Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Day 29: Thank you to Cavy Cozies

You may remember that a very kind reader of the blog sent us some cosies for our piggies? Well today I received the photos of the gang enjoying them! Big thank you to Pollie at Cavy Cozies for making them :-)

Petina's baby posing

Brad Pigg in his very stylish 'duck egg' coloured cosy!

Gertie's baby sleeping

Ralph piggy investigating!

Tomorrow I'm going to officially launch a competition to name our 4 guinea pig babies - get your thinking caps on!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Day 28: Hay, hay, everywhere!

Today I came into work and someone said 'What's that in your hair?' In a panic I started furiously patting my head to find a massive strand of hay in there. Now that might be embarassing to anyone else but to me (and I presume other avid small animal lovers) I'm used to it. I find hay EVERYWHERE. In my hair, car, flat, shoes, washing and it even gets into brand new items before I even get to use them!

Hay is messy and annoying but at the same time you have to embrace it as it's so vital to good rabbit & guinea pig care. A piggy and rabbits diet should be 80-90% hay based - it should be unlimited and coming out of your ears. This is certainly the case in my flat.

Hay is a super food - crucial for digestion & good dental health. It's the most important thing in their diet. People often focus on vegetables, what different kinds they can eat, how often they can eat it and so on. In reality making sure your rabbit/piggy eats hay is the most important thing. Of course rabbits and piggies need veg (guinea pigs can't make their own Vitamin C so it's very important for them) but researching if they can eat a mango isn't very important in the grand scheme of things!

It's a similar story with dried food. People are fixated on filling up the bowl every morning and evening with the stuff seeing it as the main part of their diet. In reality pigs/rabbits often gorge on this high sugar diet and then don't eat the hay and veg they should leading, predictably to dental issues later in life.

Normal rabbit teeth

Rabbit with severe dental problems

Hay is a bit of a mindfield. I buy a hay from a farm but you can get allsorts of varying prices. Meadow Hay, Botantical Hay, Green Oat Hay, Wheat & Barley hay, the list goes on.... If you want to splash the cash have a looky at what you can buy online. If you have lots of small mouths to feed like me, maybe stick to the bale! No hay is bad hay (alfalfa is high in calcium so only suitable as a treat for adult pigs.)

You can get hay in cake stylee too for the fussy eater...

So message of the day, step away from the dried food, don't worry that your pet doesn't eat a myriad of veg and fruit - pile on that hay & stick to a few veggie staples!

Here's some Mouse pictures too for you.....

Monday, 27 February 2012

Day 27: Adopting from us!

So now Mouse is officially the last of the 3 pigs rescued from the Booth's Garden Centre fire to give birth. Petina had 2 lovely babies a couple of weeks ago, Gertie had her 2 last weekend. By the looks of things we are in for yet more ginger babies, but maybe not. Piggy baby colours can be quite varied!

We've had a few people emailing in regards to adopting some piggies from us so if you are interested in rehoming some of our piggies this is what you need to do!

1. Have a nosey on our website at our Guinea Pig Adoption Policy & care guides. This will tell you exactly what kind of homes we are looking for, housing size, diet etc.

2. Contact us on rspcamcr_salford@btconnect or 0161 882 0680 if you see anyone you like on the website or are interested in any of the babies mentioned in this blog. So far we have neutered males Ralph & Brad (to be rehomed with a female or females) Petina & female baby, 1 male baby and Gertie 2 unsexed babies.

3. If we have the right piggy for you and your happy then we will send you the details to come and meet them/ or if you would like to adopt a baby piggy or two we will keep hold of your details until they are old enough to be put up for adoption.

4. After viewing the piggies you can place a reserve - then we will organise a home visit (probably done by myself!) to have a good chat through everything.

So get in touch - we are a friendly bunch! :-)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Day 25 & 26: More births!

Today I woke up to splendid news, Gertie the guinea pig had given birth. Here are her babies!

There's definitely a theme with ginger babies with these piggies - thanks Brad! Our branch manager Susie popped round my flat to drop off an emergency bale of hay and some veggies (thank you Susie!) because my greedy lot have been extra greedy this week. Mouse even ate some kale for Susie - how rude, she never does for me!

