“You’re Gonna’ need a Bigger Boat Skip!!”
“Well you see, it’s like this Rory, if l had told you, you might not have come, but ……..”
Before Gordon could finish, LC came running at top speed out of the bushes, losing a cowboy boot en route yelling “You’re gonna need a bigger boat Skip!!”
“The Lionel Up”
Lionel “LC” Charlie was a hollering something good as he hurtled out of the bushes, and as he neared us, his stetson flew off his head as did his sunglasses, he belt was slipping down as were his shorts, he looked worse for wear!
“Lionel, calm down what is the problem?”
Lionel stopped in front of me and l thought his eyes were going to roll right out his head and out through his ears, “It’s life skip, but not as we know it!!”
“What, stop the film quote shit, what did you see?”
“Well, phew give me a minute! Well l saw this brown patch of fur, and so l went to look see, and then it was gone, so l crouched low when l got into the bushes and…”
“Can you give me this explanation without the need to sound like Steve Irwin Lionel?”
“Yeah of course, and l keep telling you it’s LC! Anyway l was creeping in following this brown patch, and suddenly to my right in another bush there was this clicking sound and then l was hit by this enormous hairy pig and it bowled me over and came at me, so l just got up and ran!! It’s huge Rory, it’s a big guinea pig!”
It all clicked really quickly, Lionel had me at the clicking, I sighed heavily and swung round and looked up at Gordon. “They’re capybara aren’t they? You have a herd of capys?”
“Well ‘wild cavies’ but yes, more commonly known as capy’s, yeah.”
“Fuck, and there are 9 in that copse area?”
“Yeah, pretty much, yes 9.”
“Well for starters Gordon your enclosure is too small for 9 capy’s no wonder they broke out, you should be looking at the minimum of 20 feet square for 3!”
“Well l was getting around to that, you see, l haven’t long had them. I bought them from Europe and l had to buy the 9 to get the best deal. I was going to seperate the juveniles out and keep the adults, but sell the juvees to the game park and try and make back some of my funds and then l could make a proper enclosure.”
“How old and big are your adults and what’s the ratio?”
“Well there is a dominant male, and he is about five, maybe six, and then are three adult females about four to five years each, and then there are five juvees at less than six months of age, but three of them are young males and l don’t want them getting a bit testee, so l was going to keep one young female back and sell one and the 3 males. The game park said they would have homes for them if they chose not to keep them, or they would have them neutered.”
“How big is this dominant male?”
“Maybe, oooh just over three feet long, stands about two foot off the ground, the females are slightly smaller and the juvees are smaller again.”
“Are any of them remotely friendly?”
“Well the juvees are approachable, but the male’s not, he can be boisterous, he bit me the other day, and cut me quite deep on the back of my calf!”
“Gordon, this would have been really fucking useful to know before Lionel went into the bloody bush!! He could have been seriously hurt!”
“Yeah, he is ok, aren’t you?” Gordon said to “LC”.
“Well you owe me a cowboy boot mate, that damn thing bit through it, and l am lucky to have my toes. On a curious note however, are they really capy’s, that’s brilliant!”
“Yeah, they’re not bad actu…” Gordon began.
“Whoah, stop the shop talk chaps, the day isn’t getting any younger you know, we have 9 capy’s to capture.”
“So you have experience with capy’s then Rory?”
“Nope, none at all, not a thing, only what l have read about them. Seen a couple before in game parks in Europe, but never got up close and personal with them.”
“So, how are we going to do it?”
“Well, you have a few options based on logic, 1] You could leave them where they are but build the enclosure around them by extending this current one and strengthen up the postings and improving the wiring and security, 2] Er, well you could try and seperate the herd adults from juvees and once the youngsters are apart from the elders, capture those and then revert to item 1, or 3] Try and lure them out back into the enclosure and then have an emergency temporary enclosure in situ. That’s really it, but the 4th option might be just to get them all back into the enclosure for today, strengthen the enclosure and then try and seperate them after?”
“That’s your best options, what about capturing them on the run?”
“Are you completely insane, that male alone should be enough of a warning shot across your bow! He is not going to tolerate any pussyfooting behaviour from us. But if you know a more reasonable and l add logical approach that doesn’t involve us ending up on the capy menu then l am all ears?”
Gordon looked thoughtful for a long while, whilst LC was mumbling about his boots, sunglasses and trying to hoist up his belt.
“Ok, then we will go with option 3 with a possible back up plan on option 4?” Gordon suggested.
“Or alternatively as it’s now nearly 1pm, why don’t we have something to drink first and l am sure LC needs a toilet trip unless it’s too late judging by the smell, and then roll for option 4 as the primary with option 3 if the day goes well?” I suggested a bit more sternly.
Maybe it was the look on my face, but Gordon despite his height, conceded that mine may be the better idea. “Yes, let’s do that, l really appreciate your help though, l feel sure we will all laugh about this later and more so after l replace the boot?”
So, we all took a break, and after a drink and a pit stop, Gordon showed us the other enclosures and l had to cut him some slack, apart from this mishap, all the other enclosures were indeed sound and sturdy. He had a good collection of wallaby’s, mara and some really decent looking primate species. However at 2pm, we all looked at the copse and decided upon a strategy.
“I think our best approach Gordon is to try and calmly herd them down into the pen using some flat boards, which will make us look bigger but less aggressive. Lionel, you need to stay down by the fence with the temporay fixings and once they are in, keep them there. Without proper footwear, you are not a lot of good in the bush, but here at least you can keep them penned in until we come back and help, ok?”
