Always with the purring


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:22 am

I am very new to the guinea pig world. Like two weeks new. Sparing some details we picked up a piggy at a local odd and unusual sale. She was cute, my four year old and her seemed to bond well and she was $10 for the cage, bowls, etc. All we know about her is what was written on the cardboard sign on her cage. "1 year old friendly female guinea pig". Upon bringing her home and some research she seems not so well taken care of (nails super long, toes packed solid with poop, dishes packed with poop, and a small Rubbermaid as a cage. She has been to the vet, small town rural vet who admittedly has no experience with guinea pigs, had nails trimmed, poop removed, weighed, much larger cage made (8.5 square feet). So here's my question: she has been in this new enclosure for about a week and seems happy runs around and leaps over logs every evening. But all day and night for the past two days I can hear her purring. Her purring doesn't seem to be happy as when she does it she usually walks away from you. But she has been doing it for two days probably every half an hour when no one is even around her. I take her out every day, she gets lots of attention that she seems to not mind from my four year old, drinks, poops, pees, doesn't want her hay mind you but eats everything else well (she has never really liked her hay). It's fall here and in the country and we always get lots of flies around this time. Could the flies be annoying her? There are usually one or two crawling in the shavings or on her hous but never on her. Or maybe it's a sign she's in heat? Ideas?


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:54 am

She needs to eat hay. Do you have fresh Timothy hay? The stuff you get at pet stores is usually pretty unappetizing, but a guinea pig's diet should be over 75% hay. Try to get fresh hay. It should smell fresh, be green. If she can't eat hay her back molars may be overgrown, which means you need to get a guinea pig savvy vet and have her molars ground or filed down. There is a link in this forum that can help with locating a vet.

If the "purring" is low-pitched and more like a rumble, then it's not purring. Rumbling usually is done in trying to establish dominance with another guinea pig, or by males who are asking females if they are "in the mood." Are you sure she's actually female? There are pictures to compare on this forum too. Turn her over and check to make sure. If she is really a year old, then if she's really a male you should be able to tell fairly easily, as males have a testicle sac that can drag along the ground.

I've never had a guinea pig rumble at ME to establish dominance, but maybe if yours has only been alone its whole life, maybe she is. In any case, if you can, she will do better with another guinea pig as a friend. But do make triple sure they are the same sex. Otherwise you'll have babies.

Good luck!


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:28 am

Thanks for the tips!

The hay we give her is the stuff we grow and give to our horses. I just go pull a bunch off of the round bale in the feeder when I'm out doing chores. It's mostly Timothy, some alfalfa but I remove the alfalfa before I give it to her.

She will eat the hay if I hold out on her veggies. But then I have to listen to the WEEK WEEK WEEK evertime she sees me. It's cute until it wakes up the baby. At first I was under the understanding that they need fresh veggies at all times. I have since learned that is not the case. So we have cut down her veg substantially (less than a cup a day) to see if that was the hay issue. But that was only a few days ago.

I got the vet to check gender when we had her in. He and the vet tech agreed Female. I have never seen testicles but I will maybe check tomorrow. I agree it isn't really purring, more rumbling. She kind of walks slowly around her cage while doing it. Then continues on making happy chittering noises.

The plan is to eventually get her a friend when one who needs a home becomes available but I kind of want to get the care of this one down pat before acquiring a new one. But that is the eventual goal once the learning curve has evened out. And yes same sex is a must. I DO NOT want guinea pig babies, as cute as they may be.


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:36 am

If she is doing a hip swaggle while rumbling it is definitely rumbling and not purring. We call it "rumble-strutting." I'm not sure what you mean by "chittering" noises. I call the contented noises "squeaky wagon wheel noises" because to me they sound like the wheels on those old fashioned metal kids' wagons when they need oil. That kind of noise means she's content.

If she is actually clicking her teeth together, that means she's mad. I knew someone once who had had a lone guinea pig that had been by itself its whole life (when he was a kid years ago) and he said that pig rumbled and clicked its teeth a lot -- and was so mean it got ignored. Made me cry, because the pig was obviously miserable and trying to communicate that it needed company. Hopefully that is not what your pig is doing.

The WHEEKing you hear means she wants treats or food and/or is very excited. Do you hold her? Guinea pigs are social animals and they need companionship. Until you get another guinea pig, that means she needs human company. We have six guinea pigs (we had unexpected babies) and we will hold them while we watch TV. Guinea pigs usually have to pee about every 20 minutes, so be aware of that when you hold her. Mine have learned to "hold" it while being held, but we use a fleece lap pad that is OK for them to pee on, and they will eventually pee on it when we watch hour-long shows with them, lol.

Is she outside? She should not be outside. There are too many threats to a pig that is kept outside. Plus it gets too hot and too cold. Poke around on this site and you can get some ideas on how to make your cage a great indoor place for her.


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:07 am

No she isn't outside. We have let her meander outside supervised but that's it.

