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Living With Animals: Guinea Pig Appreciation Day!

Yeah, sure, you might think the big holiday was a couple of weeks ago but you would be wrong. The 4th of July has its upsides. A long weekend most often celebrated with excessive food and beer, and who doesn’t love that? But today is July 16th and we all know that is officially Guinea Pig Appreciation Day!

Oh, the humble guinea pig…. I’ve lived with many over the years, us being the likely family to “temporarily take care” of the ubiquitous classroom pet, most of whom somehow never migrated back to school once the break was over. They always strike me as fur in the shape of a meatloaf but, from a personality perspective, I find them absolute charmers. Domesticated as far back as 5,000BC (sadly, as food), the English Royals kept them as pets in the 1500s and now we all can too! These affectionate rodents find fans for a number of reasons, including the big variety of vocalizations from soft purrs to the loud “wheeeeet! wheeeeet!” they excitedly squeal once they learn the sound the refrigerator door makes when opened (effectively narcing on even the stealthiest of dieters). They do love food, and require Timothy-hay (both in its natural form and as commercial pellets) plus fresh veggies like carrots, broccoli including its leafy greens, and fresh radish greens. Social animals, they do best if kept in twos or small groups: same sex only please or surgically altered by a vet. Big eaters, they are also big poopers (mounds of “raisinets”) and for that reason, as well as for the need for exercise, large enclosures (larger than what many pet stores recommend) are required (a minimum of 8 square feet for two pigs).

As far as the holiday goes, I have to admit I am stumped. A web search for “Guinea Pig Appreciation Day 2018” yields (no joke) 1,660,000 results. I read the first dozen and none tell us how or by who this started. Perhaps that is the only mysterious thing about these reliably adorable, gentle little animals.

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