My Guinea Panda; picky eater (and some other stuff!)

MBennett

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Hi! I joined this forum because I’m told my guinea is “weird” and I’m concerned there’s something I’m doing wrong.
So the short of it is:

•she hates being picked up, I’ve had her for almost 3 months and kicks and runs and around every time I try (never displayed any aggressive behavior towards her or been rough, it’s been like this from day 1)
•she absolutely refuses to eat anything besides hay and pellets. I’ve tried everything online (cutting up the items very small, mixing with pellets, etc) and she takes one whiff and walks away even if it’s right by her hay.

I’m worried she’s not getting the nutrition she needs (I have to supplement the vitamin c in her water) and I’m not worried necessarily about the picking her up thing except I do wish I could cuddle with her every so often.

She seems very happy, she wheeks a lot, especially when I come home/when I refill her hay, give her treats. Nothing about her activity tells me she’s sick or anything bad but I’m new at this whole thing so I need some hand holding.
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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Welcome to the forum! Don’t worry, she’s not weird at all! Most pigs don’t like being picked up so she’s not alone in that. Perhaps try a house/box or a tube to pick her up? A lot of pigs aren’t cuddlers so you may find that you’ll have to find a way to spend time with her another way, like sitting in her run with her so it’s on her terms.

As for picky eating, piggies learn to eat from stealing food from the mouths of their elders so if a pig hasn’t had that they don’t know what’s safe and what’s not. Have a look at the sample diet guide in the food section and just keep trying :) It’s good that she’s eating hay though, it makes up 80+% of their diet!

Piggies desperately need another guinea pig friend to live happy normal lives so that’s another reason a pig may not eat properly. Pigs need companionship from their own kind just as they need food and water. I highly recommend checking out a local rescue to find her a buddy :)
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome!

I assume that your girl is a single pig? She is not weird; her behaviour is what you would expect.

Unfortunately, if your girl hasn't been born in an environment where veg was fed and has not been with her elders long enough to learn what fresh food is safe to eat and what not, then you have a real job on your hand. Guinea pigs learn by eating what others eat, smelling it on their mouths and even snatching it from their lips to memorise the taste.
It is a learning process that is part of the socialisation and 'school' stage that happens from birth until the teenage months at around 4 months of age where youngsters attach themselves to an elder and learn from watching and imitating the tricks and tools of their lives from making the best of their territory or to the complexities of social interaction.
Singles do unfortunately lack the 'I want what you have' incentive that comes from the communal feeding instinct that guinea pigs as social species have that is used to feed all together in a herd for safety reasons.

The good news is that hay should make over 80% of the daily food intake with a tablespoon of pellets adding another 5% to the daily diet. Fresh veg is only about 10%, mainly fresh greens, so your piggy is getting most of what it needs. There is vitamin C in grass and hay (which most people don't know). Please don't feed unhealthy high fat/sugar or lactose containing treats; rather offer dried forage.
Have you ever tried some fresh grass or herbs?
Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

However, it would be great if you considered a same sex companion for the longer term that would be the best way to address your diet and social interaction problems.
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities

Below are some links that hopefully help you to understand your girl's behaviour. Unfortunately guinea pigs are a prey animals living in groups, they are not naturally born animated cuddly toys. The more you can fulfill her species needs and talk to her in ways that she instinctively understands (instead of waiting for her to learn to understand your very alien human expectations), the happier she will be and the more she will learn to trust you.
Please take the time to read the links in this post. You will find them very helpful and interesting in building up a good relationship with your piggy.
Arrival in a home from the perspective of pet shop guinea pigs
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
How To Pick Up And Weigh Your Guinea Pig Safely
 

MBennett

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Thank you for the advice! We actually just went out earlier today and picked up a new friend for her. She’s younger and much smaller but I can already tell from the 2 minute introduction in our bath tub that Panda is incredibly excited to have a pal. Hopefully this changes some things for the better :luv:
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for the advice! We actually just went out earlier today and picked up a new friend for her. She’s younger and much smaller but I can already tell from the 2 minute introduction in our bath tub that Panda is incredibly excited to have a pal. Hopefully this changes some things for the better :luv:
Please make sure that you double-check the sex of both piggies before you introduce. Please be aware that guinea pigs don't to play sessions. for them, every meeting is a full-on bonding experience that is upsettlingly interrupted.
Here are our detailed bonding tips with illustrated social interactive behaviours and bonding dynamics as well as information on sows:
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
'Popcorning' and 'zooming' - joy and exuberance (videos)
 

MBennett

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Please make sure that you double-check the sex of both piggies before you introduce. Please be aware that guinea pigs don't to play sessions. for them, every meeting is a full-on bonding experience that is upsettlingly interrupted.
Here are our detailed bonding tips with illustrated social interactive behaviours and bonding dynamics as well as information on sows:
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
'Popcorning' and 'zooming' - joy and exuberance (videos)
Ok so I’m not able to get a vet appointment for a few days, there aren’t many exotic vets around me.
In the article about bonding, it says that bereaved pigs and very young pigs don’t need to be quarantined.
I checked Panda myself (no penis ridge, didn’t feel testicles, no penis when I pushed on the appropriate areas) should I still wait to put them together until I go to the appointment?
 

MBennett

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Sorry I should’ve added that the new pig is young (they didn’t give me an age but she is very small, about half the size of panda).
I put them in separate cages and placed them close to each other for now, should I keep them apart?

