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New owner, finding a companion for a rescue sow

Mirandarachnid

New Born Pup
Joined
Jul 9, 2024
Messages
7
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37
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75
Location
Amarillo Texas
Hi everyone!

I unexpectedly became a guinea pig owner after my husband and I found a sow in our backyard. I posted on Facebook and knocked around on my block, but nobody claimed her. I don’t normally acquire a new animal without months of research before hand so I still feel like I’m scrambling. We found her on May 24th. She doesn’t appear to have put on considerable weight so I’m fairly sure she’s not pregnant.

Obviously I’ve read that they do best when they have a companion. I’ve found a person in town who has four week old babies and I am planning on picking up one of them.

Our girl received a clean bill of health, and is estimated to be around a year old. She will occasionally hop into our lap from her cage if we have food and a blanket on our lap, and if we’re sitting in her play pen she will jump right into our laps without encouragement. She lets me pet her, and sleeps out in the open (even with her eyes fully closed a couple times). She’s only tweaked my husband once, and that was shortly after we found her, after getting a bath, being blow dried, and having nails clipped. (We only bathed her because she had been out in the dirt and then inadequately housed overnight in a plastic tote box with no bedding so she was a mess). She’s very interested in our ancient cat.

I’ve been reading the pinned posts on here, and I’d like a little bit of targeted guidance.

When picking a baby to (hopefully) be her friend, what sort of behavior should I look for or avoid?

I’ve read on here to skip the quarantine period with little ones. Should I immediately put them together in neutral territory? I’ll be bringing the baby home around 6, my toddler goes to bed around 8. I’m worried about the chaotic energy that my toddler would contribute to the situation and wonder if it would be best to do the introduction after she goes to sleep.

If all goes well with the introduction, at what point can I put them in the cage and trust that they should be okay overnight?

I understand the cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned and rearranged when they are moved into it. When can I reintroduce items like hay hides and willow balls that had been previously used by our sow?

I apologize if these questions have already been answered elsewhere. The most social animals I’m familiar with keeping are ants, so this is all very new to me and I’m only just starting to feel confident about husbandry basics.

I would wait a little longer, but I feel like I need to jump on this chance to acquire a baby because the lady I’m in contact with is about to donate them to a reptile shop (hopefully not to become snake food? But that particular shop does not take the best care of their animals). Of the two other independent pet stores in my area with guineas, one tried to sell me an extremely sick six week old, and the other will not have babies for a few months. So I feel a little stuck.

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Welcome to the forum

Well done for taking her in.

A baby is likely to be accepted but there isn’t really a specific behaviour because your piggy and the new one have to be character compatible. So without trying them together you simply aren’t going to know whether you’ve picked the right one for a long term bond.

First, make sure you are certain of the sexes of both piggies!

Yes - you skip quarantine for a baby.
They go on neutral territory for as many hours as necessary to get through the early stages of bonding - my recent bonding was three hours before moving to the cage. You can leave them longer even overnight if you don’t feel confident to move them.

You can add hides once they are in the cage. Any items should also be cleaned as much as you can or at least also contain the scent of the new baby.
What you are looking for is for the cage to either smell like neither of them or for it to smell of both of them so there is no territorial issue. If it smells of just your sow then it could be an issue.

Make sure the cage is ideally 150x60cm but 120x60cm as a minimum

Let us know how it goes!
Good luck
 
Gorgeous piggie. So sad she was dumped but she's landed firmly on her paws with you. Bonding babies is usually no issue at all. The older piggie usually accepts a baby no issues. And the babies are usually so glad of company of a mum figure. There's a full section on bonding which is really useful. Id also advise double checking the sex of the new companion as pet shops etc can get it wrong.
 
Hi everyone!

I unexpectedly became a guinea pig owner after my husband and I found a sow in our backyard. I posted on Facebook and knocked around on my block, but nobody claimed her. I don’t normally acquire a new animal without months of research before hand so I still feel like I’m scrambling. We found her on May 24th. She doesn’t appear to have put on considerable weight so I’m fairly sure she’s not pregnant.

Obviously I’ve read that they do best when they have a companion. I’ve found a person in town who has four week old babies and I am planning on picking up one of them.

Our girl received a clean bill of health, and is estimated to be around a year old. She will occasionally hop into our lap from her cage if we have food and a blanket on our lap, and if we’re sitting in her play pen she will jump right into our laps without encouragement. She lets me pet her, and sleeps out in the open (even with her eyes fully closed a couple times). She’s only tweaked my husband once, and that was shortly after we found her, after getting a bath, being blow dried, and having nails clipped. (We only bathed her because she had been out in the dirt and then inadequately housed overnight in a plastic tote box with no bedding so she was a mess). She’s very interested in our ancient cat.

I’ve been reading the pinned posts on here, and I’d like a little bit of targeted guidance.

When picking a baby to (hopefully) be her friend, what sort of behavior should I look for or avoid?

I’ve read on here to skip the quarantine period with little ones. Should I immediately put them together in neutral territory? I’ll be bringing the baby home around 6, my toddler goes to bed around 8. I’m worried about the chaotic energy that my toddler would contribute to the situation and wonder if it would be best to do the introduction after she goes to sleep.

If all goes well with the introduction, at what point can I put them in the cage and trust that they should be okay overnight?

I understand the cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned and rearranged when they are moved into it. When can I reintroduce items like hay hides and willow balls that had been previously used by our sow?

I apologize if these questions have already been answered elsewhere. The most social animals I’m familiar with keeping are ants, so this is all very new to me and I’m only just starting to feel confident about husbandry basics.

