Wheeking and why

Bustersmom

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Hi all! We just adopted our first piggy from our local ASPCA. He is just over a year old and we were told upfront that he was shy and skittish. We are being patient so he can adapt and get comfortable with us. He has not made much noise but we wanted to learn to interpret any sounds so we listened to a YouTube video on guinea pig sounds and what they mean. The first sound in the recording was wheeking, and in response our little guy started wheeking loudly in response. Is this good or bad? At this point, he is an only pig and we wondered if he is expressing loneliness? Is it just a solidarity thing?
 

Piggies&buns

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He is responding to other piggies and wants to communicate but bad because your piggy is alone, he is looking for other piggies because he has now heard one. Communication between piggies is body language and pheromone based though. Also, sounds can sound quite similar but as they are context and piggy body language based listening to a video won’t completely give a gauge of how your piggy is feeling.

Please do get your boy a friend, ideally via dating at the rescue so you can be assured of character compatibility and a good bond. Guinea pigs are highly social and are never meant to live alone. Your piggy will settle in, be more confident and much happier with a friend. It’s interesting that a welfare organisation let you take a single piggy - how did that come about? Did they not have any others to bond him with before rehoming?

Companionship
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
Cage Size Guide
 

Free Ranger

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Some piggies are more vocal than others but if you want to hear their full range of wheeks/squeakles he really needs a friend to talk to. You are bang on in your interpretation - he is lonely, and got excited when he thought there might be another piggy around. If you have a local ASPCA that's great - they might be able to help you out with a second! That might also give your little guy a bit more confidence. Be gentle and patient with him and he will reward you with trust and love ❤ They are a herd animal, but from the messages posted here it seems 'normal' practice over in the States to sell them alone (maybe because they look like big hamsters which are solitary by nature) In Switzerland it is illegal to keep any herd animal alone and whether they were thinking about sheep or goats originally they have also included Guinea-pigs in that law! Any pet shop worth their salt over here will always recommend pairs. Rescues over here pair up piggies to adopt out unless you are looking for a single companion for a pig you have already (and they want proof of that!) and in non-covid times offer 'dating' services so you take your pig down to see if they can find a match they are happy with. Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful world of piggies 😊

PS: make sure he's definitely a He before he gets his boar-friend. Check the rescue isn't going to split a bonded pair to try and offer you one - you can afford to wait a little until someone else lonely comes in. And remember boar pairs can form a close bond but boar trios very rarely work so don't get carried away! It's soooo tempting sometimes! Good luck @Bustersmom ... and Buster!
 

Bustersmom

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Thanks so much everyone for your input! We have only had Buster for 5 days and he was by himself at the shelter. I believe he was surrendered with his sister who was adopted 2 days earlier. I would definitely consider adopting a buddy for him if that helps him flourish. Do they need to be the same age? We read that shy, skittish piggies can influence the behavior of outgoing piggies, does the reverse hold true as well? He does not seem to enjoy lap time or petting yet, but I am oh so hopeful he will eventually. I am finding it hard to hold back my affection and need to snuggle him!
 

Bustersmom

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additionally, Buster was surrendered because he was originally thought to be a girl. After his herd mate’s pregnancy, they figured it out! His sister was apparently a bully and could not get along with her herd.
 

Piggies&buns

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A successful bond comes down to character compatibility, not age. Two piggies have to like each other and be able to form a hierarchy to be able to live together. This is why dating at a centre, if you have one that offers it, is safest as the piggies choose each other. If you rescue another piggy from a rescue centre but they don’t offer dating, then you will have to carry out the neutral territory bonding procedure yourself. That is fine (we have guides to tell you how to do it), but you might also want to ask the centre if they will take the new piggy back if the bond fails (otherwise you will end up with multiple cages and single piggies) and try another. This is better than getting a piggy from a pet shop, for example, as if the bond fails, you are definitely going to have multiple single piggies who can’t live together and therefore multiple cages).

If you are going to try him with a boar, then their cage needs to measure 180x60cm as boar pairs need a lot more space.
Your alternative is to have him neutered (if he isn’t already), then he will need to have his six week post op wait to become infertile and then he can be bonded with a sow.
 

Free Ranger

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George is nervous and always has been but gentle interaction has taught him I'm OK so when he's on my lap hiding in his snuggle sack and I feel him snuggle up to my bare arm for warmth I feel full of love and compassion for my sensitive boar. We blithely went for a male as we had a lone female (Ivy) with quite a personality so my thinking was that a big boar would be dominant and there would be no squabbling over who is top pig. There wasn't any squabbling - it was her! But she never bullied him. The thing that made me laugh was when George wanted to come out into the open but was too nervous he would go and get behind Ivy and make her go first. What a gent!
 

Siikibam

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Be aware that he may never like being held or stroked. Some piggies are like that. You’ve only had him 5 days which is a short time. It’s always best to give them a week to settle in. Then you can start the weekly weighing and trying to hand feed. You have to earn their trust and that could take weeks, months or years. Go at his pace and you’ll be okay.
 

Free Ranger

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Oh yes - Good point @Siikibam I forgot to mention we've had George over 2 years! He was happy with his cage mates but he ended up alone last year and with lockdown the rescues here closed. I started sitting by his cage and eating my brekkie with him - he would come out and eyeball me while he was eating. He was comfortable taking veg from the hand - eventually on the lap for a couple of minutes for a piece but I let him get off when he wanted. As I was sitting on the floor next to his house he didn't 'freeze'. He knows now if I pick him up he won't be hurt but he's never sure what will happen - last time it was nails! (and lettuce)
 

Piggies&buns

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My submissive piggy (Dexter) is the more confident of the two, he was taking food from my hand within six weeks, he is first at the bars, coming running over to see what I’ve got for them, but under no circumstances am I to touch him or even attempt to hold him...ever!
The dominant piggy (Popcorn) of the two is the most nervous. It took him 18 months to take food from my hand. Now, three years down the line he also comes running over to see me but he always has some hesitance about it, he is the first to run off if something spooks them. They are both happy for me to sit in their shed with them and they will run around me etc but will run away if I try to touch them, scream if I try to hold them, they absolutely hate being handled, therefore, we don’t do it. They are more comfortable with each other than they are ever going to be with me, even though we have come a long way. The only way I can transfer them from one place to another is to have them walk into their carrier (which they both do voluntarily). I can then lift them out of the carrier and hold them for health checks, nail clipping etc, but they just hate it. Popcorn just screams and wriggles desperate to get away, Dexter gets his teeth out and bites.
So, I can say that Dexter’s confidence did not rub off on Popcorn or at least it took the best part of two years to do so, but it’s more likely that Pops just got used to me after all these years and has realised I won’t hurt him
 
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