Pandas neck hairs were up initially and she tried to nip the little one but I didn’t recognize any truly aggressive signs that were listed in the article you wrote
 

Wiebke

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Sorry I should’ve added that the new pig is young (they didn’t give me an age but she is very small, about half the size of panda).
I put them in separate cages and placed them close to each other for now, should I keep them apart?

Pandas neck hairs were up initially and she tried to nip the little one but I didn’t recognize any truly aggressive signs that were listed in the article you wrote
Hi!

Since they have already met, you have basically waved a quarantine, so you can introduce anytime. You just have to treat both piggies if a contagious issue comes up.
Quarantine is a more important issue if you have more than just a single piggy or a pair and where carrying something in can cause you some real problems and cost!

Nipping is mild dominance behaviour. She wants the youngster to respect her private zone until she is ready to give it up eventually at the end of the dominance phase. Until then, she is more likely to keep the new girl at arm's length. That is not uncommon in wary sows that want the company but need to feel in total control because they are also somewhat fearful/apprehensive. Once they feel secure of their position, they will let the guard down.

Have you been able to check the sex of the new girl? Please compare with the pictures in our sexing guide and also look at the inside of the slit, which is much more different in the two genders, and feel for the presence/absence of a penis shaft under the skin. These latter hands-on measures are not something we can do for you, but they are the way you can make 100% sure that you have got the right gender. The sexing guide has pictures of a how slits look at various ages. It is often not easy to express a penis in youngsters.
Sexing is generally best done with two people - one to hold and one to check. If you are not sure, you can then switch places.
The more people who can learn to sex their piggies reliably, the better as mis-sexing and the ensuing uncontrolled breeding messes are becoming a real problem.
Sexing Guide
 

Bill & Ted

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Oh, exciting times, photos of your little ladies who be lovely once they are settled and bonded x
 

MBennett

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I am so so so confused I am having a really hard time reading Panda’s cues.
I set up a partition in the same cage so they can get to know each other because I feel like panda is displaying weird signs of aggression (and happiness at the same time?)

She purrs A LOT when she’s next to our little one. She puffs up her body (mostly neck hairs) which I know is supposed to be dominance.

The few times they’ve met outside the partition (in the tub) panda is NONSTOP trying to hump the little one.
I’ve stopped introducing them outside the partition just because I’m not a vet and therefore not 100% sure panda isn’t a boy but the way she’s acting is convening to me.

The last time I had them together panda kept putting her nose under the little ones and tossing it up to the point she almost flipped the little one over!

To be clear
-she hasn’t bitten her hard, a few nips on the ear but the little one didn’t cry out
-never bared her teeth
-never held her head higher


I get so so so nervous with them together because the little one is half pandas size and it’s giving me incredible anxiety! Please help 😭
 

Wiebke

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I am so so so confused I am having a really hard time reading Panda’s cues.
I set up a partition in the same cage so they can get to know each other because I feel like panda is displaying weird signs of aggression (and happiness at the same time?)

She purrs A LOT when she’s next to our little one. She puffs up her body (mostly neck hairs) which I know is supposed to be dominance.

The few times they’ve met outside the partition (in the tub) panda is NONSTOP trying to hump the little one.
I’ve stopped introducing them outside the partition just because I’m not a vet and therefore not 100% sure panda isn’t a boy but the way she’s acting is convening to me.

The last time I had them together panda kept putting her nose under the little ones and tossing it up to the point she almost flipped the little one over!

To be clear
-she hasn’t bitten her hard, a few nips on the ear but the little one didn’t cry out
-never bared her teeth
-never held her head higher


I get so so so nervous with them together because the little one is half pandas size and it’s giving me incredible anxiety! Please help 😭
Can you please post a picture of Panda's genitalia so we can clear up the sexing before things go any further.
The behaviour is indeed more typical for boar bonding than sow bonding.

Forcing the chin up is a mild dominance enforcement gesture. Panda is obviously not good a the subtleties of social interaction, but there is no danger of any fight.
 

MBennett

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Can you please post a picture of Panda's genitalia so we can clear up the sexing before things go any further.
The behaviour is indeed more typical for boar bonding than sow bonding.

Forcing the chin up is a mild dominance enforcement gesture. Panda is obviously not good a the subtleties of social interaction, but there is no danger of any fight.
Hi sorry this took so long I completely forgot about it due to a family death.
Here is a picture of pandas genitals.
 

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Siikibam

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Yes, as long as you wait six weeks before reintroducing them. Just make sure he can’t get to her, but have their cages next to each other so they can still have that interaction through the bars.
 

Wiebke

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Oh no.
Are they ok together if he gets neutered?
They will be OK from 6 weeks after the neutering operation. Cross gender bonds are the most stable of all piggy bonds once initial acceptance happens.

Here is our comprehensive information on neutered boars and neutering operations (including cost, what to look for in a vet, post-op care, potential complications and mandatory post-op safety wait): Neutered / De-sexed Boars And Neutering Operations: Myths, Facts and Post-op Care

Until Panda can meet a girl safely, you can keep your two in adjoining cages for mutual stimulation and companionship as long as they can see each other (communication by scent, body language and voice). Just make sure that Panda cannot wiggle out or climb/jump out of his cage. Boars are ever so athletic and determined when a sow is in season! A midwestern cage can be jumped out of and a C&C cage needs to be cable tied with ideally a firm boards over the connecting grids.
You can see a video of a climbing boar in this link here: A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
 
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