FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL ENQUIRIES

Where are you based?

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 1PF, UK. We are around 20 minutes from the cities of Cambridge and Peterborough, and around 40 minutes from Ely and Northampton. We are also within a hour of Bedford, Milton Keynes and Leicester – to name a few areas clients often come from.

Do you board rabbits/gerbils/hamsters?

No, sorry. Guinea pigs only.

Can you look after my dog?

No, we are a guinea pig boarding and grooming business. Piggies only.

Do you cover my area?

I have clients from all over the country; if you can come to me, I can help you. For me to come to you, I cover around a 10 mile radius of Huntingdon, Cambs, PE29 1PF. You are very welcome to bring your pigs to me wherever you are from, but I am limited to this area for mobile grooms/house visits. For home visit holiday cover this is further limited to a smaller (<5 mile) radius.


GROOMING QUERIES

What grooming services do you offer?

Nail clipping
Foot spur removal
Boar care (penis and anal sac cleaning)
Grease gland cleaning
Ear cleaning
Bathing
Haircuts
De-matting/matt removal
Parasitic identification
Parasitic treatment
Dry skin management

How long does it take to groom a guinea pig?

It takes on average 1 hour per guinea pig, whether long or short haired. With short-haired breeds it is drying them that takes a lot of time; with long-hairs it’s the haircut that takes the longest. So a pair of guinea pigs will typically take approximately 2 hours to fully groom.

Basic grooming packages (nails, ears etc. without haircuts or baths) take anything from 5 to 10 minutes per pig.

Can I stay and watch you groom my pigs?

No, for insurance purposes and because I work from the home my husband and I share, I cannot allow people to stay for the duration of their guinea pigs’ groom. We are located very close to Huntingdon town centre and we have plenty of cafes, shops and parks to explore, so there is plenty to keep you occupied. Where possible I will photograph and film your pigs’ groom, but I cannot guarantee this and I require your consent. (This is included when you submit a grooming request.)

Can you JUST clip my pigs’ nails?

Yes and no. I may see your pig and only need to cut the nails. But it is impossible for me to handle a guinea pig without noticing behavioural and health traits that may be of importance, which then requires advice, time to send you links to resources and further advice, and everything that might be involved with further treatment or extra care. Finding foot spurs, recognising the signs of mange mites, feeling a lump where there shouldn’t be one… not only do I routinely spot potential problems, but I am also here to prevent them.

Cutting your pigs’ nails is preventing foot injury and walking problems, and limiting the possibility of any pain and discomfort from overgrown nails. In the same way, checking the ears are clean may help prevent ear mites or infection, and cleaning a boar’s “bits” will undoubtedly reduce the likelihood of urinary or penile infection, faecal impaction, and potentially even bladder stones. I would not be fulfilling my duty as a responsible professional if I knowingly failed on safeguarding your pets by ONLY clipping your guinea’s nails then handing them back with no further word.

Can you remove matted hair from my guinea pig?

Yes. I have successfully removed many matts of varying sizes. There is a £3 surcharge for heavy matting, as removing matts requires more time, effort, skill and it also blunts my tools over time.

How often should I bring my pigs to you for grooming?

Experience has shown that while some pigs can be an exception to the norm, the vast majority are consistent with requiring:

Nail clipping every 2 months
Haircuts every 2 months
Bathing every 2-3 months

As such I tend to recommend seeing long-haired breeds every 2 months, and short-haired breeds every 2-3 months. This is the minimum frequency I would recommend. Leaving nails or hair any longer often means unnecessarily long nails and urine soaked or matted hair, both of which may begin to compromise your – and their – ability to remain comfortable and hygienic.

Do you offer different styles of haircut for long-haired pigs?

In short, no. I’m not a guinea pig hairdresser. I’m not here to make your pet look “pretty”, or “Instagrammable”. I’m here to help you manage your long-haired piggy’s hair in a way that requires minimal fuss for you, and keeps your guinea pig free from knots and tangles (that can turn into matts).

