Piggy PM 2010

It will soon be time for the next Piggy PM, our 6th! As well as welcoming The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas who will be spending the afternoon with us we will be promoting Reading’s very own Guinea Pig Welfare Week; a new venture for Guinea Pig Welfare to try and help yet more guinea pigs in the local community and raise awareness of good basic care in line with the RSPCA 5 Freedoms and the Pigfesto which is a more complex adaption and application of the 5 Freedoms, making them relevant to guineas.

For more details and an invite to print off  flyernov2010

I’m always glad of an extra pair of hands so if anyone wishes to help out please contact me on: info@guineapigwelfare.org.uk I look forward to hearing from you. This can be printing out posters before the event,donating pigtures or helping out on the day. I also need people to come along and support the day! Goody bags for the first 25 people past the door…


That was the pig that was Mrs. Fox….

Mrs.  Fox has a recurring abscess that is affecting her Incisors and making one grown behind the other, although she makes a grating noise whn she is sat “at rest” her weight is very good and her eating not affected.

Decision was made to leave the teeth alone for now, the Molars are fine, but they will be monitored. There is a lot of thickening/scar tissue in the abscess and although there are 3 pockets it is very small and difficult to flush or apply topical baytril. Mrs. Fox is having Baytril @0.4ml x2 daily (and probiotics of course) and applied topically to the wound/pocket, also some Rimadyl @ 5mg daily to take down any inflammation that might be present. But the most useful product we are trialling is a Green Clay from Gorgeous Guineas that draws pus from abscess before it is flushed. The abscess was lanced under a local anaesthetic with no fuss from Mrs. Fox. See: Guinea Pig Welfare’s abscess page.

Mrs Fox and mask

Wearing her Green Clay mask that draws out pus.

Planet Guinea News!

Welcome to Planet Guinea’s new look newsletter!

Head Lines: No comings or goings since our last newsletter but we did receive a rather bizarre enquiry from someone about ” Guinea Pig Welfare’s forum”! We were asked what could be expected for the annual £5.20 we were charging to view our forum.  Guinea Pig Welfare and associated websites do not charge for information- ever. We believe that all information should be free and the owner left to choose their source. It was later pointed out to us that there was a rodentologist/Rodent Health Advisor on the forum that had recommended that around 100 fungal guinea pigs should be put to sleep; furthermore this “diagnosis” (illegal because the person is not a vet), was made without even seeing the guinea pigs concerned. Members of our Face Book page got the full details on this!
As usual I have guineas in their own homes looking for new Forever homes as well as the rescues that are here…

That was the pig that was… On Planet Guinea every guinea I meet tells a story, some dramas, some romances, some traumas, the odd horror story but all have a happy ending. “That was the pig that was” draws on these different guineas and their stories.
I met Butternut when Chrissie brought her round to choose a friend. I hads been assured she was a mild mannered guinea pig and everything would probably be a matter of just choosing the best one… There’s a twist in the tale of this story!
See: The Pig Issue for more.

That was the wheek that was: National Dog Bite Prevention Week (US)

Guinea pigs don’t have the same behavioural issues that dogs do, but is this due to their size? How would guineas express their behavioural issues if they were “dog size”? Would humans take more notice of guinea pig behavioural issues if they were the size of a dog? At Reading Guinea Pig Rescue behavioural issues are almost on a par with fungal problems on the guinea pigs we get in. Some thing to ponder perhaps…

Wheekers’ World: (What we have been seeing and hearing on our Facebook page):We have had a “show us your Agoutis Wheekend” and currently are having a rare varieties wheekend. Rare varieties could be better described, perhaps, as rarer. These include: Swiss, Lunkys, Otters, Foxes, Tans and Satins plus of course any others that are in the RVCC.Bedding has been a topical discussion as has heat- the two subjects were married together this wheekend when temperatures soared- fleece and veterinary bedding are not suitable for hot weather!To see what else we’ve been chatting about and to keep up to date with us pop along and take a look at: Guinea Pig Welfare on Face Book. Feel free to post your pigtures too!

Planet guinea Shop News: The Planet Guinea shop is going to be on the move again this summer. We are currently with Store 2 Go, and, although we are not a business, we strive to provide everything a business would in our efforts to fundraise for the rescue guinea pigs. BUT this comes at a cost, so to cut costs we have taken a friend’s recommendation and will be changing our online provider and at the same time will be cutting costs to ourselves but not your security when you shop. The upshot of this will be several wheeks (probably in June) when http://www.planetguinea.co.uk will be offline. As yet we are undecided about putting products on Ebay or just taking a little break! I will, of course, keep you updated; but if you are feeding grass regularly then it would be prudent to order in advance- similarly with the Bags of Fun etc.

