The word exotic has many synonyms including foreign, alien, unusual, out of the ordinary, bizarre, mysterious, strange, outlandish, and interesting. The thesaurus defines a pet as favorite, darling, or choice. While guinea pigs are darling and favorite, it is entertaining to think of them as foreign, bizarre little aliens. If one were to ask a piggy to “Take me to your leader” would he show you the alpha male of the pair?
So why are guinea pigs considered to be exotic pets? Many people have guinea pigs as children. They are common first pets for children. The term most likely refers to the degree that it is unusual when compared to dog and cat ownership. The 2007/2007 National Pet Owners Survey done by the APPMA found that 74.8 million people own dogs, 88.3 million people own cats, and a mere 24.3 million people own small animals, which includes everything from hamsters to rabbits.
When looked at in that respect it is easier to see the implications of being exotic. It can be difficult to find quality supplies. A typical supermarket has an entire isle dedicated to pets, but only a tiny bit of it has stuff for small animals. Nestled in among the shelves and shelves of dog and cat food are a couple of types of guinea pig food and some tiny bags of hay. And selection? Forget about it! Even in the neighborhood Petco there are relatively few isles of supplies compared to half the store filled with every kitty and puppy item one could ever need.
While the lack of ready supplies is merely irksome, veterinary care is a much larger issue. When seeking out medical care for your piggy, be certain to choose a vet who is knowledgeable about small animals. Ronni from East Windsor, Connecticut had a guinea pig named Bobby who was scratching himself a lot. She noticed some raw areas on him and decided to take him to the vet. Ronni took him to the one that her husband had used in the past for his dogs. About five minutes into the appointment, she realized that the doctor didn’t really know what he was doing. He diagnosed Bobby as “probably having a fungal infection” and gave him a shot of cortisone. The vet gave her a spray to take with her, charged her $75 and sent her on her way. A few days later Bobby had not improved a bit. Ronni took him to a different veterinarian who said it was mites, gave him a drop of medicine and in a few days he was much improved.
Although guinea pigs may not be as common as dogs and cats, those who are enlightened can see the benefits of sharing their home with these darling, unusual, foreign, bizarre, mysterious, outlandish little aliens.
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