How Do You Do A Pellet Free Diet For Your Guinea Pigs?

Gaby Rivas

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Hi everyone I’m new here and I was wondering if maybe someone cab help me on this topic.

So I have 4 male piggies they were all adopted and ever since I have them they have been on a low calcium diet. So they get a cup of low calcium veggies each everyday, unlimited timothy hay & oxbow adult guinea pig food. So my issue is that I’m pretty sure the pellets are giving all of them white deposits so I lower their intake of pellets to one tablespoon each but they are still getting white pee well except for one of my piggies. So just Friday on the 5th I had to take my sweet boy Willie to the vet because, he started to have blood on his urine so the vet honestly did not believe that I was taking such good care of my pigguies because, willie would not be having issues if it wasn’t do to a bad diet but I explain to him how before he was with me he had a verg bad diet and I also told him how my other piggies are having white pee deposits so he told me how sometimes they are sensitive to pellets so maybe to just lower their intake which i already did so now really I just want to take them off the pellets but I don’t know how to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals for then thru their vegetables. So does anyone here do a pellet free diet for the pigguies? & if so how much vegetables do you give them and what kind? Any help would be greatly appriciate it. Also another reason why I want to stop pellets is because, one of my piggies is a lil too chucky at 3lb. Btw Willie has a uti and is on antibiotics.
 

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hello, welcome to the forum

Could you add your location to your profile as it helps us tailor any advice if needed to your geographical location.

First off, you sound like a very good piggy owner. UTI's and calcium deposits happen, so do bladder stones. Some piggies are susceptible to them and all the diet in the world won't stop these things from happening. People and animals get ill it is unfortunately life :( So don't beat yourself up.

Do as you are doing in trying to limit the calcium. It is natural for there to be white stains of calcium deposits in dried urine as long as it is not gritty it shouldn't be an issue have a read here of guinea lynx (an excellent medical website) Guinea Lynx :: What's Normal?
We have an excellent thread on pellets complied by @Flutterby where you can research pellets and their calcium content. Nugget Comparison Chart

You may find extra info on using our forum search function here Search Results for Query: pellet free diet | The Guinea Pig Forum lots of info on folks cutting down on pellets

I hope the anitbiotics will sort your piggies UTI soon, sending healing vibes

Welcome again
Lee
 

Gaby Rivas

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hello, welcome to the forum

Could you add your location to your profile as it helps us tailor any advice if needed to your geographical location.

First off, you sound like a very good piggy owner. UTI's and calcium deposits happen, so do bladder stones. Some piggies are susceptible to them and all the diet in the world won't stop these things from happening. People and animals get ill it is unfortunately life :( So don't beat yourself up.

Do as you are doing in trying to limit the calcium. It is natural for there to be white stains of calcium deposits in dried urine as long as it is not gritty it shouldn't be an issue have a read here of guinea lynx (an excellent medical website) Guinea Lynx :: What's Normal?
We have an excellent thread on pellets complied by @Flutterby where you can research pellets and their calcium content. Nugget Comparison Chart

You may find extra info on using our forum search function here Search Results for Query: pellet free diet | The Guinea Pig Forum lots of info on folks cutting down on pellets

I hope the anitbiotics will sort your piggies UTI soon, sending healing vibes

Welcome again
Lee



Thank you so much for your quick reply, for all the good information and for the good piggy owner compliment :)
And sure thing I will add my location but I do live in the United States.
 
