Fairly New Piggy Parent Seeks Advice On Introducing Two Young Pigs With Different Personalities

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Gethenian

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[EDIT: All my photos seem to have gotten on here twice. I can't figure out why or how to fix it. Sorry!]


Greetings all!

I've read the stickies here about introducing piggies and googled a lot more besides that, but I would really love to explain my specific situation and ask you folks if you might be so kind as to advise me how to proceed here.

I got my first piggy, Kindle, about three and a half months ago as a therapy animal, having done my research and intending to get her a companion as soon as possible -- the only reason I didn't come home with two is that Kindle was the very last one and as soon as I picked her up she bonded with me and vice versa. I usually gag at the kind of stories that include the phrase "sent to me" in reference to a pet, but if ever one was... it's that kind of good experience having her. She's been immensely helpful in my recovery process.

But, although I would be happy keeping our relationship "monogamous" so to speak, I do work and she is alone for most of the very long day, in the attic, away from even the after-work bustlings of the household. So I've never changed my mind about wanting her to have a piggy friend and although it's taken longer than I wanted it to, this past weekend I finally found another piggy I had that same bonding experience with.

So here is how things presently stand in the Crow's Nest in the Castle House here in Washington DC:

Kindle was "4 or 5 months old" when I got her, making her maybe 8 months now at most. Her intended companion, Nook, is 4 weeks old, and I'm quite sure that as a child I had hamsters that could have JUST outweighed her. Kindle is well over twice her size. She may be pushing thrice.

Kindle has her own 4'x2' (I don't know what that is in metric, sorry) enclosure that I built from heavy-duty stainless steel wire shelving. Nook is in quarantine, housed in a plastic and wire pet shop cage that is not ultimately the right size for a piggy, but Nook is a long way from being large enough to notice. :P I have Nook's cage situated close to, but not touching, Kindle's home. The plastic walls of Nook's home and the height difference what with the wheels and everything make it very difficult for them to see each other, but I know they can smell each other and very easily hear each other.

Once Nook's quarantine period is over, I have some concerns about how best to SAFELY introduce two such unmatched opponents, so to speak, and I also worry that their different personalities may clash... Also, I wonder if Kindle is really as happy as I thought she was, seeing how different her behavior is from Nook's.

Kindle is every ounce a mama's girl. If she is not in her cage, she is around my neck, in my hair, or in my clothing. She is quite a nice critter and happy to be held by other people as long as I PERSONALLY move her from my hands to theirs and stay with them the ENTIRE time. And I CANNOT put her in any enclosed space that is not her own cage if that means she can't see me or be with me. A couple weeks ago, I had to quickly run outside to help my brother bring in groceries, so rather than run her up two flights of stairs, I wrapped her in my very-me-smelling jacket and tucked her into a nice deep cardboard box in a quiet room...

She FREAKED. OUT. When I got back, some 5 or 10 minutes later, the poor darling was scrabbling about, drenched in her own urine, utterly terrified. I gave her a lot of pampering and cuddling and I felt awful, but how was I to know that would be so traumatic to her?

She is every bit the codependent child with separation anxiety.
Which I thought was sort of... charming, in a weird way. I thought guinea pigs were supposed to be difficult to tame sometimes but Kin and I really do have a very strong bond. The thing is, Kindle is very shy otherwise. She is always hiding in her cage, she doesn't like to explore different things I put in there, she doesn't like when I change things, and when I clean her cage, I just have to take her out and put her on the bed, and she will burrow under the quilt and hide there until I'm done. If I do it at night, she'll go to sleep with my stuffed werewolf. Very calm, very easy, very unadventurous.

And now... I have Nook.

I am beginning to suspect that Nook may have been Edmund Hillary in a former life.

Nook wants to explore. Everything. Everywhere. She is INTENSELY curious in the terrifying way that only very young children can be when they still exist in a universe without the concept of common sense or danger. She is the opposite of shy. She doesn't mind being stuffed into various boxes and carted around. She has her shy moments around us large loud human animals but once she feels secure with her present company, she wants to climb everyone, nibble every different color and texture of everything, have a good time, then take a nap in her furry crinkle tube.

I know that sounds like "oh she's just being a baby" but what's really weighing on me is how Kindle never showed ANY of that, and I'm worried that she's unhappy or uncomfortable somehow. But moreover I'm worried that she's going through a teen goth phase and introducing Nook will be like throwing the happiest toddler in the world at the most angsty, self-absorbed ball of neuroses and expecting that to turn out well.

Am I anthropomorphizing the situation WAY out of hand or are there legitimate concerns here?

Oh, and of course, for your troubles, there should be some photos attached to this post... :) The brown faced piggy with a candle flame up her nose is Kindle. The black and white OMG BAAAABYYYYYY is Nook. The gypsy goober with ALL OF THE COLORS is me. And the other cute small thing in one of the photos is my daughter, who Kindle adores and does not fear one bit. nook 01.jpg nook 04.jpg nook 05.jpg 10258386_10206509894689148_6823783107065374269_o.jpg NewDecorFluff.jpg terribletrio.jpg nook 01.jpg nook 04.jpg nook 05.jpg 10258386_10206509894689148_6823783107065374269_o.jpg NewDecorFluff.jpg terribletrio.jpg
 

Gethenian

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Thank you! My mother was terribly disappointed they weren't "Elvis-hairs."

