Well, firstly, I’m not talking the idiom of of Guinea Pig being a subject of experimentation, research of testing.
I’m talking about the walking, squeaking, vegetable consuming furry potato like creatures, the Rodentia known as the Guinea Pig or Cavy.
Here in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Tubb family live alongside a family of Guinea Pigs.
These are especially pampered Pigs.
These Guinea Pigs live in what we refer to as “The Great Guinea Pig Mansion of the North”.
And the Mansion full of technology…
Technology for Keeping Guinea Pigs Warm
Our Guinea Pigs need to be kept warm, so the first thing we invested in was insulation for the Hutch.
We went to Home & Roost for their 6ft Chartwell Double Hutch Hugger Wind and Rain which keeps our pampered Pigs lovely and warm in the Winter, and cool in the Summer.
Then, we outfitted the Hutch with two Elixir Gardens | TH02 Tubular/Tube Heater | Bathroom Mould Protection | 50cm,70cm,100cm,150cm Plus Optional Guard & Thermostat | 70cm .
One heater is located upstairs, and the other is located downstairs.
For protection, both of the heaters are covered by Elixir Gardens Metal Tube Heater Guards | 1, 1.3, 2, 2.3, 3 & 4 foot Safety Guard (Supplied with Attachment Screws & Plugs) | Strong & Durable Powder Coated Steel | 2 ft .
These heaters are very low-cost to run (think fractions of pennies per hour) and have individual temperature controls.
We monitor the hutch temperature by using the Govee Temperature Humidity Monitor, WIFI Temperature Humidity Sensor with Alerts, Digital Indoor Hygrometer Thermometer with APP Temperature Humidity Gauge for Home, Garage and Wine Cellar .
The Govee unit uses both Bluetooth and WiFi to keep us notified of the temperature within the Hutch.
If the temperature of the Hutch goes above 25c, or drops below 5c, we’re immediately notified via the App (iOS and Android).
We also frequently use the Govee unit via our Amazon Echo Dot, where Alexa answers our question of “What temperature is it in the Guinea Pig Hutch”.
Guinea Pigs prefer a room temperature of 17c-20c, but during most of the Spring and Summer, we don’t need the heaters at all and turn them off.
Monitoring Guinea Pigs
While we frequently sit in the garden and play with our furry little friends, there are times when we want to check on them remotely.
Therefore, we’ve installed three IP-based cameras so we can check in on the furry sausages at any point!
Downstairs in the hutch, we have a Storage Options IPCam F-Series.
This camera features pan and tilt so we can check in on the Pigs whether they are inside or out in the run.
Upstairs in the hutch, we use a Vstarcam IP Camera, 720P HD WiFi Security Camera Surveillance Security System Video Recording Sonic Recognition P2P Pan Tilt Remote Motion Detect Alert With Two-Way Audio Support 128GB Micro SD,Black .
Then, in the Pigs bedroom, we use a which features good night vision.
Blue Iris is an excellent system, and with apps for iOS and Android, we can check in on the Piggles at any time (which can be quite addictive viewing!).
All three of these cameras are fairly generic, cheap IP-based cameras which could easily be replaced with anything of your own choice.
How To Remotely Reboot IP Cameras
In fact, the cheap IP cameras I’ve used semi-frequently fail and need rebooting.
To stop us running back and forth to the garden power supply, I fitted a BG Electrical 822/HC-01 Smart Power Socket, Alexa Compatible Double 13 Amp, White Moulded
As a result, this smart power socket can quickly be power cycled through a “Alexa, Turn Off The Guinea Pig Hutch” and “Alexa, Turn On The Guinea Pig Hutch”.
However, to prevent the cameras from being off when we go to view them, we monitor them continuously.
Using Domotz To Monitor Devices
As you are already beginning to see, Tubb Towers is full of Internet of Things (IoT) based technology.
And, that technology needs monitoring.
So, we use Domotz to monitor all our devices, including the tech inside the Guinea Pig Hutch.
(Full disclosure:- I work as an advisor to Domotz. But, I do so because I think their technology is amazing!).
Domotz provides Network Monitoring Software that is low-cost and can help you to monitor hundreds and thousands of devices across multiple sites.
