Piggy Hates My Wife!

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Bryce Piper

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Tater is a young boar, less than a year, I'd guess. We've had him since about October '14, when we got him from a pet shop. He was very skittish and nibbly for the first few months but has calmed down and settled in. He's still nibbly from time to time but has grown affectionate, particularly with me. But he hates my wife and I've got to change this.

There's me, my wife and our two girls, age 13 and 11. I made a concerted effort to bond with him those first few months and it really worked. I'm his uncontested favorite and he squeals for me when I come in, I can pick him up with no problems, and during couch time he seeks me out for petting. He also bonded with my youngest to a lesser degree, but is indifferent toward my oldest. For an unknown reason, he just doesn't like my wife. He will bite her at every opportunity. He will occasionally allow her to pet him briefly but that usually ends with a bite too. Sometimes he'll curl up next to her on the couch and rest, sometimes he'll even climb up on her lap (briefly), but if she tries to pet him he bites. Sometimes he'll chatter at her in warning. He does like her singing and will purr sometimes when he hears it.

I've tried forced bonding time (make her hold him in a towel) usually with treats and singing softly, she always brings him veggies and talks to him. Nothing seems to work.

You must understand my wife is a loving woman who is good with animals. She's also very emotional and this rejection really hurts her and brings her to tears. We all get nibbled from time to time, but the difference she says is that I get purring and affection and she doesn't. What can we do?!?

I'd like him to bond more with my oldest, but I'm sure that's just a matter of her spending more time holding him. She's emotional like her mother and after being bitten a few times doesn't want to hold him much unless I make her.
 

Critter

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When you say he bites, does he bite hard or just nibble? Some guinea pigs do nibble. Sometimes it's while they are relaxed and they lick and nibble, sometimes they nibble to tell you they need the toilet, and sometimes they will place their teeth on you and gently bite, without breaking the skin, when annoyed. One of mine is a 'biter'. She doesn't actually bite to be fair but if I annoy her (such as cut her nails) she will threaten to bite by putting her teeth on me and giving gentle nips. She can be cuddly and she is certainly bold, but she knows what she wants and will let me know, often with her teeth, if she wants me to stop doing something.

I have read on here of some biters - proper biters, and the general opinion is not to give them what they want when they bite. Show them you will hold them anyway, for example.

A few things come to mind, but they are ideas that may be rubbish!
One is this: Is Tater large for his age by any chance? I mean really really big? I ask because some pigs, not many but some, have Cuy in their genes. Cuy are exceptionally large guinea pigs bred for food by people in South America. They were never bred for temperament. Some were brought across the border and some shops have been selling these, and crosses of these without realising what they are. Most Cuy are skittish from what I have read but I have also read that when they do bond they form a strong bond with one human in the group, and this is what makes me wonder.

The other thing that comes to mind is scent. One of my pigs was wary of my Mum. When she came over this pig would go and hide, and I can only put it down to the possibility that she (the pig) didn't like my Mum's perfume. This pig lived with another family prior to living with me, and she didn't have a good home before. Perhaps the lady of that house smelled similar to my Mum?
I wonder if your wife and elder daughter use a scented product - body-spray, hand cream etc. and it's confusing your Tator.

What is Tator's background? Was he shop-brought or adopted from another family? Guinea pigs have longer memories than we give them credit for and perhaps some memory is triggering this behaviour.

I am clutching at straws here....

That aside guinea pigs do tend to recognise who their main carer is. Your early regular interaction with Tator caused a bond to form between you. I am the main carer for our household piggies, and they know when it's me walking through the door, coming into the house. How? I don't know, they just do and they wheek a greeting (and a request for food) when I open the back door. This isn't the door that opens onto the room where they live, yet they know it's me before they can smell or hear me! They show an interest in my younger son too as he is the secondary carer. My pigs are neither fearful or aggressive towards anyone else in the house, just that they get excited when their main carer (me) gets close to them.

Another thought I have had, and again it's one off those 'clutching at straws' thoughts is hierarchy. Assuming Tator is an only-piggy, I wonder if he is thinking of you as being head of the herd, and he is trying to establish hierarchy over the rest of the family. I've not heard mention of pigs doing this before, but perhaps if someone else reads this it may be something that someone else has come across?
Ear nibbling-licking is something I have seen dominant pigs do to underlings. It looks affectionate, and I think it is, but I also think it could be saying "I am the boss of you, but don't worry, I happen to like you and you are welcome to share my space)." I read recently of someone doing a gentle ear-rub to calm a head-strong piggy while being held.

Even with these ideas (and they are just thoughts) though I do tend to think that it's a case of Tator bonding with his original main carer, you. Some guinea pigs take many months or more to warm up to people in general. He warmed up to you, perhaps he simply needs more time to warm up to others. One of mine took the best part of a year to warm up to us, and then suddenly she decided she really liked us!
 