Any advice included in this newsletter is not intended to replace veterinary advice. You have a legal obligation to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your guinea pig is ill.

Eden, Lilac Fox

Planet Guinea News

Planet Guinea News


After a short time of being unavailable (both to us and yourselves) Easigrow is now available. Easigrow is by far the healthiest of the grasses we grow and sell and it seems that we are not the only ones of this opinion! We have been growing more WheekGrass instead but missed our quick growing Easigrow.

Timothy and Orchard Grasses:

Timothy grass has been out of stock for a while with the intention of buying in more in the Spring (now!) but on reflection this is not what Planet Guinea is about, we are a rescue, not a business; the seeds we sell are stock that we use here and currently we have no use for Timothy meaning that theoretically we could be left with it if it does not sell. We do not have time for EBay as our rescue comes first- what doesn’t go in the shop is donated to another rescue or used here. It would be a false “fundraiser” to keep it in stock so we will only have it in store when we are reseeding and have some “left over”.

Timothy does not do well indoors, we use the Cereal Grasses for that, but if you wish to purchase some for outdoors The Hay Experts stock a Mix containing Timothy and Orchard plus Meadow grass and Fescues that can be grown outside. We will continue to stock our Guinea Pig Garden Mix, that is professionally mixed for us but everything in it is selected by Planet Guinea, making it a unique mix containing 50% herbage and 50% Orchard/Timothy mix. This has come a long way from our first mix in 2003 which was selected to be “nutritionally balanced”, we have since learnt that proportion, just like in the human diet, is a factor that cannot be ignored- what you are feeding is almost irrelevant if you are giving incorrect portions. For example we wouldn’t “just recommend” feeding hay in the diet, we recommend on Ratewatchers to feed their “body mass in hay daily” – as opposed to a handful for eating AND foraging!

Email Addresses and Evolution of Planet Guinea!

Over the next month we will be losing our planetg@planetguinea.co.uk email address. The store will remain open though.

Reading Guinea Pig Rescue is now receiving more emails nationally and some internationally and we are changing the address to reflect it. Our rescue address: karen@readingguineapigrescue.co.uk will still be available, but our main contact address is: info@guineapigwelfare.org.uk. Guinea Pig Welfare is evolving along nicely, thank you to everyone that is part of it.

Pigfesto 2010
After considering the basic needs for guinea pigs Guinea Pig Welfare came up with their own Pigfesto. The essential needs in the Pigfesto allow guinea pigs to be “guinea pigs”, and there is no substitute for any of them. For example, foraging is a natural behavioural need for guinea pigs, this cannot be substituted by providing other “toys”, (plastic balls for example). The need to forage in hay is the basic Pigfesto need. Where this is not happening other behavioural issues can be occurring. Guinea pigs have the same behaviour “issues” as dogs, for example, (aggression through fear etc etc) except guineas are a lot smaller and, for the most part the behaviour is ignored/glossed over or not even recognised.

The Pigfesto has already proved useful for outlining to new guinea pig owners the absolute must haves for good health and well-being.


Guinea Pig Welfare now have a Facebook page for topical jottings and daily news and pigtures. Member’s pigtures and views are welcome too. Come and see what we’re thinking about on Planet Guinea and what our Beautiful People are doing! We are a completely open group, no pressure to join! Quality not quantity. No individual medical advice is given though we are happy to help with finding a vet. Our latest comment was regarding the way SOME RSPCA centres will be admitting animals, a national paper has seen it as an excuse almost to qualify dumping pets! However, this is an illegal act, everyone is still responsible for their pets, including finding alternativ e homes if they cannot be kept.

We also recommend joing/viewing the Gorgeous Guineas Facebook group which features 5 of our past Guests, Digger, Oriana, Roza, Chiara and Mr. Magic- all RGPR guineas.There is a link from our page.


So far this year we have admitted one sow, Little Miss Magic, and rehomed a total of 21 guinea pigs. However, only 3 of those guinea pigs have gone directly from here, the others were still living in their own homes, waiting for a place here in particular (which was strangely complimentary). Rehoming policies/standards have been the same, none went to outdoor homes, in fact some went from living in an unheated shed to an indoor home, and the same questions were asked and satisfied. Two of the humans in particular stated that they wished me to do the preliminaries.
Based on last year’s rehoming we will only admit 9 more guinea pigs here but will continue to assist rehoming those that are in their own homes. It is a harsh fact that if we cannot rehome guinea pigs then we cannot “magic up” space that is not there for more to come in 😦 Coupled with the opening of a Pet superstore about 5 minutes down the road from us, things are not, yet, looking up. I don’t do sob stories and sympathy- these are facts. Will I stop rescuing? No, but I will not burn myself out. One pig at a time 🙂

Any advice contained in this newsletter is not meant to substitute veterinary care and advice, you have a legal obligation to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your guinea pig is ill.


