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ylrevat

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My sweet boy Sheep (he's a male, about a year and a half old) has been acting completely unlike himself lately. He's never been a huge fan of being picked up, but lately he either sits there & chatters his teeth if you're anywhere near him or he looks terrified all the time. He won't stop hiding - he's always in the dark corner of the cage or under one of his hidey structures. This hasn't been super unlike him, so I wasn't too worried - I've just been careful about making sure to give him lots of talking time and try to encourage him with treats (his favorites are grapes, I also give him bell pepper and plentiful lettuce) and I have him sit in a big 4' x 3' playpen next to my desk so that he doesn't feel alone.

I wasn't too worried until I went out the other day. He's stopped talking to me. I haven't heard more than one single wheek in the last 2 days. Usually he isn't extremely vocal but he does talk a fair amount, like any guinea pig would, and I always seemed to know what he was thinking. Now I don't hear anything from him and he looks scared and I'm worried for my little man.

He does still have plentiful appetite and he drinks a good amount of water. His pellets and hay is refreshed & full all of the time. I'm giving him veggies and vitamin C tablets. His previous cage was a metal & wood hutch, I'm worried he may have bumble foot so I'm currently changing out his bedding daily and trying to get him to trust me enough to let me pick him up and look at his feet. He's also been itching himself a lot more than usual recently. I did recently move his hutch into the main area of the house - before I had roommates whose guineas took priority and they made me keep his hutch behind the sofa so we'd only see him a little :(((. I'm worried he might be scared of attention now. I've been so worried sick that I've slept maybe 6 hours in the last 2 days (this is also a stressful time of year so this happening right now is not what I needed :bye:. He's my precious boy and my most prized possession and I don't know what I would do without him. I just want him to be happy.

I think my question is, what do I do now? Here's my current plan:
1. Get him a vet appointment - I made one but the soonest my vet could get us in is Saturday the 21st, so not super soon. I'm planning on making sure to keep a close eye on him and if anything else changes (i.e. if he starts limping for some reason, eats less, drinks less, is more lethargic, etc.) I'll re-evaluate. My question here, though, is how soon do I call it bad enough to run him to the emergency vet? I have a severe anxiety disorder so I tend to blow things out of proportion and I'm not sure when it's a dire situation.
2. Get him a different cage. I'm looking at 2' x 6' C&C cages and new fleece liners. He's a handsome and lovely king and I'm worried he doesn't like his habitat, so my early Christmas present to the both of us will be a new cage for him.
3. Look into getting him a brother. He's been really aggressive towards any other guinea pig he's met before but I'm so worried that he's lonely that I think once I get him checked out by my vet and make sure he's doing well physically it's time for him to get a best friend. I don't know if anywhere is doing Boar dating at the moment but I'll figure that out when the time comes. It'd be nice to see him bouncing around with a sibling.

What do you think? I'm just so worried. I want to do whatever's best for my sweet prince but I'm a chronically anxious person and I keep just randomly crying because I'm worried about him. Please let me know what you think, it'd mean the world to me. I love him so much and he's the cutest little guy :(
 

ylrevat

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I feel I should mention, I wasn't aware how important it was for him to have a brother in the first place and I feel so awful that he's alone. I am also not sure if I should get him checked out first or go ahead and start looking for a brother now. Please let me know
 

Siikibam

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I think it may be a case of loneliness. However, there is no harm in ruling out any medical issues first, so keep the appointment for 21st. How has his weight been? Do you do a weekly health check?

It is very important that guinea pigs have companionship of their own kind. I’m afraid no amount of interaction with you can replace or fulfil that need. You can’t ‘speak guinea’ so it’s imperative. Do look at contacting rescues near you, if there are any.

You say he’s been aggressive with other piggies. How many has he been introduced to and how was it done? It’s not aggression but simply that they didn’t get on. Character matching is more important than age or anything else. If you go for a pet shop piggy, do have a plan B in case of having to separate them. They can live as neighbours, which would allow for the interaction they need. Of course it’s ideal for him to share his cage with another, but if that’s not possible then having a neighbour is acceptable. I’ll put some links below for you to have a look at.

Good luck in your search. I hope you find him a friend very soon. Let us know how the appointment goes.

Guinea Lynx :: US Guinea Pig Rescue and Shelter Organizations
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
 

Siikibam

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I feel I should mention, I wasn't aware how important it was for him to have a brother in the first place and I feel so awful that he's alone. I am also not sure if I should get him checked out first or go ahead and start looking for a brother now. Please let me know
Keep the appointment for the 21st, but start contacting rescues that may be within reasonable distance now. I would work on the assumption that they may have a waiting list.
 

Piggies&buns

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A vet appointment is needed for any change in behaviour, but there are a few things I want to pick up on.

He absolutely does need a friend. Piggies should never be alone and while you need to rule out medical issues first loneliness could be a real reason for this.
If you’re going to keep two boars together, then he will need a big cage. A 6x2 c&c for two boars is perfect (the smallest two boars should have is a 5x2 c&c, so a 6x2 is perfect).

His pellets should never be full. He should only have one tablespoon per day. Too many pellets are unhealthy and can lead to health problems such as bladder stones as they contain a lot of calcium. The only food he needs constantly is hay. Fruit should always be kept limited and not given more than once per week.


definitely start looking to rescue centres and get your name on a waiting list. He just needs to find a friend he is compatible with. However, some boars just don’t like the company of other boars in which case you could look to neuter him, have his six weeks post op wait to become infertile and then find him a sow wife
 

ylrevat

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A vet appointment is needed for any change in behaviour, but there are a few things I want to pick up on.

