Q: What should I look out for when adopting?
I am adopting three sows, who at age three, are in a small cage and only ever come out when they are being cleaned. The owner told me they eat shop brand pellet food, and have never been to the vets! I haven’t seen them yet but wanted a bit of advice on what I should be looking for, e.g. claws, teeth, eyes? And, is there anything else I need to check? I can’t wait to get them here, where they will have plenty of space in the new cage and a large enclosed run in the garden.
A: Catherine Alliss
When you first see the guinea pigs, give them a quick check over going from nose to tail. The things I would look for in a healthy guinea pig are:
+ The nose should be clean and dry, with no discharge.
+ The lips should be clean and dry with no scabbing or sores.
+ The front teeth should be straight and evenly worn, and the mouth should be able to fully close; the mouth should not have a bad smell.
+ The chin should be clean and dry with no evidence of saliva or food debris.
+ The eyes should be bright and clear, with no discharge
. + The ears should be clean and dry, again with no discharge.
+ The fur should look healthy, with no thinning or balding patches, and should feel clean and not greasy.
+ There should be no lumps or bumps anywhere on the body.
+ The feet should not be red or swollen, nails should be relatively short and clean.
+ The genital area should be clean and dry, with no crustiness or discharge.
+ The area around the grease gland should not have too much buildup of grease.
Once you have them home and settled into their new environment, I recommend taking them to your vet for a full health check.