Mr. Softy, Little Miss Magic, and Nutmeg enjoying some runtime.

Piggy PM 2010

Yesterday saw our fifth Piggy PM to mark Reading Guinea Pig Rescue’s ninth “birthday”. It is nine years to the month that we have been rehoming guinea pigs now 🙂

All went well up until Friday evening, then we had a call from a key player to say that they couldn’t make it followed by another on Saturday; both had hoped to recover enough to be able to take part but unfortunately it was not to be. So, at 1.00pm on Saturday a quick discussion with others and a bit of rearranging and it all fell into place! We don’t think anyone noticed the plasters 😉 !

Becky, who is doing a study on guinea pig castration, gave out the goody bags which were gone in what seemed like no time, at 2.00pm there was, apparently, a queue of about 20 people outside one of the doors! The press arrived and did pigtures early on which although was a pain because it was busy did at least get it out of the way. The lovely Lily had her pigture taken and I believe a few others of the day were taken as well- I was too busy talking!

Lily, Sienna, Zen and Caprice were in the “Vet Room” where people were able to go along and ask Jenny questions, I believe that bladder stone issues were high on the “asking list”.

Genie, Emi, Zola, Rainbow and Gloria were available for cuddles, this was a first Zola who was a little wriggly and only given to confident adults. Rainbow and Gloria were favourites- Gloria even went to sleep on someones lap 🙂 . Together they raised £70 in donations towards RGPR.

A dental demonstration in the vet room was popular and a vet who had come along to see what the day was all about took some dental notes with her and is seriously considering doing dentals without anaesthetic at the surgery where she works. However dental work does not suit every vet and this must always be respected, we hope she finds it is for her. Lily was “the guinea pig” and now has her lovely filed molars back and straight Incisors that meet. Lily made sure people looked at her and demonstrated blind and deaf does not mean not heard and not seen, she is very feisty and will stand up for herself whether she needs to or not. Several people asked if she was “Special Needs”, the answer, of course, was “no”, she has some different needs, but no need for a label 🙂

The total money raised was £530 including donations from the public, and Gorgeous Guineas and The Hay Experts, all will go towards our “shed project”, thank you. We are also going to add The Hay Experts to our Guinea Pig Welfare business card as many people were very taken with their hays yesterday- it just makes sense.

Thanks for your support, Karen (thinking ahead to the next Piggy PM, or is it all a crazy dream!)

The Hay Experts mid way through the afternoon, almost sold out!

Lily after her dental.

Gorgeous Guineas’ Stand.

Mr. Fantastic

Although I have made the conscious decision to cut back on the number of residents on Planet Guinea there was never an intention to be boarless. After Cloud and Cooper suddenly went to be stars on Planet Guinea it has always been the intention to let the girls choose a new boarfriend that could also be a representative for the guineas here and do open days.

Yesterday Mr. Fantastic arrived here, bold, striking and very in your face. Having come from a good and balanced home this morning he was ready to be introduced to the girls (under supervision of course). All went well and top girl Genie was able to put him in his place which he accepted- no animosity, just a bit of hurt pride, maybe, but hey, there’s more girls than Genie 😉

Mr. Fantastic will be going in for his castration next wheek so he can permanently be the girl’s new boarfriend. Currently he is living with Mr. Shiny, a cream Satin, who is also waiting to go in for his op.

It has been good to be able to find Mr. Shiny a temporary boarfriend who can accompany him to the vets and saves him living on his own; after an hours chasing round the cage they decided that food was more important and settled down to eat.

Today just disspelled the myths that say boars who have met sows will never settle with another boar, these two are in a cage overlooking a sow pen and Mr. Fantastic spent some time getting to know the sows this morning before meeting Mr. Shiny!

Karen (loving the Fantastic 🙂 )

A Delight and Pleasure…

The gorgeous Eden left us this wheek to become a star on Planet Guinea.She is the grey star with light circles on and a long white patch. Often seen in the distance but at certain, regular  times makes very definite movements towards the front stars, almost rocking and turning up on end…

Eden arrived last summer after her short showing career ended when she didn’t meet the size needed to compete successfully. Being undersize, despite coming from excellent stock, also meant Eden was not a candidate to breed from. We welcomed Eden here to spend her retirement with Cloud’s group. Cloud had no leading lady and it wasn’t long before Eden had assumed that role and quietly but confidently became Cloud’s top sow.

Eden would come and sit next to me when I cleaned out their pen, I would often turn round only for her to be sat there alongside me 🙂 Quietly confident is how I would describe Eden 🙂

Over the last few weeks Eden had lost a little weight making her dewlap look more pronounced, I thought. Soon it was clear that it was a swelling, not her dewlap as such and Jenny confirmed that she either had a heart problem or infection, likely an infection as she was still only two.

