Miss Gobby

2014-05-04 16.36.29

Plans were made for Mabel’s future wellbeing. It was agreed on adoption that she could return here when Cakey died as her humans wanted a break from keeping guineas and didnt want her to be on her own. However things dont always go to plan…

Read Miss Gobby’s story, part one

Queenie’s story part two

May 7, 2014   Posted in: One Is Not Enough, The Pig Issue  No Comments

March is for Rescue!

Guinea Pig Welfare is dedicating the month of March to the rescue cause. Somewhat timely as very recently a rescue needed to be “rescued” and the animals, including some guinea pigs, were relocated. This is by no means the first or last time this will happen and the public must decide whether they wish to rescue a guinea pig from such circumstances or support those who rescue responsibly and can be referred to as a reputable source. Reputable guinea pig rescues are working with their vets and guinea pig friendly businesses to try and promote quality care for guinea pigs. This is a massive step forward and it is good to see information being shared. It can only mean an improvement in the lives of our guinea pigs.  See www.guineapigrehome.org.uk for details of guinea pigs needing homes (UK).


There are also, of course, different schools of thought on what is “reputable”. Guinea Pig welfare believes that the majority of rescues, if not all, are doing a good deed by removing a guinea pig(s) from an inappropriate situation, it is what happens next that defines reputable….

* Is the rescue a guinea pig specific rescue? Being guinea pig specific doesnt make anyone reputable it does however show that there is likely to be a keen interest which should be backed up with experience in keeping guineas.

* Does the rescue have a sensible limit on how many guinea pigs they will take in? What is this limit based on? Amount of cages? How many guinea pigs can be rehomed to Animal Welfare Act friendly homes annually? Financial outlay?

* Does the rescue have a reliable income? In the real world guinea pigs are potentially expensive when they go wrong and whilst that rescue will be promoting vet care by providing lots of little customers and educating their vet, it all comes at quite a cost. It is heart wrenching to have to turn guinea pigs away that need your help but there comes a point when their quality of care declines as numbers increase.

* Does the rescue provide information for potential owners? A point of contact (email, Facebook page, etc) means that the guinea pig receives ongoing care for the rest of its life.

* Do the rescue homecheck you? This is a chance for you to ask questions and for the rescue to see where the guinea pigs are going to. You shouldn’t be told that you have “a lovely house and I’m sure you will look after them”. You should feel that you have earned the right to be responsible for these little lives and therefore you are proud to offer them a home knowing you have back up if needed.

* Will the rescue take back any guinea pigs should your circumstances change? What would happen if the rescue closed, could you still take them back? 

Maple, right, was born in rescue, one of 8 boars...

Maple, right, was born in rescue, one of 8 boars…

These are just a few points that can be considered. As the quantity of rescues varies greatly from area to area many people dont have the luxury of choice when going to a rescue…. Similarly the quantity of Animal Welfare Act compliant homes offered will vary  meaning, obviously, that rehoming figures will differ.


March 2, 2014   Posted in: March 4 Rescue Guineas, Planet Guinea  No Comments

Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek

In November 2013 we held our third Guinea Pig Welfare Wheek at Active Vetacare Tilehurst, Berkshire.

During the wheek guineas are entitled to a free health check from a vet and receive a free goody bag with goodys for the guineas. This year, as always, The Hay Experts and Gorgeous Guineas donated the useful gifts; a BIG thank you to them as they are a BIG part of what makes the wheek not just possible but a reason to bring guineas along.

One of the vets at Tilehurst said the wheek was useful because it gave them (the vets) a chance to see guineas they might not normally see and often to pick up on issues in the early stages, issues such as fungal problems that might only be in the flaky skin phase.

It is not unusual for people to take in large groups of guineas (sometimes 7!) as guineas live well in large groups when matched correctly, this meant that the number of appointments was soon into well over double figures. This year over 20 guinea pigs were seen, some of them only a few days old.