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I am not sure if my post can help you or at least give you courage if you only decided to start a pellet-free diet. Take mine only as a different way of caring of guinea pigs.
I feed my three piggies differently from most users (and most italians, too) and my vet is totally satisfied of the amazing results and the health of the piggies (he also is the owner of some very old piggies fed during the years with the same rules...).
My piggies eat only unlimited fresh different grass (I live in Rome, there is fresh grass all year round, I only need to walk and find the best one in the right places... some waste of time with bag and knife, but it is worth it) and hay of course. Plus one spoon (shared in three) of Versele Laga Complete (grainfree) pellets in the morning which I am not sure to buy again when the bag is finished. Plus three slices of bell pepper at night (with a huge amount of fresh grass again). Sometimes in the afternoon I add some radicchio or some wild chicory, but in the last weeks I deleted also the vegs because one of the piggie was producing a quite soft and smelly poo and I see that the quality of wee and poop of the group is far better when they eat only grass and hay.
One of my piggie was adopted last year with an alert from the vet because of her potential bladder issues, white residuals and pain during weeing. Once here, with this diet all the problems vanished. My last piggie was adopted last month and I immediately started also with him a diet based on fresh grass (he is 2 years old and had never eaten grass before coming here). His wee and poop are perfect now.
Conclusion: I firmly believe in what a lot of vets say, that is: cavies' immunitary system "starts" into the gut and depends on the health of the gut itself and the gut flora does not need anything but long fibres contained only in grass (and hay which is nothing but dried grass). Some vegs may be tolerated (nothing more than tolerated though... ) and piggies don't absolutely need the carbs contained into the pellets (which seem to be good only if considered as a supplement of vitamins and minerals). Many piggies have a strong gut, just like many old people reach 100 years smoking cigarettes, but we cannot say that smoking is good and healthy for human lungs.
I add 2 drops (by syringe) of a common vit C supplement for children; maybe it is not necessary, but 12 mg vit C can only help (or being totally useless, not harmful)
My vet in his 13 years long career into an exotic clinic has never had a piggie (or a rabbit) with dental or bladder/kidney issues fed this way and although he does not have a huge number of guinea pigs patients (as some vet in UK), it is interesting that all his dental piggies come from a diet based on vegs and pellets (or vegs and little hay).
My last piggie adopted last month has unfortunately a bit enlongated premolars; the diet I am following is done also in the hope these premolars will be naturally eroded in 5 months, as my vet is certainly expected to see. (I do hope!)
What I can add is that my piggies so far have had a great health, no respiratory issues, no skin troubles, no infections, no medicines, a soft, bright and thick fur, etc. And they are growing up not fat and very well... (the sows are 1040g and 910g and the boar is 1040- he used to be 1200g, put on diet at the rescue, lost 200g; now I guess he has reached his ideal weight)
The pros of this diet is that you don't even need any scales for the food: the grass can be fed illimited, the piggies are always hungry and chew all day/night long (eroding their teeth naturally) without any risk of becoming fat; fibres give the right Ph value for the development of the good inner bacteria and when the gut is fine, there is a little possibility that a bad colony of bacteria start living into the bladder.
If you don't have access to fresh grass don't underestimate the hay. Piggies are strict herbivores just like horses and cows (and you would never feed a cow and a horse with vegs :))). The vit C is an issue but without fresh grass you can give a little piece of bell pepper or some cilantro (which here does not exist) or simply some supplement. Unfortunately hay does not contain any vit C because this vitamin disappears from the grass some hours/days after the harvest with the effect of the air, light and storage (also into the fridge). But hay is gold for the piggie' s body.
This is only my personal experience... and only time can say if we are not making a mistake (me and the vet I mean).
If you want to know more details you can send me a private message ( I hardly ever log in and come here now).
Good luck!:luv:
PS: my two sows have daily 4-5ml pure cranberry juice diluited with some drops of water. It seems to prevent UTI infections... they LOVE this syringe time and become crazy when they see the juice... I am not sure if it works and the amount is so little...
The boar does not like it.
 