Despite taking Rimadyl and Baytril Eden chose to be a star on Planet Guinea. Nibbling News have put her on their front page as a tribute to her- she was on their commemerative issue last year, flying the flag for guinea pigs 🙂

Karen (Missing that Lilac nose asking for more Just Grass, pleeeease)

That was the pig that was…

That was the pig that was Nibbles…
Nibbles wouldn’t have arrived here if it hadn’t been for a very determined RSPCA Inspector. I received a phone call one evening from my local Inspector asking me to take in 7 guineas, I was full and apologised because I couldn’t do it, to which he replied:  “I’m not leaving this house without them, I’ve seen too many die this week and now they’ve decided to sign them over I’m going to take them, I just need somewhere to put them tonight. Tomorrow they may change their minds and not want to sign them over.”
The day after they arrived I went to see James, our local vet, he stated the obvious- she was severely underweight, and also gave her a thorough healthcheck. Being a victim of neglct can often mean lots of issues are present- not always major, but treated wrongly or not treated at all things can get worse. I was advised that a Gorgeous Guineas bath would be a good start for her and the others and to obviously include administering Otodex ear drops too in case of any ear problems, despite there being no evidence of any. Ear “problems” is not something I come across very often at all on Planet Guinea, all my own guinea pigs are bathed (and that includes the routine of ear cleaning and administering Otodex ear drops. The rescue guinea pigs receive the same treatment which “nips everything in the bud” so to speak. James, being the walking encyclopaedia that he is, proceeded to tell me that if Nibbles were a dog there is a wider range of products, however they contain steroids whichare abused by many vets to treat the symptoms but not the disease, there is no place for them when treating guinea pigs be it ears or otherwise. Nibbles also had treatment for mites as her rump had a bald patch- quite possibly a post pregnancy hairloss as there were boars brought in with the group.

Nibbles did well, she responded to the treatment for mites and her hair grew back lovely, she put on a pound in weight (she weighed just over a pound on arrival) and began to appreciate that there would always be another meal she didn’t have to eat everything all  at once.

When I felt a mass in her abdomen I checked the dates to see if we were about to welcome some mini pigs but the dates said that was impossible, so it was another visit to see James and see what he could make of it. Nibbles had an internal abdominal abscess that stretched across her abdomen. It was a case of do or die- so we did. James is an excellent surgeon and I had every faith in him. Nibbles came through the op well much to James’ delight too, but half an hour after coming round she had a cardiac arrest, fortunately James was on hand and brought her back, all was well.

Nibbles was in the local and national papers and visited some local schools doing fundraising before retiring to a life of luxury here on Planet Guinea. If the ages given were correct, Nibbles died when she was six. If there was ever an undervalued little soul it was Nibbles, some guineas are special, extra special and Nibs was one of them.

A Gift for Planet Guinea…

Jasmine (gift from  god) has left us to become a Star on Planet Guinea, she is the big, chunky, bright shiny star that is usually in the same place and chooses not to move around. When she does move it is in direct straight lines that reach their destination quickly.

Jasmine was around 5 andcame to Planet Guinea as part of the Satin Study along with Cooper and Rosa when she was about 2. A big chunky sow, she didn’t develop signs of what may have been Osteodystrophy until the last few months of her life- however her mouth has always been ‘perfect’ pointing to the fact that it may not have been Osteodystrophy at all.

Jasmine was a favourite at the local primary school where she visited several times and was a ‘guinea pig’ for a local vet visiting the school. Jasmine also attended Piggy PMs where she was a favourite with lots of people in the  guinea pig room.

Karen (Enjoying the quality of her gifts 🙂 )

Thanking my Lucky Star

Earlier this month Little Miss Lucky left us to become a star on Planet Guinea. She is the white one that bounces around and desperately tries to get in front of the of the others, if not on them!

Little Miss Lucky arrived in 2009 after having over 5 homes in 2 weeks. She was brought here because she ‘wouldn’t live with anyone’… It wasn’t long before Little Miss Lucky had chosen to live in a herd and was adjusting to being part of a group as nature intended.

I am proud that she was chosen as a case study by a local Animal Aromatics student but even more ‘stunned’ at the benefits she experienced. Despite never fully overcoming her physical hormonal issues Miss Lucky’s behaviour changed dramatically, proving that, for her, the issue was not  linked to what was happening physically (Ovarian Cysts), if it wasn’t for the hairloss there was no indication that anything was wrong.

All this has been a valuable part of the continuous learning curve linked with guinea pigs and was yet another life that was not in vain 🙂

Karen (Thanking the Lucky Star) 🙂