The goody bags contained a shampoo sample, a Bag of Fun for playing in and some different hays, for example Green Oat, Timothy and Deans Farm meadow hay.

Every year I am “given” a display board and this year I concentrated on basic info regarding a guinea pig’s environment. The board went up in the third week of November and on 27/12 it is still up! It has even been moved to another board so that the Christmas display could go up.

Once again many thanks to Chrissie of Gorgeous Guineas and Lisa of The Hay Experts for their support, once again, and of course to Jenny and all the staff at the Tilehurst surgery for letting me hold the event.

display board

December 27, 2013   Posted in: Planet Guinea  No Comments

Diary of Samson’s Castrate

Samson was to be the next boar to live with the girls but first there was the little matter of having him castrated. Samson is already a Dad and two of his daughters are already living here.

Monday: The day before the castrate Samson has a Gorgeous Guineas‘ Spring Into Summer bath so  he is feeling and smelling fresh for his little op tomorrow.












Meanwhile the sows are leaving their scent on the piece of vetbed that Samson will travel on tomorrow and be on when he has woken up.

Breeze and Bee leave their scent on Samson's vetbed

Breeze and Bee leave their scent on Samson’s vetbed


After bathing and drying Sampson I prepare his Post Op meal which will go separately to him. Samson will have breakfast with him and plenty to munch on in case he isn’t operated on until later. Even schedules go out of the window if an emergency arrives.


Post Op Pignic


Travelling box prepared for early start

Travelling box prepared for early start

Tuesday: 8:10am Arrived in Tilehurst Active Vetcare Centre Reception with Samson, who had eaten some breakfast and had plenty to munch on in case he had to wait a while for his op. I handed him over to the nurse and gave her his food to be put in with him after the operation. Samson was on the vetbed that the sows had been on and was busy investigating the smells.

From here Jenny Towers BSc BVM&S, GPCert  (Feline Practice) MANZCVS, MCRVS takes up the story:

8.10am  See in with nurse and vet check by me- listen to heart/lungs to check ok for anaesthetic.  I also checked both testicles were present and in the normal location.

8.25am start oxygenating in anaesthetic chamber- I give them 10 minutes on oxygen before they have any anaesthetic.

8.35am start inducing anaesthesia with inhalation agent- Isoflurane.  Anaesthetic monitored by a nurse, she also suctioned out his mouth as guinea pigs tend to dribble a bit as we cannot intubate them to stop them inhaling the fluid- this is monitored throughout the surgery and repeated as needed.

8.45am anaesthesia induced so taken out of chamber and maintained on mask, given injection of Rimadyl as a painkiller.  Surgical area clipped and prepared with surgical scrub by nurse, meanwhile vet is scrubbing for surgery.

8.55am moved to theatre, surgery started

Post op Samson

Post op Samson

9.10am surgery finished, anaesthetic gas turned off, maintained on mask on oxygen for 5minutes until starting to wake up- starting to move legs and head.













9.15am moved to incubator in prep room to recover, monitored by nurse still at this point.

9.25am post-op photo in incubator taken- moving round but still a little groggy.

Samson postop

Still a little groggy…












9.50am eating on his own!

Samson eating his Post Op Pignic

Samson eating his Post Op Pignic















Would normally go home after 3pm but as such a good recovery would be happy to discharge him at 12.


Times are approximate


People involved:


One nurse did his see in appointment, then handed him over to another nurse who helped me induce anaesthetic, monitored his anaesthetic, clipped and prepped the surgical area and monitored his recovery.  She was entirely dedicated to him from 8.25 until 9.25 when he was up and moving, then kept a close eye for the next hour or so doing regular checks.  She would normally have syringe fed him but we didn’t need to as he was eating so quickly.

I did the surgery and keep an overall eye on the anaesthetic and recovery.

A nurse will do the see out later.


Drugs:  Rimadyl as a painkiller, Isoflurane as a volatile anaesthetic agent.

Suture material 4-0 Polysorb, used to tie ligatures round blood vessels to testicles and 2 layers of sutures each side- one in connective tissue and 1 layer of buried intradermal skin sutures.

