had him, I have never seen his penis, and I never want to. I've worn rubber gloves on the 2 occasions when I've had to handle him, due to not being able to find his carers at bedtime. I hope he didn't think the gloves were condoms, mimi

TexasRed said...

We just got a prairie dog and have been warming up to being rodent-owners, too.

Katy said...

I used to have mice for pets when I was a kid. They only live l to two years. I think Guinea pigs might live longer.

The thing I can't get over is when I spent a Summer in Ecadour during my high school days I found out that guinea pigs run wild down there and are the main source of protin for families that live in the mountains.

Now that I have dined on guinea stew, I think I would feel wrong keeping one as a pet.

Maddie Grigg said...

The poor creature. How undignified.
My aunt had three guinea pigs at the special school where she was deputy head. They were Tom, Dick and Harry and all three turned out to be Tomasina, Dixie and Harriet. The kids loved it.

billatbingley said...

Wifey, if you'd have only invested in a dog (or bitch) you wouldn't have had these sexing problems! There's no mistaking a dogs penis!

Swearing Mother said...

Your next book could be called "Guinea-pig Sexing for Beginners" now that you know what the important bits look like.

A best seller for novice rodent fanciers, if ever there was one.

One guinea-pig tip: don't let them eat privet, it makes them really ill (as in dead) but they are stupid enough to do it anyway. A bit like me and chillies.

ABilling said...

Oh my word. My two-year-old is besotted with guinea pigs es watching a Postman Pat episode featuring Disappearing Dotty, but so far he has been satisfied with a realistic cuddly toy. There was nonetheless some initial confusion as to gender - the TV Dotty is 'she' but ours was being addressed as 'he'. In my innocence I said to him 'Is Dotty a boy or a girl?'. He gave me a pitying look and said very carefully 'It's a guinea pig, mummy'.

Sara said...

My son has 2 guinea pigs which live in a hutch in his bedroom! He was concerned the other day following a talk at school about swine flu that he would contract it from them.
Not as funny as trying to sex them though.
Enjoy your pets - we think they are fantastic - they argue less than husbands and children, always appreciate seeing you and never moan about the food offered. What more could you ask for.

Austen Traveller said...

Reminded me of the two guinea pigs my sister and I once owned - mine was called Checkbum and hers was called Shiver. They were great lawn mowers, but I couldn't get over how many poo pellets came out of them....As a ten year old, hosing out their cage soon lost its appeal and so they went to live in a wildlife sanctury near our home. Perhaps guinea pig poo pellets could be used as some sort of fuel nowadays.