Can't Tell The Difference Between Happy/unhappy Squeaks

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Maddykins

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I have had my two boars nearly a whole year, and honestly, I still cannot tell whether much of their little squeaks are happy or unhappy noises. I am particularly concious of this when they are on my lap. It has taken a lot of patience to have them sit on me for even a few minutes without instantly trying to run away in Nelson's case, or sink his teeth into me in Martin's! Now they sit for a bit and after a bit they both make little squeaky noises (whether I am stroking them or not). How do I tell if they're happy squeaks or not? I have watched so many videos online of piggy noises but the squeaks all sound the same to me (obviously not wheeks or shrieks or anything loud like that) and also there are clearly lots of people online who misinterpret the sounds and behaviour of their pigs too.

If he sits still on my lap, is that a good or bad sign? I don't know how to tell because obviously not squirming to run away is good, but then I worry that they're scared and that's why they are sitting still?

They also both lick my fingers when they are on my lap and I seem to find that it gets more persistent as it goes on and then eventually will start little nibbles. I interpret this to mean they want to be put back down which I do and 9/10 they do some poops or a wee straight after. But I'm unsure at what point to put them down? If I put them down when they lick me will they just learn to lick me straight away so I put them down quickly? It's difficult because I don't want them to be sitting there feeling frightened or uncomfortable but I also want them to learn that nothing bad is going to happen to them and I will put them back without keeping them too long (I usually keep them 15 minutes max often only about 5 if they're a bit grumpy).

I feel like I should have all this down after having them for a whole year but I'm still clueless :(
 
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piggyfan

There are no right or wrong answers. Licking in your boys case does mean they need to wee so it is great you have learned that. I understand your concerns that they will just lick you right away to go back as my very nervous Shereen does that. One year is still early for a nervous piggy to be comfortable at lap time. You holding them for five to fifteen minutes sounds perfect as they are still unsure. Try not to worry too much. The fact they still sit is positive and means they are getting to trust you.
 

Wiebke

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There are not so many clearly good or bad wheeks; a lot of it is actually somewhere in between, more in the way of an ongoing status update of where they are and how they are feeling/how secure their situation is. Usually the volume and intensity rises with apprehension and decreases with age. having a chatty piggy is generally a good sign; the really freaked out ones are silent.

With all squeaking you also have to take the body language into account; are your boys sitting rather stiffly, or are they flopping down in a in a relaxed manner?

Can this thread here help you? https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk...stincts-and-speak-piggy-body-language.117031/
 

Maddykins

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Thanks both of you. I was reading that thread earlier today. It is useful and I will monitor their body language more. Once or twice they have relaxed downwards to rest themselves more on me but usually they do sit quite upright and still, Nelson is braver and sometimes shuffles about on my knee looking in different directions now and then/sniffing whereas Martin does tend to sit perfectly still which I assume means he is scared/uncomfortable. I just don't know what more I can do to make them more comfortable with me, as I say I've had them a year and they are probably a few months short of their 2nd birthday (rescue didn't know their ages exactly). They will eat veggies from my hand in the cage or in my lap and Nelson lets me stroke his head whilst in the cage, but Martin often runs away even if I squat down near him whilst he's in the cage and will barely ever let me stroke him whilst he's in the cage. I don't know whether I should just give up with lap time and accept the fact that they're just not cuddly pigs or to keep persevering? Because I hate to think I'm putting them through feeling uncomfortable on my lap just for my own self wanting to have a cuddley pig you know? But at the same time want them to begin to feel loved and comfortable with me. :(
 

Wiebke

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Just persevere and give them lots of praise and a little treat at the end. Not every piggy is a cuddle pig, though.I generally find that cuddling under cover helps to relax nervous piggies.

I have a few that enjoy it, but several that just don't. As they live in a group, they have a happy piggy life that centres around their furry family and not being a cuddly pet. Not all like being stroked in the cage (or touched), either. As long as they are happy to take food of my hand and interact with me without fear, I am fine with it.
 

Maddykins

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Ok, I will keep up with it. I'm not too worried about Nelson because I can tell we do have a bond as he likes a little stroke on the head now and then when i'm passing by etc but Martin is just such a skittish pig, he's scared of everything. He's still scared of the little pet hoover noise for example, the same one we've used since we got them nearly a year ago whereas Nelson will not stir at all when we turn it on because he's got used to it. Martin often runs away to hide when I come near him when he's in the cage, there are lots of noises he doesn't like and will 'brrr' at for example the sound of nail clippers, sometimes even if I'm just talking to him he will 'brrr' at my voice! I just feel that he should have made more progress in this time than he has and worry that he doesn't like me or I'm doing something wrong :(

Sorry for having a piggy breakdown lol! I love them loads I just want them to be happy. This website is absolutely invaluable for help and info.
 

Wiebke

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Martin will settle down imperceptibly. Some skittish piggies can take years (certainly several of mine do), but when you look back, you will be amazed how far they have come. Usually you only realise how much they actually trust you when they are ill. He doesn't sound unusual at all to me, so don't feel like you are doing anything wrong!
 

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If it makes you feel any better, we've had Sundae over 4 years and she is still terrified of the vacuum cleaner! She also hates the sound of the dryer (it's on the same floor as her) and will beeline back to the cage once the dryer comes on. She has an anxious personality type and I don't think she will ever completely relax for those intermittent household noises, but she has improved a LOT over time.
 

Maddykins

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Poor Sundae, yes that is what Martin is like. He hates noise and is very skittish in general. I guess like you said they are just shy piggies. Thanks for your response :)
 
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