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Boar Care: Bits, Bums & Baths

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MerryPip

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Overview:
I How do boar genitalia look like?
II Bums
III Bits and Pieces (Penis and semen fluid)
IV Grease Glands
V Boar baths



Boars have a reputation for being a bit messy and difficult to care for, so here’s a guide to what’s normal, what’s not and what you can do to keep your boar(s) happy, healthy and comfortable in their bodies!
For our full information on boars, please see this link here: A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars


I How do boar genitalia look like?

Baby boars
- Young boars don’t have very obvious testicles as these begin to descend when they reach 3-6 months old and about the same time as you will notice your piggy begins to show more ‘teenage’ hormonal behaviour.

MAelog.jpg

- Baby boars become fertile from 3 weeks of age so this is when they need to be separated from mum and any sisters. They should be around 250g in weight.
Some vets will not sex babies until after 5 weeks or even later, but by then all baby boars have reached sexual maturity. Leaving baby boars with their family for too long can result in accidental pregnancy of both mum and sisters.
You can find more information about sexing babies and when to separate baby boars in this thread:
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/sexing-separating-baby-boars-and-rehoming-babies.109391/


Entire adult boars
-These are some pictures of uncastrated entire boars with their testicles descended to show some of the variation in what is normal as the size of the testicles can vary quite a bit from boar to boar!
- The testicles should be both descended by ca. 6 months of age.
- See a vet if the testicles do not descend evenly or if you notice an unusual swelling in the groin area. Warning About Boars Bits

Merrypip's Angus showing debris & hair around the penis
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Merrypip's Hamish showing larger testicles than his brother Angus
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Hamish from behind showing well descended testicles
DSC_2267.JPG

Here is a little video courtesy of The Excellent Adventure Sanctuary for guinea pigs with special needs (TEAS) that is showing you how full boar genitalia look on moving boys; it also shows you clearly where the grease gland is located. It is the black dot on the back, just above the genitalia.

An undescended testicle after 6 months of age should be vet checked.
Warning To Vet Check Irregular Boar Bits


Neutered adult boars
- Neutering does neither change boar behaviour nor their personalities; it is NOT a surefire recipe for preventing fall-outs! It is only necessary if a boar is to live with sows.
As the success of a neutering operation very much depends on the experience and quality of a vet in order to minimise the risk of complications, it is recommended to do your research beforehand!
Freshly neutered boars also need a full 6 weeks post-op wait before they are 100% safe to go with a sow; there are babies from over 5 weeks post neutering-op boars. That is really how long semen in the tubes can stay live!

Wiebke's Maelog showing a mature male with testicles removed
Maelog.jpg


Nipples
- As you can see in the previous picture, boars have two nipples that do not look any different from sow nipples, so you cannot use the presence of nipples to sex a guinea pig. The colour of the nipples depends on the skin colour; your boar can have two differently coloured nipples.
- Please see a vet if you can feel a lump under a nipple. Boars can get mammary tumours, too!


Sexing link

- If you are unsure of the gender, as sow knobs and penis buttons can look very similar in especially young guinea pigs, please feel for the presence or absence of a tiny penis ridge just under the skin above the penis button.
- You may want to also check that the inside of the slit below the button is straight and hasn’t got any female side flaps. It is not always easy for new owners to express a penis.
- If in doubt, you are always welcome to post a (preferably clear and well lit) picture of the genitalia in our no breeding Pregnancy and Sexing section for extra confirmation. It is visible once you have registered with the forum and signed our explicit forum rules.

Our illustrated sexing guide contains more pictures of boars at different ages and also where to look exactly for any secondary traits: Sexing Guide
 
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MerryPip

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Bums

What is normal
- The perianal sack of a guinea pig is the external part of his bottom that you can see.
- This area is important in the process of producing faeces. It often has a whitish substance inside which is part of the process.