...which reminds me, can piggies be long or medium-haired? Nook is SO FLUFFY I can't tell if she's just a baby or legitimately long-haired.
[EDIT: don't answer that, I know how to use The Google, I was just thinking to myself with the keyboard... :P ]
 

Flutterby

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Yes, they can be any length of hair. You'll also find lond haired piggies aren't born with their long hair, it will grown, so you could be in with a suprise. Guinea pig can come with all sorts of mixes of coats and breeds :)
 

Gethenian

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Thank you again! I actually knew that, just having a dumb moment... it's 4:15 in the morning where I am and I've spent all night painting cute things and petting cute things. My brain is like... done with superior thinking right now, LOL.
 

Wiebke

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What a lovely girl!

Nook is just your typical youngster and desperate for company as any freshly weaned baby would be. There is inevitably going to be some dominance from Kindle. Weaned babies are always pushe to the bottom of hierarchy in a group quite emphatically (even by their mums).

However, you will have to see how Kindle reacts to meeting another piggy. She may be simply be so clingy because she is desperate for company, too, and absolutely terrified of being on her own. If she is so focused on you, she may have lost the ability to perceive herself as a guinea pig. It can sometimes happen when a guinea pig has been separated from any company of her own kind very early on and piggy socialisation could not happen properly.

Please use the several introduction and behaviour guides at the top of this section.
As Nook is a baby, please brace yourself that she is likely to scream her head off; babies are generally very vocal and dramatic. After a (hopeful) initial acceptance, you will have to sit through a few days of dominance where Kindle is going to chase, nip, head butt, throw Nook out of any hidey (please remove anything with just one exit) and from any food bowl just to show who is boss. Please make sure that you have got several hideys, more than one food bowl and that ideally you serve any veg and pellets several times in smaller portions to make sure that Nook gets her fair share. Place the bowls at least a body length away from each other, so Kindle can't hog them all. Also make sure that access to water and hay can't be blocked, either.

Sitting through the dominance phase of an introduction without intervening is not easy! What you don't have to fear is that the two girls will fight or that she is going to bite Nook; Nook is a baby and is in no way equipped to stand up to her. Nipping is a carefully judged gesture of power - the dominant piggy lets the underpiggy just feel the teeth without hurting it in any way. The appropriate answer is plenty of submission screaming. Hopefully, your two girls will become best of friends and snuggle partners after the end of the dominance phase.

Please weigh your girls once weekly to make sure that they are OK. As most members are not aware there is a significant difference between imperial and US pounds and ounces, we prefer to give any weight in metric grams in order to avoid misunderstandings. A UK pound is ca. 450g while a US pound is 500g. ;)

Thank you for adding your location.
 

Freela

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They are both extremely cute! There are some really good resources here for introducing pigs. I've done introductions in the bathtub with towels down before and that went very well. Who comes out dominant will vary according to personality (and not necessarily size), although being very young, Nook may accept being the bottom pig without too much fight. However, some pigs simply don't want to be the boss... we recently went through an introduction where 3-month-old Hadley completely dominated 4.5-year-old Sundae and took her place at the top of the hierarchy without any resistance from Sundae. Sundae simply was born to follow, she does not want to be top pig. It was quite amusing to see Sundae, who is quite a solid, good-sized pig, be dominated by little bitty Hadley, but they are both happy with the arrangement! As for personality, Kindle may have been quieter thus far because she is alone and more cautious... guinea pigs tend to be more comfortable in a group because, as prey animals, there is safety in numbers. You will likely see a whole other side of her once she has a companion. The interaction between pigs is fun to watch, so there will be a whole new world for all of you once introductions are made! As for ages, you may be projecting human issues on them a little bit. I've twice gone through the process of introducing adult pigs (and even an older adult pig) to babies, and though there is a difference in activity level, no one has seemed overly perturbed by having a much-younger companion. My older pigs tended just to ignore the younger when they were being really boisterous. Right now I have Sundae (almost 5 years) and Hadley (about 6 months) and there is obviously a difference in activity levels between them, but Sundae tends to just ignore while Hadley runs circles around her (and sometimes over her.) Besides, the age gap between yours is really pretty small and the hyper baby stage passes fairly quickly so in a few months they will be pretty evenly matched.
 

Maddykins

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Your pigs are gorgeous! I hope they get on well. I think the at Kindle will probably really enjoy having some company as piggies are group animals. It will probably help her come out of her shell and not be so scared of everything. Good luck with the bonding :)
 

AuntyC

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Good luck with your two fabulous piggies, they look soooooo cute! Guinea pigs ALWAYS want what the other piggy has got so be prepared for some tug-of-war games with bits of vegetables. x
 
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