LBG has waited a very long time to claim the Guinea Pigs that have been deemed an Age Right. She spent 365 days in the run-up to her seventh birthday considering names, reading up on Guinea Pig husbandry and even attending a Caring for Guinea Pigs course at our local Pets At Home.
Because of our pet dynamics- namely the presence of the Wonder Hound- in-house Guinea Pigs were not an option. I spent a ridiculous amount of time online looking at Guinea Pig housing options that were suitable for outdoor living as a result. And I came down on the expensive side– the Eglu Go Hutch– rationalising that of all the ones I had looked at this looked the easiest for my daughter to use. As it was her pet I was keen for her to do as much of the work as possible. The site uses phrases like “low maintenance” and “easy to clean” not to mention “fox proof run” – an essential in a home that had recently lost five chickens to foxes.
I lucked out too- when I looked on the site there was an ex-demonstration model for sale at £100 less than retail price. It appeared to come with all the things the brand new ones came with- feeding rack, water bottle, food bowl and all weather shade- so it was definitely worth buying.
I was excited the day it arrived. I spent the entire morning assembling it on the front lawn- some of the instructions were a little vague and more than once I got pieces in the wrong way round then had to take it all apart and reassemble. The hardest part by far was the metal run, which did not co-operate easily at all. But within two hours it was finished, far larger than I imagined, and waiting on the front lawn to welcome LBG home from school. A few days later we chose the GPs that would be her “forever friends” and brought them home to their new digs, situated safely on the other side of the dog fence.
We noticed a few problems with the run early on. It didn’t come with the promised weather shade, which was a shame but I reasoned that it was a sale price item so I couldn’t expect perfection. The water bottle leaked, relentlessly, onto the bedding below. We bought an identical replacement which also leaked. Not Omlet’s fault, since the bottle manufacturer is a different company, but given that the bottle fits the “innovative feeding rack” you would have thought this was an issue that would have been flagged in extensive pre-market product testing. The problem was that the wet bedding stank, stuck to the tray and even after a thorough, careful cleaning, the plastic base of the hutch is permanently marked and stained. Likewise every time you opened the door of the hutch, the feeding rack fell off, or fell to one side, knocking hay and bottle everywhere. I have now rigged up a much smaller bottle in the place of the supplied one and that seems to be giving us fewer issues. The rack was useless for the first few weeks until the Guinea Pigs were large enough to reach it.
Likewise the very small GPs took a few days to work out how to get back into the hutch after they had jumped out to get to the grass in their enclosed run, as it is quite a large step for a small guinea pig. The house itself has been robust– easy for the girls to operate, plenty of space for Fidget and Widget, waterproof, budgeproof and magpie proof. We have found an alternate shade that is doing sterling work of protecting the furry creatures from the strong sun we have had of late. All seemed to be going well.
Until the day of “The Tragedy” as LBG refers to it.
When we first put the Guinea Pigs into the run I had concerns that the gaps between the bars on the base of the cage were too large, easy for the GPs to “fall through” and so we placed the cage- which we move every few days to fresh grass- with this in mind. As they grew it became less of a concern. Then one day after school, The Girls were playing on the lawn and Dimples started screaming that Widget had escaped. I checked, and sure enough it had burrowed out through gaps in “the removable anti-tunnel wire base… will prevent pets from digging out” and was hiding under our hedge. Naturally I did all I could to entice the little creature back to it’s lair, with my children sobbing all the while, to no avail.
Then the unthinkable happened. I will spare you the details that play over and over again in my head, and those of my children, but the Guinea Pig met a brutal end. He escaped the inescapable. He died an unimaginable death. He is buried in our garden.
Fidget lives on, the lonely Guinea Pig in his hutch for two. The experience has made us all very nervous: LBG still cries for the Guinea Pig she owned for four weeks; Dimples has had bad dreams. I would simply urge you to be cautious if considering this hutch. The website states it’s suitable for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs, which leads me to believe that the design didn’t give enough consideration to both of those breeds. As a result we have one fewer pets than we should. Our experience of the Omlet brand has not been a great one.