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Category: Guests & Their Stories

  1. Abscesses - Warning: Contains Yucky Images

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    Warning - Contains Yucky Images

    Brothers Ben and Jerry are a matching pair of teddy guinea pigs that have been regular guests of Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel since 2013.



    This is Ben's recent abscess story.

    An abscess in a guinea pig is a pus-filled cavity which has grown in response to a localised infection. It is not a condition in its own right, merely a sign of an underlying problem and can appear and swell very quickly.

    Depending on its location, size and how furry your guinea pig is depends on how quickly the abscess is noticed. If the swelling has already burst you will notice a foul smell and find a cheesy substance oozing from the wound.

    Treatment will always begin with antibiotics. It is almost always necessary for the abscess to be opened, drained and cleaned, although some do resolve themselves it all depends on the cause and/or deeper issue.

    In Ben's case, the abscess had formed but not burst. He visited his local vet who lanced and drained the cavity of pus and immediately started him on a course of antibiotics. However, either not all the infection had been removed or the cavity had partly refilled before the antibiotics had had a chance to work or maybe one of Ben's teeth had rotted. Either way some of the pus had calcified - meaning that the substance still contained in the cavity had hardened into a heavy conker-sized lump, which I forgot to photograph !!!

    Because an abscess has to heal from the inside out, any opening created to allow for the infection to drain whilst the antibiotics get to work should not be sealed. Unfortunately, Ben must have felt quite uncomfortable with this hard lump pulling at his skin under his throat, and scratched at the opening which caused the skin to rip apart, allowing the calcified lump to fall out but exposing a large area of his neck in the process.



    This is what I found. The white substance you can see amongst the red is more of the sticky pus that needs to be cleaned out.

    After speaking with Ben's family, I phoned Natterjacks who were able to squeeze Ben in to their already booked surgery schedule for the cleaning process. At this point his back teeth were also examined.



    Guinea pigs have four incisors that you can usually see when they are eating or drinking. The two teeth at the top that grow down are called the 'Superior Incisors', while the two at the bottom that grow up are called the 'Inferior Incisors'. At the point where they meet the inferior incisors sit just behind the superior incisors and create a small indent in both the top teeth called the 'Caudal Notch'. Along with their tongue these teeth are what your guinea pig uses to pick up his food and manoeuvre it into the right position to chew with his back teeth. A guinea pigs back teeth or molars are separate to their incisors which run almost parallel with their tongue. As you can see Ben's incisor teeth were slanted at an angle. This is always an indication there is a problem with the molars. In Ben his molars had grown so long they had crossed over trapping his tongue, making it almost impossible for him to eat and finally explained his weight loss.

    When I went to collect Ben I was shown how to fill the exposed area of Ben's wound with Manuka honey. I was already aware of the positive attributes associated with honey for more than just a sore throat, but I had not seen the benefits of using honey for a skin infection.

    This was Ben's cleaned wound. Basically you fill the hole with as much honey as you can squeeze in there.







    A little messy, but the honey sticks really well.



    And now you can see how well Ben has healed, and, taking only two weeks. Remember how open the wound was. How amazing is that :)

    Unfortunately, for any guinea pig some abscesses can occur more than once. This is when your vet will need to investigate further with x-rays and blood samples, especially if the teeth are involved. In this area infection can come from deep in the jaw, which is why Ben's family will need to be vigilant. I have everything crossed this won't happen to Ben.


  2. Love Is In The Air <3

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    Dodging the usual Spring-like British weather of rain, wind, the occasional sunshine before it rains torrentially again, I am busy painting (under an umbrella), repairing and expanding Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel at the moment. Two months later than planned, I might add, so as usual I am way behind schedule. However, in between all this activity I have had the pleasure to witness some beautiful love matches.

    Way back in February I was asked to bond a pair of Dwarf Lop bunnies. Domino known as 'Dom Dom' who is a male of 16 months and Cherry known as 'Pie' who is a female of 10 months and who had only just been welcomed into the family. Up until their arrival at Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel both had been kept in separate houses which were situated in close proximity so that each rabbit was aware of the presence of the other without actual body contact, although nose kisses were allowed, until they had both been neutered and the appropriate waiting time had elapsed allowing for Domino's operation to take effect. This then would enable me to supervise their first meeting.

    Both bunnies duly arrived for their holiday and housed separately but still very close together. Domino settled in immediately but Cherry was a very shy bunny and decided to hide for the next two days and stamp her feet at every opportunity. This was not unexpected so she was allowed to eat, drink and settle at her own pace. The weather of continuous rain didn't stop until the Monday anyway so the first meeting was decided for that afternoon.

    Bunny Playground-400

    As you can see in the photo above, we don't just have a lawn in our bunny enclosures, we have logs, tunnels, clumps of grass, pebbles, boulders and slabs. It's kind of a bunny adventure playground.

    Domino was allowed in first with lots of binky running, climbing and exploring, then Cherry was allowed in . . .

    This was the first bunny match I had attempted and I can honestly say it was just perfect. Domino halted in his tracks and bounded over to his friend with zeal and vigour. Cherry just sat there and waited. There was a lot of chinning from Domino, which in bunny language means 'you now belong to me'. There was humming, which I like to think was his way of singing a bunny love song and then - yes, there was a lot of humping - a LOT of humping, and then some more humping, and then some more !!! Three hours of humping and Domino was exhausted !!! At this point they both flopped down side by side and fell asleep. And that was it, bonded bunnies.

    Cherry001-400 Cherry002-400

    And the pair haven't been apart ever since. They follow each other everywhere, eat together, play together, sleep side by side. And as an added bonus Cherry has lost her shyness. Unfortunately for the family, she has also taken onboard Domino's 'I'm a boy, I was born to be messy' and when they left their room a week later I cannot describe the mess. Talk about Rock 'n' Roll divas !!!

    So as part of Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel's expansion I have bought a play house to convert into our exclusive bunny cottage which will have direct access to the bunny adventure playground. I will, of course, photograph this for a future blog post.

    During April I also had two guinea pigs to bond as part of Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel's Foster Buddy Scheme. This is when a piggy has lost his/her housemate and the family have decided they do not want to start a cycle of trying to find a happy match for their guinea pig to make a pair. I bond their piggy to one of our Foster Buddy Pigs which must be returned to us whenever their piggy passes away. I recently rehomed nine guinea pigs of various ages and was able to match Twinkle with another female from this group. Midnight Star also known as 'Star' was the baby of a group of four very dominant females, so was always at the end of the queue for food, a place to sleep and attention. Since being bonded with Twinkle, Star has discovered she no longer has to battle her way past anyone to get anything and loves her new friend dearly. You can also see Twinkle loves teaching her new piggy friend how to behave.




    Midnight Star and Twinkle