I also received pictures of the baby bunnies - they are massive now and it won't be long before they will be ready for adoption too!

Petina's babies are growing fast...

And in other news I received my Liverpool Half Marathon race info!
So if you haven't already please consider sponsoring me - all money raised is going to the piggies & rabbits I talk about on this blog. You can see my Just Giving Page here.

Thank you!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Day 24: Fostering Part 2

In the last few days Mouse has most definitely slowed down and spends most of her time lying down now. I really hope this is nearly it!
But for now here's Part 2 of my potted history of fostering.....

4. Dante & Caesar
Dante and Caesar were from a huge rescue in the North East of England. In total the RSPCA inspectors rescued 433 rabbits and guinea pigs from a home where they were being bred for pet shops but the situation had got completely out of hand. There were many problems with these animals, obesity from being stuck in tiny hutches, bred constantly, skin problems, mites, the list goes on.

Dante and Caesar were a skinny pair of boars that we took in (I think we took about 20 animals in total, other branches took the rest). They were terrified from a lack of human interaction and had been fed on dried food all their lives.

When them came into foster they took a while to settle but eventually put on weight, learned to eat hay again and generally got used to humans. Sadly, Dante died in our care after suffering a seizure – he passed away on the way to the vets. However, Caesar found a wonderful home with lots of other piggies. We recently heard the sad news that he passed away at the end of last year. At least they experienced a life worth living in our care however short it was.

5. Moneypenny + babies
Moneypenny wasn’t strictly a foster pig. I adopted her from an RSPCA inspector who had removed her from a home with lots of piggies breeding out of control (do you see a theme here?!). I wanted a female piggy for my existing group. When I went to pick her up it turns out she’d been with another male pig so pregnancy was pretty inevitable.

1 month later we had 3 baby pigs! 1 girl and 2 boys. Honey ended up staying with her mum and the 2 boys were rehomed to a friend of mine. They are called China and Murakami (they are massive now!).

Turns out Moneypenny is the most anti-social piggy I’ve ever met so she couldn’t join the big group. But she’s very happy with her daughter and hopefully will except neutered male Rodney very soon….

6. Spike & Neville

Spike and Neville were from the same huge rescue that Dante & Caesar came from. They were living with a rabbit (which obviously is completely inappropriate for health and safety reasons). They had long white hair that was more yellow and knotted when they were rescued. They were also thin, badly fed and generally freaked out piggies.

They came round quicker than Caesar & Dante though – Spike was a bit of a biter, nipping your fingers when he had had enough! This pair had a nasty upper respiratory infection that took months to get under control with antibiotics. They had wheezy breathing and discharge from their nose. All the result of their bad living conditions, diet etc. After months of treatment we came to the conclusion that it may be something that never would totally be eradicated.

Amazingly, despite this they found a wonderful home together as house piggies (they couldn’t live outdoors as this would aggravate their condition). Their new owner was very understanding about their health problems and the possibility that it may reoccur in the future. These are the kind of adopters we love the most!

And that's it so far except for Mousey!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 23: Fostering Part 1

Our branch doesn't have an animal centre (it would cost about £1 million to build if anyone's up for it?!) so instead we use 3 private boarders for our dogs, cats, rabbits & piggies. They care for our animals on a daily basis and are wonderful. Obviously, it costs us but the care they receive is top-notch.

But sometimes we have animals that are sick, timid or just need a little extra TLC that a boarding environment can't provide. Enter our brilliant small network of foster carers. We have fosterers that care for
cats, kittens (all kittens under 5/6 months are kept in foster care with another cat) and puppies or dogs that can't cope in the kennel environment (although we desperately need more dog fosterers).

Piggies and rabbits being rather specialist and tricky to care for properly are fostered by myself, our branch manager Susie and another branch trustee. We don't have many that need fostering because the care they receive in boarding in wonderful but sometimes we are called upon. Hence why I have Mouse and Susie has a poorly rabbit called Samantha at the moment.

I've been thinking today about the animals I've fostered so here's a little potted history, Part 1...

