Worried about my new guinea pigs

LondonLady

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6 days ago I adopted two guinea pigs from a rescue centre. I've never had guinea pigs before and I did loads of research before getting them but I'm terribly worried I'm doing something wrong. They're not babies - they are a 1yr old neutered male and a 2.5yr old female. These are the issues:
They don't seem to be drinking. They don't seem to drink from their bottle so I put a bowl of water in the cage as well and though they go to it and sniff the water level doesn't go down. Could they be getting enough water from the veg I'm giving them?
They still seem absolutely terrified of me. I haven't attempted to pick them up and when i try to stroke them gently they freeze as if petrified with fear.
Biscuit, the female in particular spends most of her time hiding in her shelter, completely still. Is this normal? What i don't understand is that the first couple of days she seemed more active and I don't know if I've done something to frighten her.
I'm working from home at the moment so I'm in the same room with them most of the day. Could this be stressing them? Would they be happier if I left them completely alone?
On the plus side, they are eating well and especially love their cabbage!
I'd love them to interact with me more but most of all I just want to know that they're happy.
 

Piggies&buns

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Welcome to the forum

Piggies will drink as much as they need to - yes they may well be getting all the water they need from their veg. Just ensure there is always fresh water available and they will drink what they need to.

Entirely normal to be scared. First, as prey animals, scared is the default setting! Secondly, 6 days is a very short amount of time. We recommend covering the cage and doing nothing more than feeding and cleaning for the first week. From then on uncover the cage and sit by the cage and talk to them, then build it up to offering them food from your hand. It takes time with them though, do every slowly and calmly, take it at their pace and do the exact opposite of a predator - talk as you approach them, don’t loom over them, approach from their level. All these things will help. How quickly they acclimate and get used to you will vary massively from piggy to piggy though. One of mine was comfortable within six weeks, it took the other 18 months to take food from me.

Piggies aren’t all the interactive type though. Most don’t like being picked up, some will learn to enjoy being held but some will always dislike it. The interaction with my two is limited to health checks (weighing, nail clips etc) as they don’t like being held. I tend to just sit in their shed and talk to them rather than have physical contact.

Be careful when feeding cabbage as it can cause issues with bloat if fed in too large of a quantity - Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

Below is a collection of new owner guides which cover a multitude of subjects including settling them in and piggy whispering techniques. Do give them all a read
New Owners' Most Helpful How-To Guides and Information
 

alpacasqueak

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Don’t worry about them not drinking much at the moment, my newest piggy Aliona barely drank for weeks when I adopted her in January and worried me a bit (compared to my other pigs that have always seemed to drink loads!), it could be to do with the diet that they’re having with you like you said with veggies giving the fluids they need. I’d cut down on the cabbage too, diet guide is great on here for daily veg etc.
It took months for my girl to take food from my hand or relax enough to come near me, I still can’t stroke her and it was only recently she’d even eat sitting on my knee (for a treat after nail clips etc, we rarely do cuddles!). Compared to my boar who was very relaxed and did it the day after he moved in!
6 days really isn’t much, they’ve had a big upheaval and life’s probably a bit strange for them atm! Definitely a good idea to read the guides that Piggies&buns has linked, they’re great!
Sounds like they’ve moved into a great home! :) Would be lovely to see pics when they’re a bit more settled! What are their names?:D
 

Wiebke

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6 days ago I adopted two guinea pigs from a rescue centre. I've never had guinea pigs before and I did loads of research before getting them but I'm terribly worried I'm doing something wrong. They're not babies - they are a 1yr old neutered male and a 2.5yr old female. These are the issues:
They don't seem to be drinking. They don't seem to drink from their bottle so I put a bowl of water in the cage as well and though they go to it and sniff the water level doesn't go down. Could they be getting enough water from the veg I'm giving them?
They still seem absolutely terrified of me. I haven't attempted to pick them up and when i try to stroke them gently they freeze as if petrified with fear.
Biscuit, the female in particular spends most of her time hiding in her shelter, completely still. Is this normal? What i don't understand is that the first couple of days she seemed more active and I don't know if I've done something to frighten her.
I'm working from home at the moment so I'm in the same room with them most of the day. Could this be stressing them? Would they be happier if I left them completely alone?
On the plus side, they are eating well and especially love their cabbage!
I'd love them to interact with me more but most of all I just want to know that they're happy.
Hi and welcome!

