When I was a kid, I shoveled walks, mowed lawns, had paper routes and such to pay for my hobbies. I can't remember a time when I wasn't actively involved in some sort of entrepreneurial venture. But a lot of my expenses in my hobbies were covered by my hobbies.
From the time I got my first aquarium, I always had a "wet thumb". Whether it was aquarium plants that I would propagate and harvest for sale to local pet store (or trade for more equipment), or fish I would breed and raise, I always had something in the works. But I did not limit myself to cold blooded animals.
One day, when selling a new batch of angelfish to my favourite pet shop, I heard a "Wheet, wheet, wheet" from the other side of the store. Now, this pet store had just about everything, including Rajah/Roger the Mynah bird, but I had never really concerned myself with the other side of the store with the warm and fuzzy creatures. But this sound intrigued me.
While Felix was putting away the angelfish, and calculating my pay, I went over to investigate the source of the noise. And there, in the largest cage on the floor, was the funniest looking critter I had ever seen. An Abyssinian Guinea Pig. All different colours, hair going every which way, two little black marbles for eyes, and a skitterish jump in its step as it danced around its cage. I just had to have it, guess where that day's pay went.
Finding a home for it in my fish room wasn't a problem, I had a few tanks that did not hold water anymore, so they were perfect for Guinea Pig habitats. Hay and shavings were easy to get, and away I went.
Well, one led to another, and before you know it, another revenue stream with the pet store. I had anywhere up to 5 "sows" at a time, and the litters were coming with just the right frequency so as to not overload the market. And boy, were they ever cute. Abby's with "bad hair days" everyday, Peruvians with long flowing locks which made them the original Roomba dustmop, and everything in between, in every shade or combination of brown, white and/or black.
Ever see a newly born Guinea Pig? They are identical to the parents, except way smaller. Eyes open, hair and teeth fully functional, they can start grazing hours after being born. The moms were all great, even helping each other with litters when necessary.
Heading down into the basement now was a new adventure. If I came down empty handed, there might be a "Wheet" or two. But if I came down with the plastic bag full of carrot peels, lettuce ends and other veg leftovers, the corus I would be greeted with was incredible. Hearing the crinkle of plastic would set off every one of them, cheering at the top of their lungs for treats.
To this day, they have a special place in my heart, and I highly recommend them for any child (or child at heart) looking for a pocket pet with personality.