The guinea pig's name is Colonel Fitzwilliam but the kids call him Fitzy. My wife is an English Teacher so she gets to name him...
My first question is about his food. I bought some "VitaSmart Complete Nutrition" food from the local pet store. It's basically the normal pellets I saw in other food plus some other treat-like stuff? I attached a picture so you can see what I mean.[/url] The problem is, he ONLY eats the treat-like parts of the food. He always leaves his bowl with nothing but the pellets in it. Is this bad? Should we only feed him pellets (and the normal fresh veggies/fruit)?
Secondly, the water bottle that came with his cage seems to be working and he works on it often like he's drinking, but it does not appear that he's getting much water out of it due to how much water remains in the bottle. How much should he be drinking per day? I ended up putting a small bowl with water in there with him because I worried about him getting dehydrated. However, he seems to be peeing a lot (normal, I guess?) so I assume he's drinking.
Lastly, we've had him now for about two weeks. Yet he seems as scared of us as he was on the first day. He's constantly startled when we go near his cage. Is this normal also? I figured he'd start getting used to us. We've tried to all go and speak with him while he's in the cage and when he's out. But he just seems so terrified all the time that it's kind of sad... We have debated on getting another guinea pig so maybe if he had a buddy, he wouldn't be so afraid.
Anyways, thank you for your insight!
Here's a few things I've learned:
First, never feed them pellets with other stuff in them, because, like you said, they'll eat the treat stuff (which is junk food and not really good for them) and not eat what they need to eat. It's like your kids filling up on candy and then not eating their nutritious supper. There are two brands of pellets that most people here swear by:
Oxbow and KMS.
Oxbow can be found in pet stores or online, and KMS can be ordered online. My guinea pigs love KMS pellets the best because they are fresher and seem to taste better.
You also need to feed them unlimited access to hay.
Second, the water levels of your bottle should be visibly changing through the day, but they aren't going to drop a whole lot from one drink.
Third, if your cage came from a pet store it is too small, even for one guinea pig. Most people here use C&C cages, which can be bought online from www.guineapigcagesstore.com or you can make your own more cheaply.
Fourth, guinea pigs usually do better with the companionship of another guinea pig. They are herd animals, social with their own kind, and they are much happier when they have a companion. You do have to triple check and make sure they are both of the same sex, however, lol!
The best things to do to help your piggy learn to trust you is to speak softly and soothingly to it while you sit next to the cage, always come bearing yummy treats like fresh veggies, and never come at them from above since your hand will seem like an eagle or a hawk swooping down to grab them.
It is better to scoop them up from below, and especially at first you may need to shoo them into a box or hidey before you pick that up with them in it.
BTW, hideys should have two openings (those plastic pigloos in pet stores are terrible -- they have no ventilation and with multiple pigs one pig can get trapped inside).
When I first got my pigs, I would do the above and when I held them I'd hold them against my chest so they could hear/feel my heartbeat. I'd also cover their back with one of my hands or use a small towel because it helped them feel more "hidden" from all the eagles that -- as far as they knew -- fly through my house.
Guinea pigs have poor depth of vision, and mine learned my scent and the sound of my voice before they learned to recognize me by sight. They know my footsteps (as opposed to the steps of other family members) too.
If being picked up and held always means yummy treats, then that is also a huge plus. The way to a guinea pig's heart is through its tummy.
Lots of patience on your part is a must.
Once your pigs get comfortable with you, they will still run from you 99% of the time. I've had my pigs for over three years, and they hate being caught still. They do love to be held, though, and will sprawl out on my lap as they only will when they are totally relaxed and also make their happy noises.
They are also very smart and you can teach them tricks if you are persistent enough. My daughter taught one of our pigs to run an obstacle course.
Thanks for the reply and the useful info! Quick question about cages..Most people here use C&C cages, which can be bought online from www.guineapigcagesstore.com
I saw on that cage store site that there are "kitchens" where you only have the paper or 'litter' or whatever and the rest of the cage is covered in cloth or something. Do guinea pigs really become like litter box trained? Will they learn to only soil in the area with the litter/paper? Or will I just end up having to clean up the cloth areas also? Ha!
The cloth you see is fleece. You can make your own, but I bought ours because I don't sew and it was easier. The site sells fleece that has U-Haul furniture liners sewn inside it. The liners absorb all the pee so that the fleece remains fairly dry. Then it's pretty easy to sweep or vacuum up the relatively dry poo pellets. I keep a little hand vac next to our cage that is used ONLY for guinea pig poo. Just don't vacuum up hay bits, because those do clog the vacuum.
I sweep hay and poo from the fleece liners and then toss them in the washing machine.
- Supporter in 2018
Also, I'd recommend looking for an exotics vet now, just in case, since it's a little harder to find than a dog or cat vet. Always good to be prepared =)
As far as his bottle goes, it's fairly large but I'm sure it's cheap as it was a freebie that came with the cage. I have tried pushing in on the little ball thing at the end of the spout and water comes out so I *think* it's working...
One more thing I wanted to ask about. I'm having a tough time trying to determine this little guy's gender. I've looked at all the pictures on here and even looked up a few youtube videos but I'm still confused lol! It's not as straight forward as some of these things make it sound. Would posting a picture of his privates be allowed? I don't want to get in trouble for posting cavy pr0n :P
Thanks in advance!
Litter training is hit and miss. I have a piece of newspaper and paper towels in the back corner of Lacey’s play pen. She goes there to pee so the rest of the pen stays dry. However, she seems to poo whenever the spirit moves her so I have a mini broom and dustpan for quick cleanup.
Good luck with your new piggie - how exciting!