I have two female guinea pigs that I got together as babies from a pet store (I know, I know, I tried adopting but it kept falling through so I got them from a family owned pet store that breeds their own, which clearly wasn’t much better than any other large chain store). We found out they had lice shortly after bringing them home. Once we dealt with that, they seemed happier and friskier and started settling in.
One of them, Peppercorn, stayed pretty small, while Pumpkin was steadily gaining and plumping up. Pepper did gain but it was a lot less. I did my research, was keeping a close eye on her and how she was eating and I didn’t see anything to make me think Pumpkin was keeping her from eating.
Fast forward to last week and she had eye gunk and crusties so I took her the exotic animal vet we saw when they had lice and he immediately was concerned by her size. He gave me drops for her eye and critical care to supplement to help her gain some weight. The vet checked her teeth and said they look good. He thinks Pumpkin might be bullying her. I’m not exactly sure what to look for. They have been together since they were babies and seem to get along well. No fighting that I’ve seen, though Pumpkin seems to chatter (in annoyance?) at Pepper sometimes (and even at me if I’m messing in the cage). Once in awhile she will snatch a veggie from Pepper, but then Pepper just gets another from the veggie bowl. They will both hang out together eating their veggies, pellets, and hay. Pumpkin doesn’t seem to drive Pepper away.
Any advice or experience or tips? The vet recommended 5 ccs I’d critical care once or twice a day (up to 10 ccs at a feeding). She’s been taking close to 10 twice a day since I started. I wasn’t sure if there was anything else I could do to help them be happier. They’re in a 4 x 2 c&c cage, have a big hay bin that they happily sit in one at a time or together to eat hay, a couple hidey houses.
Oh and I noticed (after the vet visit) that the ends of her ears have some like hard areas on the edges. I’ll try to take pics. Not crusty or thick, no white flakes or anything, just hard on the edges. She had previously got some medicine to rub on the top of one of her ears (when the lice were discovered) bc she had some white flakes and the vet thought it might be ringworm but this looks different. I’ll try to take a pic and post it in the comments.
- And got the T-shirt
Get a kitchen scale that weighs up to five pounds, in both ounces and grams. You can find them for less than $15, and it's the best piece of medical equipment you can have. Weigh her daily, preferably in the morning before breakfast. That should tell you if she's getting enough to eat.
If the hideys have only one door, either throw them out or cut another door in them. No hidey in a guinea pig cage should ever have only one door -- they're just an invitation for one pig to trap another.
Their cage is a 4 x 2 c&c cage with a 2 x 1 loft (I know lofts don’t count for overall floor space but Pumpkin does like to go up and hang out in the loft). They have a hay hidey with two openings and a large fiddlesticks that I have curved into an arch and I leave space at the back so they can come and go from either end and not get blocked in.
I’ll try to figure out pics. I’m mostly mobile but I have a laptop I can fire up.
I’ll email a couple pics now.
Personally I've stayed away from anything resembling a traditional hidey, think pigloos and cabin type houses. I use pieces of cloth in corners very loosely fixed and some shoe boxes with the two long sides removed and maybe a strip of cloth or two here and there. Whatever I make, if there are two pigs in the cage, I have two boxes, two corners with material, etc.
When it comes to cages I think bigger will always be better. I think your cage size is adequate but if you have room and can swing it at some point I might think about some more room for them. But then again I'm always thinking about adding a few more so maybe don't listen to me :)
What to look for in bullying? Certainly wounds from aggression/fighting. Barring that their bullying can be difficult to identity and it may not even be bullying. They have a very tricky social order. I have found some are extremely shy/timid, much more so than what they are normally and it can be tricky to identify. You may need to observe for some long periods of time to pick up subtle cues, which you have identified some already
Glad to hear she is adding weight, that sounds great
I think she just wasn’t a super healthy piggie (learned my lesson about pet store piggies) and I just keep reminding myself that I did everything I could and she was loved and taken care of. I’m going to post separately about introducing a new piggie that I adopted this morning (I had already been considering adopting her so after we lost Pepper, I figured might as well see if she was still available).
Thank you all for your help and support.