Photo by Danny Fulgencio.

A guinea pig lurking in the brush of the Santa Fe Trail caught the attention of many puzzled joggers last year. Why had a tiny domestic creature gone rogue in the wilderness?

Facebook exploded with posts from concerned and confused neighbors. Everyone was talking about the rakish rodent, but few had the desire to step in and rescue it. Neighbor and vet clinic employee Liz Howerton rose to the challenge.

Photo by Danny Fulgencio.

“Some people on Facebook were saying that the guinea pig was just coyote food, that this was just the circle of life,” Howerton says. “My co-worker joined me, and we took a long lunch break to try and get it.”

Not long after Howerton’s rescue mission began, the gonzo guinea pig emerged from the high grass and stopped right in front of them.

“Then like Sacagawea, she was guiding us through the grass. That’s why her name is Snackagawea,” Howerton says.

Howerton is now the proud owner of Snackagawea. But capturing her wasn’t easy. She had to return later that day with a squirrel trap and a trail of kale to lure the wayward rodent. Soon enough, Snackagawea munched her way into the trap and became a house pet once more.

“She was probably abandoned by her former owners,” Howerton says. “She would have starved to death if she wasn’t rescued.”

Guinea pigs depend on hay, pellets and carrots for proper sustenance. Snackagawea is crazy for carrots. Whenever her owners walk through the front door with grocery sacks, she squeals, hoping they brought home a tasty treat.

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