Skittish Piggies

PocketPaws

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I got two male baby pigs a week ago and they’re very skittish. Whenever I move they dart into their hidey house. I was sitting on my bed and I stretched and they went into full panic mode. I’ve been handling them, but maybe I’m not supposed to at this stage?
What can I do to tame them or at least make them less scared?
Thanks x
 

YorkshireLass

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How do you manage to handle them? We have had ours 12 days and I can’t catch them without serious trauma! Mine are also skittish but are just starting to be out in the open more, they still bolt into a hidey if I move though.
 

Fantasimo

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Hi, please don’t worry, they will be very skittish to begin with and picking them up will cause trauma...in fact, most things will cause trauma! But the good news is that they do get over it. I’ve had my latest boys since May and even though they come to be picked up now, they still scatter if they hear something unfamiliar or if I walk into the room without announcing I’m on my way! They’re prey animals, so it’s natural to them and takes them a while to get over.

Just keep doing what you’re doing (both of you) talk to them, pick them up, hand feed them goodies, let them snuggle up on your lap in a hoodie or blanket so they can hide and tickle their noses (try this while they’re eating something as they’ll mind less).

You’ll get there, it’s just a case of being patient with your nervy new pals 🙂
 

PerceptorII

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To reiterate what the others said, what you are seeing is very normal behavior. It's a good idea to leave the piggies alone for the most part when you first introduce them into a new home, then gradually get them used to being handled. But if you've already handled them don't worry about it. You've probably just taught them that nothing bad happens when you hold them.

There is actually a very good write up on this site about getting your piggies used to being handled and cuddled here.
 
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PocketPaws

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Hi, please don’t worry, they will be very skittish to begin with and picking them up will cause trauma...in fact, most things will cause trauma! But the good news is that they do get over it. I’ve had my latest boys since May and even though they come to be picked up now, they still scatter if they hear something unfamiliar or if I walk into the room without announcing I’m on my way! They’re prey animals, so it’s natural to them and takes them a while to get over.

Just keep doing what you’re doing (both of you) talk to them, pick them up, hand feed them goodies, let them snuggle up on your lap in a hoodie or blanket so they can hide and tickle their noses (try this while they’re eating something as they’ll mind less).

You’ll get there, it’s just a case of being patient with your nervy new pals 🙂
Thanks, I’ve tried hand feeding but whenever I put my hand in the cage they just scarper. They won’t allow me anywhere near them 🤧
 

Fantasimo

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It’s still early days, so that’s normal. When you get them out for laptime, try them with something tasty then (maybe an extra special treat like carrot or parsley that they wouldn’t get everyday). They’ll probably be too scared to take it for the first couple of laptime sessions, but when they take it from you for the first time, or start to move about on your lap, you’ll know you’re getting there. The more times you give them good interactions while you’re holding them, the more relaxed they will become.

Everyone has different rules, but I would say try handling them for ten minutes everyday, both at the same time (if you can manage it, so they have each other side by side for security).

It can be frustrating in the first couple of weeks, or you can feel that you’re making it worse, but when they choose to trust you it feels great, because they’ve certainly made you earn it 😂

Just keep doing what you’re doing, sounds like you’re doing everything right 🙂
 

Siikibam

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They will take time to get used to you. You have to remember they are prey animals so anything is seen as a threat. If they don’t take food from your hand it’s ok. I’d put it in bowls or scatter it around for them to ‘forage’ for.

As for laptime, I’d say start with a few mins and gradually build up to longer. Try and use a hidey or cuddle cup/cuddle pouch to pick them up out the cage. Don’t chase them around. When you have them maybe wrap them in a fleece and you can stroke them underneath that. I’ve seen it suggested somewhere that you put in an item of your clothing in their cage, that smells like you.

Whenever you’re approaching where their cage is, or nearby, talk to them. A predator won’t make their presence known.

Also have a read of the thread linked below on guinea pig whispering. You’re speaking to them in their language so it helps a great deal.

Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
 
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