Having any small animal as a pet brings with it the truth that they are not going to be around long. Guinea pigs are no exception.
I got given my first guinea pig when I was about 6 or 7 years old, but they’d always been in my life. My Grandmother used to keep them along with the myriad of other animals she seemed to have. I was taught how to look after them by my Mum and from then on was supervised closely but generally left to make sure all was well. This gave me a healthy respect for animals and set the ground work for where I am today.
Just after Christmas we lost our Sheltie guinea pig, Edward. He was eight years old, which is considered past the average for a guinea pig. We were left with just one pig, Ernest. Ernest was Edward’s brother. They had been together from birth and now poor Ernest was on his own. Guinea pigs are very social creatures for whom company is critical. It is well documented that they often pine for lost cage mates and die, so we wanted to get a couple of youngsters to keep him company. Off we trotted, rather naively, down to the pet shop and got two babies. We’ve since learnt the error of our ways with this and would only get guinea pigs from a rescue now. There are a lot of pigs needing homes.
So the babies came home…
We got them back and noticed they were sneezing. We’d been offered free veterinary care for 14 days from purchase but as Vic is a veterinary nurse she decided the best course would be to take them in to work. Introductions were put on hold whilst we quarantined the little wheakers. Their weight was on the up so signs looked bright. They finished their first course of antibiotics but were still chesty and so the course was extended. During the course they were given probiotic and ate well. They were also very springy. We likened their antics to watching two little piglets chasing and jumping around. Very different to the the grown up waddle of Edward and Ernest. They were great fun to watch. The time came for introductions and thankfully the three pigs got on like a house on fire. Ernest got a new lease of life and the two youngsters grew and grew. Sadly, in what seemed like such a short space of time Ernest faded and passed away. I guess even having these two little ones around wasn’t a fair replacement for the loss of his lifetime companion. Old age caught him up and we were left with two boys again.
Time passed until one day we went into the animal room and noticed one of the youngsters, Arthur, was collapsed on his side. We weren’t sure how long he’d been like that but we hoped not too long. He seemed to have had some sort of seizure or stroke and had lost the use of his back legs. Considering he was only about 3 months old this was very unusual. He also seemed to be holding his head twisted to one side. After a quick trawl of the Internet it looked like the little sprite may have had something called wry neck. The symptoms fit but the prognosis didn’t look great. We wanted to give him a go as he was so young and was still eating. So we set to with a course of anti-parasitic medications and kept our fingers crossed. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Little Arthur held in there for a week but sadly faded towards the weekend and passed on the Saturday. Graham was left and was, as expected, very miserable and so we set to looking for a rescue with a couple of babies to keep him company.
We found a group of four who had just come in to rescue and were, by all accounts, gorgeous. We went down and looked at them and came back with two lovely little fellas. We decided to keep them separate for a while to make sure nobody had any illness hiding. Luckily we did as Graham went down hill suddenly. Thankfully a course of antibiotics and plenty of recovery food later and he has started to regain his weight. He’s eating well too which is great and I now know that he knows how to use the water bottle!
I’ll keep you updated!