So I just took her out to "cuddle" and run about and she clearly is trying to show dominance towards me. Rumble-strutting, pushing my hand with her mouth, head flicking, standing up on her back legs. I put her grumpy self back in her cage and went to put her chewing logs back in and she rumble-strutted over to me and then stood up and pushed my hand. I then blocked her with the other log and she ran over to her veg bowl and grabbed it with her teeth and flung it about 4 inches. This was about 15 minutes ago and she has been rumbling in her cage on and off ever since. I think I even heard some sneezing or chattering. I'm no where near her, like 20 feet away. Who exactly is she trying to dominate?

If she's behaving like this with no companion what is she going to do with another guinea pig? Tear it to shreds?

The chittering in the last post I was referring to was the happy little investigatory squeak. But since I tried to interact with her tonight she's mostly just made grumpy sounds. i will look into some diy entertainment for her. I want her to have a better life than what she had.

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Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:19 am

Do be careful letting her meander outside - mainly because a guinea pig can get startled and afraid and run into a hard to get to place.

I am so glad she is with you. I bet she is thrilled to have more space, good food, and no poop on her feet!

Do read the guide thoroughly. It can answer lots of your questions.


Post   » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:52 pm

If she had a bad life before you got her, she probably thinks all humans are mean. She's probably trying to tell you she's not going to tolerate whatever it was her previous owners did.

It takes patience, gentleness and persistence, but you can probably eventually help her realize you are a good person. The key to a guinea pig's heart is through its stomach, so if she gets special treats like fresh veggies when you hold her, she will eventually come to associate you with good things. As long as she isn't trying to bite you, I'd persist with taking her out every day for a cuddle and yummy treat.

When you pick her up, scoop her up from below rather than have The Hand descend upon her from above. That's too much like an eagle or a hawk and it scares her. We had four guinea pigs (now it's three) who were born to us -- so all they've ever known is love and affection and associate terrific things with being held -- and none of them like to be caught. It triggers their prey instinct and they run and hide or try to evade. But once they are in our laps or against our chests they are fine and really enjoy being petted. We have found that letting them run into a small box or tube and then picking them up in that makes it easier on them.

Guinea pigs have poor eyesight and learn to recognize you by your scent, voice, and even footsteps. So talk to her in soothing tones as much as you can, let her get a good whiff of you, and of course make sure to always have a yummy treat ready that she only gets when she's with you, and she will probably eventually get calmer around you.

I'm not sure what to say about the rumble-strutting to you. I've never had a guinea pig do that to a human before. My pigs (I have six all together now) do it plenty with each other, but never to me. Maybe someone else here can address that.

I do know that when it's between my pigs, they play the game "who can reach the highest with their nose." The higher the nose, the more dominant the pig. I've had some of them fall over backwards a couple of times trying to outdo each other in that, lol. Sometimes when one pig is rumble-strutting the others just ignore him/her, which is basically allowing the rumbler to "win."

As Lynx said, do read the guides here. They help a lot.


Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:46 am

I really appreciate your guys' help. I have been doing so much research. I'm not all the way through the guide yet but I have learned a lot. Unfortunately there isn't much available info regarding a pig showing dominance to the owner and what, as an owner, can be done about it.

In the meantime Peppas dominance/aggression seems to be getting worse. She "bit" me last night. When I say bit I mean she displayed several domineering body traits before giving me a warning shot - like pushing her teeth against my hand. It's not like she's afraid. She runs out to greet every time you walk by her cage or come to visit but it's always followed by rumblestrutting. She will walk around her cage slowly while rumbling then come over to you to investigate what you have for her, if nothing she will do her rumbling lap again. She very seldom hides when you approach. Last night all I did was put some fresh hay in and was sifting through it to remove the thick alfalfa stalks. She of course came running up to my hand immediately started rumbling then nudging, chattering, then bam teeth were felt on hand. Out of instinct I forcefully shoved her away. She got spooked and ran in her hut but came back out less than a minute later and was then very personable. Very little rumbling no chattering, only a few head flicks. I read that discipline shouldn't be used, it was kind of a quick instinct on my part and maybe I shouldn't have done it.

Today she is back to her grumpy self. I have tried to somewhat train her. She kind of has to work for her beloved veggies. If she wants a lettuce leaf or whatever she must let me gently touch her head for a second or two with no complaints. It seems to work a bit. If she starts rumbling or getting shovey I take my lettuce and walk away and return in 5 minutes. Is this kind of an acceptable form of training or is it a fruitless effort. I do see a difference after the first lettuce piece.

Also, we are actively looking for a roommate for her but wouldn't you know it, None of the shelters in a 300 km radius have any piggies at the moment. I hope something will work soon as we cannot have a pet of any sort that bites in our house with two small kids. I really want to make a better life for her but I'm running out of ideas here.

Ps - we got her some new "toys". A little grass hut, a wood tunnel, and some little wood ball things.


Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:53 am

I forgot to mention, i am still taking her out to romp in the house once the kids are asleep. She seems to like exploring but she will occasionally sit on my feet and nudge them, I think domineeringly but it's hard to say. She will also climb in my lap if she knows I have veggies. But if I try to snuggle her (like set her on a blanket on my lap while watching tv) she constantly tries to get away or bites at the blanket or my shirt and won't let go. The first two days we had her she would lay down and close her eyes and let me scratch her. I honestly don't know what I doing wrong here.

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Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:58 am

Be sure to rule out medical conditions that might have something to do with this.


Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:38 pm

I don't think it's mites but maybe the cysts. Ooof, we just took her to the vet, built her a bigger cage, bought her toys and supplies. I've dropped over $300 on her so far. I'm a believer that you get a pet and they are your responsibility for life, but this little piggy is putting a sour taste in my mouth about guinea pig ownership. We aren't getting any of the cute sweet cavy perks but yet continue to exhaust my efforts and bank account. In addition I now will have to convince my husband that I will need to drive her an hour to a different vet to get her checked yet again. He wasn't very happy about my impulsive purchase to begin with. But in the end it was my fault, not the pigs. Sigh.

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Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:03 pm

You can also just give it time. On the ovarian cysts page, you would note all the signs that can be present.

You may just have a cranky guinea pig!


Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:55 pm

I think I will try a buddy first. They had two females that just came into the shelter. Waiting to see if they are a bonded pair because I really don't want three!

She fits some of the symptoms of ovarian cysts , mostly the moodiness. She has no hair loss on her sides but her hips and shoulders lack any fatty padding while her tummy is plump.

She is eating more hay now that she knows she won't be getting unlimited veg like before.

As a side note to all of this, she shows considerably less aggression to my son who can pick her up without so much as a squeak. Maybe she's just not a fan of me. Hopefully a buddy will help her.

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Post   » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:13 pm

Do you wear any strong perfumes? Anything really distinctive?


Post   » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:15 am

No perfumes, no lotions or anything. I have two small children so I don't get to shower as often as I'd like. Hah, maybe she's trying to tell me to take a bath!

Clint The Cuy

Post   » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:28 pm

Her behavior may be due to any of the potential medical issues that people have already listed or it could just be that she has not been socialized as JX4 had said. I can only imagine what kind of life or social interaction (or lack thereof) she's had considering her condition when you took her on. Poor pig.


Post   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:13 am

UPDATE - she seems better these last couple days. We haven't done any lap time because it didn't seem like she was enjoying it but still gets to run around my floor every day. We also move her items around in her cage daily. It's my sons job to "redesign" her cage every day. The other thing I have been doing is food training her, so to speak. She really likes her veg, so she only gets it hand fed and she must sit nice and let me rub very gently on the top of her head for 3 seconds without any aggressive or dominant behaviour. If she gets grumpy I walk away. Then she WEEK WEEK WEEKs for me to come back. She's super smart and caught on pretty quick. We still plan on getting a buddy for her but she seems quite a bit happier.

Another question. Do your pigs sort of nibble on your fingers? She nibbles on my sons a lot. Never with rumbling or chattering and he giggles when she does it so it obviously isn't painful. I told him not to let her do that but now I'm wondering if it's maybe ok? Perhaps they're just bonding?

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Post   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:28 am

It sounds like you have an adorable guinea pig! Unsure about the meaning of nibbling on fingers but hopefully another member or two will add their two cents!

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:03 am

Don't let her nibble. It's much easier to establish a good habit than to break a bad one.


Post   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:39 pm

She sounds like she is learning! Guinea pigs are smart. If you have the time, you can train them to do tricks like run in a circle or jump through a hoop. I don't have time for that, but my daughter taught one of ours (Squeaky) to run through an obstacle course across our living room.

Do NOT let her nibble, even if it "tickles," to show affection. Teach her to lick instead. It feels way nicer on your finger and will still elicit a "giggle" response from your son, I'm sure. One of ours is a nibbler, and after two years she is finally learning to lick like the others do. It is too easy for them to forget and nibble a bit too hard, then you run the risk of your son dropping her out of reflex and she could be seriously hurt, break bones, etc.

When Sugar (she's our nibbler) nibbles, I pull my finger away momentarily, then give it back to her. Sometimes this means doing this repeatedly in quick succession. She is finally learning that if she licks my finger instead, I don't pull it away. All the other piggies learned this within a couple of months. For her it has been about 2 and a half years, lol.

Nibbling can be done for several different reasons. Sometimes it's just a curiosity thing, to see what something is. Sometimes it's to show affection (as in Sugar's case) -- which needs to be re-directed to licking. Sometimes it's to tell whoever is holding them that they need to pee or for some other reason needs to be put down -- they are ready to go back in the cage or are just done with being held. When my piggies who are not nibblers do nibble, it means they are ready to be put down for some reason and I respect that and put them down.

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