In regards to our Guinea Pig tech, whenever a device fails, Domotz pings us immediately to let us know.
My next project is to build a customised NOC dashboard using Node-Red and explore how to use Domotz’s API to automatically trigger remote power cycles of failed equipment.
But for now, I’m alerted by Domotz to any failed devices, and I can then ask Alexa to reboot them for me.
Our Guinea Pig Family
If you’ve read this far, then you’re either a massive techy nerd (like me) or you want to see more of our cute Guinea Pigs, right?
Well, our family of Pigs started with Hector, the ageing Boar Guinea Pig who made the trip from Birmingham with me when I moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
At six years of age (Guinea Pigs typically live between four and six years), Hector was still a particularly vocal and curious Pig.
Guinea Pigs are naturally sociable creatures, though, and so we decided we’d find Hector another young male Pig to mentor.
So, we bought Gil the Guinea Pig, who was sold to us as a young boar.
Hector and Gil got along famously (why this was, will become apparant shortly)
As a result, within a few weeks, my wife said that Gil was getting fat.
(You can probably guess the next bit, right?)
It turns out that Gil wasn’t a young boar, but, instead a young female.
Hector, the randy old Pig, had gone and sired himself a family!
Gil was hastily renamed Gill.
As we got closer to the time, Gil moved into her own indoor hutch to give birth.
Naturally, we (along with friends and family) followed the birthing saga via way of IP Camera!
And so were born Persephone, Gandalf and Sen – three baby female Pigs – and Rattigan, a rambuncious boar.
Hector – Celebrity Guinea Pig
To prevent any further surprises, we had the females neutered.
The whole family of Pigs was then reunited where proud Hector ruled the roost.
Hector was even featured in his own photo shoot about home office workers and their Pets — a celebrity Pig!
Sadly, Hector passed away later that year.
However, I’d like to think Hector passed away with a smile on his face.
We also recently lost Gandalf, and Persephone at 4.5 years of age.
Still, Gill, Rattigan and Sen continue to thrive in their great Guinea Pig Mansion of the North!
At this point, if you’re thinking “Richard is quite mad and rambling about Guinea Pigs” you’d be right.
But, let me tell you that I’m not the only person interested in Guinea Pig technology!
How To Use Technology To Look After Your Guinea Pigs, Ducks or Chickens
Some way into the interview, I put JB on the spot.
I asked JB which strange devices he’d seen being monitored by Domotz,
Then, I shared with JB how I’d been using Domotz to monitor our Guinea Pigs.
(You can enjoy watching JB’s reaction in this video!)
Recently, I was invited to be a guest on Domotz’s MSP Blastoff Series to talk The Upselling Process: Secret Tips for Success.
During the session, JB jokingly asked how the Guinea Pig setup was progressing.
After I’d shared the technology from the great Guinea Pig Mansion of the North, we experienced a surprise!
To our surprise, JB, Craig and I had a lot of questions about how the same technology could be used for monitoring pets.
People wanted to know how they could use Domotz to monitor their Rabbits, Ducks and Chickens!
You can watch my response below.
Guinea Pigs and Technology Fans Unite!
And if you have not yet been disarmed of the idea that I alone pamper my Pigs with technology, I was recently chatting to one of the UK’s top technology journalists, Caroline Donnelly.
Caroline shared with me that she’s got a similar (if not more impressive!) tech setup for her Guinea Pigs!
My Dad is an ex-builder and has completely over-specced the whole setup, complete with CCTV, access alarms and a remote controlled temperature gauge. It’s the business!
— Caroline Donnelly (@CarrotyD) June 17, 2021
So, if all this Guinea Pig Technology is enough for the Senior Editor of Computer Weekly, then I don’t want to hear any other arguments against it. 🤓
I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into the Top Tech I use to look after our pampered Guinea Pigs.
If you’ve read with some degree of bemusement, then I don’t blame you!
But if you’ve read along with interest, and would like to chat more about the Internet of Things (IoT), technology for pets, or even Guinea Pigs, feel free to get in touch!
You can leave a comment below or contact me directly.
I hope you and your pets are keeping well!