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Add Grieving Willow to bonded pair

dannif_piggies

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#1
So I've never actually been in this situation before, after Treacle passed, Honey showed not a single care, and prior to that I was not in tune to guinea pigs appropriate care (I was 10 and I'm sure most people have made similar errors)... but now Honey has passed, and Willow seems to be grieving quite a lot. We went to bed at around 1, I've just woken up and checked on her, and there doesn't seem many more poops, nor look like she's drank much. At the moment I'm not concerned as I know it's still in the first few hours or her loss and she's probably feeling very vulnerable and scared without Honey around. I've put a hide over the hay box so maybe she can find some comfort that way and still eat.

That's the overview anyway of what's happened and the current situation.

I guess what I want to ask is, when is the right time to arrange a cage mate for Willow. Initially I am thinking of trying to bond Willow with Lois and Laine, but my expectations are very low for this. Am I right in thinking usually adding a third sow to a sow pair has low success rates?

In the whirlwind and grief of losing Honey, I'm trying to think straight on how to now move forward in terms of putting Willows best interests first, but I feel a bit overwhelmed, and she's so young still and I don't want it to effect her too much.

I'm also sorry if this post is a bit all over the place, it's extremely unlike me to be awake at this time, and 5 hours sleep in minimal for me also. Maybe I'll read it later and be like "what a load of 💩"
 

Lady Kelly

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#2
Oh gosh I missed the news about honey, I am so sorry :( there's not a problem with bonding willow into your existing pair of they will accept her. The only thing that can happen with trios is you can end up with an outsider. But surely it would be better for her to be a little left out and with company than on her own and sad?
 

dannif_piggies

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#3
Oh gosh I missed the news about honey, I am so sorry :( there's not a problem with bonding willow into your existing pair of they will accept her. The only thing that can happen with trios is you can end up with an outsider. But surely it would be better for her to be a little left out and with company than on her own and sad?
It's okay, it happened late last night, I've only just made the rainbow bridge post. If willow is accepted, and ends up being an outsider, would this effect food intake etc. She wouldn't feel lonely still would she?
 

dannif_piggies

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#4
Also when do you think the time is right to try to introduce her? I don't want to rush things whilst she's still grieving. She has been eating and had a little drink so she's not severely grieving atm, but she's very timid and subdued with me this morning and is constantly going under cover. (She's a skittish piggy anyway but she seems a lot more wary than usual. And usually if she was scared she would hide with Honey in a corner.
 

Lady Kelly

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#5
In my experience it hasn't affected food intake but I have very limited experience of this. To be honest, if her food intake is being affected already I would look to be doing this as soon as possible to prevent her deteriorating. Is she next to Lois and Laine at the moment? Can they interact through the bars?
 

Eriathwen

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#6
I'm sorry for your loss :( I recently have done the same and am frankly extremely surprised how well it went.
Ebony has been alone since mid December due to being unwell after losing Bramble or I'd have tried bonding her sooner, the last time I attempted a bonding with Treacle she attacked the other 2 dominant pigs almost throwing one out of the cage. There were hackles and screaming..It was horrible. But I put Ebony in with her and her companion Treacle and they are loving having her around.
So it's worth trying if it's effecting her appetite, I would say. Ebony is eating much better since going in with these 2 :)
20190111_213630.jpg
 

dannif_piggies

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#7
In my experience it hasn't affected food intake but I have very limited experience of this. To be honest, if her food intake is being affected already I would look to be doing this as soon as possible to prevent her deteriorating. Is she next to Lois and Laine at the moment? Can they interact through the bars?
She's seems quiet but she came over for her pellets this morning and I was giving them to her by hand for a while. Then she's been eating hay and a hay cookie and I've also since seen her drink. All the poops have been cleaned out so I can now monitor how many she's doing. She unfortunately isn't next door to Lois and Laine, I've attcthed a photo of my set up. So they could potentially see one another but not really have any interaction. Would you advise I change my set up to have through bar interaction first?
 

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dannif_piggies

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#8
I'm sorry for your loss :( I recently have done the same and am frankly extremely surprised how well it went.
Ebony has been alone since mid December due to being unwell after losing Bramble or I'd have tried bonding her sooner, the last time I attempted a bonding with Treacle she attacked the other 2 dominant pigs almost throwing one out of the cage. There were hackles and screaming..It was horrible. But I put Ebony in with her and her companion Treacle and they are loving having her around.
So it's worth trying if it's effecting her appetite, I would say. Ebony is eating much better since going in with these 2 :)
View attachment 104528
Thank you for this reassuring post. I feel like the only thing I can do is try. I'll cross the bridge if it doesn't work out when I come to it. Whether that change my set up to have through bar interaction for the time being, I'll sort something out
 

dannif_piggies

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#9
I've decided to do the bonding today, I'm scared Willow will deteriorate. She's nibbled at coriander leaves but she's absolutely petrified by herself. Will this be suitable for going ahead with bonding?
 

