he is a member of the species Cavia porcellus, the guinea pigs. his kind originated in high mountain meadows in the shadows of the formidable Andes, providing a source of both food and companionship for native peoples. his ancestor charmed queen elizabeth I, enjoying the royal lifestyle and lavish vegetarian menus cavies desire and deserve. his close wild relative is the largest rodent in the world, the aquatic and adorable capybara. it's possible i'm biased. i LOVE guinea pigs. specifically Colonel Snuggles.
the Colonel lives in our living room in a perpetually open-door house designed for a rabbit, so it is a veritable guinea pig mansion. it is a split-level affair, with two hammocks and a tshirt-covered ledge comprising the upper level, and the traditional bedding (care-fresh recycled woodpulp mixed with natural lavender compostable granules) below. he fully participates in most family room activities, is cordial with our other pets, and gets dedicated couch/lap time most days. he has a special ball full of timothy hay and a bowl of the finest guinea pig pellets for his gastronomic enjoyment, and his day is not complete unless he partakes of a fresh spinach and baby lettuce mix salad. though a strict vegan, he maintains a portly composition at a solid 2 pounds. his impressive size is enhanced by his dense and fluffified fur. he is, in short, Absolutely Precious. And absolutely spoiled rotten.
there is another aspect to the little darling boars. they produce...well, a musk. grease, really. from a grease gland, a strange sticky dot where their tail should be on their fluffy butts. unfortunately, the Colonel's grease gland was becoming unbecoming. and everyone needs a toe-nail trim every once in awhile! so, today Colonel Snuggles had a guinea pig full-service spa treatment.
*A NOTE: guinea pigs do not enjoy spa days especially. they do enjoy being kept clean and fresh in fresh and clean environments. but, if you have a traumatized guinea pig or one whose health is compromised in any way, or one who just seems really opposed to any of the following caviogrooming activities, i don't recommend continuing them. the Colonel is a highly tolerant and forgiving guinea pig, and i am honored to have his trust. but he certainly complains sometimes when receiving full-service spa care, and if yours screams bloody murder or goes terrified-catatonic, please cease and desist! END OF NOTE*
the best way to trim anyone's nails is to be very conservative, shaving the very tips off at first and ever so gradually easing toward the quick. Colonel Snuggles has light colored nails, so it's pretty easy to see where his quick begins.
|way too long!|
the trimming of the toenails is really the most stressful part on both human and cavy. next was the cleaning of the grease gland with gojo creme--a technique i had read about, but had not yet tried. it worked like a charm! i used paper towels to dab tiny amounts of gojo onto his grease gland and the surrounding fluff, and after working it in for mere moments, the grease wiped off easily.
|dirty grease gland|
|fresh clean grease gland!|
and then, of course, the final spa treatment: the bath. i do his bath in the kitchen sink, dish towel on the sink floor to make him feel more secure, water warm but not near hot. the bath is definitely not his favorite, but he suffers through it for the drying off afterwards!
after a thorough wet-down, lather up, and rinse off (with EXTREMELY GENTLE shampoo!), it's time to start the drying process. i have read that some caviobathers employ a hairdryer for this. i don't own one, so i just use multiple towels and the air. he has never caught a chill, though i've heard that guinea pigs are prone to them. he loves to shake and groom himself dry, and i help by providing warm towels, fresh from the dryer! guinea pig spa!
|the indignant post-bath Colonel.|
|almost dry, but not totally for hours|
|clean hammocks installed|
so as the Colonel spends some time under a warm towel in his post-spa beerbox, i set up his caviomansion. he's almost ready to get back to the normal day of munching, petting and napping.
|warm towel treatment|
|frantic after-bath groom session|
|back to normal!|
so there you have the rundown of the Colonel's approximately quarterly spa session, a regimen i highly recommend for spoiled, patient guinea pigs everywhere. for some video evidence of the Colonel's adorability...
here is a post bath shake off, which he also employs after receiving multiple nose-kisses.
here he demonstrates his appreciation for a good petting session.
here he shows his rather spastic enthusiasm for a paper towel.
anyway, Dear Reader, thank you for accompanying Colonel Snuggles on his journey from stinky boar to decidedly unstinky fluffy flufferness. more traditional TUF stuff to come. as always...stay tuned!