1. Agatha
Agatha (named after Agatha Christie) was rescued a few streets away from where I live. A member of our staff was walking her dog and found a stray rabbit on a big main road in rush hour. We all met up and tried to catch this rabbit. Then it ran into a garden which turned out to be it's 'home'.

To our horror lots of rabbits (around 5 I recall) were running loose and not properly cared for. We ended up catching them all and taking them into our care as the owner admitted they couldn't cope and had let breeding get out of control. Agatha came off the worst and was covered in bites from the other unneutered rabbits fighting.

Luckily none of the wounds were infected and with some vet treatment and a proper diet she soon came round. She was such a live wire - keeping her in her cage whilst she was recovering from her spay was very fun! She did the most amazing binkies and hated being confined. Agatha found a lovely new home as a house rabbit and now well and truly rules the roost!

I always remember her rescue because of the response I got from a member of public when we were trying to catch these rabbits near a main road. He said 'Why are you taking them? They love running around!' - as if we were the cruel ones! Honestly.

2. Choc & Chip
I know this one is going to get some squeals because Choc & Chip's owner read this blog! These boys were rescued by an RSPCA Inspector. A dog walker had found them in a plastic box with a rabbit, abandoned in a wood in the middle of nowhere. They could have frozen, starved, attacked eachother or been eaten! Thankfully, we had space and took them in.

They were very skinny when they came in and had bad teeth from a presumed diet of mostly dried food
(there was some in the plastic box they were found in). When piggies (and rabbits, chinchillas) don't eat a large amount of fibre ie. hay their teeth start to grow abnormally. Luckily we had caught these 2 just in time. Within a couple of weeks of 80% hay, 20% veg diet their teeth had righted themselves. They soon put on weight and really came out of themselves.

It was a good few months before they found a home (boar pairs always take AGES to rehome). They are now very happy and much loved house piggies.

3. Tasha
 Tasha's story was very upsetting for us rabbit lovers. She was abandoned in a tiny hutch when her owners moved house, they just left her to starve. Luckily, one of our volunteers lived nearby and rescued her. Due to a diet of purely dried food it took us months and months to get her teeth right. She had to have a couple of dentals as well being weaned off dried food completely. It took a while but we got there in the end! If she had been left her teeth would have grow into 'spurs' and eventually she would have stopped eating and gone into stasis (fancy term for when the 'guts' stop working which is often fatal).

She lived in my bathroom for a few days because it was easier to get her back and forth to the vets! She loved being fussed and was such a pretty little girl.

Tasha now lives as a house rabbit and has totally forgotten her life outdoors, alone in a pokey hutch.

Check out the blog tomorrow for Part 2......

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Day 22: Chilled out

Every morning I wake up excited that little baby pigs will be sat waiting for me. Every morning I walk in, lift Mouse's blanket (she likes to sleep under a blanket in her cage) and there's nothing but a chilled out, chunky pig looking back at me!

What's going on Mouse?! The babies are kicking away, I can feel feet and heads but still they make us wait. Sigh! It must be rather uncomfy.

I received more photos of the RSPCA Derby branch's piggies today - piggy pile on! Mum Delilah & 2 girl babies are doing very well and called Karen and Leanne.

I do have some other good news, we have had some interest in Ralph the neutered male piggy. Hopefully someone will be going to see him very soon. We've also had people interested in our baby pigs so if you are considering it too please get in touch

You can read our guinea pig adoption policy and other care leaflets on our website.

I'm off for a run so I'll be ready for this darn Half Marathon!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day 20 & 21: The Wait

Sorry, sorry, sorry I've done it again and cheated by bringing together 2 blog posts but in all honesty it's been very quiet at piggy HQ. We have no babies, everyone is behaving themselves, no drama.

Mouse is driving me and my partner bonkers with suspense as well as her constant wheeking (or shrieking) for food. She comes right up to the front of her cage now, cheeky madam! Who ever ends up adopting her will have a right little character on their hands!

I do have some cute pictures for you though, here are Petina's babies (keep those names coming in on our Facebook page - my favourite so far being Parsnip!) 3 days old...

.... and here are the baby bunnies at 3 weeks old, can't quite believe how quickly they have grown since rescued from the fire on the 28th of January as newborns!



That's it for today - over and out! 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Day 19: Let's hear it for the boars!