My aim is to help your guinea pig stay dry and clean for as long as possible – so the hair can’t be left dragging on the floor to pick up bedding and hay and to absorb urine. I do have a passion for aesthetics and always do my best to make your pig look “pretty” by blending the different lengths and trying to achieve an even cut, but my priority is and always will be how the haircut benefits the guinea pig, not how it benefits the owner.

Different breeds will naturally look different when trimmed as there are so many hair types and directions of growth, and at different times of year I do change how I clip accordingly – so I may go shorter all over in summer, but leave more length on the body in winter (keeping bum and underside shorter). Similarly if someone is very local and books in for grooms every 2 months, I can leave a little more hair on as I know I will be seeing that pig at the right time to help the owner manage their pig’s hair, but if someone travels a couple of hours to me it is usually of most help to the owner to clip shorter than usual, so that they can make the journey every 3 months instead of every alternate month.

Ultimately my primary consideration when giving a haircut is always going to be welfare and how this haircut will work for them: noting how the pig lives, where they live, what they are bedded on, the condition they arrive in, and the particulars of that breed and individual (e.g. prone to urine soaking, prone to matting) – and doing my utmost to prevent those problems from occurring for as long as I can. Only then can I consider how I can aesthetically groom the rest of the pig to make them look “pleasing”. Sometimes going shorter all over is the best thing for pig and owners; other times it’s not a problem to leave a little length, provided I have met the purpose of the haircut, which is to improve hygiene for the pig and to make future maintenance of the hair easier for the owner.

Do you fully shave guinea pigs?

Extremely rarely, and I really don’t like to do so unless there is a very sound reason or no other option. If I consider a full shave (down to the skin) is needed – typically it would only come up for health reasons – then I will always contact the owner before fully clipping down. Note that I do shave the underside and around the back legs and genitals of long-hairs as standard, as these are the areas which soak up urine when given half a chance.


BATHING QUESTIONS

Do I HAVE to bath my short-haired pig routinely?

No, you don’t have to. What you probably want to ask is should you bath them? There are two camps on this one, and both are pretty vociferous about their “side”. So first up: I am not on either side. The only absolutes I can give on both camps are below. I fully respect personal choice, however I am not satisfied to let myths, rumours and half-truths become widespread.

COUNTER-ARGUMENTS TO THOSE “AGAINST” BATHS:
Bathing is not bad, dangerous or unnecessary. In the wrong hands, yes, it can put the pig at risk, and there are individual cases where you would not want to bath a pig. However, any sensible owner will research how to safely bath guineas, or seek out someone who does have the experience to safely to do. Note that bathing is NOT about immersing your pig in deep water or making them swim; THAT is dangerous. Nor does sensible bathing (using suitable products and correct methodology and appropriate timing) strip the coat or skin of oils.

COUNTER-ARGUMENTS TO THOSE “FOR” BATHS:
Some pigs are clean without needing as much intervention as a bath. Not every short-haired pig needs routine bathing. If they look and smell clean, if the skin across the body is completely clear and clean, and their coat is free of parasites and dirt, then I see no reason to give the pig a bath just for the sake of it. Some chronic health conditions and living conditions may also make bathing potentially difficult to perform safely; in such cases, these pigs need to be managed on a case by case basis and that may involve having to think outside the box to achieve the same outcome without resorting to a full body wash.

Frankly, it does not matter to me if you are on one side or the other, or if you want to hear my views on the subject. All I ask is that you treat me and my other clients with respect, and respect that I am a professional. Understanding that I am happy to see pigs who are not routinely bathed, and I am happy to advise owners that their pigs don’t need bathing at this point, is important.

I don’t bath them for any reason other than it is needed for therapeutic or hygiene reasons, and the benefits outweigh any possible risks.

Do long-haired pigs get bathed?

Yes, long-haired breeds will always be bathed AFTER having a haircut. The combination of haircut followed by bath is important as long hair holds and hides urine, dirt, parasites and skin problems especially well.

Guinea pigs clean themselves, why should I get involved?

Guinea pigs are seen as very clean creatures. I would argue against this. Think: how often do you need to tidy their cage of droppings and wet bedding? How often do you spot clean, how often do you fully clean? They are rarely toilet trained – if they are, good for you, but you are in a very small minority. Coming at it from another angle: do your pigs love to go out on the grass? Do they like to dig and burrow in hay?

