…can save your guinea pig’s life. How often do you just stand and watch what your guineas are doing? Knowing your guineas well can sometimes mean the difference between life and death for them. When guineas get sick, they often go downhill very quickly They are prey animals and very good at hiding illness, so you often only have a small window of opportunity to get them to the Vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Daily observation is particularly important where there are larger groups of guineas living together. If you have 6 guineas together (for example), would you know which one was passing blood or not eating properly?
Regular handling and weighing also helps you to get to know your guinea. Here are some of the things to watch out for:
- are there any lumps or bumps that shouldn’t be there?
- is their hair and skin clean, or is it looking greasy / scurfy, or falling out in clumps?
- are they scratching a lot and causing sores?
- are their eyes and nose clean and clear with no discharge / crustiness / cloudiness?
- do they move normally without any signs of pain / limping / head tilt?
- is their breathing normal / wheezy / laboured?
- are they bright, inquisitive and eager to interact with you?
- are their feet and nails in good condition (no long nails, foot scabs or swelling)?
- is there any sign of blood in the cage?
- are their poops normal (size and quantity)?
- are they hunched up, hair puffed up, sitting in the corner looking miserable, or feeling cold?
- is their chin wet, or does their mouth have sores around it?
- are they eating and drinking well?
- are they gaining / losing weight? Guineas can lose weight incredibly quickly, but with daily handling and regular weighing, this should soon be spotted before it becomes a major problem.
Simply spend a few minutes each day watching your guineas and get to know what is “normal” for each one. This can help you to spot when they are showing even minor signs of illness. If this happens, please take your guinea to the Vet for prompt diagnosis and treatment.