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  Ratewatchers (data based on the USDA database).