Guinea pigs, chinchillas, degus and duprasi

image of Guinea pigs, chinchillas, degus and duprasi
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This chapter provides the need-to-know information on guinea pigs, chinchillas, degus and duprasi:

  • Biology
  • Husbandry
  • Handling and restraint
  • Diagnostic approach
  • Common conditions
  • Supportive care
  • Anaesthesia and analgesia
  • Common surgical procedures
  • Euthanasia
  • Drug formulary.

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2.1 Guinea pig breeds and coat patterns. Dutch colour pattern with typical white blaze down the nose. These are of mixed hair type (Peruvian long hair plus Abyssinian whorl pattern, plus English or Silkie straight hair). Self colour pattern (i.e. coat is all one colour).
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2.2 Silver coloured chinchilla.
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2.3 Degu.
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2.4 Duprasi (fat-tailed gerbil) showing signs of obesity.
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2.6 Normal presentation of the abdomen and large intestine in a guinea pig.
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2.7 Female guinea pigs produce a mucoid discharge from the vagina during oestrus. The anus (barely visible) is arrowed.
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2.8 Male chinchilla genitalia. Note that the testes are not in a true scrotal sac.
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2.9 Typical guinea pig housing. (Reproduced from .)
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2.11 Handling and restraint of a guinea pig. The shoulders and chest are held with one hand, whilst the rump is supported with the other hand. Restraint of a guinea pig on a towel for examination. Note the hand placement used to prevent the guinea pig from scooting backwards.
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2.12 Handling and restraint of a chinchilla. The chest is held with one hand, whilst the rump is supported with the other hand. For examination, one hand can be used to approximate a harness and gently restrain the chinchilla over its back.
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2.13 Guinea pig presented with faeces and debris encrusted on its foot (can be considered a type of pododermatitis). Foot following cleaning. Two toes were lost due to necrosis.
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2.14 Radiographs of a guinea pig. Lateral view. The pelvis is slightly rotated, which occurs if the dorsal leg is not propped square to the body. Note the apparent ingesta in the caecum (arrowed) and position of the bladder (arrowhead). Dorsoventral view. This guinea pig was lightly sedated. Note the gas in the stomach (arrowed) and that the position of the head is not adequate to evaluate the teeth. Oblique view showing the occlusive surface and roots of the cheek teeth. This guinea pig had severe dental disease.
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2.15 Ultrasonogram of a 7-year-old female guinea pig showing a large ovarian cyst, which caused abdominal distension and pain.
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2.19 Cataracts in guinea pigs may be congenital or have a metabolic cause, such as diabetes mellitus. This guinea pig’s cataracts were due to diabetes mellitus resulting from a diet high in carbohydrates and fruit.
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2.20 Cervical lymphadenitis in a guinea pig. The large abscesses (which may include numerous lymph nodes) need to be surgically removed. can usually be isolated from the abscesses, although other bacteria may also be involved.
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2.21 Sebaceous cyst in a guinea pig.
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2.22 Fibrous osteodystrophy in a neutered female guinea pig. Note the surgical clips placed at the ligature sites of the ovaries and uterus. Note also the moth-eaten appearance of the bones, primarily the legs. Fractures frequently occur as a result of trauma. The guinea pig has a fractured distal tibia.
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2.23 Malocclusion can involve the mandibular and maxillary incisors and cheek teeth. Initial presentation. Open-mouth and closed-mouth dental radiographs prior to correction. Note the irregular occlusal surfaces of the cheek teeth. The closed-mouth view does not show the pinning of the tongue. The roots of the teeth on these views do not show abscessation, but additional views are required to fully delineate the roots. The mandibular cheek teeth can be corrected by burring. The structure of these teeth is abnormal. Note that the mandibular incisors have also been burred, freeing the tongue. The maxillary check teeth are irregular and in need of correction. No abscess material was found in the gingiva and the teeth appear solid.
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2.24 causes conjunctivitis and corneal ulceration in guinea pigs. The guinea pig may also experience pain and develop rhinitis, anorexia and bronchitis/pneumonia.
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2.25 Ultrasonogram showing cystic ovaries in a sow. This condition is fairly common in guinea pigs.
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2.26 infestation (mange). This guinea pig was so pruritic that it had scratched its eyes, causing a discharge and severe conjunctivitis. The lacrimal ducts were inflamed and not draining. It is recommended that the cornea is checked for laceration as a result of self-trauma in all cases of severe pruritic dermatitis.
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2.27 Pododermatitis can be caused by wire cage flooring, dirty bedding, sedentary behaviour and obesity. It should be treated aggressively as, in addition to the infection, there may also be secondary osteomyelitis.
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2.28 Matted fur around the mouth and under the chin in chinchillas occurs due to dental disease and malocclusion. Oral ulceration due to lacerations from malocclusive teeth can contribute further to oral pain and anorexia. Appearance of left maxillary cheek teeth following removal of necrotic debris and burring to approximate height of the right maxillary cheek teeth. Note the severe malformation of the teeth and the recession of surrounding tissue.
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2.32 Injection sites and volumes (Data from ). Subcutaneous fluids being administered to a guinea pig and a chinchilla via a butterfly catheter in the lose skin of the flank. Fluids should be warmed to body temperature.
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2.35 Appearance of an abdominal abscess in a guinea pig at post-mortem examination. The abscess has been opened to reveal the inspissated pus.
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