He absolutely does need a friend. Piggies should never be alone and while you need to rule out medical issues first loneliness could be a real reason for this.
If you’re going to keep two boars together, then he will need a big cage. A 6x2 c&c for two boars is perfect (the smallest two boars should have is a 5x2 c&c, so a 6x2 is perfect).

His pellets should never be full. He should only have one tablespoon per day. Too many pellets are unhealthy and can lead to health problems such as bladder stones as they contain a lot of calcium. The only food he needs constantly is hay. Fruit should always be kept limited and not given more than once per week.

definitely start looking to rescue centres and get your name on a waiting list. He just needs to find a friend he is compatible with. However, some boars just don’t like the company of other boars in which case you could look to neuter him, have his six weeks post op wait to become infertile and then find him a sow wife
Thank you! I had no idea that it's only supposed to be a tablespoon, I'll fix that ASAP. And I'm going to start looking into them right now. It's 2:30am where I'm at so if they need me to call I'll do it first thing in the morning.
 

Piggies&buns

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Pellets should only make up just 5% of the daily food intake. They are the least important and least healthy part of the diet.. I’ll add in a diet link below

you should weigh him weekly as it is the only way to ensure he is healthy and eating enough hay. Hay is their main food source but you cannot judge hay intake by eye. When you have health concerns, you switch from weighing weekly
to weighing daily (at the same time each day. This enables you to keep a closer eye on hay intake and spot any problems such as rapid weight loss or a gradual with continual downward trend and therefore means you can step in and syringe feed if necessary.

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
 

ylrevat

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I think it may be a case of loneliness. However, there is no harm in ruling out any medical issues first, so keep the appointment for 21st. How has his weight been? Do you do a weekly health check?

It is very important that guinea pigs have companionship of their own kind. I’m afraid no amount of interaction with you can replace or fulfil that need. You can’t ‘speak guinea’ so it’s imperative. Do look at contacting rescues near you, if there are any.

You say he’s been aggressive with other piggies. How many has he been introduced to and how was it done? It’s not aggression but simply that they didn’t get on. Character matching is more important than age or anything else. If you go for a pet shop piggy, do have a plan B in case of having to separate them. They can live as neighbours, which would allow for the interaction they need. Of course it’s ideal for him to share his cage with another, but if that’s not possible then having a neighbour is acceptable. I’ll put some links below for you to have a look at.

Good luck in your search. I hope you find him a friend very soon. Let us know how the appointment goes.

Guinea Lynx :: US Guinea Pig Rescue and Shelter Organizations
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
I don't do a weekly health check, does that mainly just consist of him being weighed & then looking him over for any problems? I'll be more careful to add that into my weekly schematic. It totally makes sense that he needs other guinea pigs, I'll be getting him a best friend as soon as I can
 

Piggies&buns

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Yes it does - a weight check and body check for any lumps or bumps is a weekly thing and then monthly nail clipping (unless your vet does it for you) , perhaps a hair trim if he’s a long haired piggy to keep it away from the bottom.

Weighing him regularly means you can pick up on some health issues quickly as sometimes they lose weight before showing any other signs of illness and stepping in quickly can make all the difference.

Weight - Monitoring and Management
 

Wiebke

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Please take the time to read the green guide links. You will find them very helpful.

Here is information for single guinea pigs in a range of situations and the specific challenges that poses, information on how to best go about companionship and also a chapter on how it can come out when a single piggy is projecting their social needs on you or is struggling with being on their own.
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities
Moody guinea pigs: Depression, Bullying, Aggression, Stress, Fear and Antisocial Behaviour

Always make sure that there is no medical cause for a change in behaviour before addressing the behaviour side. Life-long weekly health monitoring with a weigh-in and a body check is important in catching any slowly developing problems early on when they can be dealt with comparatively easy and are not yet an emergency.
A good hay based diet with filtered watered (the biggest contributor calcium in a diet), unlimited grass hay (which should make around 80% of the daily food intake and which you cannot control by eye, hence the importance of weighing), a preferably green leafy diet with herbs rather than fruit and root veg and a very limited amount of pellets (which contain more calcium than any veg) can help to prevent health problems like bladder stones, dental (it is the highly abrasive silica in hay and grass that the crucial fast growing grinding back teeth have evolved against) and digestive problems from a diet too high in sugary fruit and veg, which encourages the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut microbiome). A guinea pig on a mostly hay based diet will also not suffer from scurvy (vitamin C deficiency as fresh grass is high in it and even hay does contain enough to be the reason why guinea pigs never had the need to make their own vitamin C in the first place).
A healthy hay based diet can help with extending a healthy normal life span for 1-2 years from the bottom end to the top or beyond. So well worth reading up on in detail!

You can find lots more really helpful practical and often interesting information via this link here, which you may want to bookmark as one of the best information resources around: Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides
Our full and even more extensive information resource can be accessed via the guides shortcut on the top bar. The guides format allows us to update and add at need.

All the best! There are unfortunately no rescues in your state on the Guinea Lynx list of recommended rescues but there are one or two decent places from what I have heard from another member in your state although the information is a few years out of date.
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum.
I can’t add to the excellent advice already given but wanted to add support.
Hope the vet appointment goes well - let us know how things go.
I also hope you can find a lovely companion.

My boar, Micah, was supposedly a piggy who couldn’t live with others so had to live alone.
He is now neutered and living very happily with 2 sows.
 
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