A sad welcome to our newest friends, Icarus and Leda.
These two piggies were taken into our rescue on June 11th after we received a frantic call from their original owner. She had taken in a dog and a cat on their way to the euthanasia chamber for various behavioral problems several months ago, and thought there would be no problem. However, both animals continued to harass their guinea pigs, and they became concerned for their safety. She opted to rehome them because they were healthy and did not have behavioral problems, whereas the dog and cat would be virtually unadoptable.
A child in her son’s class expressed interest in the male pair, and she travelled over to their house, spoke with the parents, educated them on care, and felt very comfortable with the adoption, even going over on holidays and vacations to petsit for the family when they were out of town. She received a call out of the blue yesterday informing her that the child was no longer interested in the pigs, and could she come over today and get them. Oh, and by the way, one of the original two pair had died earlier that month when the child threw him to see if he could fly.
Their original owner was shocked and frightened for the remaining pig, and she contacted us as soon as she could to get the pig out of that situation! Imagine her surprise when she arrived and the remaining male pig had a female friend sitting in the cage with him! Apparently the child had just brought this female home and placed them together. She took them both and drove them out a substantial portion of the way to meet me, and was very grateful and thankful that the pigs had somewhere to go and where she could be sure they were safe.
Thankfully both pigs appear to be in excellent physical health, and have already been preventatively dosed with Revolution in the case of mites. They will be having their vet checkup early next week, and we anticipate that poor Leda is probably already pregnant, though we have separated the pair in hopes that she may not have been receptive to romantic advances in such a stressful situation. Both pigs have been named in memory of the lost piggie who paid so dearly; Icarus after the mythological figure who flew too close to the sun, and Leda meaning “winged one”.
Sadly, we hear stories like this time and again. Guinea pigs are exceedingly fragile animals, and they are often injured by children’s rough-housing play. A drop which would not phase a cat or a dog can literally cripple a guinea pig for life. One of our own board members dropped a struggling guinea pig from a distance less than 12 inches high by accident one day, and it resulted in a severely broken leg. After immediate emergency care, that was pig fine, but it illustrates just how easily damaged they can be.
A most hearty congratulations to Poppy and Piper!
These two girls started life abandoned outside of a pet store in a paper bag. They were turned over to local animal control, who gave us a call as both girls were bald from mites and seizing painfully. We picked them up the same day and started treatment with Revolution. It took nearly two months for them to become healthy and mite-free again!
But these girlies were lucky because they had a forever home lined up! Marc and his family saw their picture and fell in love. They waited patiently for the tiny girls to recover from their ordeal, and this past weekend was the day! This past Sunday (June 7) the girls made their way out to their new palatial 2x4C&C cage, and were greated with delicious hay, yummy pellets, and a family of their own to love them!
Thank you to Marc and family for letting these girls into your home! It’s nice to have some happy tails here this week!
We’re lost a great number of the Hamster Hoard this year, and the latest casualty was Logan. He was born in the rescue on September 8, 2008; one of three litters that came from pregnant females we pulled from the local shelter. He simply didn’t wake up this morning (June 8).
He didn’t really do much of anything – he was named for his preference for hiding in his oatmeal container all the time – but he deserves a memorial as yet another unwanted pet who never really had a home of his own.
We lost a foster pig yesterday, and I’m typing this up mainly so that other people might see if they see the signs that we did. We didn’t connect the dots in time, but someone else might, now, and be able to save their pig.
Harley came into our rescue about 2 months ago. He was huge. Over 3 lbs huge. His owner was a pretty good owner, and kept him in a C&C cage, did a good quality diet with lots of veggies, and was heartbroken to have to give him up. He came with a plethora of stuff, including a bottle of Selsun Blue shampoo.
She explained to us that he had a reoccurring spot on his back, and that once she washed it with the Selsun Blue, that it went away. Given the description, we figured he had some sort of active fungal infection, and didn’t think twice about it.
Sure enough, he had the spot when we picked him up. We dosed him with Revolution and started treating the area with a fungal cream, but it didn’t seem to have any ongoing infection or fungus. The skin was perfect, but bald. He’d just sat there and chewed himself bald. (You can see the bald spot in his earliest pictures.)
When it went away briefly, and then subsequently came back, we went to the vet’s to try more stuff. He gave us an oral antifungal and used scotch tape to look at the skin cells under the microscope (he hates doing skin scrapes on pigs and does that instead). He told us that the skin seemed healthy, but sent off for ringworm testing, and it came back negative.
We both, at that point, wrote the spot off as a neurosis reaction to being alone most of the time. Susan has had animals start chewing their backs when they had bladder stones, but before they came painful enough to wail while they peed, and she’d caught several that way by doing x-rays. Since he was having no other symptoms, and his weight remained stable, that didn’t seem likely. After all, there are a number of animals that self mutilate from boredom, right? We went ahead and neutered him since we had a lot of available ladies, and sat back to wait.
The neuter was unremarkable and he healed with no problem.
This week (4 weeks after the neuter), while preparing for his pending adoption, I did his weekly weighing and noticed that he’d dropped 4 oz. I was concerned, but not too concerned. He was a huge pig. I felt like having pigs around him (he was sharing a grid wall with my herd) was probably making him more active, but I still gave him a once over looking for anything out of the ordinary, and I found a lump above his penis.
