Dear Heloise: I read the letter from a reader about her problems with her guinea pig. Perhaps she should have contacted a guinea-pig rescue for proper information on the care and handling of guinea pigs before buying one from a newspaper ad. There is an overwhelming abundance of guinea pigs seeking loving homes, and numerous rescues bursting at the seams.
Hers most likely bit because it was suffering from a common and routinely overlooked problem of mites or lice. These easily cured conditions cause guinea pigs to be in great pain, especially when touched and petted.
Being scared in a new setting is not a strange and problematic behavior. Additionally, guinea pigs are social herd animals and should not be solo in a home. Christina Rich, Los Angeles
Christina, you are absolutely right. It is extremely important to read up and do your homework on any pet that you want to bring into your family. This way, you will know exactly what to expect. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I was certified as a master gardener. As part of our curriculum, we had a lecture on attracting and dealing with wildlife. The speaker told us that hummingbird feeders must be thoroughly cleaned at least every other day -- preferably every day -- as the hummingbirds can contract an infection or fungus from a dirty feeder. As absent-minded as I am, the hummingbirds are probably better off if I don't try to feed them. Mrs. Luhra Warren, Little Rock, Ark.
Dear Readers: Nedra Pounds of Palestine, Texas, sent a photo of her cats, Charlie and Sarah, showing them cuddled together head to head like mirror twins. Nedra says they are siblings and lie like that all the time. Visit my Web site, www.Heloise.com, and click on This Week's Pet to see these two kitties. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I wanted to buy a dog bed for our 110-pound German shepherd, Casey. All of the beds large enough to accommodate him were between $60-$120.
One day, while I was stripping the guest bed, Casey found his own bed. I had folded the foam mattress pad in half and placed it on the floor. In walked Casey -- gave it a sniff and flopped down.
I bought the pad at a local store for less than $15. I keep another one in the back cargo area of my vehicle. It provides a soft place for him to sleep on long trips. R. Starr, Crown Point, Ind.
Dear Readers: If you don't have a birdbath in your bird cage, you can "mist" your feathered friends. Lightly spray your bird with warm water toward the body, not right in the face. If your bird starts to fan out its wings, this means it is enjoying the spray. If your bird flies away from the water, then it isn't in the mood for a shower. Heloise
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to eloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax to (210) HELOISE, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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