How much veg are you feeding? Piggies have individually very different fluid needs which they cover from the fresh veg you are feeding and only secondly from water. many new owners expect all piggies to be good drinkers, which is not the reality.
You may find these guides here helpful as they discuss these aspects in much more depth:
All About Drinking And Bottles
Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

It is also perfectly normal for guinea pigs, especially those from a bad background or that have never had much in the way of friendly human interaction or suffer from rough handling, to take their time to come round. The guides in our settling in chapter of our comprehensive New Owners guide collection may help you understand how arrival in a new home looks from a guinea pig perspective, how prey animal instincts work, how you can use 'piggy whispering' and a number of other tricks to bring them round. Covering the cage or parts of it with a towel or blanket to give your piggies a feeling of added safety will also help.
Here is the access link. It has taken me several days to write some of the days, so we cannot push them all into one post or repeat all tips at length. But you will find them very helpful in welcoming your new piggies into your herd and telling them that they are welcomed and loved!
Settling In And Making Friends With Guinea Pigs - A Guide

Here is the access link to our comprehensive New Owners information collection, in which we specifically address the questions and worries that new owners come up against in the kind of practical and precise detail that are needed. You may want to bookmark it and use it as a resource as you go along. It makes good browsing and is worth re-reading as you will get out more insights at different times. Unlike a book, we can update and extend our guide collection at need.
Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides

You can access our even more extensive information collection, which is one of the largest around, via the guides shortcut on the top bar. You are of course always welcome to ask any questions you may have in our various care sections but we may link in the relevant guides for more in-depth information as we are all doing this for free in our free time and cannot repeat everything in full to everybody.
 

alpacasqueak

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Thank you for the replies. I've just covered part of the cage with a blanket (didn't think of that before) and hope that will help Toffee and Biscuit to feel safer. I'll read the guides too. Thanks again!
Think I had one over half the cage for a month with my girl, really helped her! She was a very nervous piggy but thankfully my original two she joined were very confident and helped her, she’s the most nervous pig I’ve had I think! Your pair are together sussing things out at the moment, as Wiebke says above, who knows what background/handling they’ve had bless them.
My old pig Rupert (left on my avatar) was 11 months when I adopted him and seemed pretty confident when I brought him home. But he’d been outside his whole life, hoovers and TVs terrified the poor chap! The sort of things you forget about as a human I suppose! :doh:
Hope the blanket helps! :)
 

Tigermoth

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Aw, I remember my early posts being similar. It took a while for them (and me) to calm down and for me to see them doing very much at all.

To reassure yourself you could wash the veg and leave it a bit wet then you know some fluid is going in with that but they will get what they need.

A bit of background noise I think is good for them too, dilutes the bangs and crashes that terrify them! The TV or radio does the trick.
 

Freela

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This sounds very normal for new pigs- as prey animals, they are often very sensitive to changes/new environments and will be extremely nervous and cautious. I wouldn't worry too much about water intake either- many pigs aren't big drinkers, especially if they are getting water from vegetables, and they may be taking sips while you aren't there at night when they feel more protected. I didn't see one of my pigs, Sundae, drink for something like two weeks after we brought her home, though she was sneaking sips at night!
 

Fantasimo

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My boys were terrified for a week or two as well. Everything is so new for them and it takes a while to learn that they are safe. Now they’re scared of almost nothing 😂

I agree with what the others have said. Talking to them helps, as your voice becomes a ‘safe’ sound, i.e. when you’re talking, everything must be okay. Talk to them during snuggles and lap time too, they will soon warm up. It can take a long time (I had one traumatised rescue pig who took 3 years to trust me, although most pigs only take weeks/months) but it’s really lovely when they do start to trust you more and more because it’s something you’ve earned. Eventually you should have a wonderful bond with them ☺
 

LondonLady

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Hello again.
Three and a half weeks in, and I don't think I'm a very good guinea pig mum 😟. I've got such a lot to learn. I've been reading lots on here and it's all really helpful but I'm still worrying that I'm doing everything wrong.
They so hate being picked up. I know that's normal, but I don't know what to do for the best. When I want to clean their cage I try to get them to walk into a cardboard box and then put them into their play pen (which is in another room - there's not enough space in the room their cage is in.) Today Biscuit did this quite happily, but I just could not lure Toffee in . So eventually it ended with me grabbing him and worrying that I was hurting him. He seemed perfectly ok afterwards - they were both running around the play pen and seemed to be having lots of fun.
They both get very excited when they know food's coming and they don't seem to mind me cleaning up round them as long as I don't move too quickly.. Biscuit will come and nibble my fingers very gently and lick them. Does that mean she likes me (I hope!) or something else? Toffee is much more cautious. He does come and sniff my hand but the slightest movement sends him scooting away. Except once last week when he bit my finger quite hard and drew blood. I haven't been able to find much here about piggies biting, but I presume he did it because he was scared. I'm trying hard NOT to scare them.