By nature, domesticated guineas are not good housekeepers. They don’t clean up after themselves and, as already mentioned, they are almost never toilet trained. Any guinea pig owner knows how much upkeep it is to keep their living quarters “clean”, even just going in twice a day for 5 minutes to clean up, and even then the poops begin appearing again within minutes. True, their droppings are uniform and solid and should not cause “mess” as such…but they are still faeces. Flies are still attracted to them. Fungus will still grow on them. Pigs will very happily sleep with their head on droppings! They really are not a nice sterile pet that keep a tidy house. You can say that a large cage will minimise mess and take the concentration out of any mess, and I’m not disagreeing with that, but I am seeing the reality that many pigs don’t have access to cages that are essentially unlimited in space (think at least 2-3 times as large as the minimum recommended cage sizes to achieve a successful dilution).

Then there’s outdoor access and the essential inclusion of hays and grasses for them to not only eat in abundance, but to play and forage in. Some days my pigs love nothing more than snuggling up on a fleece bed; others they get their kicks building a big hay nest and sleeping in it. But hay is a natural product. It grows outdoors in fields, and because our animals are eating it, it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides, biocides or fungicides. It’s a raw untreated product. Now, it’s possible to find a way to feed a “sterile” hay, but the reality is, if your pigs eat hay, they are going to be exposed to unwanted nasties, be it parasites or fungal spores.

Their environment is a large contributor to how clean the animals themselves are, but it should be clear by now that no matter how clean you think everything might be, there’s an awful lot more going on at a level you cannot see.

Piggies do groom themselves, but anyone who has witnessed this will have seen something very obvious. They have a very limited range. They clean their faces, some of their underside, a little bit of their flank, and a small spot somewhere in the middle of their back. They’ll tuck their head under to tidy up their groin and genital area, and also give their nails a clean too sometimes using their teeth. Sounds quite thorough, but where do I find the highest concentration of parasites? Everywhere they can’t reach.


BOARDING QUERIES

Do you board hamsters…

No. I only board guinea pigs. I get asked this a lot. No other animals. Just guinea pigs.

How many do you have space for?

I have one cage suitable for a group of 2-5 guinea pigs.
I also have 4 cages suitable for 1-2 guinea pigs each.
If the large cage is not taken by a large group, then it can be split in two, with each side accommodating 1-2 guinea pigs each.

What size are your cages?

Each cage measures 2×3 grids (C+C cage grids, standard 14″ size). The large cage for bigger groups is 2×6 in size.

Will it cost more to board them at peak times?

No. Our prices are the same all year round – at summer, at Christmas, at Easter, and every month in between. We don’t see the need to charge more because of higher demand at certain times. When we are full, we are full and that’s that. Charging more isn’t the answer to creating more space to look after more piggies.

What bedding do you use?

I use a combination (hybrid) of fleece, and Aubiose + Dengie Pure Grass topped with Orchard Grass and meadow hays. Underneath all these beddings is a towel.

Can I bring my own cages?

We don’t really have space. In special circumstances we may be able to make room for one additional cage, but we are very limited on space.

Can I view the premises before my pigs board with you?

Naturally the Covid pandemic has changed the way we work. It has also highlighted the importance of keeping some boundaries in place in respect of the fact that our boarding service is in the heart of our home and, as such, we need to balance our privacy and right to freedom in our home with providing you with the best and most transparent service we can. We’re working to get a fully up-to-date virtual tour on the website for those times we can’t permit access, but the good news is that, for now (as of Sept 2021) we can offer you the chance to visit us before dropping your pigs to us for their holidays. However this is only an option on weekdays by appointment.

Do I need to bring anything?

No, I have everything your pigs will need here already. I have plenty of food bowls, water bottles (of various types), bedding, hay, a wide variety of plain nugget brands, veg and piggy-safe enrichment toys. You are welcome to bring any favoured small toys with them and you are also welcome to provide their own dry food if you wish.

Page last updated: 22nd September 2021