Archive for the ‘Diary of events on Planet Guinea’ Category

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 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: will still be available, but our main contact address is: 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ !

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 πŸ™‚ . Together they raised Β£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 πŸ™‚

The total money raised was Β£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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚ )

Sunshine on Planet Guinea…

Tonight there is a new shiny star on Planet Guinea. Sunshine is the golden shiny star hovering in the background, occasionaly moving out to the front with the others for a while before returning to her background spot. Sunshine is the golden brown star with slight speckles of black that ‘just fits in’ with everything around her.

Sunshine had been having minor dental work since September, her Incisors were often slanted but there was no sign of any Molar problems. On Saturday she had her usual ‘check up’ and I found some brown marks on her top molars, but not like those I have seen on Satins with Osteodystrophy (which were blackand pitted), this was a definitely brown but unusual (or at least not something I’ve seen before), brown marks. Apparently this is evidence of either something ‘happening’ in the gums or due to Antibiotic use, Sunshine was not on antibiotics. I was expecting her to have a tooth root abscess or similar given the ‘symptoms’.

On Sunday Sunshine wasn’t herself, not eating as much as normal and refusing to take water from a syringe or bottle when offered- Sunshine was a big drinker.Β  Luckily I had some Rimadyl left over from when Aura was ill and I gave Sunshine some in case she was in any pain.

However, this morning Sunshine had chosen her own time to go which although unexpected was not a complete shock.

Sunshine was part of a large RSPCA rescue of a lot of Satin guinea pigs that had been allowed to breed freely (not a breeder in the Cavy Fancy) and were living in very cramped condition, the group was split (it was sooo big,100’s of them) and went to different parts of the country. When Sunshine arrived she was fit and well though needed to put on some weight. Summer on the grass saw to that and she joined Cloud’s girls (as the cages were full) with a view to being rehomed. However as satin it would be to a home that had been made aware of the possible issues with osteodystrophy.

That home never turned up and Sunshine became part of the group immediately, just getting on with her little life, no special friends or enemies but fitting in perfectly πŸ™‚ . Last year Sunshine did her one and only Piggy PM, she went along to show the difference between a matt coat guinea and the sheen on a Satin.

Karen (there will always be Sunshine on Planet Guinea πŸ™‚ )

The Noughties In Brief…

The Noughties In Brief! Here’s to a Happy New Decade! But before we wave goodbye to The Noughties let’s take a look at how Planet Guinea and RGPR has evolved:

2000: Emily’s friend Charlotte died and I couldn’t find a rescue to get her a friend so, after finding Phoebe in a local pet shop, I set about finding out about starting a rescue and then saw the local RSPCA branch advertising for cat and dog fosterers. I decided that I would phone them in the New Year to see if they wanted any guinea pig fosterers. There was no question of doing rescue unless there was some financial backing to pay for vet bills.

2001: In February we became fosterers for the local branch of the RSPCA, we were advised to start small and try and establish what sort of numbers would be manageable for us. At the time we also had our own guineas- Phoebe, Emily and Molly and I was studying the BAR Rodentology course, taking in a few rescues also seemed like a good way of gaining experience, however nothing ever goes to plan and I became more involved in rescue and rehoming (which was teaching me more than any course), But I did pass part one with flying colours and half of part two (getting 100% on the guinea pig part) before deciding that rescue and rehome was the path I needed to follow and commit to.

2002: Our first two single rescue boars were bonded, Dougal and Ted. Dougal and Ted were rehomed to live free range in a shed and both lived until they were 8 years old. I met Chrissie who was to play a significant part in RGPR, not only did she adopt the lovely Florence, she offered to build be a website (high tech in 2002, or at least I thought so!). Apparently ‘everyone has to have one…’. Eventually Chrissie persuaded me to take it over when Gorgeous Guineas became a full time business.

2003: This year saw the back of Vetsect Repel, my favoured shampoo for bathing as recommended by CCT and Peter Gurney. Chrissie stepped in to help once again when RGPR took in a group of 18 Fungal Guineas by fostering a pair and, with the permission of our vet, using some gentle shampoos she had made. I haven’t used anything else since.