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Gaby Rivas

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I am not sure if my post can help you or at least give you courage if you only decided to start a pellet-free diet. Take mine only as a different way of caring of guinea pigs.
I feed my three piggies differently from most users (and most italians, too) and my vet is totally satisfied of the amazing results and the health of the piggies (he also is the owner of some very old piggies fed during the years with the same rules...).
My piggies eat only unlimited fresh different grass (I live in Rome, there is fresh grass all year round, I only need to walk and find the best one in the right places... some waste of time with bag and knife, but it is worth it) and hay of course. Plus one spoon (shared in three) of Versele Laga Complete (grainfree) pellets in the morning which I am not sure to buy again when the bag is finished. Plus three slices of bell pepper at night (with a huge amount of fresh grass again). Sometimes in the afternoon I add some radicchio or some wild chicory, but in the last weeks I deleted also the vegs because one of the piggie was producing a quite soft and smelly poo and I see that the quality of wee and poop of the group is far better when they eat only grass and hay.
One of my piggie was adopted last year with an alert from the vet because of her potential bladder issues, white residuals and pain during weeing. Once here, with this diet all the problems vanished. My last piggie was adopted last month and I immediately started also with him a diet based on fresh grass (he is 2 years old and had never eaten grass before coming here). His wee and poop are perfect now.
Conclusion: I firmly believe in what a lot of vets say, that is: cavies' immunitary system "starts" into the gut and depends on the health of the gut itself and the gut flora does not need anything but long fibres contained only in grass (and hay which is nothing but dried grass). Some vegs may be tolerated (nothing more than tolerated though... ) and piggies don't absolutely need the carbs contained into the pellets (which seem to be good only if considered as a supplement of vitamins and minerals). Many piggies have a strong gut, just like many old people reach 100 years smoking cigarettes, but we cannot say that smoking is good and healthy for human lungs.
I add 2 drops (by syringe) of a common vit C supplement for children; maybe it is not necessary, but 12 mg vit C can only help (or being totally useless, not harmful)
My vet in his 13 years long career into an exotic clinic has never had a piggie (or a rabbit) with dental or bladder/kidney issues fed this way and although he does not have a huge number of guinea pigs patients (as some vet in UK), it is interesting that [you]all[/you] his dental piggies come from a diet based on vegs and pellets (or vegs and little hay).
My last piggie adopted last month has unfortunately a bit enlongated premolars; the diet I am following is done also in the hope these premolars will be naturally eroded in 5 months, as my vet is certainly expected to see. (I do hope!)
What I can add is that my piggies so far have had a great health, no respiratory issues, no skin troubles, no infections, no medicines, a soft, bright and thick fur, etc. And they are growing up not fat and very well... (the sows are 1040g and 910g and the boar is 1040- he used to be 1200g, put on diet at the rescue, lost 200g; now I guess he has reached his ideal weight)
The pros of this diet is that you don't even need any scales for the food: the grass can be fed illimited, the piggies are always hungry and chew all day/night long (eroding their teeth naturally) without any risk of becoming fat; fibres give the right Ph value for the development of the good inner bacteria and when the gut is fine, there is a little possibility that a bad colony of bacteria start living into the bladder.
If you don't have access to fresh grass don't underestimate the hay. Piggies are strict herbivores just like horses and cows (and you would never feed a cow and a horse with vegs :))). The vit C is an issue but without fresh grass you can give a little piece of bell pepper or some cilantro (which here does not exist) or simply some supplement. Unfortunately hay does not contain any vit C because this vitamin disappears from the grass some hours/days after the harvest with the effect of the air, light and storage (also into the fridge). But hay is gold for the piggie' s body.
This is only my personal experience... and only time can say if we are not making a mistake (me and the vet I mean).
If you want to know more details you can send me a private message ( I hardly ever log in and come here now).
Good luck!:luv:
PS: my two sows have daily 4-5ml [you]pure[/you] cranberry juice diluited with some drops of water. It seems to prevent UTI infections... they LOVE this syringe time and become crazy when they see the juice... I am not sure if it works and the amount is so little...
The boar does not like it.


Hi and thank you for taking your time to tell me about your piggies diet, it really does sound great and it honestly makes sense on how grass & hay is mainly all they need. unfortunately I don’t have safe grass around and worse now during winter as we have a little of snow and just frozen rain all around but this is something I would love to look into because, all I really want is the best for my piggies i want to be as happy & healthy as possible. Now the other issues I would have following this diet is that my boys would not quit squeeking for their veggies because, now even if I’m just a few minutes late they squeek like crazy I can only imagine how they will get if I quit their daily cup of veggies.
But like I said thank you for your time and sharing this information with me.
 