Jenny has also been kind enough to provide me with the surgical procedure:

surgical kit

surgical kit


Surgical kit– the instruments I used to do the op!  Starting at the purple packet at the bottom and moving clockwise we have:

a.       Purple pack is the suture material

b.      4 towel clamps used to hold the drape in place on the piggy

c.      2 Allis tissue forceps, I didn’t use these but they can be used for holding tissue

d.      In the group of instruments at the top there is the scalpel blade holder, 2 pairs of scissors (Metzembaum fine scissors and Mayo which are larger) and a pair of dressing forceps

e.      Down the line of instruments on the right we have needle holders (Mayo-Hegar), rat tooth forceps and then 4 artery forceps (clamps).

Scalpel blade used to make incision over testis through skin and subcutaneous layer, then the testis and surrounding tunics are gently dissected free from the surrounding tissues using scissors and forceps.  Gentle traction is applied to exteriorise the testicle still in it’s tunic (so we call this a closed castration as the tunic is not entered).  A clamp is placed on the cord and tunics and then a ligature is placed into the crush where the clamp was.  Once the ligature is in place the cord can be cut above it removing the testicle.

Then 2 layers of sutures are placed- one to close the connective tissues and one in the skin.  A small bit of tissue glue is used to seal the incision.

Then repeat on the other side!

Samson came home at just after 12:00 and was seen out by a nurse who handed me a post op info sheet detailing his immediate after care.

I have had over seventy boars castrated at Active Vetcare Tilehurst, most of them rescues which for was different than having your own boar castrated. Big thanks to Jenny and all the team at Tilehurst for helping me write this article and for being good all round guinea pig vets.





May 29, 2013   Posted in: Health, Inside The Hutch, One Is Not Enough, Planet Guinea, The Pig Issue  No Comments

Spring Into Summer…

April 21, 2013   Posted in: FaceBook/You Tube, Gallery, Planet Guinea, Seasonal care  No Comments

… Mr. Fantastic

This wheek Mr. Fantastic went to be a star on Planet Guinea. He’s the dark one with a light underside and points, can be seen hanging back in the dark night sky, very obvious if you look for him…

Mr. Fantastic arrived here as head of the herd when the lovely Cloud left us to become a star on Planet Guinea. He spent two wheeks on his own while he got over his little op and was then introduced to the girls. Mr. Fantastic was not a bossy assertive boar which meant he was accepted readily by the girls, a few of whom had somewhat outgoing characters!

Mr. Fantastic didn’t “keep the peace” between the girls, Mr. Fantastic was Peace it self, Radiating vibes of calm and modelling chilled out behaviour as the norm he soon, like Cloud had previously, was leading by example as opposed to action. His favoured sows seem to change from wheek to wheek and the new sows were always immediately embraced by his attentions, and no one ever questioned or disagreed with him. Although when Miss Gorgeous and Bee were introduced to the herd last year it was very obviously Bee that was embraced, Miss Gorgeous never did get her initial welcome! It was, seemingly, all or nothing with him.

Apart from his castration Mr. fantastic only visited the vets once, he had a suspicious lump near his genital region that was getting bigger and seemed to be interfering with his movement slightly. No definite diagnosis could be given and the treatment was to monitor it further. The lump disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived but Mr. Fantastic always walked with a slightly out turned hind leg and it it seemed to be very gradually getting “more out turned”. He went through a phase where one of his front pads was getting sore, suggesting that he was putting more weight on it. For a while he had some Gorgeous Guineas‘ Perfect Paws ointment on it, it healed and didnt seem to trouble him again, maybe an indication of how his gait was changing. Mr. Fantastic was perfectly mobile, however much of a cuddle pig he was he didnt like being picked up and would scamper away!

Mr. Fantastic was my top cuddle pig, melting into my arms or chilling out on my lap, he was always my first port of call if I needed a guinea pig cuddle.