Ralph (top) & Brad Pigg (bottom)

When we took in Mouse and the other piggies and rabbits from the Royton fire I made a pact with our branch manager Susie. I said I'd make it my personal mission to rehome all the guinea pigs and raise money towards their care. Annoyingly, she hasn't forgotten. So I need as much help as possible from my fellow small animal lovers!

I've already banged on about the Liverpool Half Marathon I'm doing to raise money for them and you can still donate via Just Giving....

It's going very well so far, the piggies have £123 but my dream target is £500 so please share with friends!

Another way you can help is by sharing info on the guinea pigs as they come up for adoption.

We already have the lovely sheltie Ralph and Brad Pigg (see above) the neutered males. They need to be rehomed separately with a female or group of females. Adding a neutered male to some lady pigs creates a wonderful dynamic in a herd. It often stops bickering between the girls and generally balances everything out (this is how their closest cousins live in the wild). I'll be writing a blog post all about this very soon if you still aren't convinced.....

From L-R Mr Quin (neutered male), Hebe, Hera, Pandora, Attica - my gang!

We will of course have 3 young female adult piggies (they are roughly 4/5 months at the moment) Mouse, Petina & Gertie up for adoption in the next couple of months after they have given birth and weaned their babies. Obviously, we have no idea what gender the babies will be but keep us in mind if you are thinking of getting some new additions to your family or know someone that is. Pretty please remember we don't rehome animals as children's pets, an adult must be the primary carer.

There's great benefits to adopting from our branch. Not only do we offer a bespoke home visit tailored to each piggy but we offer support and advice for the entire life of the animal. All our pigs (and bunnies) are checked by an exotic specialist vet too. We can also provide a bonding service (subject to availability).

We rehome up to 1 1/2 hours from Stockport to reduce the stress of travel on the pigs so please do get in touch if you would like to rehome any future arrivals! Our email is

Thank you to all that have donated and supported the piggies so far - you really are stars!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Day 18: Surprise!

Sorry I've gone and done it again and got your hopes up, I have some little suprises but they aren't from Mouse. She's currently sat chomping on her tea, whilst lying on her side for maximum comfort. The suprises are from her probable sister Petina - look what we found this morning....

Two baby pigs! Not sure of sexes just yet but will keep you posted. They are very big and well developed for less than a day old - quite impressive! We are going to need ideas for names for these 2 as well as future arrivals so why not post your suggestions on our Facebook page?

Surely means Mouse is literally due any moment?!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Day 17: Sponsor me!

Today I'm being very cheeky so I apologise straight away. Last year I started running. I'd never run before in my life but decided that I'd do the Manchester 10K for our branch. At first I nearly died, hurt my knee (due to incorrect trainers!) and wanted to quit. But after a while I started to enjoy it, completed 3 10Ks and now a year later I'm asking for your help to sponsor me to complete the Liverpool Half Marathon. I must be mad.

I've decided that I'm going to raise money specifically for Mouse and all the other guinea pigs and rabbits in our care that were rescued from the Booth's Garden Centre fire. We need a serious amount of cash to pay for their vet treatment, neutering, vaccinating, chipping and boarding. Here's the break down:

Guinea pig neuter (we need 2) = £40 each
Rabbit neuter (we need 3) = £60 each
Rabbit spay (we need 2) = £70 each
Vet health check (for all 10) = £25 each
VHD Vaccination for rabbits (we need 5) = £25
Myxi Vaccination for rabbits (we need 5) = £20
Boarding (for all 10) = £2 per day, per animal

TOTAL: £875 not including boarding

So yes I'm being cheeky and asking you to sponsor me for whatever amount you can. You can do it very quickly and safely via the Just Giving site

Miss Mouse is obviously fully behind the cause seen as though it includes her. With the amount of food she's eating we might need £875 quid just for that! She's so brave now coming out wheeking for food. She puts her little feet on the food bowl ready. She really is a very pretty thing now I can see her and she's not hiding away. This sponsor money will pay for her infected ear treatment, health checking of the babies and if she gives birth to a single boy any neutering needed.