2004: The Satin Study UK was undertaken by a group of UK Guinea Pig Enthusiasts with the aim of finding out if Osteodystrophy was present in Satin Guinea Pigs. UK breeders ‘donated’ x rays of their satins and in lots of cases we were given detailed ‘family trees’ which made for some interesting reading. Several Satins were also given to RGPR, we had a variety of purebreds and pets. Osteodystrophy has proved to be a subject with many grey areas, as would be expected, and there are varying degrees of the disease. Satins have been rehomed from RGPR, it doesn’t seem fair to deprive a guinea pig of a home because this may develop. All new owners are advised on symptoms and what to do before making the decision to adopt a satin guinea pig.

2005: This year I took the website over from Chrissie who had been running it from 2002. 2005 is also the year that Phoebe Gorgeous went to be a Star on Planet Guinea. Phoebe is my biggest, brightest star and represented the rescue at local schools, a nursery, vet open days (including the opening of Tilehurst Active Vetcare centre) and was a cover girl for a small animal magazine as well as having her own page: Phoebe G writes… Throughout the summer her arthritis worsened until it became so painful she wasn’t eating properly. Phoe was the first guinea pig I had needed to have put to sleep (save for rescues), I hoped she would choose her own time to go but it wasn’t to be. The painkillers she was on (a cat one) took away the pain so she could eat on her own but they took away her soul too, and no soul, no Phoebe…

2006: In 2006 the current Planet Guinea shop was opened to sell the surplus seeds that we grow here. Our ‘new vet’ Jenny was already showing lots of promise with guineas and was starting to see nearly as many as James!

2007: Chrissie, from Gorgeous Guineas, adopted Chase who was born here in 2004, adopted in 2005 and returned 2 weeks later because of an allergy one of the Humans had suddenly developed. Until Chrissie asked if we could try her with Marbles and Florence she had been completely overlooked. This year saw our very first Piggy PM held at Active Vetcare with kind permission from the then Senior vet, Alison.

2008: A good year for rehoming, we rehomed 46 guineas to Animal Welfare Act Compliant homes, but took in 60, some of whom are still with us… I should add that the ones still here were all, except one, born here and are all boars. Because of the large intake in comparison to those rehomed I decided to base my 2009 intake on 2008’s rehoming.

2009: Money from the 2008 and 2009 Piggy Pms has paid for the final blocks of hutches and rest has gone towards the new store shed. Work started on this in 2009 and is still work in progress. Planet Guinea and Gorgeous Guineas got together for Comic Relief and made up a Party Pack with Red Stripe Bags of Fun and Happy Souls shampoo, with all profits donated to Comic Relief.

Here’s to another 10 happy years.

The Noughties Guineas Book of Records…

Our awards for the Noughties are:

