Okay, I have to admit that Snowball was totally an impulse buy.
I mean, who could possibly resist this little ball of fur? Snowball
was the only one of 7 in the litter to be so fuzzy. On January 18, 2006, I
went to the pet store to get some hay and I came home with this adorable little
bundle. Snowball is s about six weeks old, so I will assume an early December
Snowball was very cooperative for our first photo session. I
had to pick up the house Snowball was hiding under, but then Snowball stayed
perfectly still, posing ever so sweetly as I took several snapshots
All evening, Snowball never touched a bite of food, which had
me worried. However, the next morning, several edibles were missing: a critter
berry, the entire hay pile and some small dandelions. And I think the pellet
count went down, too. That little stinker was eating after all!
The next day was a big day for Snowball - the first trip to the
vet! That's when we discovered that Snowball was not a little girl, but a
BOY!! Well, that was totally unexpected after the pet store clerk showed me
for sure that HE was a girl. Oops!! Dr. Hach explained all about neutering,
so we picked that option (in 3 weeks) instead of trying to return Snowball
to the pet store (no way, never!!) or having him live alone in a smaller cage,
while the four girls live in their luxurious Cubes & Coroplast Cage.
meantime, each pig in turn was introduced to Snowball. First, it was Pippi's
turn. As soon as Pippi was put in the cage with Snowball, he ran out of the
house into a far corner and squealed in fear. Pippi totally ignored him and spent
several minutes sniffing all of Snowball's toilet areas. For some reason, she
found this highly interesting. Then, finally, Pippi noticed the actual pig! She
started sniffing him, and he sniffed her back. Later, Pippi ate his untouched
apple and one of his untouched dandelion greens. As Pippi chewed the dandelion,
Snowball excitedly sniffed her mouth. Perhaps he was a bit over-enthusiastic,
because he earned a few "nose-pokes" from Pippi. All in all, they did great together.
Next came Pebble's turn. Pebbles has just been replaced as the
baby of the family. She didn't mind though, because sniffing the new baby was
extremely fascinating to her. Pebbles didn't move around as much and only feigned
interest in her favorite treat, a guinea pig biscuit. By now, Snowball was
loving it - all these friendly big pigs were cool! And he sniffed a guinea
pig biscuit with great interest. Uh-oh, Pebbles may have some competition for
her favorite food!
More butt sniffing, nose sniffing and bathroom sniffing occurred
during Pepper's visit. Pepper's favorite treat is a pumpkin seed, so she received
several during her visit (to make it a positive one). She was also great with
the new baby. She was actually a saint, because she barely reacted when Snowball
practically put his mouth in hers to sniff the pumpkin seed Pepper was chewing.
Last, but not least, came Patches. She was also wonderful with
the baby. Snowball by now was so happy he was popcorning and nibbling on his
hay. He even allowed me to pet him from time to time. He was so engrossed in
the sniffing of yet another female. Wow, piggy heaven for our new little boy.
Our next step was to subdivide the big cage
temporarily until Snowball was able to live with the girls (after his neutering).
We had some extra grids and a few we could steal back (from the food cube area),
so we were able to partition off a section for Snowball. That way, he
and the girls were able to stay acquainted and comfortable
around each other.
April 9, 2006 update: Snowball's neutering in early February
went very well and he's been living with the girls since about a week after
the surgery. Most of the time, everyone
well. There used to be nightly disagreements, but things have gone more smoothly
since I added onto the C&C cage. I increased the square footage by another
9 square feet, by adding to the second level, so now they have almost 40 square
feet of space.
for each one to have enough "personal space," and everyone seems more content.
Snowball is a very friendly little guy. He comes right over
and lets us pet him, after which he is rewarded with a treat (no wonder he
is so friendly!) He still hates being picked up, which almost always results
in a loud squeal. He struggles violently when getting his toenails clipped,
so sometimes only the back feet or even just one foot gets done. So in addition
to the squealing, we have to be prepared for scratchy toenails when picking
him up. Once in our lap, Snowball is either very squirmy or else relaxes contentedly
in a fleece blanket that we have just for snuggling with our pigs.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sept 10, 2009 - Snowball passed away today. I thought he'd been sleepy a lot in the past couple of days, but dismissed it, because piggies are often sleepy and take naps all day long. He seemed to be eating and moving up and down the ramps okay. However, last night, I thought he seemed extra sleepy, and I also thought he looked smaller than usual. So I watched him closely while he ate. He started to take a bite of dandelion greens, but stopped. He did this 3 or 4 times, and then quit trying. I picked him up and noticed right away that he seemed much lighter than usual. So I weighed him and found that he'd lost 11 ounces since the end of July when he weighed 42 ounces. That is about 1/4 of his weight! Wow, I had not realized he was in such serious trouble! I checked his mouth and thought a tooth looked chipped, so I figured maybe that was the problem. I called the vet and made an appointment for today.
The vet discovered that the problem was not the tooth, but that Snowball had 4 bladder stones and showed signs of mineralization in at least one of his kidneys, maybe both. Her prognosis was not encouraging. He was dehydrated and not eating. It was likely that his kidneys had begun to fail, so instead of opting for more tests and possibly surgery, we decided that the best thing would be to have him euthanized.
Snowball was only 3-1/2 years old. This was very surprising, because he'd always appeared to be in excellent health. His life was shorter than most, but he lived it to the fullest. He was our only male piggy and he was a big teddy bear. Such a sweet personality towards both people and other pigs. He never argued with his cagemates, but got along with all 5 of them. He was happy to have his head scratched and appeared to enjoy it. He allowed us to approach him without running away. He was such a sweetie and one of our favorite piggies. We will miss him a lot!.