Thank you fellow piggy & rabbit enthusiasts!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Day 16: Derby RSPCA

Yesterday whilst I was working on the branch's Twitter page I came across a 'tweet' from a fellow RSPCA branch about piggies (each RSPCA branch is an independant charity). Obviously, I had to investigate further and discovered that Derby Branch had a pregnant pig too! However, unlike slow-coach Mouse within a couple of hours of enquiring about her I was told she had given birth, I asked for pictures and look what I got...

This is beautiful girl Delilah and her 2 babies at just a few hours old. Delilah came into the Derby branch's care with another piggy Samson (obviously!) with a typical and frequently heard story. Their owners didn't want them, gave them to someone else who didn't want them and then ended up in RSPCA care. This is dad Samson - he's a gorgeous agouti and ginger lad....

I often wonder why people keep unneutered animals together if they aren't interested in the animal to begin with because it's only going to exacerbate the problem when they start breeding. It's the same with cats, dogs, rabbits etc. Some people have very random misconceptions about animal reproduction too. I've had people tell me siblings won't breed. I've had people totally confused why they have pregnant animals because they 'only let them play together for a minute'. I've had people insist they had 2 female rabbits because 'they had long hair and look like girls'. Bonkers.

Granted sexing small animals can be tricky but don't risk it, get to a savvy vet and get it checked. Don't let unneutered animals of the opposite sex 'play' together even for a second. It's simple really. Neutering is so routine now, and with so many charities providing reduced or even free neutering there's really no excuse. It's just part and parcel of responsible pet ownership.

I really wish that I could articulate the massive overpopulation and consequent suffering iresponsible breeding causes. But thankfully Samson, Delilah and yet to be named babies are in safe hands.

Sorry to disapoint anyone thinking they were Mouse's babies - the wait continues....

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Day 15: Farm shop

A couple of times a month I drive for 35 minutes to the country to get goodies for the animals from a fab farm shop. I remember when I first had small animals that I would religiously go to the local pet shop and get a tiny bag of pre-packed hay, a massive bag of museli style dried food (which was the main bit of their diet), sawdust and a few honey coated treats and proudly bring them back home thinking I was a wonderful pet owner. Fast forward 10 years and I now cringe thinking about the things I used to buy for my piggies.
The pre-packed hay was old and dusty, the museli food encouraged selective feeding and bad dental health, sawdust irritated feet and caused sneezing and the honey coated 'treats' well - just not part of a proper guinea pig diet. But because it was being sold in a pet shop I presumed it was suitable. These days I buy all my supplies either at the farm shop or online. I don't agree with selling animals in pet shops for obvious reasons (although I used to love going in and looking at the animals when I was younger so I see the appeal...) so online shopping is ideal. It's quite sad that no local pet shops don't sell animals or I'd use them!  

Farm shops are a god send for piggy people and especially if you have quite a few of the furry sods to feed! I get a bale of hay (imagine filling a large boot of a car) which costs £5 and that lasts me about a month. That's with daily refilling and litter tray changing of 10 small critters. Hay being such a crucial part of guinea pigs and rabbits' diet they should have an unlimited supply so small, vaccum packed hay from a shop isn't economically viable for me. It's also not as fresh and 'stalky' as bales of hay. You can great lovely quality hay online and in some pet shops but it's usually very pricey. It's funny, if I run out and can't get to the farm shop and buy the vaccum packed stuff they refuse to eat it. The quality clearly speaks for itself!

Farm shops often also sell local produce so you can get all your greens and veggies too. A large sack of fresh kale costs about £2 as opposed to supermarket prices of around £1.50 for a little bag pre-cut. You can also get bedding from some places. The one I use is quite 'horsey' so you can get a bag of Megazorb (horse bedding but great for small animals, non-dusty) for £6. If I buy online it costs £5 just to post it (far enough it's a massive sack!). Either way, it still works out cheaper (and works better) than wood shavings. Sawdust is not a good idea for pigs as they have sensitive respiratory systems (the dust gets up their nose and in their eyes, shavings are larger pieces so better for them but can still irritate some piggies feet). So if you have a car or live close to a farm shop get down there and bag yourself a bargain!
If I could go back and tell myself one thing about caring for piggies it would be to be savvy, go to a farm shop and don't presume because a pet shop sell something that it's suitable. Or if something isn't specifically marketed for small animals it's not suitable. Shop around. Plastic cat litter trays, certain cat/dog toys, horse bedding, puppy pens etc can all be turned into perfect things for them.

