Yesterday, while throwing some lettuce leaves in the run of my daughters' treasured pets, a revelation hit me with some horror - That 'baby' guinea pig is not just fat - it's pregnant.
You can call me naive - but based on the fact that we definitely have 3 girl guinea pigs and we only got the two new 'baby' ones at the beginning of July - the thought that one might be pregnant was quite a leap. Having three guinea pigs has taken some getting used to! There are bald patches all over our lawn and they are chomping through more vegetables than I can buy! The question 'what can the guinea pigs eat' is becoming a trial! I am even seriously considering making a vegetable patch just because of them!
I shared my thoughts with Gladys and Florence who work in our house. They laughed, but had to agree that a pregnant guinea pig might be a possibility.
When the girls came home from school we all agreed definitively. The 'fat' one must be pregnant. She had great lumps and bumps in her tummy. Babies. I asked my eldest to check if one of our three was in fact a boy, since she is the expert. She has even taken to reading fiction books about guinea pigs - her favourite series being 'Guinea Pig Adventures', favourite movie, 'G-Force'. With her sisters, she tipped them upside down but when it came down to it, was not so keen on this idea.
'Well, we know that the pregnant one is not a boy!' she said helpfully, having given up early.
'True,' I said, 'but you'd better check the other ones.'
I'm squeamish. So is she.
'You do it,' she said.
'No you do it. I'm not getting involved. I was happy when we only had one lonely guinea pig!' (you are not even legally allowed to own one guinea pig if you live in a place like Switzerland - you have to have two!). 'Getting two more guinea pigs was your idea!'
I had heard that breeding guinea pigs are a menace. Scratch the surface and there are many expat wives' tales of woe related to 'constantly breeding guinea pigs even though they are definitely all girls'. In fact, it was my main objection to getting more than one.
'Anyway, I'm to busy. I'm off to make your supper!' I said weakly.
'But Mum!!' the girls chorused.
When he got home, I got my husband to google a guinea pig's gestation period. 63-68 days.
'There must be a boy amongst them.' My husband said finally. 'You must have got it wrong.'
I don't like being wrong so didn't want to believe him. I got out the calendar and calculated that the 'baby' could have been pregnant when it arrived (in which case we DO have 3 girl guinea pigs).
I said, 'It'll be exactly 68 days since we got the guinea pig....tomorrow.'
My husband said, 'that's pushing it.'
This morning, very early, my eldest said in over excited tones, 'perhaps the guinea pig has had her babies?!'
'Don't be so silly!' I replied smartly, 'we only realised that she was pregnant yesterday!'
After having packed my daughter and her sister off on the school bus my husband said,
'let's take a look at this so called 'pregnant' guinea pig.'
Our youngest daughter was still at home. She came too. We opened the hutch and there we got a huge surprise. Two tiny new babies, all fluffy and mini - Already! The three had become five. Gladys and Florence and Shadrack the gardener were all delighted!
'This is very good,' they said, 'now we will have many!'
I wasn't so sure. Now I must head out and get a new hutch made so I can separate them immediately. Being a not very pet friendly 'urban Mum', dealing with baby pets is my worst nightmare - while at the same time I know that it is our eldest daughter's ultimate fantasy and in this case, cause of unforseen joy. Can't wait for her to come home today. We are in for a guinea pig petting bonanza weekend.