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Need Advice - Lost 5 Guinea Pigs :(

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Junior Guinea Pig
Dec 11, 2013
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Hey guys just wanting some advice...
Last week I lost 5 of my guinea pigs on the same day and I am still puzzled as to what went wrong.
I put them outside in a large xpen to have a play on the grass and some exercise (also left my baby dwarf rabbit and older dwarf bunny in there). The guinea pigs had adequate shade and water.

I went outside to check on them to find all of them lying on the ground - 3 dead and 3 still alive just. I rushed them inside and called my vet who guided me over the phone to treat them as I couldn't afford to waste any time. One died soon after. Then the other 2 settled down but a few hours later one of the two started screaming non stop so I took her to the animal hospital. The vet told me her body temperature was so low he couldn't get a reading. And her heart rate was only about a third of what it should have been. He told me he could put her on a drop overnight but he said she was very ill and didn't think she would survive. So we made the decision to have her euthanised. He said her symptoms indicated organ failure. She was 4 years old. But I explained the situation to the vet and I asked him could it have been heat stroke, it wasn't a hot day and he said in his opinion also that temperature shouldn't have killed them. It was 23 degrees. I've had my piggies for years and have done the same thing every week and they have never shown sign of illness ever. I'm absolutely heart broken and I also feel bad because I am not sure if I could have prevented this. The vet couldn't give me a definite answer either and he said it could have been they ate something poisonous which also I find hard to believe as we never use weed spray etc. Or they may have been sick and even though it wasn't hot it was enough to effect them. One guinea pig survived and she is fine except she was lonely after losing her buddies. The vet also said it was too acute to be caused by the rabbits. He said rabbits usually cause injuries... But this was not caused by the bunnies - and they are the same size as the piggies, and were fine.

Has anyone ever had anything like this happen? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
I'm so sorry for your terrible losses! It must have been awful! The only thing that comes to mind other than the heat is possible some kind of toxin on the grass? Nothing has been sprayed there recently has there? No poisonous weeds and flowers near by?
Nothing has been sprayed but I did remember we cleaned the hutches out on the grass a couple weeks ago using disinfectant... Which only came to mind yesterday we never usually put them in that particular area but for some reason that day we did..... we have a lot of animals so never use weed spray and we remove any toxic plants we see. The vet also suggested snake bite but I just think it would be too coincedental for a snake to bite that many times and not the rabbits.
Yeah it does sound strange. Over what period of time from them being put out to you finding them was it?
And thanks guys..... It has been very hard and I miss them terribly. I had to buy a new friend for my other pig too which was also hard as I didn't want to get another so soon but she was miserable and acting out of character. She kept knocking all her bowls over, throwing her hay around and kept looking out her cage. She's calmed down a lot since I put a friend in with her but still seems not her chirpy self.

I have 3 baby pigs also but they cannot be put with her yet as they have never been handled and are extremely shy . I rescued them from a pet and wildlife centre. But atleast she's got one friend for now. The babies are all ok though as they stay inside. Whatever caused this was outside
Oh gosh what a terrible tradegy. I am so sorry. The only think I can think of is rabbits carry a bacteria that is poisonous to guinea pigs. Maybe that is what caused it. The bacteria is called bordella. I'm so very sorry for all you have been through.
@Piggles13 - Offering my deepest sympathy, and sincere condolences for your loss! However, I would agree that your guinea pigs almost certainly died from ingesting a toxic substance! What did/do you clean your hutches with?!
I am ever so sorry for your shock and for your sad losses! You must be totally upset right now.

With so many piggies dying together, the cause must be environmental, either from heat stroke (which you are excluding), insect bites or from eating something toxic.
Is it possible that a dog or dog-like animal has very recently peed where you put your guinea pigs? Fresh dog pee can kill. Could the run have accidently been put close to a venomous spider or some other insect?
Guinea pigs can also die from sheer fright.

It is likely that you will never be able to get to the bottom of it, as much as you crave an answer to make sense of what has happened and of course to prevent a repeat!

Please be aware that your losses do not make you a bad piggy mummy; what has happened is one of these out-of-the-normal-order things that are near impossible to prevent and cannot be braced against.
I am ever so sorry for your loss, that is awful. I can't help just wanted you to know my thoughts are with you at this difficult time x
Flutterby they had been outside for about 2 hrs but it was not hot which I don't understand they've been out plenty of times before! We checked on them about 30 min before and they were running around.

And wiebke thank you so much for your information - I had no idea about the dog wee bit! I do have two dogs which it's highly possible they could have gone out there before I set up the pen.
The vet said that rabbit bacteria wouldn't kill them all at once so suddenly. And there was no wounds on them also the rabbits hadn't been with them for a long time I only ever put them together in the outdoor run for short periods of time but because of the heat they had been in the air con for over a month that was the first cool day we had in a while
I'm so sorry for you all, I have no answers but just wanted to send sympathy.
I cannot help with any suggestions but wanted to say how sorry I am, truly tragic. Please feel free to write memorials to them in our rainbow Bridge section of the forum.
I'm so sorry- how awful! I can't even imagine! With everyone being struck down so suddenly, all I can think of is something environmental. Heat or something on the lawn. Has a neighbor sprayed recently? Could some have blown over on to the lawn? Of course, that still doesn't explain how one piggy and the two bunnies survived... I know that lawn pesticides can linger for quite some time. My cousin lost her two pigs after she moved to a new house- a couple of weeks after moving in, she put the piggies out on the lawn, figuring that she hadn't sprayed it in two weeks so it must be fine. The previous tenants must have put something on it that was still present, as both pigs sickened and died pretty quickly- not as quickly as yours, however. Again, I'm so sorry... to lose so many at one time and not have answers must be awful!
I am so terribly sorry. To lose one is heart breaking, to lose 5 like that must be soul destroying. Hugs xx
Thanks everyone for your kind words. It is very hard, I was crying so much on the phone to the vet it was very hard to stay focused knowing what had happened. I did everything I could to save them it's hard not knowing exactly what went wrong. Part of me thinks maybe it was the temperature even though it wasn't that hot, maybe because they've been in air con so long it was too much. It's hard not to feel guilty too because I don't know what happened and I feel bad that I even put them out there although I know they always loved being able to run free. the two oldest girls who were 4 , and the other 3 were aged between 1 and a half to 3.
I am so sorry for your loss, how heartbreaking. As everyone else has said please don't blame yourself - you're clearly a devoted owner and there is no way you could have seen this coming or prevented it. You did all you could. X
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