A bit of advice needed for our new piggies!

Rachel1234510

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Hey all! I'm very new to this forum thing but I have come across many threads from here when searching online that have been helpful!

We have two new guinea pigs, beautifully named Emily and Piggy Wiggy by our daughter :D! We have had them for two weeks now and they are 10 weeks old.

I'm feeling a bit confused about how to get them properly settled and comfortable with us. The lady we got them from said they had been handled but not as much as she would have like due to other commitments, after having them home for a while now it's clear they have had barely any human contact and have probably been kept in a shed away from the home environment (the lady had loads of guinea pigs).

We have them in a C & C cage which is plenty big enough and we left them alone for 2 days to let them settle in. We have tried handling them quite a few times, it is always a struggle to catch them. Most of the time they seem terrified when being on our laps and hide for 2 hours after being put back. Quite a few times they have tolerated the lap time and then seemed quite perky when put back in. To sum up on that, they are still very scared of us. I have been spending time next to the cage with bits of carrot and have managed to get them both to take food from my hand but it's a looong process and as soon as we attempt to move them out so we can do a big clean or try to hold them we seem to take two steps backwards with their trust.

I don't know weather to persist with handling them in the hope they will get used to it eventually as I fear it's just making them less tolerant of us. But picking them up is unavoidable a lot of the time for the big cleans and checking them over etc. I have read different things, some people advising to continue handling and they will get used to it and some saying properly gain their trust within the cage until they will allow you to pick them up.

Another slight issue is that we suspect Emily may actually be Elvis! She/he has been doing the mating dance and the rumble quite a lot recently. They are the same age but she/he is bigger than piggy and also a lot more dominant. Due to them hating being picked up it's hard for me to properly inspect the area!

Any advice would be very much appreciated

Thanks in advance :)
 

Sophie B

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Rumble strutting and mounting is normal for boys and girls, if you post a (clear) picture of their genitalia we might be able to tell you, as for them being scared that’s totally normal and only time can help you there, but there is a thread in piggy whispering you might want to check out.
 

Piggies&buns

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It sounds like you are doing the right thing with them. Gently and slowly. It’s only been two weeks though, some piggies take months or even years to like handling. Do bear in mind though that not all piggies will tolerate being handled, some love it, some don’t. they are prey animals and it’s not the case that they are all cuddly. I’ve had my two for almost five months. One of them is friendly, comes out to say hello, will take food from my hand on his terms, but hates being picked up. The other one still runs off if I so much as go near them. Despite my efforts, I think it unlikely he will change, it’s his nature.
female guinea pigs will also rumble strut. they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My youngest pig is actually bigger than my oldest! Do get them properly sexed though to be sure as the last thing you want is a pregnancy.
 

Wiebke

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Hey all! I'm very new to this forum thing but I have come across many threads from here when searching online that have been helpful!

We have two new guinea pigs, beautifully named Emily and Piggy Wiggy by our daughter :D! We have had them for two weeks now and they are 10 weeks old.

I'm feeling a bit confused about how to get them properly settled and comfortable with us. The lady we got them from said they had been handled but not as much as she would have like due to other commitments, after having them home for a while now it's clear they have had barely any human contact and have probably been kept in a shed away from the home environment (the lady had loads of guinea pigs).

We have them in a C & C cage which is plenty big enough and we left them alone for 2 days to let them settle in. We have tried handling them quite a few times, it is always a struggle to catch them. Most of the time they seem terrified when being on our laps and hide for 2 hours after being put back. Quite a few times they have tolerated the lap time and then seemed quite perky when put back in. To sum up on that, they are still very scared of us. I have been spending time next to the cage with bits of carrot and have managed to get them both to take food from my hand but it's a looong process and as soon as we attempt to move them out so we can do a big clean or try to hold them we seem to take two steps backwards with their trust.

I don't know weather to persist with handling them in the hope they will get used to it eventually as I fear it's just making them less tolerant of us. But picking them up is unavoidable a lot of the time for the big cleans and checking them over etc. I have read different things, some people advising to continue handling and they will get used to it and some saying properly gain their trust within the cage until they will allow you to pick them up.

Another slight issue is that we suspect Emily may actually be Elvis! She/he has been doing the mating dance and the rumble quite a lot recently. They are the same age but she/he is bigger than piggy and also a lot more dominant. Due to them hating being picked up it's hard for me to properly inspect the area!

Any advice would be very much appreciated

Thanks in advance :)
Hi and welcome!

Please take the time to read these guides here. You will find them helpful in making friends with your piggies and in understanding their behaviour.
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
How To Pick Up And Weigh Your Guinea Pig

We strongly advise to double-check the gender of all guinea pigs as mis-sexing is not at all rare. Please be aware that rumble-strutting is dominance behaviour that is practised by both genders. You are coming just to the end of the dominance bonding phase in new territory and are likely witnessing your larger sow coming up to a strong season. Settling piggies into their new life as pets usually takes weeks or even months.
What to check and look out for in new guinea pigs (vet checks, sexing, parasites&illness)
Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics
Sow Behaviour

Differences in weight even in same litter siblings can be quite large and are likely to get even bigger as they mature. As long as they are both fine in themselves (check the heft around the rib cage as described in our weight guide), then this is not an issue. It is the same like having different sized human brothers and sisters, just with an even larger normal variance span.
The Importance Of Weighing - Ideal Weight / Overweight / Underweight

All these guides are part of our new owners guide collection, which you may find very helpful and interesting: Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides

You can access our full guide collection on a wide range of topics via the shortcut on the top bar, but are at all times welcome to ask any questions you have along the way in our various Care sections. We are a friendly forum that will answer them all. ;)

Since we have members and enquiries from all over the world, we find it very helpful if you please added your country, state/province or UK county to your details so we can always tailor any advice to what is relevant and available where you are straight away. Click on your username on the top bar, then go to account details and then down to location. This makes it appear with every post you make and saves everybody time. Thank you!
 

