My guinea pigs don't like us!

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Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:20 pm

Wow, I always thought it was skittish but assumed I was wrong when I kept seeing skiddish! Good to know.

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new piggie mom

Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:16 pm

Lynx's idea is very good, working with them in their cage. I also take mine visiting with me. I thought, at first, it would be stressful for them, but I find they become bolder, somehow.

I recently got a piggie for the very first time. I guess I was very lucky, and had help in selecting her (ha ha, I was told "THIS is the girl for you".)

She was just a few weeks old but VERY laid-back, and I was told that they are pretty much born with distinct personalities that don't change too much as they get older (other than mellowing out more with age), except possibly through trauma or, conversly, with lots of patient handing. She has remained a remarkable girl and continues to blossom, so I am sure he was right.

That said, I am finding that, with my second, older, more nervous girl, removing her 'hidey house' actually calms her down. (Author Peter Gurney recommends removing houses, too.) It may be that having a place to rush into simply reinforces their fear of the unknown and perpetuates timidity.

My very tame girl has hidey holes, and rarely ducks into them. The new girl gets VERY flighty when she has hers, but will allow (and seems to enjoy) gentle petting and handling, when she does not have access to one. She even becomes friendly and interactive.

I am starting to wonder if gentle, considerate, deliberate exposure to new things and events can help create a more confident and trusting pig. Kind of like "sacking out" a horse (it's called 'de-sensitizing').

Some people may get upset with me for saying this, but I adore my piggies and would never, ever cause them harm. I feel they are happier and healthier when totally at ease with us. You obviously love your pigs very much and want them to be happy, too.

So, perhaps conscientiously and gently 'imposing' yourself and new situations on your pigs might help them break out of their shells? To paraphrase, Peter Gurney says 'you can't handle your pigs too much'.

I would be interested in knowing what other people think.

Good luck!

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Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:35 pm

I was told "this is the pig for you" by a worker at the shelter and she was right too. I couldn't ask for a better pig. My new rescue is more skittish but that's to be expected. He's only been here 2 months.

I also advocate removing hidie houses but only for short periods of time. As prey animals, I think it's unfair to force them to live entirely exposed to The Hand Predator but it can absoutely help then become more accustomed to being outside the safe place. I would start with maybe 30 minutes without the house a day without any intrusions into the cage, just letting them explore and watch you and take your gut reaction from there.

What you're basicly describing in better words than I did before is desensitisation therapy. It's commonly used in humans with phobias and also with feral cats and stray dogs. It seems to work pretty darn well but it's a sloooow process, as it should be.

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new piggie mom

Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:12 pm

rshevin, I am so curious about your handsome avatar pig, is there a thread about your pigs here?

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Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:18 pm

Oh they have threads here and there but nothing extensive. I never had anything good enough for a Chronicle or anything. His name is Piggy and he's the one from the SPCA that the employee told me was right for me. I love him to death.


Post   » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:26 pm

I have 4 boars.

1. Karl, my original boy, he LOOOOOVES me and will accuatly sit on my breast/chest area and watch tv and purrrrrr and put his nose on my chin and "kiss" me and rub on me!
2. Marilyn (boy, was named when he was thought to be a girl) he SCREAMS when I try to pick him up, brush him or even look at him wrong. Thought it was mites, treated the herd, nope just doesnt like being touched. He will tolerate me rubbing up his nose but nothing else.
3. Herbie, he is a baby 16 weeks old, just like Karl LOOOVES Scritches and to ride around in my sweatshirt pocket.
4. Achilles, a rescue from a classroom pet.... he was "played" with by a bunch of little kids :*(
He doesnt mind being held but dont make sudden movements or touch him with one finger, he thinks your poking him. When I try to pick him up out of the cage he does the defensive teeth chatter and hides. If I pick him up he screams but once I support him on my arm he is fine.