Oh and they are herbivores (I think of them as vegan!) not omnivores - step away from the honey-coated/dairy-filled treats!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 14: The Others

Today I received some updates on the other guinea pigs in our branch's care that were rescued from the Booth's Garden Centre fire (see Day 1 for details). Twice a week a member of staff pops down and health checks all our rabbits and guinea pigs (this is not including the many vet trips every week!). We don't have an animal centre and use a private boarder instead. They really are a life saver for us, they feed and clean out the animals, give medicines if needed and ring us most days with updates. They also show potential adopters around and provide a bonding service for lonely pigs and bunnies.

At the moment we have around 30 small animals in our care so our private boarder is busier than ever! They are also fostering 2 German Sheppard puppies for us - that's dedication to the cause! This is Elsa...

The other guinea pigs rescued are females Petina & Gertie. They are both heavily pregnant like our Mouse, Petina is particularly big. They are all the same age and more than likely related. Here they are (apologies, they do look rather unladylike!) ...



Petina has a scabby nose which we are presuming is from scrapping with the other guineas she was being kept with. Petina & Gertie have been separated (them, Mouse and Brad were all together) and everyone is looking much healthier. We hope that each will give birth to a girl (or two!) and then they can be paired up for life. Brad has been neutered and in 5 weeks will be ready to be bonded with another female. If you have a female, pair or group of ladies why not consider adopting a neutered boar? Boars often have a great influence on the ladies, making them bicker less and generally encouraging better comraderie in a group.

Males tend to get left 'on the shelf' in rescues because you can only keep 2 males together, away from females so they don't fight. Males are more prone to falling out with eachother, especially during puberty. Although, I've had some very sweet male pairings too. It works best if they are brothers, together since birth. Females on the other hand can be kept in large groups, 3s, pairs etc and are more flexible in that sense. But gosh, they really do get moody with each other, especially when they come into season!

I've also had updates on the baby bunnies from the same rescue. We originally had 4 but sadly 1 died. Look how they have grown!
                                                   From this....
                                                                           To this!

On that note, where are those babies Mouse?!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Day 13: Claws

Well I'm afraid to say that Mouse is most definitely turning into a diva pig. She's just as loud as the rest of the gang now and is pretty brave when food is involved standing on her bowl waiting! I got her out today to have a quick look at her infected ear (which can't be treated with antibiotics until babies are born). It actually looks better on the outside but that doesn't really mean anything because it's probably still pretty manky on the inside!

Here's some pictures of her today with her massive belly:

I also gave her a quick pedicure to keep her comfy.

Claw clipping is an often stressful and dull affair for small animal owners. The animal hates it, you hate doing it because you're scared of making them bleed - not good times. However, it's a necessary evil as those pesky claws grow very quick and can get very uncomfortable. Having all my animals indoors means they don't have an abrasive surface to wear down on so it's a more regular affair than someone who keeps them outdoors with the opportunity to run around. I suppose it's just like dogs, if you walk your dog everyday then the claws wear themselves.

Anyway, so seen as though I sorted out Mouse I had to bite the bullet and do the rest. One piggy (Attica) had escaped last months trimming so her's were fairly long. Here's a before and after pictures..



It's a good idea to try and clip claws at an upward angle so the claws are nicely resting on the ground. It's more comfortable for them when they grow. You can use special small animal clippers, just don't cut too close to the blood supply or the 'quick' or they will bleed. You can see the 'quick' in pigs with pale coloured nails like Attica above (you can see the pink bit to avoid) but it's tricker with black nails. If you cut too close your pig will let you know (wheeking or nipping!) and it may start bleeding - don't panic, just apply pressure and it should stop.

There's a great guide to pig feet and claws here. Check out the Polydactyly photos, I only have had a pig with this once - it's very odd!

Remember if you aren't confident doing claw clipping pop to your vet, they usually have a nurse who will do it for you (or show you how) and save you the worry!

