Archive for the ‘That was the pig that was…’ Category

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.


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.

That was the pig that was Gucci…

Gucci the Gorgeous Golden Guinea was one of the few guineas not adopted from RGPR.  At the time, Scruffy was looking for a husband, but Karen only had mini-pigs and you have to be at least 2 years old to have any hope of being a Gorgeous Guinea.  So, it was off to another local rescue with Scruffy in tow. There were lots of guineas to choose from but “Fluffy” a lovely big golden boar caught my eye and it was love at first sight.  How anyone could have parted with him is beyond me, but they had.

Said rescue didn’t “do” speed-dating, so Scruffy could only have a little nose-to-nose sniff of Gucci rather than being able to take his time to get to know each other on neutral territory. A homecheck was arranged and in the meantime Gucci had his “little op”.  I did offer to have him castrated by my own guinea-competent Vet, but they used another surgery, and as a result, Gucci ended up with a large post-castrate abscess which appeared soon after he arrived here. I visited him a couple of times during the two week period after his op and then collected him to bring him home.  Introductions were done on neutral territory and Scruffy wasn’t exactly friendly.  She went for him and Gucci just sat there and was very patient with her.  After a lot of patience and 3 weeks of spending short periods of time together, Scruffy decided to give up her aggressive stance and was happy to live with Gucci.  They made a nice pair – both lively and full of fun.  When Gucci was first put out on the grass, he just sat there for about 20 minutes, not knowing what to do.  It would appear that he hadn’t seen grass before, but soon made up for lost time.

At the age of 3, Gucci’s right eye swelled up overnight and the conjunctiva was very red, angry and protruding out of his eye.  A trip to the emergency Vet followed, and he was given pain relief, antibiotics and eye drops to get him through the day (it was a Sunday). On the Monday we went to see James the Vet who diagnosed an abscess behind the eye.  Despite having had eye drops every couple of hours to keep the eye moist, the decision was made to remove the eye as it would be hard to save.  James was a very experienced surgeon but even he had only ever done about 10 guinea pig eye removals. Gucci was operated on the following day and sailed through the experience.  James removed 4ml of pus from behind the eye (that’s a LOT of pus!), stitched up the eye and sent him home with antibiotics and pain relief. After 2 days we returned for the first post-op check and there was still quite a lot of pus in evidence.  I was offered stronger antibiotics to help kill off the infection, but they could also cause major problems with the digestive tract.  These were declined and instead, I started flushing his eye socket with Colloidal Silver and giving him a couple of homeopathic remedies.  This was duly noted on Gucci’s medical notes – I don’t think James was used to having his suggestions declined.  The following week we returned for the 10 day post-op check and there was no sign of any pus and the eye had healed up perfectly.  James admitted that he was surprised that all the pus had gone, but was impressed with what I had achieved!

When Scruffy died unexpectedly after a short illness, Gucci was very miserable and clearly needed a new friend.  So, it was off to see Auntie Karen for a spot of speed-dating.  He had a choice of 4 lovely sows but it soon became clear that Allegra was to be his next wife. She was a stunning black and white guinea and Gucci soon perked up again. He loved Allegra to bits and they were so happy together.  Sadly it was only short lived and after about a year, she wasn’t well one morning. Despite an emergency appointment at the Vet an hour later, she died the same afternoon – in the run, in the warm sun, out on the grass which was her favourite place.  Again, Gucci was on his own and after a few days he met the lovely Pascha and they got on very well.  She was a very small guinea, so it was like looking at “Little and Large” when they were together.  Again, he was a very kind and caring towards her.

Gucci never had any further Vet visits after his eye op until he had a short illness just before he died.  He was at least 6 and had a very happy life here at Piggy Paradise.  My abiding memories of Gucci will always be his large size, gorgeous coloured hair, how much he loved each of his wives, not to mention singing and pooping his way through every bath as well as being smart enough to put his head back to to have his face rinsed.  He was simply a one-off larger than life guinea.

(Karen) Although Gucci wasn’t from RGPR he came here to choose his new wives who were very happy with him. Harmony (Allegra) was an unwanted pet like many of the guineas we get here; Penny (Pascha), was brought to me when her 8 year old human had got fed up with her and her sister and would no longer care for them. A few days later I had a call saying that “the bribe had worked and it was now understood that they must be looked after or back to the rescue they go”, I don’t do bribes here, but as the guineas had been signed over into my care the humans needed to undergo a homevisit etc in order to get their guineas back. They were very reluctant to do this and eventually Penny and Tuppence were found new homes.