I would wait a little longer, but I feel like I need to jump on this chance to acquire a baby because the lady I’m in contact with is about to donate them to a reptile shop (hopefully not to become snake food? But that particular shop does not take the best care of their animals). Of the two other independent pet stores in my area with guineas, one tried to sell me an extremely sick six week old, and the other will not have babies for a few months. So I feel a little stuck.

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Yes, you can wait a few hours after arrival with the bonding until your toddler is safely asleep.

What we do not recommend for a baby is a two week long period of being on their own while in quarantine; your piggies will have to go through it together and will both need treatment if there are any problems. Please double check the gender before bonding. Boars can make babies from ca. 3 weeks onwards and sows have their first season between 4-6 weeks - basically as soon as they are weaned. :(
Illustrated Sexing Guide

Unless you see the piggies in action, it can be very difficult to spot which one is a dominant or submissive one and even then it is not necessarily quite obvious. What you can never predict is the actual dynamics between the two personalities.
Our recommendations go by general trends but they are no guarantee and they cannot predict the outcome in individual cases. It is always a leap of faith. But it is great that you want to give your dumped girl a happy and good life.

All the best! What an adorable little brindle aby. ❤️ But then, I am biased.

She reminds me of my Mischief (Missy) who came into my life 20 years ago, pretty much to the day. Still remembered with great fondness and much missed.
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Thank you everybody!

The guinea pig Facebook groups said she was a sow, and my vet also confirmed this. they are knowledgeable about exotics and the care information he was telling me checks out with current recommendations. I’ve read the guide on here and I’ve been looking at enough pictures that I feel pretty confident in my ability to pick a female out of a litter.

Due to the toddler and cat, I needed a cage with a closed top. The cage I was able to purchase on short notice is 60cm X 119cm, but I purchased an extension that will increase the size to 60x165 and I’ll be adding that when I clean the cage in preparation for the new arrival.
 
Good luck with the bonding! I was always on my toes when I bonded my boys with the chasing and humping, but it was a success. The bonding guide really helps.

My Stripe gained so much confidence when I got him a friend, originally the pet store told me I could keep a single guinea pig but he would wheek every time I left the room and he was timid till I got Chez.
 
It went well! I let them hang in neutral territory for a couple hours and when I moved them into the cage they were a couple of popcorning fools.

Sexing the babies was easier than I thought it would be. The first little one I picked up was very clearly a male, and this little one was very clearly a female.

My only concern is that her poops seem really small and dark, but I think they were mostly feeding pellets and lettuce, I’m not sure if I actually saw any hay in there.

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What a lovely pair they are. 🩷🩷

Babies poops are tiny so I wouldn't worry. Also the colour varies depending on what they've been fed. Guinea pig poops are a dark brown and can change depending on their diet. 1 piece of advice I always give to those who have babies is to take lots and lots of pictures as they grow so so fast.😀
 
It went well! I let them hang in neutral territory for a couple hours and when I moved them into the cage they were a couple of popcorning fools.

Sexing the babies was easier than I thought it would be. The first little one I picked up was very clearly a male, and this little one was very clearly a female.

My only concern is that her poops seem really small and dark, but I think they were mostly feeding pellets and lettuce, I’m not sure if I actually saw any hay in there.

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Hi

Glad that al has gone well! What a little cutie and what a gorgeous pair. Enjoy them! :luv:

As the baby will take her cues from her new mate - learning what is safe to eat and what not by sniffing, snatching food from the mouth and mimicking, she will start eating hay soon and the poos will normalise. :)
Journey through a Lifetime: The Ages of Guinea Pigs (this article series charts the development over the course of a lifetime; you may find it interesting when watching the interaction between your two girls as you will get a lot more out of it)
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)

But I would have a word with the shelter since hay should make over three quarters of the daily food intake it is absolutely crucial for long term health and longevity. Hay is the one essential food group that cannot be dropped.
On good care, the average healthy life span is 5-7 years. I have had a number of rescue adoptees from horrendous backgrounds living to 8 years of age nevertheless. You can of course not account for genetics (especially in inbred hoarding cases with uncontrolled multiplication) and for any serious health issues in younger piggies but the majority of my adopted piggies has lived to 5-6 years and about as many to 7-8 years as have sadly died at a younger age because of a medical or a genetic problem.

The silica in the hay fibre is what keeps the crucial back teeth ground down (the growth rate in guinea pigs has evolved to a perfect balance with it); it is the same silica that you will also find in human tooth paste, just in a much smaller amount. The highly nutritious hay fibre is also what the gut is designed to break down in two runs through the gut to get the most of it.
Pellets, veg, fresh and dry forage and any treats all together replace the supplementary role of wild forage in a mainly grass/fibre diet. Not feeding hay can lead to severe malnutrition and - because the food is too soft and contains too little fibre - it will also lead to dental overgrowth. The crude fibre content in most pellets is just around 10%, they are mostly made up of empty filler products. Too much veg can also promote serious bloat and diarrhea events.
The recommendation is just 1 cup of veg per piggy per day and 1-2 tablespoons of pellet or dry forage plus unlimited hay.
Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
 
They’ve really struck gold finding you- what an amazing job you’re doing without ever planning to have pigs in the first place! Surely there couldn’t have been a better back yard for that poor girl to find herself in.
 
Thank you everyone! I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with animal care requirements at present. All of my “low maintenance” pets seem to need new enclosures all at once (my scorpion had babies, my ant populations are exploding, and my corn snake is ready to go in its permanent enclosure), we just got back from a trip and I’m sick. I keep wondering if I did the right thing taking them in and all your feedback really helps. 🥲
 
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