Like they all say every pig is different. I find that if I have all out at once they all get stand-off ish. But if I take one out at a time, give a treat, trim nails, give cuddles, kisses, a peice of lettuce and hold them close to my chest they relax and dont mind it. I spend 10-15 with each pig. They love it. They give eachother the "hahaha I got out of the cage, and she has lettuce and now you dont!" even though they all get it, it makes them feel special.

Good Luck

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Fossil Barb

Post   » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:00 am

Mayo do your pigs get their hay on demand, a pellet bowl full of good pellets, high quality greens, a nice clean condo and comfy litter and hideys? And of course appropriate treats??
Then whats not to like about their slave!

Everyone is right that they all have their own personalities and quirks. HRH Rodney ran from the Hideous Hand with short stubby digits and until I had him snuggled firmly protested every more. When he had his fill of mushy stuff and treats then he'd nip my collar bone for pee time.

I think of piggies as being very private little souls who give what they can to those of us who love them.

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amy m guinea

Post   » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:30 pm

I love to read about all the different personalities pigs have.

Francen runs from me with fear in his eyes like I am going to give him some real torture, he is so hard to catch. Once I get him, he calms down. After about 20 minutes of lap time, he is done with me, however.

Jenna, who I am "pigsitting" actually comes out of her hidey house to be picked up! And she was in a house where kids sometimes handled her roughly. They are just all so different.

Tristan, who is a foster, runs about frantically making funny grunting noises I've never heard any other pig make, but loves to be held.

Zack will let me pet him in his cage but backs up when I try to pick him up, but really loves to be held.

Fossil Barb, when you told how your pig nips your collar bone, it reminded me of how I always had red marks on my chest from Nevy. He loved to nip me to get his point across quickly.


Post   » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:37 pm

We have two cavies, both female, mother and daughter. The two males died a few months back. The mother is an English and the father an Abby. I have found the English variety is mostly skittish, not wanting to be held. But when I do hold them they always seem to chuckle (purr), and they do enjoy being out.

Recently after the other male died, the youngest (who took on the Abby characteristics) started chirping. I would have sworn there was a bird in the house, and being we have several nests around the property, it wouldnt have been a surprise. Shes done this 3 times to my knowledge so far, waking me up in the middle of the night twice.

Both are shy and run away when I try to get them out, but eventually they stop and let me pick them up. Then they sit on my chest and talk as I pet them. I have owned Cavies since I was 5 yrs old (long time ago) and have even bred them. Even if they run away, I am sure they love attention. :)

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Post   » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:26 pm

Funny you should say that rshevin, cause I have two pigs that love their rump being stroked (must have strange pigs).

Kimmi used to shake when we took her out of her cage to pet her. Since she had her baby she loves getting snuggled on my knee in a fleece blanket, shes a big softy now.

Tilly is still very jumpy if takes ages to get her out of the cage, I dont think she likes humans much or other pigs for that matter.


Post   » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:50 pm

All of my pigs have had such different personalities. Here's the breakdown:

Gilbert - was a happy lap pig, especially as he got older. He would call you and demand attention. He liked being petted, he liked chin rubs.

Sully - didn't like being petted so much because he was an abby, and I suspect when he was petted, it was about as comfortable as having someone rub a cowlick on your head the wrong way. He would let you pet the top of his head and behind his ears.

Henry - has become more comfortable with being held, but he is most comfortable if he has a towel or a blankie around him, especially while being carried. (I suspect he may have been dropped at some point.) He likes having his back petted when he's standing against the side of his cage with his front feet up on the grids.

Widgit - Isn't a huge fan of being held, but he will happily let you pet him on his own terms in the cage.

Frost - Is still a skidish baby. He likes the idea of attention - he runs up to you and calls out to you - but if you look like you're going to touch him, he runs.

Tom - The ultimate cuddle pig. When I'm lying on the sofa with him, he'll curl up on my shoulder and tuck his head under my chin.

Linus - Still going through the baby phase, but he's getting more hand-tame.