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@rome_italy,

Can I ask how you manage to find suitable (as in clean, away from traffic, free from dog pee) grass? We have a large park nearby, but I'm never sure if the grass is truly clean. It's treated every spring against ticks and mosquitoes, and a lot of people walk their dogs in the park. I see you're living in a big city, so I'd appreciate some advice as to where you source your grass from.

I personally can do that only once or twice each month, when we go to the nearby mountain for a walk and a picnic. But that's not something we can do on a daily or even a weekly basis unfortunately. I grow some grass in pots, but not nearly enough to allow me to substitute hay and veggies for the grass.
 
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Hi and thank you for taking your time to tell me about your piggies diet, it really does sound great and it honestly makes sense on how grass & hay is mainly all they need. unfortunately I don’t have safe grass around and worse now during winter as we have a little of snow and just frozen rain all around but this is something I would love to look into because, all I really want is the best for my piggies i want to be as happy & healthy as possible. Now the other issues I would have following this diet is that my boys would not quit squeeking for their veggies because, now even if I’m just a few minutes late they squeek like crazy I can only imagine how they will get if I quit their daily cup of veggies.
But like I said thank you for your time and sharing this information with me.
hi! sorry for my delayed reply...
I don't think there is only one good rule about the diet, everything depends on the place; last summer I had huge difficulties in finding a decent grass (you have snow in winter and we had four months without a single drop of rain).
About the piggies who squeek aloud when the cup of veg is on the way, I can say that my Osvaldo who had never seen a string of grass in his life is now squeaking aloud when he hears my key at the door and he realises that I am coming back with some fresh grass.
Anyway, also my daughters squeak like piggies when they see a lasagna, but we maybe eat it on Christmas only...:xd:
Vegs are not bad of course, but all the guide lines (suggested also in this forum) say that vegs should be a 15% of the whole diet and 15% is a very little amount... if you put the hay (80% of diet) on the scales and for example you try to reach 80g you will see a big pile of hay; but weighing 15 grams of vegs (a bell pepper for example, or a carrot, or a slice of another veg) is only a very little amount... not a cup (compared with the 80% of hay). I don't know if I have explained what I mean...;)
Anyway, in your specific case, although you should not be too worried of a white powder residual because it means nothing, you may want to consider not only the amount of calcium in the diet, but the ratio Calcium Phosphorus which in most vegs is inverted and this may cause white residuals and stones. I copy-past some lines from the net because it is easier for you to understand what I mean:
Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis (bladder stones) is being seen in more and more guinea pigs. Although many are secondary to urinary tract infections, a certain percentage of stones are caused by an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the diet.

Grass hay is a forage feed, the natural diet for a wild guinea pig, has a higher calcium to phosphorus ratio. Grains have the inverse relationship and contain more phosphorus than calcium. Research has proven that diets containing an inverse ratio of calcium and phosphorus can cause stones and soft tissue calcifications.
(...)
Why a diet with a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio?

Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are three essential minerals found in the bodies of vertebrates. These minerals are used for numerous functions, including building bones and teeth, muscle contraction, blood clotting, maintenance of cell membranes, and nerve transmission.

Basically, guinea pigs, like rabbits, absorb any and all calcium that is made available to them. Excess calcium is filtered in the kidneys, passed into the bladder and expelled. Humans, on the other hand, tend to only absorb the calcium they need at any given time.

Calcium and phosphorus have interactions between them that affect their availability or absorption in the body.

A saying in animal science, (who are a not-very-poetic bunch and pathetically easy to amuse), is "as goes phosphorus, so goes calcium". What this means is that for every gram of phosphorus ingested in the diet, the body must match that with another gram of calcium before the phosphorus can be absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.