The most outstanding moment with Mr. Fantastic’s herd life was when Breeze was introduced to the herd. As ever the girls were curious and then accepted her although she was still a little shy. Zen, however, was not so accepting and insisted on challenging new girl Breeze and constantly “bothering” her. Things got to a point when Mr. Fantastic chased Breeze into a litte house and then stood outside the entrance and discouraged Zen from coming near. After a few hours of Mr. Fantastic’s interventions breeze was allowed to mix with the girls. It worked, whatever it was he did, Breeze is now a happy herd member…

Mr. Fantastic’s departure was completely unexpected, a complete shock, but if I am honest part of me is happy that he chose to go when he did, he would have been just 5 in August, but he saved me from potentially having to make the decision about having him put to sleep when his leg got too bad and he had no quality of life.

Karen, missing my boy’s cuddles…


Make a lap...

Make a lap…


What arms are for…



with girls

With his girls…


April 20, 2013   Posted in: FaceBook/You Tube, Planet Guinea, The Pig Issue  No Comments

“To Be Allowed To Express Normal Behaviour”

The ability to express normal behaviour. To be able to burrow in hay, run and have shelter to ‘hide’ in if desired. To have a friend(s) in the correct living sized accommodation.

eating hay is a necessary pastime for guinea pigs

eating hay is a necessary pastime for guinea pigs



Hay and a compatible friend are probably the most important components for allowing guinea pigs to express “normal” behaviour. Both hay and companions are natural parts of a guinea pig’s life (hay takes the place of long grasses that would be freely available to guinea pigs in the wild. Domesticated guinea pigs have the right to have a suitable friend (another guinea pig) and lots of hay for playing in.

Bags of Fun, worth looking into...

Bags of Fun, worth looking into…


Hay can be presented in various ways, none of which are costly, Paper bags (remove handles first), cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes are good to stuff with hay and make houses from. The Hay Experts stock a good range of hidey holes and houses for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs use their houses in a variety of ways, some prefer to perch on top of them where possible, some will hardly use their houses whilst others spend more time in there. Provide more than one house so there is a choice.

Torn between open and closed... So going Dutch...

Torn between open and closed… So going Dutch…

Houses should be washed weekly (plastic) to keep them clean, not washing/wiping them down defeats the object of a thorough clean and bacteria and spores (if present) remain.

A friend and a pile of good hay, essentials for guinea pigs

A friend and a pile of good hay, essentials for guinea pigs

Living accommodation will be four foot by two foot minimum for two guinea pigs, even a hutch with a sleeping compartment is more fun if a house is put in it. Vary the houses, paper bags and boxes and where you put them.

Fun comes in all sizes....

Fun comes in all sizes….


Eating hay is a big part of expressing normal behaviour for guinea pigs, it helps to keep their constantly growing teeth worn down correctly. Hay is therefore a great boredom breaker by itself. Always provide a suitable hay for eating that guinea can play in too, a pile of clean, good meadow hay is a great source of enjoyment and will be munched on with much pleasure as it low in nutritional value but high in the long fibre that is so important for guinea pigs.


Fun doesn't haven't to Costa lot...

Fun doesn’t haven’t to Costa lot… 



April 13, 2013   Posted in: Behaviour, Health, Husbandry, Inside The Hutch, One Is Not Enough  No Comments

First Aid

A list of what is needed for first aid for guinea pigs:

 First Aid to mean” initial emergency care prior to veterinary attention”. Often this first aid treatment is potentially life saving action before guinea can be assessed by a vet. Therefore the products listed will be “must haves” as opposed to what is needed for maintenance or items that have been collected due to prior issues.

Oxbow Critical Care

Oxbow Critical Care


  • Contact number and name of your local guinea pig friendly vet. It is important to have the name of your vet, just because one vet is known to be competent in treating guinea pigs it does not follow that all the vets in the practice share that knowledge and skills to the same degree. It is perfectly reasonable for a vet not to enjoy seeing guinea pigs, whilst it doesn’t excuse bad practice it makes sense to see a vet that enjoys that aspect of their work. For example, one vet may be an excellent surgeon and have much experience of operating on guinea pigs but it doesn’t follow that they share those expertise when doing a consult.