I swore, and figured he had an abscess (even though it didn’t feel like one) and took him in yesterday to have it drained. I got a call at work from our vet who had him open on the table. The lump was just the bottom end of an enormous (presumed) abdominal tumor, bigger than a golf ball, that was extremely invasive, and had even wrapped partially around his penis. He hadn’t cut it yet, because he wanted to talk to me beforehand.
I told them to try and remove it if at all possible (and to check and make sure it wasn’t some bizarre abscess) but that if he felt he couldn’t, not to wake him up.
I got a call about an hour and a half later. The tumor (it was definitely a tumor) was too big. It had multiple blood supplies going to it, and he couldn’t get it disentangled from his penis. He said that even on the highest gas he was using, Harley was still flinching to him trying to remove it while sedated. After trying as gently and persistently as possible, Harley started to visibly struggle with the anesthesia, and we made the decision to let him go.
He was kind enough to snap some photos with his phone during the surgery as well, and I’m linking to them (as they’re pretty graphic) just to give an idea of how huge this thing was:
(For orientation purposes, the penis is on the left in both pictures)
Initially, we thought that somehow the neuter had triggered the growth somehow, but when we started going back over his symptoms, I think he probably had at least the beginnings of the tumor when we got him.
Now we believe the following behaviors to have been subtle symptoms associated with the tumor:
- the bald spot. It was directly over his spine, and lined up perfectly with the tumor. We guess that he was having pain issues with it, and would chew there trying to get at it (much like neuter pigs will sometimes chew their legs). Once he got to the skin, it probably hurt more to chew than the tumor did (or perhaps the tumor pain came and went). If picked up and turned upside down, he would also sometimes chew his front paw, but so many pigs hate it that I didn’t pay attention to it until afterward.
- distinct dislike of being touched on the rump. Harley actually liked being petted, and would run up to the front of the cage with no fear to have his head scratched, but if I tried to pet his back or sides, he would try to bite. Again, enough pigs did this that I didn’t think it hugely out of the ordinary.
Since he’d been chewing at the site for several months (according to his mama), we believe him now to have developed the tumor sometime in 2008.
So if you have a pig with a bald spot like this, who is otherwise healthy, and mites, fungal, etc, have all been ruled out, it may be worth pursuing an x-ray, if only for peace of mind. I wish now that we had caught Harley’s problem earlier, so that we could have given him pain medication at least, and made his life a little easier. But he was such a happy go lucky pig. Always had his head in the hayrack, eating like a horse, and otherwise healthy.
Goodbye Harley, you were a good pig.
Gabriella, a big chocolate abyssinian sow that we rescued from the local shelter a few scant weeks ago, already obviously pregnant, has graced us with five babies! She was dumped off by her previous owner with a litter already suckling! The shelter has a strict policy of not adopting out pregnant animals, so they called us. Gabby’s first litter had already been adopted by the time we got there for Gabby, so we took her and said a little prayer — back to back pregnancies are tough on piggies! Poor Gabby was so huge she couldn’t even go through the pigloo door. As each day passed, she got bigger and bigger and we began taking bets that she might actually physically explode!
Finally, on May 28, 2009, she gave birth to a total of seven babies, although two were stillborn. That left us with a prodigious litter of five, four little girls, and one little boy. Without further adieu, bring on the cute!
Andrea, their foster mom, writes of them with particular fondness, and loves telling us all about their differences! Nina, the firstborn, she says, is the first to do everything! “She was the first one to eat pellets, the first one to use the pigloo, and the first one to try to use the water bottle (which ended up with her soaking herself while looking aggravated!)”.
Ah, but Bia was the first one to learn the ancient piggie art of sleeping on food so nobody else can eat it!
A few days late since I have been out of town, it’s time for another month of Sponsor a Guinea Pig! This month’s piggy is “Bunny” from our friends at the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue!
From the Rescue:
Poor Bunny had so little contact with humans at the start of her life that she was terrified of people and was nearly euthanized by the shelter for being too feral. No one thought to pick her up and give her any love or attention when she was a baby. When she came into the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue’s care, she was so scared that she would sit trembling in her igloo whenever anyone came near her cage. Her foster mom did her very best to help Bunny get more comfortable. In the meantime, the rescue sought a very special home for her (someone with a LOT of patience), but no one stepped forward. After several months, the foster home took in another scared piggy and cautiously introduced her to Bunny. It took days for the introduction because Bunny was too frightened to leave her corner to meet the other pig. Eventually, though, they did meet and now they hide from the scary humans together. So now Bunny has a friend.
After years of being up for adoption with no interest, Bunny is now a permanent part of the WIGPR sanctuary. She is still scared of all strangers but will now tentatively allow her foster mom to touch her on the head for a little scratch every now and then and will even sometimes beg for treats. She will remain in our sanctuary for her lifetime.
Will you help us to provide for Bunny? Our goal is to raise enough money to support her for 10 months in the rescue (pellets, hay, daily fresh veggies and one vet “well-piggy” check-up). At $25 a month for upkeep and $35 for the vet visit, that puts our goal at $285. Bunny had no love in the beginning, so we want to make up for it in her lifetime. Although the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue is a small rescue, we believe in seeing that ALL our rescues live a full life, even if they don’t find a forever home.
Visit SAGP or WIGPR to sponsor Bunny!