Puddum the guinea pig in a pumpkin Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)

Puddum the guinea pig in a pumpkin Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)

Get your guinea pig costumed for trick-or-treat — if you can

Dressing up pets is no longer just for cats and dogs. Rodents can be mermaids and superheroes, too.

EVERETT — For 364 days a year, a guinea pig is just a guinea pig.

Now, the cavy can join other house pets and be unicorns and superheroes on Oct. 31.

What’s up with that?

At PetSmart, the $6.99 Halloween costumes for guinea pigs were flying off the shelves.

Tricking out cats and dogs is nothing new. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $490 million last year to dress Max and Kitty for Halloween, and that doesn’t include the millions spent on T-shirts, dresses and hoodies for everyday wear.

That’s half a billion dollars in Halloween bucks, and there’s even more money to be had with the rodent crowd.

In September, I nabbed the last pumpkin and mermaid guinea pig costumes on the rack.

I knew just who to call: former Herald features editor Jessi Loerch.

I’d seen pictures of her piglet Puddum on Facebook. Guinea pigs are social media gold. They look like fuzzy bedroom slippers. The critters, also known as cavy, have petal-shaped ears, beady eyes and perky noses.

Jessi’s daughter, Hazel, 10, took on the task of dressing Puddum.

Hazel wrote about the experience: “When we first put the costume on Puddum, he cooperated but didn’t like it. The second time we tried to put it on him two days later, he was like, ‘No way! You can get me to wear it once, but not twice.’ He continually made his annoyed noise at us for the whole time we were trying. We tried five more times, with no success, because Puddum kept walking out of his costume. On the seventh time however, my mom told me to pick up Puddum, so she could get the photo. Finally, we finished and got the photo.”

Puddum the guinea pig in a mermaid Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)

Puddum the guinea pig in a mermaid Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)

Puddum’s modeling debut in The Daily Herald likely won’t give him the fame of an East Coast piglet named Maisie, whose owner hit the TikTok jackpot for a guinea pig-themed art gallery, The Piggenheim Museum. She recreated famous works of art, replacing the people with guinea pig characters and new names: “The Rodent Lisa.” “American Cavy.” “The Pig with the Pearl Earring.” She hung the art in golden frames at ground level along her hallway for her rescue piglet Maisie to admire.

Puddum should thank his lucky stars he doesn’t live in Peru.

National Guinea Pig Day is held on the second Friday of October to celebrate their esteemed place on a plate. Rather than fluffy adorable pets to stuff into costumes, guinea pigs are a delicacy in Peru.

In the U.S., guinea pigs are affordable to buy (as pets) but require special chow, bedding, shelter and attention.

Kids who beg for them have been known to get bored with them.

Puddum the guinea pig in a pumpkin Halloween costume with Hazel Loerch, 10. (Jessi Loerch)

Puddum the guinea pig in a pumpkin Halloween costume with Hazel Loerch, 10. (Jessi Loerch)

This wasn’t the case for Haley Del Valle, who started Bigfoot’s Guinea Pig Rescue in her Marysville bedroom when she was 15. Now 21 and married, she devotes a room in her Everett home to saving and re-homing castoff guinea pigs.

“It’s $40 a pair, and we recommend they be adopted in pairs because they are herd animals,” Del Valle said. “They really come out of their shell when they are with other guinea pigs. Our interaction isn’t the same as having another guinea pig there.”

Guinea pigs are awake about 20 hours a day. They are not native to Guinea, nor are they related to pigs, though they spend a large chunk of time eating, squeaking and doing a happy dance in the air, known as popcorning.

“They are a good first-time pet,” said Debbie Wilkie, owner of Critters & Company Pet Center at Ken’s Korner shopping plaza in Clinton on Whidbey Island.

Her shop has seven guinea pigs available for adoption for $20 each. She doesn’t sell costumes for guinea pigs but has plenty for dogs and cats.

For other pets: “Usually they will make them from doll clothes or knit them,” Wilkie said. “A lot of people do outfits for bearded dragons.”

Amazon has hats and tutus for chickens, and Etsy offers a variety of getups for fowl.

Wilkie’s store plans to give treats to costumed kids as well as pets on Halloween.

Traditional trick-or-treating is considered a high-risk activity for COVID-19 transmission and is discouraged by public health officials. The Snohomish Health District recommends household-only and/or virtual activities.

For guinea pig owners who are too late to get into the Halloween costume action, don’t worry. PetSmart has Santa and reindeer costumes for your special rodents, as well as cute ugly holiday sweaters and fa-la-la hats.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Amethyst Skeels and Alexander Walsh pick out cannabis products at Kushman's Everett Cannabis Dispensary on Evergreen Way on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Cannabis sales surge, proving pot is pandemic-proof

There are more customers, and some regulars are stocking up — just in case there’s a shortage.

Leslie Bringedahl grabs a bag containing books she and her husband Mark ordered after Circulation Manager Carol  puts them down on a wall during curbside pickup at the Everett Public Library on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in Everett, Wa.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett council looks to fund fireworks, Jetty Island ferry

The Carl Gipson Senior Center and boosting library funding are also “quality of life” priorities.

Santa Claus is coming to town, despite the coronavirus

He’ll follow social distancing. In one setting, children are invited to “call out” their wishes.

Driver arrested after allegedly hitting woman in crosswalk

The suspect was driving an SUV on Highway 99 in Lynnwood and is under investigation for DUI.

COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise

A new exposure notification app is here, and vaccines are on the way, but the virus continues to surge.

This series of screenshots taken from an iPhone with COVID-19 exposure notifications turned on for Washington state shows some of the information presented to iPhone users who are considering opting in to a new statewide coronavirus exposure notification program that was launched Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington state that uses smartphone technology in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with Apple iPhones can now enable the 'exposure notifications' feature that is already in their phone's settings, and Android devices can download the app, called Washington Exposure Notifications. Use of the service is voluntary and users can opt out at any time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington launches statewide COVID-19 notification app

Modeling predicted significant decreases in infections and deaths if at least 15% of people use the app.

Public Health Essentials! (Snohomish Health District)
Five things to know about COVID vaccine planning

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Controlled explosion rattles Cathcart and much of the county

Deputies were investigating a 19-year-old who had an “enormous amount of fireworks” near Silver Lake.

Police: Suspect in fatal hit-and-run may have used marijuana

The Lynnwood man allegedly didn’t stop to check on a pedestrian whom he hit with a pickup truck.

Most Read