Mouse has very sharp, almost cat like claws because she is young. It's a good way to tell how old your piggy is. Thicker, more brittle claws are signs of an older guinea. Again see website above for more info.

I'm off to the supermarket to stock up on veggies - I'm literally being eaten out of house and home!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day 12: Bonding

What a day. I've been busy introducing my neutered male pig Rodney to his future lady friends Moneypenny & Honey.

Moneypenny & Honey were rescued from the Rochdale area. Lots of pigs had been left to breed and the situation had got completely out of hand. The RSPCA inspectors came in and removed them all. I adopted Moneypenny directly from an inspector (she was keeping them at her home until she could find rescue spaces for them all). I was told she 'might' be pregnant. As soon as I heard the situation they were rescued from I knew she would definitely be pregnant, low and behold 2 weeks later 3 little piglets were born. Honey was one and I kept her with her mum, rehoming her brothers to a good friend of mine.

I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of seeing 'freshly born' piglets but they are ridiculously cute. Fully formed, with hair and eyes open but tiny and very squashed looking. Here's a few pictures of Moneypenny's babies that were born last year...

They were only a week or so I think at this point. They have massive elephant ears! You can get such myriads of colour with piggy youngsters - can't wait to see what Mouse has in store for us! I'm secretly hoping there's a grey one lurking - they are beautiful.

Anyway, back to bonding. Rodney had his neuter op done 4 weeks ago so he can't be introduced until he's 6 weeks post neuter (they can remain fertile until then). So to get everyone used to the idea I've been putting them side by side once a week. This 'slow bonding' isn't always needed with piggies. In a neutral territory with the right pairing or grouping they tend to work it out for themselves.

Rabbits are far worse and you have to slow bond them ie. have them living side by side for a good few weeks before intros on a neutral ground. Most rabbits will just fight if introduced straight away - hence why 'Speed dating'  rabbits is a very bad idea. Piggies on the other hand are usually easier to bond because they aren't as territorial. I'm just a bit wary because I did try and introduce Moneypenny to my larger herd and I had to intervene before she took a chunk of top pig Hera! We left them living side by side for a good month but it wasn't meant to be. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat.

I'm hoping that with a nice, submissive male it will be different and that they can be happy together. When putting together pigs you have several options, 2 males/any amount of females/1 neutered male and as many females as you like. Introducing males is tough and I would always neuter and pair with a female rather than putting with another male (unless they were brothers together since birth). It just works better in my experience. More than 2 males together rarely works without oodles of space.

Here's a little video of bonding this evening. Rodney is very happy as you can see (he's the single pig on the left):

Mouse is still being brave (she's got a right pair of lungs on her) but refusing to eat anything but carrots and dried food - it's very frustrating! I really do think it's going to be anyday now....

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Day 10 & 11: Break

Today I'm doing a cheeky little bit of amalgamation of two days. I promised to write the blog yesterday, but when you get the chance to have a day off in this business, you've got to take it just to save your sanity!

I have spent a couple of days with my parents. They don't have anything smaller than a cat so I've spent two days dog-walking, brushing, feeding and general fussing. Here's a gratuitious pic of Poppy, the rescue Labrador (adopted from North West Labrador Rescue):

People often don't realise that if you are looking for a particular breed of dog to adopt, there are loads of breed specific rescues across the UK, from Springer Spaniels to Great Danes.

Our branch takes in rescued dogs from inspectors, so we never know what breed we are going to get next. On the rabbit and guinea pig side of things its an entirely different ball game in the sense that people often presume we don't even deal with small animals at all, just focusing on dogs and cats. Which of course isn't true - we have nearly 30 at the moment, due to our passion for everything rabbit and guinea pig related. We aren't very good at saying 'no' to inspectors, even when we are over capacity!

This passion is the reason why Mouse is with me at the moment, and the reason why my work tends to come home with me so often. While I was away, my partner kept me abreast of any updates. He reports that having a weekend lie-in was not an option. Mouse has quickly learnt that the whole gang start to get active at the time when we usually get up for work during the week. So at 7am, they all started to get a bit vocal and Dave had to drag himself up. He checked for babies and........

...there were none, but its nice to know he's checking. The wait continues....