How to keep clean
- Most adult boars have a very neat anal sac. This can however accumulate hay, fluff, etc., as boars are often found dragging their rear end around the floor whilst marking their territory and showing dominance.
- Checking the sac regularly is important and you should remove any foreign objects gently and clean it gently using a baby wipe (unscented) or cotton wool with hand-warm water.


Impaction
- Some older boars particularly and some who may have medical conditions can struggle with impaction.
- As a boar gets older, the muscles that keep his anus tight (a bit like a drawstring) get looser and he may struggle to expel poops correctly. The faeces can then collect inside his perianal sac in an ever growing ball. This can get very uncomfortable and can cause problems.
- Neutered males are less likely to have problems with impaction, as they don’t have as much anal sac and it is thought that the testicles (particularly large ones) can increase the tendency for impaction. This is not on its own a reason to neuter, as impaction only affects a minority of boars!
- More information on how to check and care for impaction in this guide with several videos plus an impaction carer's tips and experiences: Impaction Recovery - How To Help Your Guinea Pig.
 

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Bits and pieces

What is normal

The majority of a guinea pig penis is concealed and the part you can see externally is the foreskin. This should be clean(ish!) and free of debris (like hay, fluff, hair etc.) You can feel the penis shaft under the skin just above the penis putton on the belly side.


Removing smegma and dirt from the penis
- The penis is often covered in a creamy/white/greyish material called smegma. This shouldn’t be excessive or particularly smelly.
If excessive smegma is left to build up for too long, it can dry out and form a hard crust around the penis.
- Any stray hairs, hay or other material should be removed.
- Make sure there is nothing caught around the shaft that could interfere with blood flow .The penis will show a blueish colour past the obstruction if the circulation is compromised. See a vet asap if you cannot remove any tightly looped hair yourself!

Wiebke's Hywel with an exressed penis showing smegma and the usual stray bits of hay and hair in the tip of the penis as you are likely to find with your own boars when checking on them.
IMG_2902_edited-1.jpg




Penis prongs
- Guinea pig boars have two protrusions on their penis, like horns. This is another variation of ‘normal’ so is nothing to worry about!
- They are very often not visible upon penis inspection, but boars use them to keep hold of a moving sow when they mate.
- Some boars have only got one or no prongs at all.
However, the absence of prongs is NOT an indication of a boar's infertility, as veterinary textbooks maintain without substantion. There is some rather happily wheeking verifiable proof that says otherwise. (See Guinea Pig Magazine issue 50, May 2019, p. 48-49)

Picture from Stewybus showing one penis prong
penis prong Stewybus.jpg



Penis care
- The penis can be cleaned (very gently) with baby wipes or cotton wool, hand-warm water and a very gentle guinea pig/small animal shampoo.
- There shouldn’t be any need to express the penis daily, about once a month is enough for most boars unless you have got a very messy boar or one that is prone to pick up long hairs; in this case, you may switch to daily or weekly inspection, depending on how bad the problem is. Hormonal young boars are often the ones that are worst.


Penis problems to look out for

'Cauliflower willy'
-‘Cauliflower willy’ is the term used when the foreskin isn’t as tidy and is more ‘frilly’ in appearance. This may (or may not) mean that it is trickier to keep clean and occasionally the penis itself protrudes which can cause it to get caught or damaged unintentionally.
- In this case your boar would need more frequent checks (at least daily) to make sure everything is safe and healthy.
- Also see a vet if you notice changes to the willy (infection).

Picture from MintyandGary
cauliflower willy (minty&garry).jpg


Boar glue and sperm rods

'Boar glue' (Ejaculated semen fluid)

- Boars can ejaculate both when humping and on other occasions. The semen they leave behind is a very sticky substance and dries solid, hence the term ‘boar glue’. You will often find blobs of dried boar glue on a boar's or their companion's noses or stuck to the fur.
- If it has not yet dried, it is possible to remove it by washing or a damp cloth but once dried (especially into fur) then removal is difficult and often using scissors to carefully cut the offending lump out of the fur is the best bet; if that is not possible, you may to wait for it to fall off on it own!

