Guinea pigs galore for Waaia sisters

By Madeleine Byron

There in the open paddock among the green grass sit four wire cages housing a family of guinea pigs.

These furry little creatures belong to the Daniel family at Waaia.

Isabelle, 8, and Evangeline, 7, agreed it was hard to keep track of them once they started having babies.

“All I know is I have two babies and we have two white ones and we have a few others,” Evangeline said.

“The babies started arriving about five weeks ago,” Isabelle said.

Isabelle and Evangeline Daniel pictured with Isabelle's first guinea pigs, George.

Growing up with the small pets, like their brothers and sisters before them, the girls said they could not remember a time without guinea pigs.

“I asked my dad when I was six years old if I could have a guinea pig of my own and my sister Jessica bought me out to the cages one day and I picked out my first one, who I named George,” Isabelle said.

Now Isabelle owns four guinea pigs, including Hermione and Tabitha.

“Mine are all named after Harry Potter characters and this show I really like, which is a murder mystery. I really like the main character who’s named George, he’s really funny and always doing funny stuff,” she said.

Guinea pig George is a clear favourite of Isabelle Daniel.

The Daniels' rodent family (so to speak) includes teddy, rosette and smooth coat breeds.

“I asked Dad when I was five and I originally wanted a teddy, but I didn’t pick one until I was six and I ended up with Julia,” Evangeline said.

“Julia doesn’t like getting held, she squeals."

A typical day for the girls starts by feeding the guinea pigs, moving their cage on to fresh grass and watering potential areas for another day.

“We have to check them every day because they’re escapees,” Isabelle said.

“There was one time that there was a hole in the cage, and we had to run around catching them and if they got past you, we had to start all over again,” she said.

The girls agreed they had to be careful when handling the guinea pigs.

“Sometimes they can be mean — if they are not happy with the way you are holding them, they might scratch you or give you a little warning nibble,” Isabelle said.

“It doesn’t really hurt but sometimes it can, and they really don’t like being held if the cats are around.”