Lionel strangely enough didn’t need telling twice and agreed to these terms. Gordon had placed a huge pile of cut in half watermelons which apparently were a treat he had been using and l did tell him that in truth capy’s shouldn’t be fed fruit as it can lead to diet and health problems, however for this exercise anything that might be used to encourage them in would be advantageous. But there was in addition an incredibly large bowl of assorted vegetables with cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas and squashes.
“Whatever you do Gordon, don’t stress these animals, and don’t make any clicking sounds either in case the dominant male takes offence to that and hears it as a threat, just be calm, and don’t panic.” I said, feeling the panic welling up on me. I had no desire to be attacked by a bloody overgrown rodent!
“Ok, will do.” So off we both set to the back of the copse. I did think that maybe we should have been doing it slightly later on in the day, but didn’t fancy having my ass bitten by the male in the darkness. However Gordon had said that they did like to use the watering hole. Maybe all that was needed was a few extra pair of hands, but Gordon’s wife didn’t wish to join in and his two young kids would have just got in the way.
So we both started to sweep inside the copse, within a few minutes l saw most of the herd, l couldn’t see the male, but l could see the juvees who were mostly curious, and the adult females who were not so, but were staying with their youngsters and surprisingly enough they all responded pretty well to the herding, in a very calm like manner. It took us about 90 minutes to herd them into the pen and l was somewhat shocked at how easy that had been. But we didn’t have the male, he was unusually quiet.
We took a breather as lionel afixed the temporay measure for the fence in place and we then watched the main bulk of the herd feeding and seemingly not unahppy at doing so, which was good. But the male was still at large.
Somewhere in that copse. The copse itself was like a round clump of bushes and small trees that may have measured around 30 – 45 feet in diametre. we had rounded up the females and the youngsters in the centre. There had been no clicking, no funny noises, and l figured the male was watching us like Stephen King’s Cujo and waiting to pounce or maybe asleep?
Behind us from the house there was a call of hello, and we all looked around to see this large guy approaching us and waving and smiling.
“Oh that’s my wifes’ brother George, he may be able to help as well?”
“We need all the help we can get Gordon.”
After the initial greetings, George said he would love to help, but Lionel wanted to help with the round up of the male. “You haven’t got sensible boots mate and you are wearing shorts!” I said.
“You sound like my mum Rory!” He snapped, “Please can l help, please, l will be careful, l can see my other boot and l will have the board in front of me, pleeeease??”
“Ok, ok, just stop your whining, George are you okay with this gate and then holding the weight should the herd come up against it?”
“Yeah l can do that, l have the weight to keep it in position.”
So the three of us, Gordon, myself and Lionel LC Charlie went back to the copse more warily this time. Lionel made me laugh as he was keeping that board real tight to his legs, and l had to tell him to be careful he didn’t fall over the damn thing.
Well l tell you now, we walked through that copse all of it inch by inch, left to right, right to left, and there was no male there, no where to be seen. By the time we came back through the copse and were once again looking at George and the enclosure it was getting on close to 6pm. We were all abit confunded it has to be said. As we were approaching George, he was trying to hand gesture us to be quiet, and walk ‘real slow’.
Now The Lionel Up of the three of us ‘amigos’ to coin a film phrase, was Gordon on the far left, myself on the far right and poor old Lionel in the middle. Before we could ask George what the problem was, we heard a ‘clicking’ that was getting louder and more aggrevated. Both Gordon and l looked behind us, and saw that directly behind Lionel was the male. The crafty sod must’ve swung up behind us and was following us around or something is all l can think of.
“Don’t look behind you Lionel!” I whispered loudly and tried to not sound alarmed, “But you have a new friend!!”
“What??! He’s behind me?? what do l do?”
“Running would be a bad idea.” Gordon piped up.
I have come to the conclusion in life, that there are only a handful of people that when instructed to not run, don’t run. Lionel was not one of those, he suddenly dropped his board, looked behind and squealed like a little girl, which l should not say now made me laugh, but it did, once of those nervous giggles, you know?
Then he ran, straight towards the enclosure, and the male took off after him at a surprising speed for a furry pig!
“George!! Open the gate!!” I yelled.
George got the gate open just in the nick of time and Lionel sped through it like he was on fire and the male sped through at the same speed like he was on a mission. Once through George slammed the gate shut. Now Lionel was inside the pen squealing, and the male was chasing him and grunting, but the other herd members thought they would join in too and started either chasing the male or Lionel! Gordon and l got to the gate and helped George whilst poor old LC was running at top speed around the enclosure squealing like a piglet, and yelling “What do l do, what do l do??”
“Jump the fence!!” We all yelled at him and he did, it could have won him a gold at the olympics it was that good, but, his cowboys boots weren’t built for hurdling and the toes got caught up on the top rail and down he went on the outside of the enclosure and landed with a hell of a twunk! But he was outside the pen at least, and the male well, he had himself a new pair of cowboy boots!
Gordon was well chuffed, he would have preferred a different outcome, but at least all of the animals were now safely back inside the pen and more manageable. LC was not that impressed, but Gordon did buy him some proper boots as an apology and a thank you for his ‘courageous’ behaviour! We got paid handsomely for that day out and to boot Gordon became one of my main clients in the years to come after that. He made the sale to the game park several weeks later, and as a special thank you he cut me a 10% commission which he didn’t have to do, but it was well received.
Well there we go KDKH l hope this reads okay as the tale for your request of Guinea pigs.