  • Oldest rescue guinea rehomed: Mr Happy @ 5 and a half years old.
  • Oldest rescue guinea pig taken in: Satin, age 7 years.
  • Oldest foster pigs here well enough to be rehomed: Keenan and Kel @ 6 years old stayed with their fosterer until they left us to be Stars on Planet Guinea.
  • Youngest guinea pig rehomed: Molly (2009) @ 6 wheeks.
  • Youngest guinea to arrive at the rescue (not including the ones in Mum’s tums πŸ™‚ ): 4 day old Pixie and Dixie (2002).
  • First boar @ Reading Guinea Pig Rescue (RGPR) (rescue), Eddie, a lone boar who was later paired with an existing boar, 2001.
  • First sow on RGPR (rescue): Sugar and Spice, 2001.
  • First litter bornΒ  @RGPR: The Buffy Kids, 2003, 5 pups born, 1 dead on arrival.
  • Biggest litters born @ RGPR: Summer had a litter of 8 pups, 5 survived, Posy had 8 as well in 2008.
  • Smallest litter born: One little girl, Ariel, to the lovely Scrumptious.
  • Largest pup born: Solo an only pup weighed in at 150g.
  • Smallest surviving pup: was Marsh who lived here for 8 wheeks before going to be a start= on Planet guinea, followed by his brother Maple @ 44g and still looking for that Forever home, and Mr.Big also 44g.
  • Most guineas rehomed to one person over the years: 18 to Chrissie of Gorgeous Guineas, starting in 2002 till 2009. Chrissie makes a rule of rehoming only those that are over 2 years, the oldest being Mr Happy at 5 years.
  • Biggest number of guineas taken in at one go: 18, in 2002. I was told to expect 6, which was ‘pushing it’, spacewise. Luckily, Chrissie, who had just adopted Florence from us and was building RGPR’s first website, offered hutch space for two sows and two boars. The rest is history- Gorgeous Guineas‘ history! Clover and daisy went from being scruffy short haired guineas to stunning Coronets! The girls were adopted, the boys stayed as Gorgeous Guineas πŸ™‚ .
  • Most common colour to come into RGPR: Chocolate, our first chocolates were Charlie and his Chocolate Factory, Miss Piggy and her 5 pups born here.
  • Most common breed ‘type’ to come into RGPR: The Himalayan is by far the most popular type to come in, they are never well smutted like the true purebreed, but have the choc nose/feet/ears. All but one of the Himmy sows that have arrived here have been in pig (except for the pups born here of course). At the time of writing I have a Himmy boar, Acorn, looking for a Forever home and two boars born to Himmy mums that have been here over a year looking for homes.
  • Most common ‘problem’ that guineas have on arrival @ RGPR: For the most part skin problems, but more recently behavioural issues have been rising.
  • Most common reason for ‘handing over’ guineas to RGPR: ‘Change of Circumstances’.
  • Most guineas rehomed @ RGPR: 46 in 2008 to Animal Welfare Act compliant homes and above.
  • Least amount of guineas rehomed by RGPR: 8 in 2001, this was without any internet advertising neither did we have a website.
  • Biggest challenge: This has to be Lily’s arrival, Lily is blind and deaf, although she can probably see light and dark and shapes/outlines; I had Marsh who was without eyes but a deaf blind is so different. Whilst I could talk to Mrsh and get a reaction from him, Lily can’t acknowledge my prescence simply by hearing me. For the first few days I had to ‘get her up’ in the mornings to come and get her food, now she runs with the others and wheeks for her food πŸ™‚ She taught me she is just like the others and needs no ‘special care’, funnily enough the other guins have never treated her as a ‘special case’ either.

I’m sure there are many other Noughtie things that have happened, these are just the ones that stand out for me. Next year I will look back on a decade of rescue, rehoming and the changes I’ve seen, but lets all enjoy 2010 first! Have a good one everybody πŸ™‚

A Cloud on Planet Guinea

Tonight Planet Guinea has a new star. The surface is some what roughly textured and white and grey/black in patchy colour. It is easy to spot though often very still and will be near one of the other stars- usually just the two of them together, as opposed to being in a group. The star moves at a sedate pace, no need to hurry πŸ™‚ .

Cloud left us this morning to become another Star on Planet Guinea and to move on to other things, his job on the Planet is done, time to influence from a different position now. Cloud arrived aged 6 weeks, in 2005, making him 5 in January 2010. He was rescued from someone who had a large group of boars and sows living together and breeding ‘freely’.

The little Human on Planet Guinea spotted Cloud and chose him above the long haired Sheltie and Coronet types, we brought him home on the understanding that he would be rehomed if he fell out with Henry in the next 6 months. Henry and Cloud were the best of pals for the rest of Henry’s time, when Henry left us to become a star on the Planet Cloud (who had already been castrated in readiness for this happening) was introduced to his new herd of girls.

For the most part Cloud let the girls ‘get on with life’, but would interfere when needed, Miss C and Miss Lucky were two girls in particular that needed some guidance on group behaviour πŸ™‚ .

One of the most notable things about Cloud was his colour change. He arrived a little white ball of Rexoid fluffness, but it wasn’t long before he darkened, the end result was a black back, and black cheeksthat ‘gave’ him a white blaze- almost Dutchlike!
Cloud’s favourite food was tomatoes, this Christmas, courtesy of Waitrose, he had baby plum organic tomatoes which he enjoyed immensely. For a passive guy he could get quite worked up about his tomatoes πŸ™‚

Cloud has visited Piggy PMs and the local school who sponsored him and the rescue, but lately he has been the anchor for some some sows with issues, his calm, chilled self reflected onto the others making his group the best for guineas who had lost their way and needed to learn how to be guinea pigs again πŸ™‚ .

Having had him from a youngster makes it seem like he’s been here always. At some stage the girls will get a new boarfriend, but not yet, and it must be the right boar πŸ™‚

Karen, (Missing the Cloud that always had a silver lining 😦 )

A chillaxed and somewhat darker adult Cloud.

Cloud during his first spring on The Planet.