Henry's spooked.

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Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:44 am

Last night Henry and Dudley were in their loft eating hay. I don't know what happened - one scared the other, or one bothered the other - but Henry jumped 100 feet in the air, ran down the ramp and hid. Okay, normal. Figured I'd let it be and give her time to relax.

This morning Henry is still spooked. She won't even go near her ramp. Usually when I try to pick her up, she runs up the ramp and hides in the hay. She has no interest in going up the ramp. In fact she's kind of standing still looking around near her pigloo. She looks like she's on watch or something.

Should I just let her relax and do her own thing on her own time? I took her out for some lovin' but I don't want her to be frightened of her hayloft when there's probably nothing to be scared of.

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Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:17 pm

Yipes! No thoughts here. Might there have been a sharp piece of bramble in the hay that could have caused a sudden poke and scared or hurt her? No spiders or other critters up there that you can see, right?

What kind of hay is in the loft?

I've had pigs zone out for seemingly no reason at all, and then they're fine later on.

Does she seem otherwise fine, though?

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Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:43 pm

I think that Dudley scared Henry somehow - snuck up on her when she was in hay-trance or butt-shoved her or something. There's definitely nothing up there other than hay (Oxbow's Orchard Grass). If there was a spider, *I* wouldn't even be in the house right now.

She's acting weird, not a lot of movement today. Hiding in the pigloo and laying / standing / spying around by her food bowl, acting paranoid. But she CAN move because I took her out and forced her around a bit. So it's not that she's unable. I shook the critterberry bag and it took her a little longer than normal to get excited, but she did climb the bars for it.

I'm hoping it's just a serious case of Scared and nothing else. There's nothing medical that I can think of, and it seems directly related to last night.

Edit: could he have sprained his leg or something? He moves when I make him move and he's not moving oddly. He's just hiding today which is weird for him. Is he hiding because he's scared or because he's hurt?

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Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:47 pm

I'd vote that he is likely scared. The jump and run just make it sound that way. My piggie was recently scared to death and refused to come out of hiding...turns out that there was a new mylar balloon in the room that just scared the bejeebers out of her. I moved it and she was fine and came out of hiding within a half hour. Is there something bobbing around or new in the room that might look threatening from a distance?


Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:12 pm

Please tear the whole cage apart and scrub it well with vinegar water and put all fresh new stuff in it.I have had two of my babies scared this bad before.

The first time was with my poor Thumper. He was living in a half store bought cage and half "C&C patio attached to give him lots of room till I could build him a real C&C cage. one of other males, Cuddler mananged to get IN the patio area of Thumpers cage. They had a boy stinky party. I quickly pulled Cuddler and strengthened Thumpers cage so Cuddelr couldn't get back in. Thumper remained very afraid and absolutely would not come out of the store bought part of his cage onto his favorite place the patio. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Poor baby must have thought Cuddler was still out there becasue his smell was still in the patio.

The second time I am unsure what smell got in James's pen nor how it got there but he was very VERY afraid and only grew more so. He became so worked up he was making the siren scream and stampeeded in wild circles so fast he flew up out of his cage and landed in another males cage next to him!

I couldn't find anything physically wrong with him and finally it dawned on me that he was smelling something that was scaring him that bad. I tore his cage apart cleaned it and eveything in it. I threw away his food and hay and gave him all new stuff. He quickly settled down and within hours wa back to his sweet calm self again.

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Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:54 pm

Henry's still the same tonight. It's been a full 24 hours. I'll do a full cage clean tomorrow.

I can understand the fear of the loft, since that's where The Incident happened, but I don't understand why she won't move around the bottom floor. In fact she has taken over what is usually Dudley's Pigloo and if Dudley won't get out or is sleeping in there, she will lay outside. Maybe Dudley makes her feel better?

I've put her up in the loft and she won't eat until Dudley comes up, then she's fine. Earlier today she wouldn't come down herself either. Tonight she's coming down, but she's flying down it in a scared fashion still and then hiding. She still won't go up on her own.

I put hay in her cuddle cup to at least get to move from the pigloo to somewhere else. It took her awhile and some nudging to get her over there. She's currently resting in the hay filled cup.

She does come out to eat pellets / drink so that's good. And she really doesn't seem like she's in pain. The only way I can describe it is paranoid. She's looking around - A LOT. And she inches her way everywhere as if there were landmines.

I'll clean the cage tomorrow, and I really don't think there was anything different going on last night. We were just sitting around normally, then we heard / saw the jump and run and that was it.

Do you think she will eventually recover?


Post   » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:59 pm

I'm wondering if they emit a particular "fear scent." If Henry left some sort of fear marker, she could be smelling it over and over again and is taking it as a warning not to come out.

My pigs have been spooked by the weirdest things. Sometimes they're so into their hay they don't notice Jim or me walking up to the cage until we're there, and then they jolt.

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Post   » Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:31 am

And she inches her way everywhere as if there were landmines.
Yep, Petie did the same thing when he'd spook-out about something. I think the "fear marker" idea is intriguing. Possibility.

I remember one time I brought home this miniature flower basket from the Dollar Store to put on my night stand. Brian was holding Zachary when I came home, and Zach was straining to see what "goodies" (e.g., food) mommy might have in the bag. I reached in and pulled out the little flower thing and held it over to him so he could see it. He totally spazzed out, eyes wide as saucers, and clawed his way up my husband's neck! It's the only time he had ever done anything like that, and hasn't done it since. It was just weird. Strangest things do spook these little fellows.

I like the cage cleaning idea. Let us know!

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Post   » Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:45 am

When I had Miss Piggy and the babies in my room they were right next to my bed. Every time I would roll over in my sleep they would freak out and jump halfway across the cage. Now they jump every time I open the door to their room, maybe I should knock first? :)

Poor Baby Cuzko
My piggy made me give!