Sperm rods (Dried semen fluid in the penis shaft)
- Semen can also dry into a thin rod inside penis, known as a ‘sperm rod’. The ends of these are often protruding from the external part of the penis.
- Small sperm rods can be carefully removed, just as you would with a stray piece of hay or bedding.
- For removing a large sperm rod (which can be very painful and may have caused some infection) please see a vet! Large sperm rods can even cause loss of appetite.

Furryfriends' Monty's large sperm rod
Monty's sperm rod.jpg


Prolapsed penis
-The penis can sometimes not retract properly. Generally the problem rights itself.
- In some cases the penis cannot retract itself hangs out permanently. It needs stitching back by a vet to prevent the risk of injuries and infection. It is a minor procedure and not a full-blown operation.
 
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MerryPip

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Grease glands
Grease glands are generally more active in males than females, but they present in both sexes at the base of the spine (above where the tail would be) and can occasionally produce an excess of grease or clog up.

Merrypip’s Angus showing off his dirty grease gland
FotorCreated.jpg



What is normal?
- Not a problem in itself and only needs cleaning if the hair is very greasy or the grease gland is getting crusty.
- This is part of the guinea pig's ‘smell identity’ so washing too frequently or unnecessarily could upset the hierarchy and the bonding.
- Trimming butt hair on longer haired piggies in this area can help keep things clean as excess grease can make grooming long hair more difficult.


How to clean the grease gland
- Can be cleaned using coconut oil or Swarfega – you are looking for something that is safe for skin but can disperse grease/fats. If absolutely necessary, you can use washing-up liquid if you can’t get hold of the first two, but it is very drying for the skin and only recommended as a last resort.
- If using something like Swarfega to clean the grease gland then remember that this is only effective on dry skin/hair so should be applied a few minutes in advance of the bath and then washed off during it.
Bathing (including cleaning grease glands)


What to look out for
- A red, sore, swollen looking grease gland may be infected. Please see a vet promptly!
- Any growth on the grease gland that doesn't come off with normal gentle cleaning needs to be vet checked and if necessary removed in an operation in case it is a (very rare) tumour.
 

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Baths - how to and how often

What kind of bath is necessary to keep a boar clean?
- Bum baths are preferable to a full bath, especially if you have a messy boar!
- Hand-warm water is often all that is necessary to get rid of any boar messes around the genitals, especially if you have boar that is prone to picking up all sorts of muck.
- Just giving the bum area a quick water wash can be done as often as needed and is much less stressful!


How often?
- Full baths do not need to be a regular event. Usually a couple of times a year for a bath is fine, but some boars are particularly mucky and need to be bathed more often.
- Longer or rough haired breeds are likely to need bathed more often in order to keep clean and tidy.
- Only give guinea pigs a full bath if they are dirty over the whole body.


Bathing tips
- Most guinea pigs are not naturally comfortable around water.
- Use a basin or bath that you fill with about 1 inch/2 cm of hand-warm water. Place it on a washable floor or in a shower, so there are no accidents if a piggy panics and jumps blindly.
- Wash the rear end of the guinea pig only, keeping hold of it securely.
- To avoid blind jumps and nasty falls, place the basin on a watertight floor or the bottom of a bathtub or shower. Please do not use a sink or bathroom basin!
- Using a towel on the bottom of the basin/bath can help them feel more secure and give some grip on slippery surfaces.
- If you can, then get some help, bathing a scared or fractious guinea pig can be much easier with two people…
- Our piggy whispering tips can also help with the bathing process: Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

Merrypip’s Harris & Struan drying off safely after bath time....
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- Please keep any damp guinea pigs well out of drafts and away from any damp ground. Put them outside again only once they are dry.
- Not all guinea pigs will tolerate a drier on the lowest level but some will… Breeds with very thick hair like swiss, lunkyara etc. can take a long time to dry out completely.

Merrypip’s Donald enjoying drying off post-bath
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Here are more illustrated tips on bathing and cleaning grease glands: Bathing (including cleaning grease glands)
 
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