Biscuit is definitely the more confident of the two, and what worries me a bit is that she seems to bully Toffee. When I offer them food (usually a piece of cucumber or slice of pepper) they will both eat it from my hand but she will try to push him out of the way and try to hog it all!
I've registered with a vet and I've booked them in for a health check in a couple of weeks. They seem very healthy to me but I want to be sure.
Oh, and my original worry about them not drinking: they are using the water bottle now but still not drinking much. Now I can see them actually drinking feel happier about that and assume they're drinking all they need.
I must admit I underestimated how time consuming they would be - but that's fine. They are so beautiful and so so worth it :love:
 

Piggies&buns

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Hello again.
Three and a half weeks in, and I don't think I'm a very good guinea pig mum 😟. I've got such a lot to learn. I've been reading lots on here and it's all really helpful but I'm still worrying that I'm doing everything wrong.
They so hate being picked up. I know that's normal, but I don't know what to do for the best. When I want to clean their cage I try to get them to walk into a cardboard box and then put them into their play pen (which is in another room - there's not enough space in the room their cage is in.) Today Biscuit did this quite happily, but I just could not lure Toffee in . So eventually it ended with me grabbing him and worrying that I was hurting him. He seemed perfectly ok afterwards - they were both running around the play pen and seemed to be having lots of fun.
They both get very excited when they know food's coming and they don't seem to mind me cleaning up round them as long as I don't move too quickly.. Biscuit will come and nibble my fingers very gently and lick them. Does that mean she likes me (I hope!) or something else? Toffee is much more cautious. He does come and sniff my hand but the slightest movement sends him scooting away. Except once last week when he bit my finger quite hard and drew blood. I haven't been able to find much here about piggies biting, but I presume he did it because he was scared. I'm trying hard NOT to scare them.

Biscuit is definitely the more confident of the two, and what worries me a bit is that she seems to bully Toffee. When I offer them food (usually a piece of cucumber or slice of pepper) they will both eat it from my hand but she will try to push him out of the way and try to hog it all!
I've registered with a vet and I've booked them in for a health check in a couple of weeks. They seem very healthy to me but I want to be sure.
Oh, and my original worry about them not drinking: they are using the water bottle now but still not drinking much. Now I can see them actually drinking feel happier about that and assume they're drinking all they need.
I must admit I underestimated how time consuming they would be - but that's fine. They are so beautiful and so so worth it :love:
You are a good piggy mum! The fact you think you’re not means you are - you clearly care! there is a lot to learn and even with experience, you’re still learning!

three and a half weeks is still such a short space of time. Mine jump straight into A carrier when I want to move them from one place to another but they’ve been with me for over two years now, they definitely didn’t do it after just a few weeks. Again, with the running off If you move too quickly, as prey animals this is Normal.

Taking food from one another isnt bullying, it’s normal piggy behaviour. If you offer food from your hand, hold your arms as far apart as you can and have food in each hand, that way the piggies can be at least a body length apart and no hogging can occur as she can’t cover both your hands at the same time. Scatter feed their food (pellets and veg) as it keeps then occupied, encourages natural foraging but also stops any hogging

there is a guide on biting, I’ll link it in
" Biting" And What You Can Do (Biting, Tweaking, Nibbling and Nipping)
 

Roselina

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Hello LondonLady 😀 I know exactly where you are with feeling like a bad guinea pig Mum ! I can reassure you are not ! I felt just the same when I rehomed my boys. I worried about the water drinking / enough hay/ how much veg etc. Also one of my boys is gentle and the other ‘in your face ‘ piggie. The lively ‘ in your face ‘ piggie ( Bobby) will also snatch food from my gentle Geoff but as Geoff got to trust me I just make sure he gets the same treats - I scatter their veg and have lots of hay piles about and that sorts any squabbles. I think there is always a dominant piggie in a good pairing. The fact they don’t mind you cleaning up around them and get excited over food shows you are doing really well ! Toffee would have bitten you by mistake ... either you smelt of food or he was scared as piggies only bite defensively - I trained my boys to go into a hidey to be moved into a playpen and then trained them to go into a pet carrier .... all with treats and it didn’t happen overnight but it’s easier for them and they are smart little creatures ! I also understand the time commitment as I didn’t realise how much time I needed to devote but ......I wouldn’t change a thing it’s sooooo worth it ! So don’t worry, you will get more confident with each day and checkout the piggie whispering advice it’s great 😊 hope to see some pigtures !
 

