Guinea Pig Depression?

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Post   » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:40 pm

Hello, I am new to the forums! Though I have been stalking the threads ever since I got my pigs.
So here is a little back ground to my main question;

I adopted two bonded males back in June of 2017, they where less than a year old, but older than six months. They got along brilliantly at first, with just the odd little tiffs that where just more of a "who's nose is higher in the air" sort of thing. Over time they started to grow apart, and would not even cuddle anymore. One day (it really did feel like it was out of the Blue) Dean started to rumble strut and chatter his teeth and same with Sam. I kept an I on them because everything I read said not to separate them until blood was drawn. By the next day they where cornering each other, puffing up and finally there was a full on, fur flying, pig squeeling fight! I lept up, and lucky for me, I did not need a towel as my fast movement scared them apart. Sam bit right through Dean's ear, severing the main artery in his ear! Dean did get a good bite in too on Sam's rump too. So after a hefty Vet bill, meds and pain killers, Dean was getting better and healed up good! Same with Sam, he healed up all good too. They where obviously separated after that point. After they where both better, I started reintroduction phase! I probably read all the available reading on this for the first 5 pages of Google search! I wanted to make sure I had lots of knowledge on the subject. However after about a month of trying to reintroduce them, it would just end with fights, or Dean getting super overly aggressive and trying to either mount or attack Sam. The final straw that made me decide they are permanent separated was when I got bit and had to go to the hospital.
-->I got bit when I reached down to pick up Sam and Dean whipped around and grabbed the back of my hand and tore right down to the muscle tissue. I should have had stitches it was so bad! But apparently, Doctors recommend not to stitch or gluing rodent bites shut because of a bacteria they carry that makes for a high chance of infection. I was lucky and there was no infection and it healed up just fine :)
Any how I digress.... Since then, I have not put the two of them together. Dean is super happy and popcorn around his own cage and love to get attention from my partner and I. I let Dean out on the floor and he mostly follows my partner around yelling at him, my partner will pretend chase Dean, and Dean will run/pop corn away from him, but the second my partners back is to Dean, Dean is chasing and Wheeking at him again. Sam has also been a lot more happy/calm. Sam is my anxiety pig. He thinks everything is going to kill him dead, no matter what I do. I have tried to socialise him with me, and he has gotten a bit better but he is still super anxious. He pop corns much less and only ever really gets excited when there is food. I have tried floor time with Sam, but all he does is run and hide under a blanket or in a hut. So this leads me back to my main concern/ question;
How can I help prevent Sam from becoming depressed/more depressed. Dean is perfectly content with human companionship, but Sam is not and from experiances I know Depression sucks. I don't want that for Sam. Any suggestions/ideas/similar stories that might help?

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:50 pm

How large was their cage?


Post   » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:02 pm

Their cage was 19.5sq ft over all.
Edit: since separation, I have had to divide the cage (I use wire grid racks so I can custom build what ever shape and size as long as I have the pieces) and now they each have 8 to 9sq ft each.


Post   » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:42 am

I think your "diagnosis" of Sam being depressed is wrong. It sounds to me like he is acting like a normal guinea pig (running from the hand, not liking to be picked up, not being cuddly, etc.). You are expecting him to get more like Dean over time and it's not happening and you have it in your head that he is depressed. Dean is actually the one who is the more of those rare treasures that like interacting with people. They are both just showing their individual personalities.

Most pigs enjoy interaction with other pigs but not with humans. If your two can see each other and talk to each other through the grids, they are probably getting enough pig on pig interaction. As to Sam getting more tame (which is really the issue...not depression) he may not and probably will not. He's wired like a normal pig and will probably never enjoy cuddling and being held. You just have to learn to accept him the way he is. He may not have been handled a lot as a youngster OR it may be that he is just that way. I've had several pigs born in the rescue that were handled a lot and were STILL freaked out when touched. It is hotwired into their system as prey animals and some are just more flighty than others.