Your vet should be local wherever possible. Seeing a local vet and feeding back to them enhances your vets experiences and expertise with guinea pigs and therefore benefits the local guinea pig community as a whole. This is where the local guinea pig rescue is so important, a guinea pig rescue will, of course, need to see the vet with their guinea pigs more often than someone who only keeps two or three as pets. This increases the vet’s knowledge as the rescue feeds back results of treatment and useful information. A guinea pig rescue has the potential to enrich the guinea pig community greatly.


  • Infacol (Sugar, alcohol and colouring free, contains active ingredient simethicone). Infacol is a product manufactured for infants and should be given in the event of bloating .

The symptoms of bloat are usually quite obvious; the stomach is distended/swollen and when tapped it sounds hollow. When Angel had bloat I gave her 3 drops of Infacol before taking her to my vet immediately. Fortunately it was during the day but veterinary advice and treatment should be sought immediately as the condition will, most often, not go of its own accord and left untreated a painful death is quite likely.

Infacol is available to buy in supermarkets and chemists, care should be taken to make sure the product is still in date. Also to replace it 28 days after opening.

Infacol, keep in the First Aid kit in case of bloat

Infacol, keep in the First Aid kit in case of bloat


  • Syringe food, such as Oxbow Critical Care, and  1ml syringes (more than one because water must be given too). Do not confuse Oxbow Critical Care with the liquid feed, Critical Care, from Vetark which does not have the necessary fibre content. Supreme Recovery is also a good syringe food. Read this detailed and accurate article by Gorgeous Guineas before syringe feeding: Syringe Feeding Basics. 
Oxbow Critical care

Oxbow Critical care

If your guinea pig stops eating it is vital that they are syringe fed to keep their digestive system moving until (and after) they have seen a vet. Syringe feeding is not a cure but it is certainly a life saving action. Whilst your vet should have syringe feed in stock it is necessary to keep so that it can be given immediately and in case your vet does not have any in stock. The Hay Experts stock Oxbow critical Care and Supreme Recovery. Both these products have a shelf life which is printed on the packet. Rather than throw away out of date stock feed it to your well guinea pigs just before it goes out of date.

Feed to your well guineas in a bowl before it goes out of date.

Feed to your well guineas in a bowl before it goes out of date.

  • Heat stroke treatment is a simple first aid treatment (that is treatment prior to your vet seeing guinea) that guinea pig owners should be familiar with. Guinea pigs with heatstroke can deteriorate rapidly. On discovery of a guinea pig with heatstroke bring the guinea pig into a cooler setting (eg a cool room in the house) and ask someone to call your vet. Soak a towel in cool, not cold, water, while the  towel is soaking put water on guineas ears and feet (maybe stand guinea in the water so the feet get wet), this has a cooling effect.
  • Wring the towel out and wrap guinea in it.

Treat this as an emergency and go to your vet as soon as you are able.

  • When guinea’s breathing has returned to normal or improved somewhat unwrap guinea and keep in a cool room until recovered. Monitor closely for the next 24 hours, recovery time (completely) will vary from case to case dependent on severity and conditions.
  • Do not attempt to give guinea fluids while breathing is laboured, the fluids may go down the “wrong way” and end up in the lungs causing more problems. Give fluids when breathing has returned to normal; sides are not heaving, for example.


These items should be considered essentials in your First Aid kit as they can be used prior to vet treatment and potentially save a guinea pig suffering or maybe its life. They give the guinea pig its first help on the road to recovery.

This advice is not intended to replace that of a good vet. You are legally obliged to take your guinea pig to a vet if you suspect they are unwell.

April 12, 2013   Posted in: FaceBook/You Tube, Health, Husbandry, Inside The Hutch, Planet Guinea, Seasonal care  No Comments