When our beloved guinea pig, Wilfred, sadly died in October, I knew we would have to get a new friend for Cedric. Guinea pigs are sociable animals, who thrive around other guinea pigs. Cedric was always very reliant on Wilfred and I was worried how he would cope without him. When Wilfred left the hutch to go the vet on the day before he died, it was the last ever time they were together. Poor Cedric ran around the hutch squeaking like crazy. And his friend never came home.
The easy option for getting a new guinea pig is simply to go to Pets at Home. They have them in stock most of the time and always get new ones in on a Tuesday. It’s where Wilfred came from, and where his predecessors, Eric and Daisy, came from. But opinions on pet shops aren’t always positive. And I feel sad that we have never kept a guinea pig anywhere near the six years they are allegedly supposed to live for.
But we had a long wait for Cedric’s new friend. And I wasn’t going to crumble and go to the pet shop. I know people do keep single guinea pigs for many years and they are OK, so I had to tell myself it would be worth the wait.
Henry the baby guinea pig was born two days after Wilfred died. At the time of his death, the breeder had just one male baby available and he didn’t feel right to me. I needed to hold out for the right one. She has lots of breeds of guinea pigs and I wasn’t even sure what all of them were.
Initially, I was going to go for an abyssinian, which is a long-haired breed, but with rosettes in its fur. The baby looked very cute indeed. But then I saw a picture of a little grey guinea pig – a rex. It wasn’t smooth haired like Wilfred, but it wasn’t long-haired like Cedric or the abyssinian. In the pictures, it didn’t look quite as sweet as the abyssinian. I was so confused! I didn’t know which to get.
I went to bed thinking it would be the abyssinian, then woke up with absolute clarity.
It had to be the grey guinea pig.
Wilfred was grey. We’ve always had a short haired and a long haired guinea pig.
So we had to wait.
The breeder said they bond best with older guinea pigs if they move to their new home at just four weeks. As long as he grew well, we could have him at four weeks.
He was going to be called Albert. Strangely, my daughter had independently thought of the name Albert too.
Although the boys do clean the guinea pigs and my eldest will pick them up when needed, they don’t get very involved in them any more. The name should be our choice.
It was the longest four weeks ever. In the meantime, we were spending lots of extra time with Cedric and he was becoming noticeably tamer. My daughter even questioned whether he actually needed a friend at all, but I knew he did.
Everyone was concerned that Cedric might pick on the baby, but I knew he wouldn’t. Because that’s just not what guinea pigs do.
After three and a half weeks, I got in touch with the breeder. Would our guinea pig be ready at four weeks? He would!
My daughter, eldest and I went to pick him up. He was so tiny! And so beautiful. But, like all guinea pigs, he had the loudest squeak.
When we got home, we put Cedric in the box with him and, at first, they didn’t seem to see each other. Which is remarkable as Cedric basically fills the box. Then Cedric gently started to lick him and then they started chasing each other round the box for fun.
We’d made the right decision! Cedric was happy and Albert was happy.
Except apparently he wasn’t called Albert. The boys who have very little to do with guinea pigs suddenly wanted a say. They don’t like the name Albert. I suggested Arthur. My daughter hated it. I suggested Percy. But that was the name of our old car (a very long time ago, so I didn’t think it mattered, but apparently it did).
After two days, he still didn’t have a name. So I suggested Henry. And everyone liked it. I’ll be honest, I still want to call him Albert.
But, ladies and gentleman, meet Henry…
No doubt you will be seeing a lot more of him, both on the blog and on my Instagram.