Rachel1234510

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Rumble strutting and mounting is normal for boys and girls, if you post a (clear) picture of their genitalia we might be able to tell you, as for them being scared that’s totally normal and only time can help you there, but there is a thread in piggy whispering you might want to check out.
Thanks! That's good to hear. I don't think I will be able to get a clear photo, husbands away for a while and as they are so skittish it's going to be a bit tricky. I'll check out the thread :D
 

Rachel1234510

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It sounds like you are doing the right thing with them. Gently and slowly. It’s only been two weeks though, some piggies take months or even years to like handling. Do bear in mind though that not all piggies will tolerate being handled, some love it, some don’t. they are prey animals and it’s not the case that they are all cuddly. I’ve had my two for almost five months. One of them is friendly, comes out to say hello, will take food from my hand on his terms, but hates being picked up. The other one still runs off if I so much as go near them. Despite my efforts, I think it unlikely he will change, it’s his nature.
female guinea pigs will also rumble strut. they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My youngest pig is actually bigger than my oldest! Do get them properly sexed though to be sure as the last thing you want is a pregnancy.
Thanks :)
We will stick at it, I have noticed a lot more popcorning recently and Emily/Elvis has been squeaking at me at food time which is good. We will be taking a trip to the vet to make sure we have two ladies. It's interesting that sows do that too, and blummin confusing for a new owner!
 

Rachel1234510

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I did also forget to mention that they go for long periods without coming out of their hides sometimes, I worry that it's because they are scared and also worry they may start getting depressed. Is this something we should be worrying about?
 

Piggies&buns

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It’ll just take time for them to settle and feel confident enough. I wouldn’t worry at this stage.
One of my piggies would stay in bed all day (teenage boys, hey!), if it wasn’t for his friend wanting to play and encouraging him out!
 

BlueBird

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My top pig Belle is the tamest guinea I've ever met and probably ever will. Seriously she is so confident and tame she's almost like a dog! When she came to us at 3 years old from a very noisy young family (me and the OH are late 20s with no children - unless you count the fur babies) and even she took a good two weeks to stop scampering ever time we went by. They are babies and prey animals they'll take time to adjust.

But bare in mind that your pigs probably will never like being picked up. None of my pigs do - even Belle. For a prey animal if you're getting picked up you're getting carried off by a predator so I can see why. And sometimes I even surprise them and they frightened scream at me (I really feel guilty when that happens particularly when I'm only weighing them). Two years later, Bonnie is very timid hates being picked up but sometimes calms down enough at laptime to get some purs. Belle she puddles during lap time but gets bored very quickly and then points her nose at the cage asking to be put back. Harvey is a big wuss. I doubt he will ever like lap time! He always tries his best to hide and he's 2. For me cuddles are a nice bonus but I prefer to watch them so all of them not being the biggest fans of cuddles doesn't bother me too much. They are the best soap in the world and so funny.

I did also forget to mention that they go for long periods without coming out of their hides sometimes, I worry that it's because they are scared and also worry they may start getting depressed. Is this something we should be worrying about?
Guineas are Crepuscular. They are most active at dawn and dusk and sleep the rest so even though they are hiding they are probably just sleeping. Nap time for my pigs tends to be from 11-12.00 until an 1-2hr before sunset. (basically 2hrs after they eat). Then maybe about 19-20.00 until 6-8 in the morning so even if they weren't timid they wouldn't be out and about anyway. Bonnie is really shy and she is rarely wandering around unless there is food around. It also took a long time for her to be comfortable enough to be out of a hide around us. Now she will look at us right in the face and squeak at us for food. That took a good 6-12months for her to get to that stage but she still isn't comfortable with our hands being in the cage. That's still a bit scary.

I have some tips for you though:
1) Teach them a noise that means you won't pick them up - We have taught our pigs that a noise (in our case "kissy" noises) means "we are going to touch you but we aren't going to pick you up". This has been a really good tool for us as it has made hands in the cage a lot less scary. It also means that they don't run away when I'm wanting to give them a quick nose rub in the cage or when I'm touching their ears to gauge their temperature, as they know that noise means we won't pick them up. (Though Bonnie always runs away). It also means that if they hear that noise and they immediately run away we know they aren't in the mood for fuss. It works for strangers too who they might be a bit suspicious of. As Vicky at Potteries GPR experienced when we took Belle and Bonnie to meet Harvey.

2) Smelly socks in the cage - Another idea, if you are worried about them is leaving some old socks at the bottom of your wash bin for a day or two then leaving them in the cage with them so they get used to your scent. Rolled up socks are guinea pig sized and a lot less intimidating than the big scary monsters we are and if the socks aren't scary surely the scary monsters that smell the same and give them yummy veggies every day can't be that bad. You'll have to remember to "refresh" the smell every couple of days though.

3) Try to avoid approaching them from above - as I meantioned above. Predators come from above which is scary. Try to approach them from the side instead. I've always seen an immediate difference in bring my hand in a sweeping motion along the cage before getting to the pig for nose rubs rather than going straight in from above. Raising the cage off the ground helps too. You don't loom over them so much and you look less big and scary from the pigs' point of view.
Hope this helps
 
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