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  1. When Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel began inviting guests in 2009, I also rehomed a number of boy piggies until Maisie joined us in 2010. Over the years, however, the girls I have rehomed now outnumber the boys. Whereas I can only have a maximum of 2 boys living together I have gradually bonded all the girls into one large happy group. This in part has been successful as I now have a large pet room which allows me floor space to accommodate them all with enough tents, sleeping bags, hay boxes, a dining area and a drinking station to allow them all to interact but not get on each others nerves and upset the balance we have at present.

    Any sound of food or hay bag rustling obviously brings this crowd of girls out running, which is when I have taken the group photos. Hopefully, I will be able to describe each piggy enough so you can guess who is who.

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    So, let's start with Maisie as she was the first of my girl residents to become permanent. Maisie was approximately a year old when she arrived under weight and scared. Previously housed outside on a balcony of a townhouse on her own. She is a black and brown smooth short-hair, which has always been extremely soft and very shiny. She has also turned from a timid piggy to one who is able to make friends easily. She has accepted every one of the girls who have joined her group. Starting with Nugget.

    Nugget is the most distinctive of the group - a brown and white Abyssinian. She is also the most nervous of humans and coverts her food, hanging back to see what's happening before pushing her way to the front grabbing whatever is on offer and running far enough away to be able to eat her food in peace rather than experiencing the jostling that carries on at the front. When food isn't involved, she is content to snuggle with any of the other girls.

    Stevie joined us as a little boy !!! It came as a big surprise to her owner when I revealed her true identity. She had been thought of as a boy for over 5 years. So, Steve became Stevie. And she joined us as most of my rehomed piggies do because her owner didn't want her to be on her own after her sister/housemate passed away. However, of all the piggies I have rehomed Stevie's owner is the only one to continually ask how she is and every so often I send photos in return.

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    As older ladies, Stevie and Maisie have a special bond and you won't find one too far from the other, day or night. Stevie is a caramel brown/black tiger stripe, smooth, short-hair.

    Martha and Storm are black Swiss piggies and are so similar it is only their size that differentiates them. Martha is mum and the larger of the pair while Storm is her daughter and smaller, otherwise they are identical in looks and personality too. Although, in these photos, Martha does seem to be ever so slightly grey or brown, depending on the light. 

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    When this group arrived it also included Midnight Star, a black Swiss with a cream coloured mark on the back of her neck and an orange/white Swiss called Blossom.

    Midnight Star was the baby of the group and the last in line to get anything. Poor thing, she never seemed to mind, though. However, when I received a call about one of my regular guests passing away leaving behind her very lonely elderly friend, I volunteered Midnight Star as a buddy to keep Twinkle young and active. It turned out to be a perfect match, Star was now first to receive anything and spoilt rotten, while the pairing worked wonders for Twinkle's moral until late last year when Twinkle's age finally caught up with her and Star returned home. Piggies have, I think, long memories as she couldn't wait to get back in with her family. Literally standing at the bars waiting. If she could have she would have clambered over them, I'm sure, but had to wait a short quarantine period before being re-introduced.

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    Blossom was one of those piggies who always wanted to know what was going on outside of the group. She loved humans and knew exactly what they meant. Whenever I entered the room, she was always the first at the front of their enclosure on tippy toes wanting to know what was happening, or more importantly, what was arriving !!! She was also the one to start any excited 'quick, someone's here and they've brought . . .' wheeking chorus that never failed to get everyone else up on their feet running. I miss that about her. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, she had to be put to sleep during January as she had been losing weight for a while, even though she ate loads, and that's always a bad sign :( Such a brave little soldier, she was so full of life right up to the end.

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    Sooty is another mum. A large/chunky, black, smooth, long-hair, she had also been paired successfully with another guest piggy called Peppa, who had lost both her sisters within a matter of weeks. Unfortunately, the match had to end prematurely because Peppa was an outside hutch piggy and although Sooty had been prepared well in advance she started losing weight when the cold weather of last winter began - so different to this year - and she was using all her energy to keep warm. So, she came home, brought inside and successfully paired with Blossom until they joined the larger group.

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    That brings us lastly to Sooty's daughters Smudge and Ebony. Both black, smooth-hair, Smudge has a little white mark on her nose and Ebony has what I like to call 'petticoat frills' that stick out at all angles round her bottom. They are both the cheeky youngsters of the group. Taking food from out of the mouths of their elders and running away, leaving behind very confused piggies wondering what on earth just happened.

    So my 10 little Indians now only number 9, but just love the run of the floor. Having the whole room when I clean them out.

    Just in case you were wondering, the boys are housed in the same pet room but in a custom-built stacking system built by me, but that's another blog for another day - as long as the computer behaves itself - touch wood :)