Going backwards in tameness

Mikatelyn

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Hi,
Not sure if I need to be concerned or not. In the past week it seems like one of my piggies (Bandit) is more skittish and scared than normal. I've had them for 3 months, and they are 6 month old males. They were both slowly becoming more tame, reliably coming to take treats from my hands, jumping into my lap, letting me pet them. I was even able to coax them into my arms so that I could pick them up a few inches off the ground in the last week before Bandit's behavior changed. We got concerned because last week he was tunneling behind his litter/hay tray and staying there for hours one day. At first we thought maybe he'd gotten stuck and moved the box, but then he kept trying to tunnel back in there until I finally blocked the small opening with some towels. Now Bandit has just gone backwards in tameness, and will barely tolerate pets again, and looks scared when he comes to get treats (eyes are really wide-hasn't done that since the first month I had him). The only thing that seems to have changed is the weather. In the last couple of weeks the temperature has dropped. They were born in the Arizona summer, so they were used to indoor temps being around 80F, but now we're all quite cold when it drops inside the house to 68F (the humans are all bundled up, and the piggies are using their cozies a lot more). Could he just not like that my hands are colder now when I pet them?
The other thing I've noticed is that he's not as motivated by food as before. Usually the two of them keep sniffing around for more veggies or pellets long after they are gone, but now both of them seem to lose interest in their pellets and go eat hay before they finish off their treats, and I'm not giving them much (the recommended 1 cup veggies and 1 tbsp pellets per piggy per day, given in multiple sessions spread throughout the entire day.) Bandit is usually the one that loses interest first, then I think maybe Bolt gets nervous that Bandit has run off, so is more likely to leave as well. They otherwise seem fine and get along well. They are both slowly gaining weight, eating lots of hay, poops look normal, occasionally doing zoomies and popcorns in their pen.
Do piggies just eat less when it gets colder? It's much harder to tame them if they aren't very motivated by food!
Or is this just some teenage moodiness phase that hopefully we'll get past?
 

Piggies&buns

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No they dont eat less when it gets colder, in fact they can eat more hay as keeping warm uses more energy. Don’t forget though that pellets are the least important part of the diet, so losing interest in them isn’t of huge concern, but instead losing interest in hay would be. You’ll see reduced hay intake it in the weight checks though so if you keep a check on his weight every day while you are concerned about him to ensure he really is eating enough hay.

68 F is 20c so shouldnt be too cold for them, but if they are feeling the chill compared to what they are used to then perhaps you can use some snugglesafe heatpads, cover the cage with a blanket so they got a snuggly area to go to. Generally, when you start feeling cold, they already are feeling cold.

They have much more sensitive hearing than us, so maybe he has heard something which has spooked him. It can twke them a while to settle back down after something like that.

if you are seeing a change in behaviour that is worrying you particularly if combined with any reduced food intake/weight loss, then please see a vet.
 

Wiebke

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Hi,
Not sure if I need to be concerned or not. In the past week it seems like one of my piggies (Bandit) is more skittish and scared than normal. I've had them for 3 months, and they are 6 month old males. They were both slowly becoming more tame, reliably coming to take treats from my hands, jumping into my lap, letting me pet them. I was even able to coax them into my arms so that I could pick them up a few inches off the ground in the last week before Bandit's behavior changed. We got concerned because last week he was tunneling behind his litter/hay tray and staying there for hours one day. At first we thought maybe he'd gotten stuck and moved the box, but then he kept trying to tunnel back in there until I finally blocked the small opening with some towels. Now Bandit has just gone backwards in tameness, and will barely tolerate pets again, and looks scared when he comes to get treats (eyes are really wide-hasn't done that since the first month I had him). The only thing that seems to have changed is the weather. In the last couple of weeks the temperature has dropped. They were born in the Arizona summer, so they were used to indoor temps being around 80F, but now we're all quite cold when it drops inside the house to 68F (the humans are all bundled up, and the piggies are using their cozies a lot more). Could he just not like that my hands are colder now when I pet them?
The other thing I've noticed is that he's not as motivated by food as before. Usually the two of them keep sniffing around for more veggies or pellets long after they are gone, but now both of them seem to lose interest in their pellets and go eat hay before they finish off their treats, and I'm not giving them much (the recommended 1 cup veggies and 1 tbsp pellets per piggy per day, given in multiple sessions spread throughout the entire day.) Bandit is usually the one that loses interest first, then I think maybe Bolt gets nervous that Bandit has run off, so is more likely to leave as well. They otherwise seem fine and get along well. They are both slowly gaining weight, eating lots of hay, poops look normal, occasionally doing zoomies and popcorns in their pen.
Do piggies just eat less when it gets colder? It's much harder to tame them if they aren't very motivated by food!
Or is this just some teenage moodiness phase that hopefully we'll get past?
Hi!

Please take the time to read the information in these guide links here. You will find it very helpful:
Settling In And Making Friends With Guinea Pigs - A Guide

Cold Weather Care For Guinea Pigs

Life-long weekly weigh -in and body check - crucial in health monitoring and when you need to see a vet. Guinea pigs don't eat less in cold weather (they should actually eat more as they need more calories to keep warm).
These guides can save lives:
Weight - Monitoring and Management
Guinea pig body quirks - What is normal and what not?
How Soon Should My Guinea Pig See A Vet? - A Quick Guide
Emergency, Crisis and Bridging Care until a Vet Appointment

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

All these guides are part of our very useful New Owners' guide collection, which is currently one of the best information resources around as we are specifically addressing all the areas we get the most questions and concerns about in practical and precise details, as well as ways on how to spot developing health issues early on: Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides
 

Mikatelyn

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Thank you both for your thoughtful replies.
I had read through most of the guides, but had missed a couple, so this was a good targeted review of that information. I was weighing them both twice a week, and have increased it now to daily. Health wise I think they are ok. They are maintaining/gaining weight, and both eat a lot of hay.
My best working theory now is what Piggies&buns suggested, that something spooked Bandit last week and it's taking him some time to settle back down. I've added more warmth elements to their cage, and am taking some time to warm up my own hands before interacting with them! In terms of trying to tame them, I've just backed up a couple steps, kind of where we were a month ago, and am taking it from there again. Bandit seems to be coming back around. I actually think maybe the cold hands was a big part of it. Certainly it makes my hubby jump if I touch him with hand-cicles without pre-warming!
 
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