Guinea pigs testing wilds of Nuuanu
Lush Nuuanu apparently has become home to one of the most dangerous of escaped household pets, the rampaging feral guinea pig. And not just one guinea pig, but lots of them. Guinea pigs, you know, multiply like, well, guinea pigs.
State agriculture officials have caught about 40 of the little beasts using a unique type of trap. They erect a large exercise wheel in the woods and when one of the guinea pigs climbs on, they shoot it with a tranquilizer dart and remove it from Nuuanu by helicopter. Actually, I'm not sure how they have caught the 40 wild guinea pigs, but the exercise wheel sounds more fun than digging deep pits and lining the bottom with sharpened sticks.
We're used to the idea of wild pigs and chickens running around the island but this is the first time I've heard of feral guinea pigs being a problem. I didn't even know that guinea pigs could "go feral" after the common house pet version is released into the wild. What happens when they go feral? Do they start growing long sharp tusks and spiked hair on their backs like their feral pig cousins? Because that's a pretty scary thought, footlong rat-like critters with tusks marauding through Nuuanu scaring smaller, unarmed creatures, like feral hamsters. Hamsters don't last long in the wild because, in the predatory animal kingdom, hamsters are considered furry pupus.
Guinea pigs, after thousands of generations of being used as, well, guinea pigs in lab experiments, are almost impossible to kill. They have been known to smoke five packs of cigarettes a day and drink gallons of coffee or alcohol with no ill effects. Their eyes have been toughened with test makeup, they have been shot full of steroids and have been shocked with bolts of electricity when they don't push the right button with their little paws to get a morsel of food. Guinea pigs are the Spartans of the varmint world.
In some parts of the world, guinea pigs are hunted for food. But those are wild, free-range guinea pigs, not the hybrid American version raised in cages, sold in malls, bought by little kids named Billy who free them when they learn they cannot be trained to shake and roll over. If you were able to capture one of the Nuuanu guinea pigs, they probably wouldn't be very good eatin'. Not only do they not taste like chicken, they don't even taste like mongoose.
Agriculture officials warn pet owners not to free their pets into the wild when they grow tired of them. Flush them down the toilet. No. Wait. That's no good, because then we'd have rampaging, feral, tusked guinea pigs fighting with the discarded pet alligators and giant goldfish in the sewers.
If you have an animal you don't want, even an illegal animal like a snake, cheetah or a small elephant, hand it over to the Hawaiian Humane Society. Please don't just release it. Feral elephants would be particularly hard on Nuuanu's fragile ecosystem.
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