Post   » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:07 am

Hopefully Henry realizes nothing is going to hurt her. Cuzko doesn't get scared of anything, but Oaxaca is scared of his shadow.

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Post   » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:02 am

maremma - it was nearly instant!

I did a full out cage clean, even replacing the cloth I use on the ramp, which I never do because it takes a while for them to wear it down enough to get decent traction, and Henry almost instantly went up the ramp! She's still not 100% and sniffs around more than usual, but she has gone up and down 2 or 3 times on her own. She's resting in her cuddle cup now which she also hasn't done since The Incident.

I wonder if there *is* a 'fear scent' because it's not as if another pig got in her cage or I spilled something in there. It's weird how they get scared by the strangest things. Once Sanford jolted from her loft into her pigloo so fast she left hay flying behind her.

I'll still monitor her this weekend to make sure she is continuing to go up and down and get back to normal. Thanks everyone!


Post   » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:29 am

Awww I am so glad Henry is feeling more calm! My heart was so broken for her when I read how scared she was behaving. My poor James wouldn't even sleep till I figured out was was wrong to fix it. Bless his sweet little heart he NEVER will sleep in my lap. He is ALWAYS on guard when out of his room even if he is safely in my lap. When that happend to him the poor baby almost immediately collapsed in exhaustion and fell deeply asleep in the crucks of my arm and didn't wake up for an hour!

Coincidentally James also was much more afraid of the side of his pen that had the hay on it when he was like this.

If we think about it surely in every grass hay growing field every where at some point in time a predator, say a cat went rambling through it stalking some poor little mouse or an owl swooped down into it trying to catch a mouse or a rat wondered through etc and left their scent. Then the farmer came out the very next day to bale the hay before it had time to washed away in the rain or lessen with the air and sun etc. That small bunch of predator scented hay is mixed in with the large bales and goes with it to scare some poor unsuspecting guinea pig in someones home!

Some guinea pigs also tend to be far more responsive to things they smell than others. These are the ones I call the heards "watchmen". They seem to always be more cautious and first to send out the warning siren noise if they sense danger with ANY of their senses.

James is most definately my seasoned and senior "watchmen" guinea pig. He was the only one (until I adopted Thumper who is also a "watchmen" but not near as sensitive as James) out of all my guinea pigs that makes the noise I refer to as the siren. It is very distinct and until you hear it and see it, you cannot fully understand it and may confuse it with some other sound that is more generally used by most guinea pigs. Like chirping. until you hear it for yourself you can only guess but once you hear it bells go off in your head "Oh my goodness THAT is chirping!" The first time James sounded the siren I was in shock. I couldn't believe such a loud, peircing, long duration scream could come out of such a small animal!

Maybe your sweet little Henry is a "watchmen" of the heard in the making!

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Post   » Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:35 pm

Oh I'm so glad Henry is doign better!

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Post   » Sun Apr 01, 2007 10:00 am

Well Henry doesn't want to go in the loft again today. I can at least shoo her up - On Thursday she would resist even that. I don't get it. Yesterday she was pretty much back to normal, but today she'll only go in the loft if I make her.

Maybe I just need to give her time?

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Post   » Sun Apr 01, 2007 10:21 am

Now that you mention this, I remember we had a similar same thing happen with Sidney one time -- involving his haybox. I don't know what spooked him, but he suddenly wouldn't go near the box and would slowly approach it, then run away. After two days of that, I finally ended up moving the hay box to another part of the cage. Problem solved.

What is your ramp made of? Is there any way to change it enough to make it non-scary to Henry? Another type of lining?

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Post   » Sun Apr 01, 2007 7:40 pm

Tonight she seems better again. Maybe she's just getting back into the swing of things since her scare.

My ramp is wood, and it has sides. I have a crib liner (it's flannel so when they start to walk up and down it gets worn and there's traction) as the part they walk on, on top of the wood.

I'm sure I could change it, but what's sturdier than wood?


Post   » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:49 am

How is Henry doing now? I am trying to imagine their pen in my head. I am guessing that hay often winds up ON the ramp too? When you scrubbed her pen how did you clean the ramp?

I have had to replace wooden things that had been scent stained. Especially Max's wooden hidey box he so loves but keeps winding up getting wee stains on the bottom edges. I would scrub it with vinegar water to try to get the smell out and it would resurface in a day or two.

I am assuming you had used non treated and non coated wood since it is in with your babies and since paint and stains etc would be dangerous to put in with our babies, even if they are covered with cloth. Safe yes but also much more readily absorbant and drawing. If the problem continues perhaps swapping the wood out for a fresh new piece will help her. She may still be able to smell what scared her in the wood.

Since you put new cloth on her ramp perhaps she simply is just readjusting. I am sure they get used to how the ramp is "suppose" to feel and her delicate little feet Surely she would notice the difference between worn and brand new fleece!

If she still seems just fine once she is up on the loft with the hay, one would have to assume the hay smells good to her and only the ramp is scaring her now right?

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Post   » Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:55 am

The wood is plain, untreated, unpainted, unstained. It's just a 6"x24" plank, and the sides are 4"x20". I didn't know how to clean wood exactly so I just used a cloth and the Cage Clean stuff on it mildly. *I* can't smell the ramp, but that doesn't mean they can't.

I'm sure they can feel the difference between worn and new fleece, it's actually quite a difference. She is fine once up in her loft now, and last night she went up a handful of times. This morning I had to shoo her up. Maybe I'll make Critterberry time up in the loft to get her to go up there more. Maybe it *is* just the ramp.

I have no idea. She's got me stumped. I might be making a trip to the Home Depot this week.

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