Neville’s Nest has recently had an article featured in the Guinea Pig Magazine! We’ve included the article below, and an option to download and read it for yourself – if you appreciate fancy graphics and photos.
Here at The Nest, it is our policy to neuter all boars up to the age of 3 years. Carrying out the procedure is essential for numerous reasons. The main reason for this is that it prevents any accidental breeding, but also it means they can safely live with a sow at any point in their life. We always neuter pairs of boys. One reason is that should they ever fall out with each other (as boars often do), they can quickly be bonded with girls. The other reason is that, more commonly, when one of the pair dies, the single can be bonded with a girl, rather than go through stressful and difficult boar bonding.
When owners approach us for help with a single, unneutered boar, we do offer a bonding service. This service includes the boar coming and staying with us at the Nest, for about a week. This way, he can meet a few potential accompanying boars, and we can assess if a bond is going to be possible. Hopefully, they will leave with a new friend.
Sometimes we don’t have any boars available who will tolerate living with another boar, or the boar coming for bonding is particularly dominant. If we have baby boars at the time, this can solve the problem. Older boars always make good ‘uncles’! They readily accept baby boars and usually by the time their hormones kick in, at around four months, the adult will tolerate the young boar trying out his dominance.
We separate baby boars from their mums at three weeks, when they become sexually mature. Ideally, the older boar will then come to stay at the Nest, and the baby will go straight from mum to their new ‘uncle’. At this age, no bonding is needed. As the baby is still very young, we keep the pair here for a week to establish that the baby is eating and drinking well on his own. After this time of assessment, they can leave together for their forever home.
Babies only leave us so young, for this specific reason. All other babies are kept until 6 to 8 weeks before homing. As the baby boars are going to live with a family who already has a piggie, then they have some experience, rather than a family brand new to piggies. As with all our adopters, they can come back to us for advice, at any time.
Before the baby boars are adopted, we have an agreement with the owners that they will come back to the Nest, with their friend, to be neutered, once they are old enough. They can go back at a time to suit the owners, and many will choose to do this while they are on holiday and book the pair into our boarding shed. Boars need to be over four months and 600g, and the testicles need to have descended.
When the pair come back to us, we like to have them for at least five days; they arrive the day before the vets’ appointment and then they have the surgery done the following day. We then like to give a painkiller for three days, keep an eye on the wound and check they are bright and eating well before they can leave us.
Sometimes, owners will opt to neuter their original boar at the same time as the young boar. By doing this, whichever piggie is left alone in the future can be bonded with a girl.
The actual surgery is very routine to our vets, and we generally have an average of 4 or 5 boars neutered a week. We have had occasional problems with infections after neuter, but it’s usually easily resolved with a course of antibiotics. The very young boars rarely have issues. They bounce back the next day as if nothing has happened.
When collecting the pair after their stay, owners will be shown the surgery site. We explain what to look out for and if there are any problems, again, they can contact us with any concerns.
We find this works well for us. It’s a natural bond for older unneutered boars, and it reduces the need for tricky boar bonding. It’s also a less stressful way to bond boars, the result being a happy pair of piggies and a happy family.
Our neutering policy has had to change due to COVID-19; at time of writing, we aren’t exactly sure how it will work out. Our vets have said they are unable to carry out any routine operations for at least the next two months. We appreciate that neutering dogs, cats and rabbits are more critical than piggies, so we will happily wait. We think that pairs of boars will not be neutered, but we will aim to try and neuter a single boar. We will seek to have pairs of boys back for neutering, but whether this is practical or not will remain to be seen.