There is evidence that a certain percentage of stones are caused by an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. This also is the reason to avoid carbohydrates, grains and excess amounts of sugar in the guinea pig’s diet. Grains have an inverse ratio of phosphorus to calcium and can cause stones to form.
------------

hay and grass have a perfect ratio, it is not a coincidence I guess...:roll:
But your thread was about a pellet free diet and that is absolutely possible and healthy.
About the white residuals, on Guinea Lynx there is a chart with all the vegs and their ratio and there is also a calculator online. I made a lot of experiments when my sow had those residuals... it was not difficult, but when I replaced most of the vegs with the grass (different types) I solved the problem. :)
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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Fab advice given already! I wouldn't recommend taking veggies out of the diet but you could introduce more grass and reduce some veg as others have said.

If you don't have a great area for grass it grows incredibly easily in a tray :) I've got grasses, herbs and weeds growing indoors that I've got especially for the pigs. The more natural the better!

I'm using lower calcium grain free pellets that work well for my pigs, if you don't manage to go pellet free that is. I decided against doing that for my lot as I was worried about weight drop.

Another thing to consider, which you may already do, but do you filter their water? I've found that it helps a great deal as there's often additives in water such as calcium. Filtering it would likely help reduce white deposits but whether it will stop them I don't know.

I don't know whether anything there is helpful or not but good luck with it! :)
 
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@rome_italy,

Can I ask how you manage to find suitable (as in clean, away from traffic, free from dog pee) grass? We have a large park nearby, but I'm never sure if the grass is truly clean. It's treated every spring against ticks and mosquitoes, and a lot of people walk their dogs in the park. I see you're living in a big city, so I'd appreciate some advice as to where you source your grass from.

I personally can do that only once or twice each month, when we go to the nearby mountain for a walk and a picnic. But that's not something we can do on a daily or even a weekly basis unfortunately. I grow some grass in pots, but not nearly enough to allow me to substitute hay and veggies for the grass.
sorry for my late reply...
I live in Rome, not far from the crowdy districts, but mine and the roads around my building are not congested by the cars; there are green areas and parks and (thanks god!) there are also private gardens and pedestrian areas, plus some lawns on the sides of the roads (where there are no many cars).
Anyway, in these lawns and green areas I cannot find the grass I would find on the mountains and there are also some people walking their dogs, but I am not paranoid and I don't see any risk. The lawns are huge and I see more risks in eating a salad or a cellery or any other veg which not only are filled with chemical residuals (residuals are INTO the veg, no possibility of washing them out) but also the organic ones have a lot of nitrates due to the (organic and allowed) substances used for the soil. All the vegs have a lot of nitrates and a lot of phosphorus... and they have a low amount of fibres (in fact we can digest a veg, but cannot digest a grass).
A grass can be dirty (but I can wash it at home), can have some residuals from the acid rain and the smog (the same smog my piggies and I are breathing now), but that is nothing compared with what the vegs at the market have inside. I don't wash any grass, I only pick it far from the poop of the dogs (which are rare because dogs have their reserved areas), but here we have also cats and rats. Also my daughters used to play in these parks and hardly ever washed their hands...
I only try to cut the grass some cm from the soil; now I am cutting a grass which grows very high and my piggies love its leaves which are far from the soil.
Last summer I had huge difficulties in finding a decent grass, my piggies could eat only thanks to the private lawns (imagine the people from their damned windows staring at me! I used to cut the grass very gently without ruining anything...).
When I go for a walk or I drive by car I always take a glance at the quality of the grass in the surroundings! ahaha! and sometimes I stop the car... catch my knife and bag which are always into the luggage compartment!:sly:
Rosie, I feel as I have totally lost my reason with this story of the grass!:lol!:
there are little lawns everywhere... at the church, at the supermarket... at the cemetery!:yikes: and also along the roads, next to the houses, next to the schools...
But maybe in Sofia now there is snow...:san:
 

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Fab advice given already! I wouldn't recommend taking veggies out of the diet but you could introduce more grass and reduce some veg as others have said.

If you don't have a great area for grass it grows incredibly easily in a tray :) I've got grasses, herbs and weeds growing indoors that I've got especially for the pigs. The more natural the better!

I'm using lower calcium grain free pellets that work well for my pigs, if you don't manage to go pellet free that is. I decided against doing that for my lot as I was worried about weight drop.

