Twogoose’s Anal Adventure

19 Feb

We cleaned out our first impacted anal sac today. It was a two-person job, involving warm water, vaseline, cotton pads, pet shampoo, kitchen roll, bad smells, and soaked clothing. The sac in question belonged to Twogoose the guinea pig, whose back end has been looking odd lately.

According to my book The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs, some males are prone to accumulating big wads of poo in the cavernous hollows just beneath their anuses. Says the book: “it is a very simple matter to take the boar into the lavatory and clean it out over the pan.”

“Good to know,” I thought.

The book continues, “the job is done by pushing the lump out from behind while rolling back the opening of the anus.”

It does not explain which “behind” it means. It does not mention which way up or which way round the guinea pig is meant to be. It does not explain how one “rolls back” a bodily orifice. It made absolutely no sense to me at all. So I googled for clues.

It turns out you squeeze the sides of the anal sac like it’s a huge zit the size of an acorn, and then it turns inside out and you simply wipe off the poo.

You know how oatmeal goes when it’s been stuck to the side of a bowl for a few hours? That was the wall of Twogoose’s anal sac. Bunty held him on his back, trying to distract him with murmurs and stroking, while I chipped away at his back end. I managed to pull some hay and fur and ghastly stuff from the top surface, but the concrete-like subtance beneath required more elbow grease.

I tried to soften it with warm water, which didn’t have much effect until I had poured half a cup’s worth over the three of us. I tried to winkle Vaseline beneath the encrustation to encourage it to move, but that merely made it too slippery to get a proper hold of. Then Bunty suggested soap, so I applied a liberal smearing of pet shampoo to the area.

Twogoose, who had been moaning like a small ghost since he had been turned on his back, stopped moaning and relaxed. When I rinsed the lemon-scented suds down Bunty’s jeans, most of the concrete came away, leaving behind a weird growth of white stuff all over the sac wall. It looked like fungus.

“That’s not right,” I said. “Maybe we should take him to the vet.”

We examined his companion, Horatio, for comparison. Horatio has a very clean anal sac, lined with fur. So the fungus was actually Twogoose’s anal sac-fur. One successful treatment of anal impaction completed. Hurrah.

Twogoose with a clean anal sac

The Guinea Lynx care guide makes a final, important point: if this condition occurs, it’s necessary to clear the impaction every day.


21 Responses to “Twogoose’s Anal Adventure”

  1. SEF February 19, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    You’re going to have to find a less messy (and more efficient) way of doing it if it turns into a daily operation.

    • Snailquake February 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      We’re hoping that, with practice, we’ll become able to pick up Twogoose and flip out the debris with the ease described in the book.

  2. Susan Hann February 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    New rule….Warning sign on theses one LOL was having my coffee when I started this!!!!

    • Snailquake February 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      Hahaha! I guess it’s good to keep my readers on their toes…

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

      • John Champneys February 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

        My first thought was for poor Twogoose for undergoing the discomfort and inconvenience of suffering anal compaction. I don’t have any experience in this field, but feel sure that the process won’t have to be repeated too often, once the condition is understood.
        What I’d want to know at this point is: were the fæces normal before their point of entry into the sac, or were they already a bit ‘bunged up’? There’s a human scale somewhere for measuring/assessing the health of fæcal waste, which I think would help here. It should be possible to determine the texture of the excreta.

        Get to know his rhythm I say (but know you’ll do that anyway).
        Had there been a diet change?

        How do the fæces compare with that of the other ‘pigs?

        • Snailquake February 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

          More reading suggests the cause is the “boar glue” secreted in the anal sac: it’s a scent-marking substance. If an excess is produced, then impaction can occur. But the causes of that don’t seem entirely understood.

          The guinea pig produces two different types of faeces: hard pellets, which are pushed straight out, and soft cæcotropes which go into the anal sac to be re-eaten for further digestion. The boar glue can stick them in there like the flour-and-water glue in Papier-mâché.

          Regular cleaning seems to be the thing to do. Last night, I was watching some how-to videos I found online. When I examined Twogoose again, there wasn’t much there to clean out, so, as you say, we’ll learn what his rhythm is. :)

          • Snailquake February 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

            Fæces, even. ;)

            • John Champneys February 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

              >”Fæces, even.”
              Twogoose is now, I’m sure, well and truly under your ægis!

  3. astrawally February 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    That is true love and dedication if ever I read it. It made me rough morning seam like a breeze.
    Much Love
    Astra Wally

    • Snailquake February 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

      Hi, Astrawally! Thanks for popping by. I enjoyed your blog photos very much today. They make me want to go out and look for mysterious doorways in the hills.

    • John Champneys February 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      OK. Do I take it, then, that this doesn’t occur in females? Perhaps it *can*, although less likey?
      Your mention of strange secretions reminds me of the… mmm… wax-plug thing found in our chinchilla tank one day. Imagine finding it in the eighties, in the days of no-net. The excitement of getting out the Yellow Pages, phoning people up and hearing breathlessly all about it. I remember being told it meant he’d mated. Clean forgot the reason for the spermaceti-like wax plug. Come to think of it, I don’t think the reason for that was known either…

      • Snailquake February 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

        That’s right, it only occurs in males.

        I wonder whom or what your chinchilla had mated with!

        I remember getting all excited before my own Internet days, when I wrote a letter asking for information from the guy who had written a book on tarantulas, and he sent me a friendly and detailed reply.

  4. Bella February 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    First of all, poor Twogoose! I can’t imagine how the poor guy felt! Now an applause for you! Now that’s what I call being a true animal lover! Hip, hip, hooray! You are my hero. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had to show my pet that much love! Kudos to you! :)

    • Snailquake February 22, 2011 at 3:45 am #

      Thanks! And yes, poor Twogoose hasn’t exactly been delighted by this turn of events.

  5. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife February 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Twogoose’s face is pricless! I just want to grab him and squeeze – I think he’s feeling a bit violated! Thankfully, the groomer/vet takes care of the pups in that department. Usually when they’re under for a dental cleaning.

    • John Champneys February 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      >”I wonder whom or what your chinchilla had mated with!”
      A very cute lady arrived at the Station for us to collect.
      In a box.
      With breathing holes and things.

    • Snailquake February 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

      I hadn’t heard of dogs being taken to the vet for dental cleaning before. Is that like the descale & polish we humans get, or something else?


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