- 4 the Good of all Pigs
Zoe is getting friendlier but isn't as vocal as Fuzzy. She only wheeks when food is imminent or if I start the chorus. She has learned that if I try to pet her and she chatters her teeth at me I will only be more determined and pick her up! Now, she will more often than not, let me pet her and she knows I'll be done soon. She has recently started laying down when I begin petting. I take that as a sign she's more comfortable with me. She's actually more of a lap pig than the other two. She loves it when she gets alone time downstairs with me. She's the one that will curl up and go to sleep on me. Fuzzy's too busy. She will lay for a bit but want to explore.
Ozzy is the piggie that, when he came to me as part of the MD piggie train, would run up to cage edge and beg for attention. Now that he has his girls and a whole room to himself he isn't as starved for attention! He is not vocal at all. The only sounds I hear are teeth chattering and happy squeaks when he's found a spot where the girls have peed recently! I've yet to hear a wheek from him.
When I clean their cages (well, it's more like food stations-they are free range), they like to be right there. "What'cha doin' slave? You got more hay for us slave? Hey, I just put that poop there! Why are you taking it?!" That's what they seem to be thinking/oinking. Then I reach out and say "gonna getcha" and try to pet them. They take off across the room and then come back as soon as I turn my back. It's almost like they are playing tag. I have so much fun with them.
They also know when the pellets come out. They play follow the leader. I really have to watch where I step, since I'm the leader! I think, to a certain degree, they do understand human body language. The more time I spend with them the more I am convinced of this.
When Fuzzy was an only pig she and I were really getting to the point where I felt she knew what I was saying, etc. I try to copy their sounds and "talk" to them (the pig whisperer!). That seems to give them more confidence in me too. I could go on all day.
This week Bubba has started something new. He is obcessed with my sofa. When he is down for floor time he immedately runs to sofa trying to figure out a way to get up on it. If I put my hand down, he will use it like a step stool. Still can't figure out why he wants on the sofa so bad.
Fuzzie's cage seems to be closely bonded. If we put on pig from the cage on the sofa, he or she will start sniffing around, wheeking for cagemates. They're short little wheeks at first, then louder to an almost fever pitch.
Amee, though the smallest pig by weight, has a deep, raspy wheek. The others wheek and squeal more like typical pigs. Marilyn lets out a huge squeal when picked up from tiem to time.
Of course we also have the chirping. Marilyn and Snuggles are confirmed chirpers. We had a chirping episode the other night, but we were unable to identify the culprit. So we may have yet another chirper.
- Supporter in '10
Guinea is my most communicative pig, but that's probably because the last year he's been on almost constant (it seems) medicine and handfeeding. He has several different sounds that all mean different things, plus an extensive body language vocabulary. It is very easy for him to make himself understood by the stupid humans.
- Supporter in '10
He recognizes several words (food, treat, Pig), and Rob's voice. If Rob gets up while I'm feeding Guinea, Guinea will stop eating and stretch his neck WAY out, waiting for a treat or a scritch. Everytime. It makes me feel like quite the second class citizen that even though I do all the feeding, medicating, and cleaning, Rob is Guinea's favorite person. But, its pretty darn cute. He also does the "licking and chewing" motion when he's hungry, and turns away from the bowl when he's done. If he hears a syringe clink on a glass, he gets very excited. Even though he drinks from a bottle, he LOVES water from a syringe. He does the happy dance and his warbly feeding sound whenever he hears it, even if he's already full.
- Supporter in '10
But I know what you mean. Three of my girls never quiet down while they're exploring. Its adorable, and makes me laugh.
- I gave AGAIN, dammit!
They purr when they're petted, and when they're getting cosy and sleepy (especially if the pigloo's just been cleaned out). They purr in the hay (quietly discernible amongst the munching noises), and quite often - when they grab a good veggie and run with it to hide and enjoy it - they purr about that, too. The purring when being petted is a little deeper, I think.
They also make the 'Brrr' sound to alert for danger. The funniest thing is that the little noise that my Mac makes when I drag an email into a folder makes the pigs go 'Brrr'. Every time. It makes me feel guilty, so I turn the volume down. I don't know why they haven't got used to it.
I've only heard one of them teeth-chatter once, and I don't know what got into her, but I think she was scared rather than angry (?) I just went up and she ran across the cage, but then let me stroke her and talk to her until she was calm again.
And they both wheek their heads off for veggie time. If they sense that time is near, they start getting a bit vocal and a bit lively - sort of 'play' wheeking, just to remind me. But when they hear the colander chink, they really wheeeeek.
They don't understand a word I say to them, I think. They don't do tricks, and they're not as bright as some other people's pigs, but they are the nicest! Blackberry will follow me round the room with her eyes, and when I talk to her, she sits and looks at me meaningfully. Pepper is more darty and timid, and less interested in me. They both come up and sort of push their noses at my toes a bit, sometimes. That's about all the attention they give me!
- Supporter in '10
- I gave AGAIN, dammit!
Aw - but it's so true! No man around here to compete for their attention, so at least I'm okay there! They do like my son as much as me, though. I guess I'm just good for food supply. I am so glad they have each other - they really are the best of friends. Eleven must be fun.
