Meet the world’s oldest living guinea pig who has lived for almost double its life expectancy due to regular beach walks – and a diet of KALE.
Owner Edith Rotherham has had her furry friend, called Bear, since she was born and believes healthy eating and strolls on the sand have helped her live to the ripe old age of 13.
The Guinness World Records say the longest-lived caged guinea pig was a pet called Snowball, who died aged 14 years, 10 months in 1979 – twice the average life expectancy of seven years.
Edith hand-reared Bear since birth as the pet’s mother did not feed her and the guinea pig has provided the 41-year-old with years of affection in return.
She said: “I have had her since she was born. Her mum, who was a rescue animal, was pregnant when I got her.
“She didn’t like Bear and wouldn’t feed her, so I hand-fed her bottles of milk until she was old enough to eat solids.
“I put corn on the cob and kale in her cage and she loves it. It’s good for them.
“I go through about a bag and half of kale per day.
“She’s 13 now, I hope she will be around for more years and I hope she will beat the record for oldest living guinea pig.
“I don’t know of any that are alive now that are older than her.”
Edith, of Grimsby, Lincs., has autism and learning difficulties and suffers from depression and anxiety but has dedicated her life to caring for Bear and her other pets – three other guinea pigs two budgies, a cat and a hamster.
She takes Bear for a walk on the beach in Cleethorpes and her local park, where she is well known.
Edith added: “She’s brilliant. She gives me kisses and she’s very affectionate with me. She’s like part of the family.
“I have a pet pram for her and I push her around in the pram and people stop and say hello and make a fuss of her.
“She loves it, she loves the attention and the fresh air is good for them. She is like my baby.
“She is a bit of a bully with the other guinea pigs, she lets them know she’s the dominant one and stands her ground as she’s older than them.
“But with me she’s lovely and affectionate and has seen me through some bad times.”
Edith is currently in remission from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer, which she was diagnosed with two years ago.
She said Bear brought her comfort during her treatment and gives her affectionate kisses and even licks her eye lids when she is crying – and even thinks the animals should be used in hospitals to help distressed patients.
Edith added: “Every day of my life I’m on edge and worried it could come back.
“I get my guinea pigs out and they help to relax me.”
Edith says her pets give her “something to do” and help her to live independently.
She added: “She is my life. All my pets are. They give me strength and inspiration to carry on living.
“When I first was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, I spent most of my time away having treatment hospital.
“I was in from December 5 2017 all the way through to late January 2018.
“I was going back and forth to hospital for chemotherapy, I lost my hair twice.
“The chemotherapy was very hard and very powerful it made me very ill.
“But when I was allowed to come home, I was really happy because I got to spend some quality time with all my pets.
“The guinea pigs really relax me and I love it when bear kisses me licks me. It’s like she is saying I’ll be ok.
“I think guinea pigs are very good especially if you have a learning disability just like I do and if you suffer from depression they really lift your spirits.”