Another thing to consider, which you may already do, but do you filter their water? I've found that it helps a great deal as there's often additives in water such as calcium. Filtering it would likely help reduce white deposits but whether it will stop them I don't know.

I don't know whether anything there is helpful or not but good luck with it! :)


Well, thank you so much for your response.
About the water I don’t filter their water but I do give them bottle water (which is what I drink) I went online to try and find out if there was anything random additives but found that it is supposedly very clean but than again I don’t know how much you can believe what you find on the internet so I will buy a filter and see if that helps in any way. I have also started to reduce the vegetables a little more specially the green/red leaf lettuce and I kind of see less white spots but than again I am giving them less pellets now so I don’t know if that is helping. But I’m also keeping track on their weight specially on Willie as he is taking antibiotics at the moment due to a UTI but so far everyone is acting normal.
Another thing about the pellets is that the only good brand I can actually get is oxbow and I am 100% sure that no matter how little they get of it it gives them white powdery pee spots it’s not gritty but just powdery now that I lower their intake I only found like 6 little spots and it wasn’t powdery it was mainly just white spots.
About the grass that sounds great may I ask how do you grow the grass on trays? Also what kind of grass, herbs you grow nd how much and often do you give them? I would love to give it a try.
And again thank you so much for taking your time to respond.
 

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Well, thank you so much for your response.
About the water I don’t filter their water but I do give them bottle water (which is what I drink) I went online to try and find out if there was anything random additives but found that it is supposedly very clean but than again I don’t know how much you can believe what you find on the internet so I will buy a filter and see if that helps in any way. I have also started to reduce the vegetables a little more specially the green/red leaf lettuce and I kind of see less white spots but than again I am giving them less pellets now so I don’t know if that is helping. But I’m also keeping track on their weight specially on Willie as he is taking antibiotics at the moment due to a UTI but so far everyone is acting normal.
Another thing about the pellets is that the only good brand I can actually get is oxbow and I am 100% sure that no matter how little they get of it it gives them white powdery pee spots it’s not gritty but just powdery now that I lower their intake I only found like 6 little spots and it wasn’t powdery it was mainly just white spots.
About the grass that sounds great may I ask how do you grow the grass on trays? Also what kind of grass, herbs you grow nd how much and often do you give them? I would love to give it a try.
And again thank you so much for taking your time to respond.
Oh right fab I think bottled water is fine :)

Ah right if Oxbow is all you can get then it's certainly worth a try going without of very few as a treat!

Grass grows remarkably easily, just a tray with holes in the bottom (drip tray underneath), soil, sprinkling of grass seed on top then thin layer of soil and find a nice place for it! To start I put it in a warm dark place for a few days and then on a window sill with plenty of light. If poss I'd recommend doing two trays in case one gets a bit low and needs to regrow. I've just got normal grass (I don't really know what that is haha) and wheat grass right now. Herbs they have coriander, mint, basil and I attempted dill but I forgot about him and neglected him :( Maybe I'll try again later!

I just kind of mix it up with the herbs, try not to give anything too often. It's mainly the grass and weeds that they like anyway, plantain is one of their faves! :)
 

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Thanks @rome_italy. When I consider the number of stray cats in Sofia, and how many of them are carriers of infectious diseases, echinococcosis included, I really don't dare feed grass from the parks. I was hoping you had any tips of tricks on cleansing grass... I'm not sure washing alone could do the trick. I've read that some people soak edible plants in a solution of water and vinegar, I may need to do more research into that.
 
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dear @RosieMaia, thanks for your reply. Later I will open a new thread so that I can say my point of view about the "risks" and also the "benefits" issue. It is better to talk openly in another thread so that we do not "spam" this one :). Maybe other people will join the talk and it will be even better. Of course I have no benefits in convincing other people and not only about this subject; but I find always interesting a talk with informed people, just for sharing different opinions.
I always like reading your posts and I find them very interesting; but I need time for reading and replying here...
Today the sun was shining here and I went to my "special" zones to cut the grass bringing also a camera. I want to show you some picture.
Bye for now and talk soon!:)
 
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