Karen (Planet Guinea, where guineas come first, of course!)

That was the pig that was…

(Karen) … Florence, one of the first rescue guinea pigs here and certainly the one that introduced me to the Human that became a big part of the rescue. Florence arrived via the RSPCA rabbit fosterer, who, like me, don’t believe in keeping rabbits and guineas together (this was back when the RSPCA hadn’t expressed an opinion on the matter). Previously she had been living with a rabbit for 3 years and was terrorised by the family dog, hence the surrender to the RSPCA. Florence was a very independent guinea and even “back in those days” my aim was to intergrate with a group before finding a partner. Florence would “rub along” with the group but didn’t attach herself to anyone. She was featured in a newspaper advert as an individual needing a home with a compatible guinea pig.

Chrissie was chosen as the best Human to give Florence a home and provide her with the friends she needed, but it was to be so much more than that, the start of Reading Guinea Pig Rescue, the next levels. Probably my most important rescue guinea, she definitely set the way for things to come which ensured that the rescue could continue 🙂

(Chrissie) Florence was the first Gorgeous Guinea, although we didn’t know it at the time.  I adopted her in October 2002 after seeing an article in the local newspaper about Reading Guinea Pig Rescue and that Karen was looking to find her an experienced home.  This was the first time I discovered that it was possible to adopt guineas, not just dogs and cats. Since then, all my guineas have been adopted.

Flo (as she was affectionately known) was already 3 years old when I adopted her, so I wasn’t really expecting to have her for as many years as I did.  She was a very strong-willed, feisty sow who was quite hard to handle and had a tendency to kick.  For the first week I kept her on her own to settle in to her new surroundings.  Every time I picked her up, she squealed the place down – why, I have no idea.  Unwanted behaviour (such as this and bar biting as examples) is ignored here, and Flo soon got the idea that “putting on a performance” got her nowhere and stopped doing it.  Within a week she had calmed down and got used to the new daily routine.  Flo was then introduced to a group of 3 sows that were already living together and settled in well.  The biggest surprise came when I first bathed her.  Although she had settled in well, she made it very clear that bath time wasn’t for her.  I’m not sure if / how often she had been bathed before she came to me, but she certainly didn’t like her first bath here.  She kicked and squealed her way through the whole process and I ended up with scratches an bruises up my arm!  It felt like I had gone through 12 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson. Once dry, she became a nice calm guinea again.  After a few more regular baths, she calmed down and would happily sit there and eventually became one of the “guinea pigs” that we trialed the Posh ‘n’ Go shampoo on.

In November 2002 I started fostering guineas for Karen and took in Marbles and his dad Magic.  Marbles was about 8 wheeks old and small enough to sit in the palm of my hand.  His dad Magic was about a year old and they lived together for another three months or so.  During this time I had decided to adopt them. The teenage hormones then kicked in and Marbles had a growth spurt.  He was soon larger than Magic and started displaying dominant behaviour.  They soon fell out and had to be separated.  I decided to have them both castrated so they could each live with girls.  Marbles ended up with the group of girls including Florence and became their “toy boy” (all the girls were 3+ at the time). He had a whale of a time in his new role and turned into a real ladies’ man.  Florence was always his favourite guinea and they shared 5 happy years together.  Florence was always a very nosey guinea and loved living in a large Cavy Cage where she could see everything that was going on, and also flirt with the boys next door!  A friend gave her a nickname of “the moving mop” as she trundled around the cage with her lovely long hair.

Florence died a week short of her 9th birthday in September 2008 and was still interested in life right up until the end.  Although she was quite thin and frail in her last year, she had a very good quality of life and only ever had a couple of trips to the Vet.  Everyone who met Florence thought there was something magical about her – she was always there to meet, greet and wait for a nose rub or a treat from visitors.

Flo’s biggest contribution in life was to introduce me to Karen and we soon became friends.  Soon afterwards, a large group of badly fungal guineas landed at Reading Guinea Pig Rescue, and out of that, Gorgeous Guineas products came into being and were launched in 2003.  Without Florence, this would probably never have happened, so thank you Flo, you were a star as well as being a big spirit in a little body.

