Three little guinea pigs have become an internet sensation after their owner turned them into witches and wizards for Halloween. The guinea pigs can also be seen dressed as James Bond and Harry Potter, and driving Santa’s sleigh for Christmas.
Nancy Ho Foster, 47, set up an Instagram page in 2019 to show off her ‘Royal Furtatoes’ Leo, Polly and Maisie. And they have proved a major hit, racking up just under 11,000 followers.
Previously a family photographer, Nancy continued her passion for photography when she became a full-time mum, with her pets becoming her models. Her mini props range from building tools and barbells to a canvas and paints.
Nancy, who has two teenagers, is originally from New York State, but has lived in Virginia since 2001 with her husband Brian. As her children got older, she decided she did not want to spend her weekends doing photoshoots and would rather be with her family.
“So I stopped doing that, but I never stopped taking pictures," she said. "And so when we got guinea pigs, they became my new models. Then, especially when I got a better phone with a better camera, it just became a lot easier to take pictures and to share them."
The perfect picture can take up to 100 attempts, but the piggies always get a treat for being good models. "I give them a veggie treat like cucumbers or parsley while taking the pictures," said Nancy.
“Pretty Polly is a diva but she can be a very messy eater so sometimes we like to highlight her mess, we don’t even need a prop. Maisie is sweet and shy – she’s an excellent model because she just sits there.
“Leo is also an excellent model, he’s a funny, chunky boy, but also very sweet. They’re fantastic models and we like to incorporate a lot of colour and props.
“And with having children, we just have a lot of fun things around the house. We have a lot of toys and accessories that we can use as props to make these pictures a little bit more fun."
She added: "I try not to put clothing on them. That’s restrictive because they’re uncomfortable.
"I don’t mind little hats or bows. They can just shake their head and they fall off.”
Leo, four, and Maisie, three, are American Shorthairs, while Polly is a two-year-old Peruvian. Their Royal Furtatoes Instagram page reads: “Guinea pigs (furry potatoes, or furtatoes) are royalty in our house”.
And it features hundreds of posts - each earning hundreds, if not thousands, of likes. “I’m proud to be as round as these pumpkins! – Leo”, reads one seasonal post showing Leo among a cart of miniature pumpkins.
Nancy said she was surprised and grateful to have such a large following. "My main goal really is to share these pictures and try to entertain people," she said.
"We try to make the pictures funny or entertaining, whether it be with funny facial expressions or funny captions. And I really appreciate when followers comment and tell me that our pictures brought them a smile for the day. So it feels good.”
In a general warning ahead of Halloween, senior vets in the UK have said that pets should not be seen as fashion accessories. Speaking to Sky News , British Veterinary Association senior vice president Justine Shotton said: "Dressing up animals or otherwise unnaturally changing their appearance is not only unnecessary and potentially harmful, but in some cases can also prevent pets from expressing their natural behaviours and from using their body language to communicate."