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Wiebke

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Some piggies bond very strongly with a person and can become rather possessive about them, especially single piggies. I assume that the biting is rather in the way of a deliberate hard tweak than a full-on bite?

Here are some tricks that your wife and daughters may find useful to bond with your boy and to establish their dominance over him. Perhaps that can help with the tweaking issue. I have found that it helped me to keep my hands safely out of reach as much as possible with the one tweaker I have had (a huge piggy personality otherwise), but she has certainly tried to dominate her world and make it go the way she wanted!
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk...stincts-and-speak-piggy-body-language.117031/
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/how-to-pick-up-your-guinea-pig.126359/

It can be that they are using perfumed products he doesn't like; some piggies can be rather sensitive. It can a dominance thing.
 

Bryce Piper

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Thanks for those replies, it's very helpful.
His biting behavior has a few aspects. He'll do an attention-gaining nibble, like a small nip/pinch when he wants attention or to go back in his house. That one I'm not much concerned with. His other is a wide-mouthed "HEY!" which is the "what was that?" or "leave me alone" bite. He almost never breaks skin, and when he does I think it's not on purpose (he does like to bite toes, though). It's this second one he does with my wife. It's unwarranted, she's always trying to pet him or be nice to him and he just dislikes her.
 

biscandmatt

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my initial thought was whether she wears any strong scent like perfumes. or whether she has any contact with any other strong smells that may be scaring him.

something may have happened to him in the past aswell as someone mentioned and that is triggering a reaction.

other than that, he sounds very bonded to you. i would guess now she's upset aswell, she might be giving off that vibe to him aswell. i find they all seem to favour a certain person and if he's alone, he may be even more bonded to you. i think just sitting by him and gently talking, offering food by hand and not holding him for now might be best. it can take some piggies weeks or months to feel comfortable with certain people. usually those associated with food!

if he had a friend, perhaps they would help aswell. :)
 

Freela

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That's a tough one! Animals have preferences, too. One of my pigs did not like men... I think it was friendly, as she was quite good with my son who was young enough that his voice was still very high at the time. She was very fearful (though more of a runner than a biter) with adult men. She may have had an early bad experience (though we got her quite young, so it would have had to be extremely early in her life.) I think some pigs are also jealous/protective of who they perceive as 'their' human. Hadley (in my avatar photo) a couple of times would go over to the person sitting next to me on the couch and randomly bite them! Not breaking the skin, but more than a nibble. I think they were either too close to me or she felt they were infringing on 'her' couch or something like that. She was quite young at the time, it's been awhile since she has done that, though.

Maybe your wife could take over feeding for awhile, both the food bowls and giving treats. My experience is that pigs tend to like the people who feed them! My husband has minimal contact with the pigs, but did feed them when I was recovering from surgery, and this led to one of them deciding he was now her buddy and following him around and wheeking at him for months afterwards!
 

Wigwig

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My guinea pig archie is very aggressive to my sister. Occasionally he will cuddle on her if I dump him on her, but usually he bites her, like a snapping bite. I always put it down to her personality, as she has some mental health problems and doesnt relax well, I think animals work on a very empathic level and if your feelings are messed up then they dont want to hang out with you. He also has a very dominant personality (was rescued cause he kept fighting other GPs), he likes to be boss, I think I am the only person who manages to be more dominant than him, he does alot of dominating behavior especially with any males, like he will headbutt my dad and give him nips that seem very much like "I am the boss, dont get any ideas mate", but he isnt savage like he is to my sister, he will rumble and stink me up if I am talking to my bf, he really is just wanting my attention so will ignore everyone else mostly unless I leave the room.

Animals have personalities and preferences like us humans, they will of course have their favorite person, but they will dislike people for no obvious reason too. We all do that, sometimes you just dislike a person, even though they haven't technically done anything wrong, theres just something about them that doesnt gel with you. Maybe it is like that for your guinea pig and your wife. I normally get on well with all animals, but I have come across a few that didnt like me or were indifferent to me, I dont take it to heart because obviously, you cannot be friends with the whole world. There will always be some people who dont like you, and animals are the same, you literally cant win them all.
The other thing is animals can detect sickness, like how dogs can sniff cancer and that cat in the retirement home who sits next to people who are about to die. I have no idea if theres ever been a case of a guinea pig detecting illness, but I would not be surprised to hear of it, and it may be your animal is trying to tell you something on that front. It may be that she has something stressing her mentally (like work problems or something) and your piggy is picking up on that. I find that the more "zen" you are, the more an animal tends to like you.
 
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