Handling Problems

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CubbyWolf46

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Hi all,

I am having trouble with both my boars Salem and Argo at the moment but for different reasons.

Salem has a nibbling habit, he doesn't want to be handled by me anymore and I don't know why. I have never hurt him or anything and every time I try to have lap time with him now he will nibble/bite at any skin or clothing or towel until I put him back in his cage. I have been trying really hard to keep him in my lap and just give him lots of cuddles and patting.. he even starts falling asleep like he used to but then he shakes himself awake and starts doing it again. It's not about needing to go to the toilet because I put him back and he just goes about his business as usual and tonight he went straight to his cuddlesack, curled up and fell asleep. I feel a bit rejected. Then a friend came over and held him the other night and patted him to sleep in her lap.. I won't lie, I was really jealous that he won't let me do that anymore.

Argo crawls right up into my neck and he starts breathing heavy and claws in really close. I have scratch marks all up my neck and he even ripped some of my hair out tonight. He calmed down a bit tonight when I just pet him until he looked sleepy but he'd get restless so I gave up and put him back in his cage. Argo doesn't bite me but he licks and nibbles my hands sometimes.. He seems really nervous. The obvious conclusion would be that I dropped him at some point but he has always been handled with care and never been dropped.

I don't know what I've done wrong? They were getting so tame before we all got sick and now we are all healthy again and they are acting weird towards me. They were finally coming out of the hidey holes and just strolling around the cage not really noticing me when I walked past, or noticing me but not minding and now it's like it's back to square one and they hide away from me scared, don't like being picked up etc.

I can only think of two instances when they would have been scared by me to cause this, one is when I was having a fight with someone in the house and it got pretty loud and two is when I bashed a cockroach dead and squealed right near their cage a while ago. Argo and Salem were so startled that they both dove in between the hay rack and the cage wall.. Salem is smaller so he just got out easy but I had to detach the hayrack and get Argo out because he got stuck.

I don't know what I've done wrong, they have an extremely big, clean cage to run around in, constant supply of hay and pellet mix, veggies twice a day, two clean water bottles, toys and things to nibble on, homes to hide in.

They are acting like I am a stranger. It hurts my feelings. lol.
 

Wiebke

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They will settle down again after a while, but things have been very stressful for all of you, so you have start a couple of steps back. Piggies are however generally forgiving animals. ;)
 

CubbyWolf46

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Thanks. It just makes me feel a bit rejected when they start acting this way when I put so much work in to get them comfortable around me in the first place. Feels like I'm back to the first week of them coming home with me. Argo is especially hidey. I tried the elevator thing because he hates to be picked up and I think it kinda made him less nervous.. I chased him (for lack of a better term) into a pvc pipe tunnel and then lifted him out onto the couch and turned it gently so he slid out.. within 2 minutes he was sniffing around and then just lying flat on his stomach comfy. Maybe they don't like being picked up because my hands are like ice since winter rolled in, I try not to handle them directly when my hands are cold but sometimes they make it very hard, especially when I'm cleaning the cage.
 

CubbyWolf46

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On a better note, they are both at a great weight now. I figured out though that Argo isn't a pig like Salem so he stays at the same lower weight of 850g - 900g. I doubt he will ever get any bigger. Salem on the other hand has gone upto 700g! He is constantly eating and running around and sleeping. Argo is very much more relaxed and he does eat, but he only eats just enough and no more. I thought all guinea pigs were like Salem and couldn't stop themselves from eating too much and that is why we ration their food but Argo has shown me differently. I am wondering if there will be any dominance disputes when Salem eventually gets bigger than Argo, they already have been rumblestrutting each other around food all the time. Only little nipping quabbles no full biting or anything yet. Do you think their fighting will escalate as Salem becomes mature?
 

Wiebke

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On a better note, they are both at a great weight now. I figured out though that Argo isn't a pig like Salem so he stays at the same lower weight of 850g - 900g. I doubt he will ever get any bigger. Salem on the other hand has gone upto 700g! He is constantly eating and running around and sleeping. Argo is very much more relaxed and he does eat, but he only eats just enough and no more. I thought all guinea pigs were like Salem and couldn't stop themselves from eating too much and that is why we ration their food but Argo has shown me differently. I am wondering if there will be any dominance disputes when Salem eventually gets bigger than Argo, they already have been rumblestrutting each other around food all the time. Only little nipping quabbles no full biting or anything yet. Do you think their fighting will escalate as Salem becomes mature?
There is a good chance that Salem may try to take over once the hormones hit fully, especially if Argo stays on the small side.
All the best for you and your two boys!

I hope that you are feeling better again although is it likely to take you some time to recover fully from your ordeal.
 

CubbyWolf46

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Oh great.. If Salem tries to take over it's going to get ugly.. Argo has been dominant for so long and around other guinea pigs too he has shown he is willing to pretty much fight to the death for dominance. Their squabbling is getting worse lately so I have been trying to put two of everything in the cage to stop them but Argo just wants whatever Salem has no matter what he chooses lol. They have soooo much space to be apart but choose to get into little arguments.. it's ridiculous. Should've known since they are boys.

We are all better, all cleared of salmonella now. Salem and Argo get stuffy noses some days and worry me with their sneezing but they stay the same weight, they breathing just fine. At the beginning of winter I was using a vicks vaporizer to keep the room warm and moist enough so it loosened up / cleared up their noses. Now I just put the heater on near the cage at night after dark until i go to bed just to keep them warm enough. So worried about them getting sick, I don't remember it being this hard to keep them healthy when i had them as a kid. They used to pretty much take care of themselves.

I have also been spoiling them with love and pats when I pass the cage, sometimes I just pick them up to cuddle them for a second and put them back or just pat them in the cage to get them used to me doing it. Salem and Argo are more comfortable being patted in the cage and will bow their head or lay down on their tummy or their side slightly when I pat them and Salem will even start to close his eyes a little bit. Bonding is harder with Argo but he started pancaking when i pat him in the cage again now so we are getting there.

Thanks for the advice :)
 
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