alpacasqueak

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Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with them and you’re definitely not a bad piggy mum, sounds like they’re doing brilliantly! :hug:
I have a bitey pig called Luigi, he likes to nibble and lick fingers etc but gets a bit excited sometimes and you can get a nip, try to make sure your hands aren’t smelling of food etc which can lure them in! Still doesn’t stop him at times though the beast! :doh: He’s also the dominant of my porky pair and is the same with his cagemate pushing her around a bit etc, it’s totally normal and doesn’t sound like anything to worry about, just that he’s the dominant one so demands first dibs on grub!
I can’t stroke either of my pair in the cage, both utterly despise being picked up too but they jump on me and take food from my hand, I’ve had them both months (Luigi since July last year)! So definitely don’t take it personally! Some piggies just don’t like that kind of fuss and 3 weeks isn’t a long time so they might surprise you when they’ve settled in more!
Great you’ve got them booked in for a health check and it’s great they’re using the bottles more, some pigs really don’t seem to need much water with their veg intake but some are at it constantly (my newest addition hasn’t seen hay in two years so he’s drinking a lot in between his hay munches but my Aliona barely touched hers for weeks when she arrived in Jan!).
Would be lovely to see pics like @Roselina said! Sounds like they’re coming on really well! x
 

VickiA

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All the above is perfectly normal, and you are doing great. We’ve all got piggies we can’t tempt into boxes or cosies or who we can’t catch. I’ve had one of my 6 for 9 months and only now will she take a sprig of coriander from my hand and I still can’t catch her. She’s wild! But all piggies are different, kindness, persistence and bribery will all pay off. The fact they respond to you at food times and you are getting piggy kisses shows you are doing everything right. Hang in there.
 

DonDon121405

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Thank you for all the reassurance everyone!
I'll probably have more questions before long...
We are 6 weeks in and I am still feeling very much like this. Still not really cuddled them, they will eat from our hands but they seem happier just being left to it. We’ve upgraded accommodation from a hutch to a hutch and an entire shed to roam. They are getting bigg and squeak when we go in to feed them, but that’s as much affection as we get. You are doing a great job 👍🏻
 

Fantasimo

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Despite the fact that guinea pigs act like it’s the end of the world when they’re caught (to begin with) the fact they recover quickly means that they’re actually perfectly okay, they just like to make us feel bad 😅 eventually your pig will realise that being picked up leads to good things, so please don’t worry about hurting or emotionally scarring them by picking them up. They’ll get there. My boys are 18 months old now and they come to me to be picked up, but one of my boys has only just started to do that, the other one was much quicker. Lots of catching was involved before that 😂

Also, there is always a more confident pig, but as long as the more timid pig is eating and drinking and not losing weight, then they should be fine. Also, I find that guinea pigs sometimes change as the get older and become more or less confident as all their hormones come into play.

Good luck ☺
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum.
I have 3 piggies none of whom like being picked up or held.
Phoebe hates being held with a passion.
Health checks are a challenge with her.
Priscilla usually explains to the neighbourhood that she is being horribly tortured if I pick her up. She then nibbles me until she goes back.
Micah has only just started permitting me to stroke his ear and the top of his head. He’s my youngest and newest who joined the family in July last year.
They all like being petted in the cage and when the veggie bowl arrives all 3 are trying to crowd in before I can put the food in the cage.
Just take things at their pace and allow them to tell you what they do and don’t like
 

LondonLady

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Biscuit and Toffee have been with me for 6 weeks now and tomorrow I'm taking them to the vet for a check up. They seem healthy and happy to me but as I'm so new to guinea pigs I'll feel happier once a vet's seen them. I feel really nervous! I don't think they're going to like going in their carrier - Toffee especially - and it's going to be a bit stressful for all of us. I've been weighing them and find it quite easy to get Biscuit into a cardboard tube to go on the scales. Toffee seems to know what I'm trying to do though and does all he can to avoid it :D
I'm a bit concerned about their nails. I'm not sure if they need cutting. Will the vet do this for me? I definitely don't feel confident enough to try myself.
 

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