When Pumba and Timon first arrived at Blue Cross, the guinea pigs were terrified of being handled and were even scared of grass.
The three-year-old friends came to us in a group of 32 guinea pigs given up by their owner who was overwhelmed by caring for so many, and our centres up and down the country worked to find space for them all.
But while most of them quickly found loving homes to go to, poor Pumba and Timon were among the most timid of the group and our Torbay centre in Devon struggled to find an owner to take them on as a result.
Animal Welfare Assistant, Krystina Murray, fostered the inseparable pair.
She said: “Because there were so many of them, the owner must not have had time to handle them much. When they first came to us, they needed a health check, and were screaming when they were picked up.”
It was a slow and gradual process, but Krystina worked hard to put them more at ease with being handled.
“They were terrified of me initially,” she said. “When they first went on grass, they didn’t know what to do. They just froze. It took them a few hours to get used to it.”
She continued: “But I did things really slowly. I’d sit outside with them and let them come to me, and when I did have to pick them up, I used a towel with their scent on so that they had a familiar smell when sitting on my lap. It was definitely a long, long process.
“They then went to a different foster carer's house where they were indoors and got used to being handled a lot more, and even enjoyed grooming. They certainly made huge progress.”
And after more than 230 days in our care, the pair finally found the understanding home they needed to thrive.