Those were the pigs that were Keenan and Kel…

Keenan and Kel were brought to RGPR because their Humans were emigrating. Two Chocolate Dutch types that originated from down Devon way but ended up in Reading with their Humans. I remember how very sad the Humans were at having to part with the boys, they were well loved pets that had been with the family from babies. I was told about their love of runner beans and how they were they favourite treat 🙂

I always had the intention of taking them in and rehoming them, despite being around 5 years. However as they were likely to only “appeal” to certain homes I asked Chrissie if she would foster them for me.  This would give them a little more individual attention which would be nice if they didn’t find a home. Chrissie was happy to have them and after a short stay here they went to her.

When Keenan was 5 1/2 he presented with symptoms suggesting a stone, he was rushed up to see James (our then vet) who confirmed a stone was indeed present but he wasn’t too happy about doing surgery when there was another way of helping the situation. Had Keenan been a dog or cat James would simply have “manually” moved the stone and without using anaesthetic. Although he hadn’t done this procedure on a guinea pig before he was keen to try it and convinced it was a good option. Keenan came home that day pain free (if a little sore), and lived another 6 months with his stone. The one time that he did become in pain again James simply moved the stone again until it wasn’t in a place that caused pain.

I will always look to rehome Senior pigs from RGPR, I believe that every guinea pig deserves to have a chance at having that second or third etc Human and the lifestyle and attention they deserve. Who am I to label them as “old” and ” not rehomable”? To me a guinea pig is “not rehomable” if the right Human doesn’t come along, whose fault is that? Certainly not a reason, in my opinion, to deny anyone a home and Human of their own.

Karen (who isn’t ageist) 🙂

Kel in the background with Keenan in front.

Keenan and Kel shortly after they arrived here, enjoying run time.

That was the pig that was…

That was the pig that was called Butternut- or more affectionaly known as Sweet Butternut. However the label”sweet” was to prove that however “sweet” a guinea pig is in either looks or nature, it is the combined characters of two guinea pigs that determine whether friendship will happen or not.

When Butternut’s Boarfriend died in 2005 Chrissie contacted me about introducing her to another boar, Butternut was a passive sow and had been mild mannered in her last friendship, however, just to be certain of a well matched pair I asked Chrissie to bring her out so she could choose her own friend. The only real suitor, given Chrissie’s preference for guineas over 2 years, was Sonar. We put them into a neutral run with no hidey holes and waited… Butternut, in no uncertain terms, made it clear that she did not like this arrangement and inbetween picking at pieces of grass she lunged at Sonar- who did nothing! A fiddlestix was added to the run but nothing changed, grass and hay was already available for distraction but what’s the point of waiting for them to finish eating and then attack each other- just prolonging the agony (a bit like bathing guineas when you introduce them).

We (Chrissie and I) could see that this clearly wasn’t going to work out and Butternut went home alone, I certainly wasn’t preapred to let one of my boars go to a home where he wasn’t going to be accepted.

Butternut did eventually choose Ice as her new friend from another rescue, although she refused to live with a sow that was living in a neighbouring Cavy Cage- with the divide up Ice was allowed to flirt with Maisie as much as he liked but if the three were put in together Butternut became anxious and protective of Ice. The two couples lived side by side.

When she was just one year old Butternut showed symptoms of having a bladderstone, Chrissie rushed her to see James (vet) who confirmed that indeed it was a bladderstone. It is a common misconception that younger guinea pigs do not “get” bladderstones but plenty do, unfortunately this belief leads to trying other methods of relieving the issue but in the meantime the stone is getting worse and a bigger operation is needed.

At 6 years old Butternut presented with another stone, she was “trying to pass” this one but it was just too large. Jenny made a small incision and removed tohe stone under a local anaesthetic, Butternut didn’t suffer at all from this- and no stitches needed!


The other fallacy is that a “high Calcium diet” must not be fed in order to avoid bladder stones, unless foods are weighed it is impossible to tell if a diet is high in Calcium or not. The confusion is between feeding high in Calcium foodstuffs and a high Calcium diet- the two are completely different and a “high Calcium diet”is extremely unrealistic and difficult to achieve.

Butternut and Ice

For further dietry information on feeding guinea pigs a blanced see and Ratewatchers (data based on the USDA database).