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Wiebke

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#10
So I've never actually been in this situation before, after Treacle passed, Honey showed not a single care, and prior to that I was not in tune to guinea pigs appropriate care (I was 10 and I'm sure most people have made similar errors)... but now Honey has passed, and Willow seems to be grieving quite a lot. We went to bed at around 1, I've just woken up and checked on her, and there doesn't seem many more poops, nor look like she's drank much. At the moment I'm not concerned as I know it's still in the first few hours or her loss and she's probably feeling very vulnerable and scared without Honey around. I've put a hide over the hay box so maybe she can find some comfort that way and still eat.

That's the overview anyway of what's happened and the current situation.

I guess what I want to ask is, when is the right time to arrange a cage mate for Willow. Initially I am thinking of trying to bond Willow with Lois and Laine, but my expectations are very low for this. Am I right in thinking usually adding a third sow to a sow pair has low success rates?

In the whirlwind and grief of losing Honey, I'm trying to think straight on how to now move forward in terms of putting Willows best interests first, but I feel a bit overwhelmed, and she's so young still and I don't want it to effect her too much.

I'm also sorry if this post is a bit all over the place, it's extremely unlike me to be awake at this time, and 5 hours sleep in minimal for me also. Maybe I'll read it later and be like "what a load of 💩"
Hi!

I am very sorry for your loss!

Please give Willow time to grieve. Put her cage next to the other girls; the next door will hopefully prevent acute pining. You can try bonding when Willow comes out of deep mourning. Like humans, guinea pigs can react very differently to a death from going on as normal to acute pining.
Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Whether she and the other girls bond and get on depends very much on the individual personality combination and dominance. There is no guarantee as every bonding is different and has to be judged on its own merits.
Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics

If your bonding attempt is unsuccessful, you can either keep Willow as a next door neighbour with preferably full body visibility and the possibility to touch noses in order to allow communication and stimulation on all levels - pheromones, sound and body language but allow her to have her own territory.
Or you can take her rescue dating at either East Peckham GPR or April Lodge GPR in Sandwich if you are in East Kent. Both rescues offer residential dating. With a sow you can look at both sows and neutered boars of any age; the key is character compatibility and mutual liking.
Recommended Guinea Pig Rescues
 

dannif_piggies

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#11
Willow was barely eating, unfortunately I did try the bonding and it quickly failed with plenty of lunging and open mouths between the 3 of them. Willow initially was submissively squeaking, but whenever she went near any of the girls they would quickly freak out. They were comfortably all eating hay together, and then quickly things got heated. All three pigs on their hind legs and Willow was actually instigating the threat. No harm done. I am going to make Willow a neighbour of Lois and Laine so she knows she isn't alone but allow her some time. One good thing came from this and that's the fact Willow ate more hay in about 10 minutes than she has all morning. Thank you for your advice wiekbe. Right now, Honeys veterinary bills have made me rather skint, and boarding Willow currently is not within financial reach. But I will consider it.
 

Wiebke

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#12
Willow was barely eating, unfortunately I did try the bonding and it quickly failed with plenty of lunging and open mouths between the 3 of them. Willow initially was submissively squeaking, but whenever she went near any of the girls they would quickly freak out. They were comfortably all eating hay together, and then quickly things got heated. All three pigs on their hind legs and Willow was actually instigating the threat. No harm done. I am going to make Willow a neighbour of Lois and Laine so she knows she isn't alone but allow her some time. One good thing came from this and that's the fact Willow ate more hay in about 10 minutes than she has all morning. Thank you for your advice wiekbe. Right now, Honeys veterinary bills have made me rather skint, and boarding Willow currently is not within financial reach. But I will consider it.
Please keep an eye on Willow's weight and read the link. If necessary, you need to offer her syringe feeding support at first but hopefully she will have started eating again now.
Always give piggies time to get used to each other and rather keep them in a divided bonding pen next to each other for a while of necessary. True acute pining is RARE.

You need to speak to the rescues but they are usually not charging boarding money for residential bonding. All you pay for this the adoption fee. ;)
 

dannif_piggies

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#13
I weighed her last night and she was just over 900g, I will weigh her again at the same time. She has been nibbling on hay, and eaten her veggies. I've place the hay box under cover so she feels more comfortable and less scared.

This is the current but not ideal setup. It takes up far too much space in my bedroom to be long term but I'm hoping to figure something else out next week. For now I'm happy to put my personal floor space issues aside.

Critical care and syringes are on hand if she does need topping up.

In terms of the rescue bonding, I was once in contact with April lodge, way before I bonded Willow with Honey and due to the precautionary health checks and treatment they would need to do, (mites to prevent infestation of their own pigs) etc , as well as take Honey in for X amount of time, it worked out rather a lot. But I will contact the other one you've mentioned to see if their procedure is different 😊
Thank you once again.
 

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Wiebke

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#14
I weighed her last night and she was just over 900g, I will weigh her again at the same time. She has been nibbling on hay, and eaten her veggies. I've place the hay box under cover so she feels more comfortable and less scared.