Sarah W

Post   » Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:57 am

I have a pig named Truffles who is really timid. (I just posted some photos of her plotting an escape from my lap in my cavy chronicle). I got her as an adult and have had her for over a year. She shakes and poops when I pick her up, but is actually much better than she was at first. It helps if I hold one of my other pigs at the same time as her. Lately I have tried just putting her on my lap long enough to give her a treat, and then putting her back. That seems to be helping a little. Taking out the pigloos and hand feeding treats to the pigs while they are in their cage has also helped. They actually seem more comfortable and are more active without the pigloos.

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Post   » Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:11 am

I take out the pigloos during the day and put them back in the evening, as someone here suggested. It has worked out well for us.


Post   » Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:05 am

I'm glad that I'm not the only owner with a timid pig. I guess it is alot of observation and paitence, it took me 18 months before Patch decides that he want's his cuddles and I do take my time with him, he is not a lap pig, prefers my shoulder and neck. Also he loves to play with my hair, that relaxes him for some strange reason. The shaking and the nipping thing is his way of saying I need a pee. Ignore that and you get a long streams of guinea pig piddling all over you and your sofa, and boy does mine chuckles whilst he does this, and gives a weird look of "well I told you I needed a pee and you didnae listen, maw!"

I guess that bribery and corruption does work in both ways...


Post   » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:25 pm

thanks so much for posting this question. it is exactly what i needed to hear. my partner and i recently adopted a new piggie, Harry, for our lonely female piggie, Olive. Olive's former partner in crime, Popeye, passed away recently. Although we've had Olive for about a year and a half she is still skittish and gives us rare opportunities to scratch her head. Popeye on the other hand, didn't mind the touching as much. We are slowly learning Harry's likes and dislikes and look forward to seeing his relationship with Olive grow. =D


Post   » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:43 pm

We are two adults (in our 30's) with a male guinea pig, about 3 yrs old (adopted from shelter). First of all, I don't think anyone under 18 should own a guinea pig, unless they have had tons of pet owning experience and handling. I'm always surprised when I hear it's a good first pet. No, fish are good first pets.

At any rate, our guinea pig runs away from us like we are his number one predator. You can't get near him unless you have a 6 inch carrot in hand. Even after 2+ years. The ironic part is that once we pick him up (by cornering him in his cage), he couldn't be happier. But only when you rub his lower back area (some reason he makes a satisfied squeaking sounds when you pet there).

So its true that most guinea pigs are scared of humans, it seems like they enjoy being petted...

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Post   » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:54 pm

Sometimes the squeaking sound doesn't really mean they are happy. When they rumble it could also mean that they are scared or in pain...


Post   » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:05 pm

I'm pretty sure it's a happy sound --- I've heard him squeel when the vet cut his nails a little too short, its not that. I've also heard the rumble sound when a dish clanks in the kitchen and he doesn't know what it is. This is a low volume, as I mentioned sort of satisfying mumbling type of sound. It's not really a "purr" per se like a cat would do, but it's probably close to that.

Besides, he drops his chin on my chest, and begins closing his eyes. I'm pretty sure he is in pig heaven!

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Post   » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:11 pm

Sounds like a pancake to me, which is a good thing.

Most pigs don't like to be cornered and picked up. They are prey animals, so to them, anything bigger than them will eat them.

I've had my boy for 2 years and he still runs from me when I try to pick him up. Once I have him, he's perfectly happy. It's just the flight in the air that he doesn't like. My female would prefer that I not touch her, at all. I can pet her head, but anything more and she chatters at me, and it's angrily chattering.

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Post   » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:21 pm

That's great that he is so comfortable! :) My Coral also doesn't like to be cornered and brought out but once she is on a table, she will curl up and doze off, right in front of me.

What you can do is take a cozy sack, put some food in it and lure him into the sack then pick the cozy up. She will feel more comfortable as pigs don't really like human hands as ours are too bony for their liking.

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