- Supporting my GL Habit
Eclair loved lap time, and was great at telling me when she needed to go. Oh, and it was easy - just put her on the floor and she'd make a bee-line to the "home base" box on the floor.
She's been gone just over a year, now. I still miss her desperately. I have to say, she was my absolute favorite out of all my pigs.
My pigs recognize the word "munchies" when I announce veggie time. They wheek excitedly till their treats arrive. Some of them know the word "blueberry" which is a special and relatively rare treat. Rustling hay bags announce hay time to the living room pigs... the living room pigs announce hay time to the bedroom pigs.
But more often than not, it is the pigs communicating their wants or needs to me, than me being able to convey any actual meanings to them. For instance, if a pig runs out of pellets it will wheek softly every time I am near. Friendly reminder that they want some more. Reuben asks for some sort of extra treat frequently.
Several pigs have been trained to stand still for petting by bribery and so demand a treat after I have pet them in their cage.
Simon and Sidney both request their "playtime", but each in a different way. Their playtime most often consists of them being allowed out, one at a time, to saunter down the "boardwalk" that goes accross the front of their cages and annoy the other pig. Sidney is very polite and squeaks quietly at his door. He is only demanding when he gets a whiff of girls scent from when we are cleaning the cage above him. Simon is always demanding about his playtime. He squeaks quietly but angrily, runs around his cage so fast he bumps his rump against the sides and repeately rings his bell. Simon is more likely to get what he wants, just so I dont have to listen to him anymore.
Sidney communicates to me when something has upset him. For instance, something is his cage is out of place, or I have left something in the middle of the "boardwalk" and he cant get to Simon's door... he chews loudly on the side of his plastic house.
Simon gets "in trouble" for pulling on Sidney's blankie when he's visiting at the door of Sid's cage. By that I mean, I scold him lightly and he looks at me like he knows he has done a forbiddden thing and usually stops. Though he is sometimes defiant if Sidney is ignoring him.
Rupert loves lap time and begs for it over 50% of the time when he sees me enter the room. He needs at least one lap time a day. He purrs for extended periods, almost cat like, till he tires out his purrer.(is that even a word) The others either dont care much, or only like lap time sometimes. A few prefer not to be touched, but we are working on that.
So before I write a book on the matter right here in the forum *wink*, I guess I will just say that they communicate with me very well, and I communicate to them fairly well. Though it is difficult to get a guinea pig to comprehend human communication. I understand my pig's needs and wants probably much better than they understand what I ever want from them. So it is quite apparent how the term "piggy slave" originated.
Anyway, I hestitate to post this, considering that if the guinea pig in the photo is ill and I'm worried about her and I would hate for this to remain as a sad memory of what she was before she died, or something, but this is Gorbag getting a display of love - of her tasty salty ears that is - from her sister, Ugluk. I just got a new flash for my camera from ebay and it helps a lot with photographs inside their cage like this. I didn't plan for this to happen, although I had noticed Ugluk licking Gorbag's ears earlier in the day. I was thinking how nice it would be to get a photo ofher doing that when I looked at the photo I'd just taken randomly just aiming the camera into the cage, when I looked at the lcd and realised I'd just got just that. I really hope Gorbag makes it through her troubles.
Ugluk is always licking human hands. She is very gentle, one of the most gentle licking guinea pigs out of any we've had. She only bites when she finds your nail, which I find interesting, as it seems to suggest that she somehow thinks that soft skin should be licked yet hard bits are ok to bite? Why is that? Other pigs that lick have had a tendency to lick for ages on end and then finally deliver a hard testing bite to see if you are as tasty chewed as you when you are licked.
His cage is located on a wall..but placed so he can see into the kitchen. When I am in the kitchen, he will suddenly appear in the corner of the cage and watch...to see if I am fixing him something. That is when I usually give him obe of his fresh treats.
When I am holding him, he will softly wheek when I first have him. It is usually telling me to sit down quick because he is not too crazy about this flying through the air thing. When he is ready to go back, he will head butt me under my chin, and if that does not work, he will climb up and nip at my ear, or my neck.
Can I communicate with him? I think so. Once I was sitting in my chair, doing something like reading the paper, and he was in the corner of his cage, staring me down, begging for a treat, or some attention. I just looked up, and said " Scooter, I will give you attention and a treat later, I am doing something now. I looked back down at my paper..but my husband insists that as soon as I said that he turned and went to lay down.
My husband or I will give him some veggie when we get home from work. One day, we got home together and my husband went to Scooter's cage and said "Hey you want a snack?" He swears the pig nodded his head yes.
- Cavies 'n Cobwebs
Sparky is the quieter one vocally, but has this way of staring at you straight on and making 'munching motions' as though trying to send telepathic messages (sounds wierd but that's the best I can describe it!) If you stare back at her and speak to her, she will raise her head and head off to where she wants you to be, usually cage side for 'juice' or up the ramp for food. If you don't follow she will trot back chutting and do the same thing again. If I am downstairs she will wheek in short bursts till I come up to see what the commotion is about, then she'll run to where she wants me to be. Usually for some weak apple juice from the syringe. She has this way of circling about when she has you where she wants you!
I think only by paying attention to their behaviour and trying certain things do you and the pig learn from each other. I'm sure if I ignored the behaviour they would stop doing it as it doesn't produce a response - hence them training us! Chilli seems to learn her behaviour from Sparky and is really only in the last few months trying things out for herself. She will now run up to me and stand on my feet of her own accord when she wants something. She is more of a 'licking pig' than Sparky - to both of us! When they are in their cage, to get my attention, they will jump on their houses - the highest part - and stretch out and nod their heads in a 'get over here' kind of way. If I'm not paying attention they do a kind of chattering thing till I come over. If I still don't come over, they will jump on and off the houses and repeat the process till I go over or they give up.
My 2 pigs do seem to kiss each other, and there does seem to be more contact than just nuzzling! Chilli will lick Sparky's face, especially her eyes, and Sparky will lick Chilli's mouth and chin. They do the little chutt chutt and contented purrs when doing so.
I also believe they know when each other is ill. I now think Chilli's nuzzling of Sparky's side was her trying to tell me - hey, there's something going wrong in there! She was persistent and hasn't done it since the spay. Sparky also did it when Chilli had her sludge and bladder problem. They did however, seem to spend more time snoozing apart. The ill pig sleeping in not-their-usual-spot and the other pig staying as far away as possible. Presumably as they are prey animals they don't want to become prey by being next to a sickly one.
They certainly know their names and resond to 'tea time!' very well, usually with a slow build up to a wheeking chorus. They respond better to hand/finger signals rather than verbal commands for anything else. Sparky more so but then I've had her longer. She is so used to the hand being the provider of food, she will often miss the food being dropped and still be fixated on the hand!
I think there are some animals that are brighter than others and pigs are no exception. I would describe Dusty (who I had for 3 years) as being really sweet but an airhead! Sparky is very bright for a pig but independent with it!
Tilt will watch us walk by the cage with his little lips in the air like he's blowing us kisses, or that could be the "my mouth is empty and why aren't you filling it with veggies when ever I want them".
Reggie still isn't comfortable enough with us to communicate. Hopefully he'll warm up in the next few months.