This is the current but not ideal setup. It takes up far too much space in my bedroom to be long term but I'm hoping to figure something else out next week. For now I'm happy to put my personal floor space issues aside.

Critical care and syringes are on hand if she does need topping up.

In terms of the rescue bonding, I was once in contact with April lodge, way before I bonded Willow with Honey and due to the precautionary health checks and treatment they would need to do, (mites to prevent infestation of their own pigs) etc , as well as take Honey in for X amount of time, it worked out rather a lot. But I will contact the other one you've mentioned to see if their procedure is different 😊
Thank you once again.
If you have two pairs in the longer term, you could consider a 2x4 grid cage set-up with the second cage (cable-tied) on top of an Ikea 75x150 cm linnmon table, which fits into the footprint of the lower table. That would give you two slightly larger cages in compliance with rescue recommendations for pairs but at the same time more space for you.

I use the tables in my own set-up (which has enlarged a bit since this picture but is essentially the same). I lift the tables lightly with my shoulder during cage clean and also have fixed a LED strip under the tables for extra light.
IMG_2111_edited-1.jpg
 

dannif_piggies

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#15
Both cages currently are 2x4. My intentions are to get willow a partner. Until then, I'm trying to make willow as comfortable with what I have. I've come up with this plan for my space, would this be sufficient? The space still equates to 2x4 for the both living areas. Willow would be in the distorted "2x4" and Lois inland Laine in the continual one. I'm just trying to figure out a way, I could easily clean them out. Raise them off the floor (your table idea seems a great shout) so I have storage underneath for their supplies, Willow can interact through the bars of her "hay room" and each set up would still have the minimum floor space. But do you think the barrow hay room would be sufficient for the space if Willow until I am able to provide her with a new companion and then a new set up will almost certainly be considered.
 

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Merab's Slave

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#16
When Merab lost her cagemate she was very quiet and withdrawn.
There are no rescues close to me so it was a few weeks before I was able to find a pair of baby girls to bond her with.
Fortunately she took to them almost immediately they were introduced.
Willow is newly bereaved so keep an eye on her but piggies will usually get on with the business of surviving within a day or two.
@Wiebke has, as always, given excellent guidance so the bond may still work out in time
 

Wiebke

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#17
Both cages currently are 2x4. My intentions are to get willow a partner. Until then, I'm trying to make willow as comfortable with what I have. I've come up with this plan for my space, would this be sufficient? The space still equates to 2x4 for the both living areas. Willow would be in the distorted "2x4" and Lois inland Laine in the continual one. I'm just trying to figure out a way, I could easily clean them out. Raise them off the floor (your table idea seems a great shout) so I have storage underneath for their supplies, Willow can interact through the bars of her "hay room" and each set up would still have the minimum floor space. But do you think the barrow hay room would be sufficient for the space if Willow until I am able to provide her with a new companion and then a new set up will almost certainly be considered.
Yes, your plan with a 'hay corner' in the narrow bit should work for her for the time being. Take your time to think things through, save up and do your research re. bonding; there is likely a waiting list anyway as residential rescue bonding rescues are far and few in between.

East Peckham GPR usually offers up to three bondings in the space of a week. You will get the call once the rescue is happy that any new bond is solid. It is worth contacting them.
 

dannif_piggies

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#18
Thank you. For the time being, I think I have a sufficient plan for Willow. Not ideal, ideal world is that she gets a cage mate, but realistly that's not possibly right now. Thank you for all your suggestions and advice. The thing with Willow is she is rather scared of new situation but when she gets a bit more comfortable she always wants to be top pig. Even with Honey she would try and challenge dominance every so often and Honey would just but her head and put Willow back in her place. I'm sure something will sort out. Thanks again everyone
 

dannif_piggies

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#19
982C7177-0AD9-4BE9-96CF-F01DAC0D5065.jpg
So the new set up is complete. Hay boxes side by side so that all pigs can eat "together". Initially Laine and Willow in particular were biting the bars a lot but this has calmed down now, does this mean they're getting used to one another?

Also, Laine started to lay in an unusual place for her, she's usually in a hide when she sleeps but today she napped as close to Willow as she could. Am I over analysing a slight change in her behaviour or is this rather promising behaviour? IMG_4815.JPG
 

Wiebke

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#20
View attachment 104677
So the new set up is complete. Hay boxes side by side so that all pigs can eat "together". Initially Laine and Willow in particular were biting the bars a lot but this has calmed down now, does this mean they're getting used to one another?

Also, Laine started to lay in an unusual place for her, she's usually in a hide when she sleeps but today she napped as close to Willow as she could. Am I over analysing a slight change in her behaviour or is this rather promising behaviour? View attachment 104679
This is normal behaviour. Sleeping on the edge of the territory next to a piggy from another group is not an offer of friendship, it is what I call a non-aggressive dominance 'power lie-in' to demarkate the territory held. ;)

PS: It looks good!
 
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