I'm not saying you should stop interacting with Sam, but you need to adjust your expectations on how he is supposed to act. He may learn to enjoy eating veggies from your hand in the cage. Maybe, over several years of working on it, he may allow you to scratch him on the head (but I doubt it, lol). In the 7 years that I volunteered in the rescue I placed hundreds of pigs in new homes. How many were "people pigs" like your Dean? Pigs that love to interact with people and cuddle? I would say two.


Post   » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:58 pm

Hello WICharlie,
Thank you for your response! Though I am going to get this out of the way up front. Your post was offensive to me. First off, I have not given Sam a "Diagnosis" I have simply made an observation that I feel he is not as happy as he once was. Second off you assume and state in a matter of fact sort of way that I have expectations that do not actually exist. If you have theories about how I may feel or if something reads as I might be feeling a particular way, please ask me, don't assume and project that on to me. The way I read your post it came off as very Condescending. You do seem knowledgeable, so I would like to have your take on things, so I think I may have to clarify what I am looking for, a little better so you can understand the needs of my initial post. Which is a failure on my half to be more clear with that information, so here it goes;

I do not expect Sam to be anything like Dean as no to humans are the same so why would it be that way with animals. I am not saying that Sam IS depressed I am asking for preventative measures for depression. Sam use to popcorn around the cage a lot more, and make lots of excited noises when ever I put a paper bag in the cage as a play toy. He would spend hours dancing around it and running in and out of the bag, head butting it all over the place. Now he hardly cares the paper bag is there. He does let me occasionally give him head scratches/pets, and will take some food out of my hand, but it depends on the food. However as of late he has been refusing to take any food from my hand and hides in his hut all day long, he never really comes out at all anymore. Sam and Dean can not see each other at all, but they can hear each other. I have tried setting it up so that they can see each other through the cage but are not actually together, but I had to stop doing that because Dean was losing his damn fool mind trying to break down the cage wall to get at Sam and attack him. Dean would literally throw his entire body at the wall and try and dig it up to the point of hurting his little paws. Dean is a special pig with a capital SP! I don't worry for Dean because he is weird and is ok with human companionship. But Sam on the other hand really wants nothing to do with Humans, which is ok, but severely stunts how I can engage him to make sure he doesn't get bored, as boredom is a slippery slope to depression. With out Human contact my second thought was toys, but he doesn't seem to care. So then I tried floor time to let him generally run around and explore a bit, but all he did was hide under a blanket for hours. I am not sure how to make sure he is happy, and I can't afford a third Pig as I am in an apartment and only had enough space for two pigs. Does that make more sense? if not feel free to probe me for more information! I try to be an open book! :)

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Post   » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:13 pm

I think I would still continue to let them see each other. If the non-trouble maker feels safe, knowing another pig is there is still going to be somewhat comforting and should make him more active.

With any change in behavior, it is always important to make sure the guinea pig is not ill.


Post   » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:02 pm

Hello Lynx, thank you for the advice!
I do have a bit more further questions. In regards to allowing them to still see one another, even if it does cause them stress, and to be mad/upset/aggressiv? I am not knowledgeable when it comes to guinea pig stress levels, but I know with most animals they don't have good stress levels, and putting them in situations where they are forced/by choice will become aggressive/upset is something to avoid. Also when it comes to Dean more specifically, he is the main aggressor, and I would worry more about him, as he is the one that digs, and throws his body at the cage walls to try and get at Sam. I have honestly never seen anything like it before with animals I have been exposed to (I grew up on farms). I have never seen another animal want to/ put so much effort to go out of their way to attack another animal. Dean is like this every time he sees Sam now.

Health problem wise, that was a thought of mine, and I did take him to the Vets about that, and he got a clean bill of health :)

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Post   » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:10 pm

Have the two cages be big. Have it clear that the aggressor can't get to the other guinea pig. As for whether or not it is stressful to the non-aggressor, I would observe behavior closely and right now weigh daily to make sure appetite is not affected.

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