So, not every story has a happy ending. With all the safe deliveries and happy endings I have had with my pregnant foster guinea pigs, there have been plenty of sad ones. Berry lost two babies, Gizmos boy I had to hand rear died. Biscuit miscarried a litter, Hettie died having her and we lost all of them. Along with a number of other little ones who were all lost to an illness caused simply by the filthy conditions they had been born into.
Squirtle gave birth at 2/15 last Sunday morning. Her two little boys were big, but not right. One was having a great deal of difficulty breathing, and they both had twisted front feet. At first I gave their feet the benefit of the doubt. I have had some pups born with a crooked paw or two from where they got squashed up in the womb, however the thought did pass my mind that it was odd for their feet to be exactly the same on both baby. Legs tucked to the body and paws turned inwards at the wrist so that they had to commando crawl. I arranged to drop them off at our rescues large center that morning as they had veterinary cover where as the one I work did not.
They were seen by the vet that afternoon where they were not to concerned about the breathing but about the twisted legs. The babies were to be given 3 days in which to see if their legs improved. Guinea pigs are born “ready to go” and in some cases will be eating solid food in a day. All can walk and usually run by the time they have dried off. Its the price of being a prey animal, so for one not to be able to walk there are going to be issues.
Unfortunately, Squirtles babies went downhill very rapidly, and despite an experienced helping hand they began to fade by Monday afternoon. I suspect that they were struggling to get themselves into the correct positions to feed considering that their leg formation had not improved at all, and they seemed to have no desire to eat what they were offered had-rear wise. There is every possibility that they had internal, or digestive deformities also.
Tuesday morning they were helped over the bridge and two very tired, weak babies went into their forever sleep.
Working in animal rescue (or any caring profession) ends up draining you. The empathy is always there but gets smothered by resentment (you always end up expecting the worst of situations and people) and anger. Anger because it is highly likely that her previous litter were also deformed or very short lived due to a genetic issue with the pairing. We thing that Squirtle and her mate are brother and sister. Animal rescuers get labeled a lot as being preachy, and I try very hard not to be. No one likes having things stuffed down their throats. But there is a reason we are, every day we have to bare whiteness to our fellow man’s complete lack of care, empathy and intelligence.
And her owner had known. But rather than being a responsible human, and abiding to what is a legal requirement when owning an animal in the uk, they chose to ignore it. They chose not to warn she would be pregnant when they left them at the rescue. They chose not to give us any history on them at all, except come up with a different excuse as to why they were being re-homed each time they were asked by a different person. Because of that decision Squirtle had to endure what was for a Guinea-pig a long and painful labor. The position of the babies front legs would have made it hard for them to come out as they would have caught on exit, and I have never heard a Guinea-pig scream the way she did when littering down. She was left bleeding excessively for longer than usual. Her babies, that did not have to exist suffered for two days.
Silver lining always though, little Squirtle will now hopefully become part of a resident herd of Guinea-pigs and become a permanent rescue Piggy and live the high life.