Fuzzie does that during floor time, or any time he is happy, sort of a little perking noise. Amee does that too. When she's running she sounds like a little chicken.
When Marilyn is stalking the cage for hay she burbles to herslf happily.
- Thanks for the Memories
I do think that there is a designated wheeker, which is usually Jules, but Steve has chimed in as of late. If I'm tardy with breakfast, I hear about it in triplicate.
Neal is skittish and uncertain. He can be a bully in the pen, but he's terrified of being pet or picked up. Once he's out he's alright, but it's often a struggle to catch him. His body language tells me "AAAHHH!!!!" as well as the wide-eyed look he gives me. He's learned to tolerate the occasional in-cage nose pet, but I get that wary look any time I try.
Jules and Steve are friendly, personable, and generally don't mind being picked up, pet, and otherwise doted on. I can hold a carrot and kiss them on their crests while they lean for it. Steve talks a lot during lap/floor time. On your lap, he will often snuggle down and relax. Jules has been known to fall asleep.
My most communicative pig was Max. Even moreso than Suzanna or Sandwich. He spent his first several years alone pig-wise, but with a lot of human doting. I used to carry him in my pockets, and he learned to ride my shoulder. He constantly talked to me. If I forgot his backrub in the morning, he'd complain just as bitterly as if I'd forgotten to feed him. When I was blue, he knew that it was quiet time and would just sit on my lap for hours. He was very good about not peeing on people, and a very good traveller.
On a slightly related note, my husband can't tell the difference between chattering and talking and is uncertain that they like him. He'd much prefer a purr or hiss. To him, guinea pig communication is very subtle and/or indecipherable.
Nova is my strong and silent pig. She WHEEKS like a champ, often drowning out Spooky who is content to let her do the wheeking for the both of them. Nova also chirps. She is the only pig who I have ever heard chirp. Her chirping does not seem to be brought on by anything specific...I think she just thinks she's singing. Nova is slow to coo when petted, but when she does it's non-stop. She doesn't protest at all during nail clipping and bathing...she's a breath of cool air after I fuss with Spooky. Most of the time she is quiet (unless food is involved), but she is as friendly as a puppy and will run right up to you to get a scratch or food.
I also feel like my pigs communicate a lot to me with their eyes. Sometimes I have to gauge Nova's emotion through her eyes because she is so quiet when we cuddle. Spooky loves to lie on my chest and look into my face...but Nova is more shy (which is strange because she's a very friendly pig) and prefers to lie on my lap or legs.
And, of course, there is body language. There isn't anything better than seeing Spooky push out her front paws and yawn...and when both back paws follow suit it's like petting a small rug. :) Nova prefers to lie down like a half-moon, and when she nestles her chin into my legs, I know she's comfy.
Gotta love those pigs.
I used to get up, check e-mail and boards, then get their veggies, so they knew when my computer chair squeaked and I stood up from it, I was getting food, so they'd start to Red Alert (what I call v. loud and insistent wheeks).
Now, I check e-mail and boards then do morning Yoga and excersice, so they know I stand up from that and open the bedroom door, that means it's time for food.
When I get back with food, Tai will stand on her hind legs and sniff the air like a curious squirrel and Yu will run races around the cage, stopping to pull himself up the bars of the cage to sniff at me.
They definately tell me what they want, when they want it. As the evening approaches, they know they'll get evening veggies, and start wheeking anytime thbey hear someone walk by the door combined with the jingling of our Chihuahua's tags ('cuz the Chi usually follows me everywhere).
Gilbert and Sullivan start wheeking about food when they hear the sounds of vegetables being torn apart, or their bowls being washed. They wheek and are usually all but hanging off the sides of the cage in anticipation as I bring them their food. When Jim brings them food, they look somewhat confused and even suspicious.
They always seem to know when I'm coming down the stairs with food or just coming down the stairs. They don't usually say anything if I'm coming empty-handed unless I say "Pig-pigs!?" in a cheerful voice. Then I get a "hello!" -type wheek in response.
Gilbert in particular has pronounced facial expressions when he is alarmed. If you take Sullivan out of their cage, Gilbert jumps up so his front feet are on the cage wall, and looks very gravely concerned that you've removed his brother, even though he was probably tormenting him just a minute ago. Sullivan, on the other hand, usually looks relieved to have some time to himself when you take Gilbert out.
Both pigs get very upset and pouty when you remove their water bottles. They position themselves to where their water bottles were and wheek and look very downtrodden and abandoned.
If you shake their vitamin C bottle, they stand on their hind legs like a couple of prairie dogs and wait until you give them a vitamin.
I discovered that Sullivan especially gets a kick out of playing keep-away when I try to pick him up. Sometimes he actually popcorns as he runs from me, making happy laughing wheeks. I frequently clean their larger area when they're up in their loft eating fresh hay, and they "sneak" down the ramp to see what I'm doing, and then run back up to their loft when they figure out I'm on to them.
Jim apparently speaks guinea pig. When they're really getting snippy and are on the verge of a fight and are rumbling at each other, Jim will make a grumble sound at them. They seem to acknowledge him as the head piggy and they both bow out of the way to his dominance.
All in all, I think we understand each other well. We've learned Gilbert and Sullivan's nuances. If we ever got a third piggy, we'd have to start over to understand him.