- E's Moriarity
I talk to them and sing to them, but they don't really care about that, except as it signals food arriving soon.
I love those pigs, but they seem to have little interest in communicating to me explicitly except for the above. They do make very engaging little noises to each other, so I prefer to watch them just be pigs in their piggy gang.
- Get on your bike.
I call the small consistent ones the "SOS" squeeks. Wooly seems to be the one in charge of those while everyone else intently listens for the floor to creak knowing I'm finally out of bed.
I've always felt it was important to respond to Snowflake, especially now that she's an only pig, to give her the feeling she can ask me for something and that I care enough to get it for her. She's a good girl.
- I GAVE, dammit!
Stitch is approximately 3 years old, the loudest wheeker, and will gaze at you insolently if you even THINK about trying to pet her in the cage. When she's in your lap she's all over the place, nudging you with her head, trying to walk off your lap. She's affectionately known as "Stitch the Bitch". She's fairly quiet unless she's demanding food.
Blaze is approximately 3 years old, and really skittish; she will run from you with her no-pelvis-butt-tucked-under waddle as fast as she can, but one she's in your lap, she purrs if you touch her on that spot right above her butt (the I'm Horny Spot, I call it) and she will lick your fingers occasionally. She's also quiet and content wherever you hold her.
Checkers is just over a year old, and is called Mr. Chin Scratchy -- because he will let you reach in the cage and scratch his chin, no matter where he is or what he's doing. You can even scratch his chin while he's sleeping and he won't wake up. He will throw a leg out and roll over on his side, and vibrate all over. But, if you're foolish enough to attempt touching any other part of him in the cage he's gone like lightning. Once he's in your lap he is still and quiet, and just looks at you. I call him Jello Pig sometimes because he tolerates any amount of face smooshies you want to give him, to make his face look all screwed up. He even lets you open his mouth and poke around inside there without protest. He's quiet, though, except for at Veggie Time. His favorite spot to hang out is tucked into the outer flap of my bathrobe while I sit at the computer, working.
Arthur is Checker's roomie, and he's HUGE. He's my biggest pig by far, and the biggest Love Bug ever. He demands to be petted whenever you walk into the room by running up to the cage walls and climbing all over whatever there is in the way (including Checkers) to get to you for a nose-scratch. He whoops and wheeks if you sing to him or make any reference to "blah blah Arthur blah blah." His name always provokes little happy sounds. When he's in your lap he keeps up a constant stream of chatter from the "oh, that feels so goooood" warble to the "okay, now you're starting to piss me off 'cause you quit petting me" chatter. When you DO forget to pet him, he'll nudge you on the hand or bite you gently with his teeth. Once you resume petting, he throws himself down again on your lap. He also does this really freaky thing if you scratch him in JUST the right spot: He will be obsessively licking your fingers and hands (the "ohhhh, gosh, I really like that" licking) and then if you start scratching him in His Spot, his licking and nibbling starts going rapid-fire. Like a dog biting at a flea, he will nibble and lick you so fast you can't even see his tongue moving. If you're stupid enough to NOT put your hand there when he's in Rapid Fire Kiss Mode, he will wave his head around with a panicky look because there's nothing to nibble on and he'll go for the first available area of skin - A forearm, a leg, or an earlobe. He's a hoot.
Spike is my Underdog, about a year old and impossible to get along with no matter who I've tried. He is the most aggressive pig I've ever seen and consequently lives by himself, in the same cage as Checkers and Arthur but with a divider. He lays next to the divider all the time, up against Checkers, but when out for Porch Time he fights with him. Go figure. My porch constantly smells like Boar Butt thanks to Spike. He doesn't much like being held, but he tolerates it until he gives you one of Pinta's Classic "You're Being a Hemmorhoid" Head Butts" and if you don't put him back right away you get peed on out of spite.
-- When Willis wants more petting, he turns around and around in the cozy and pulls at it with his teeth, more insistently if he is ignored. When he is done eating, he turns his back on the syringe to say that he is done. He tells me that he is happy that I took him out by doing a short "purr" when I put him in the cozy. And he closes his eyes to show that he likes the petting.
--Witherspoon is very communicative. He chews the bars of his cage when he hears veggies being chopped (he cannot see). He purrs when his chin is rubbed or his sides are stroked to say that he likes it. When he wants more food, he climbs my shirt. When he is done eating, like Willis, he turns his back on the syringe. When he wants petting he tosses and turns in the towel and pulls at it with his teeth.
-- Meg doesn't like her sides or her rump touched and will go "brrrr" if I do this. She doesn't care for being handled much and will give very insistent, sharp head butts to show her displeasure. She likes certain kinds of petting and when she is agreeable to this she does this thing with her mouth -- I don't quite know how to describe it but it's a bit like a rabbit's teeth purr.
-- Scratchy loves his chin rubbed and will freeze if I rub his chin and his cheeks. He will also "chew" (work his mouth and flick his tongue in and out) intermittently while he is being petted.
-- Dusty is also a bar-chewer. He begs for food by chasing people with hesitant forward and backward steps, kind of like a cha-cha. He is also a very loud shrieker, as is Meg, when the possibility of veggies is near.
-- Piggy boy has his own style too. He likes head scratches and shoulder rubs but does not like to be taken out of his cage. If this happens he tolerates it for a couple minutes before he begins with very gentle nips on my wrist. If the nips don't work he grabs hold of the skin with his teeth and pulls. He will do this harder and harder until he is put back.
It seems to me that pigs communicate a great deal through body language, especially with their mouth.
I think that I understand those particular signs that I have mentioned. Who knows if I interpret them all correctly.
I don't feel that the guinea pigs understand communications from me or even understand them except for one weird guy and that's Pinky. He's a real sweet adolescent Skinny and he's a very happy guy, always popcorning. He likes to be talked to. I go up to his cage and we have the following conversation:
Me (in high-pitched voice): "Pinky! Where are your clothes? Who stole your clothes? All the other guinea pigs have clothes! Where are YOUR clothes? Did someone steal your clothes? What do you think, I'm made of money? Who stole your clothes, Pinky? Am I going to have to take you to Wal-Mart to get more clothes? Pinky! Where are your clothes?"
And so on, while Pinky first comes up eagerly to see what I am doing. Then he starts pacing the cage and dragging his butt. Then he jumps on top of a house and starts rumblestrutting. Then he starts popcorning all over the cage.
I have NO idea why he does this except that he gets happy when someone shows an interest in him.
By the way, I have a theory that guinea pigs kept in cages may be friendlier and more interested in humans -- partly because humans offer a change of scene (something like a "get out of jail free" card). I imagine unless someone tried the same pig in different circumstances, they might not be able to tell a difference. And even then it would be hard.
He lives in a large pen now and has his own second story. Quite a lavish lifestyle. He's very outgoing to people although still not cuddly. He is not as willing to get a head scratch. But I can say that he seems much happier and a lot less frustrated.
- GL is Just Peachy
Einstein, of course, is completely blind and most likely completely deaf (although he does seem to pick up on me walking around the apartment when you wouldn't think he would). He is completely unable to pick up on any sort of talking or any noises from other pigs, yet he cries for his peachypellets, rumbles at Jackie and the girls, chatters his teeth, raises his chin, and humps other pigs. He also loves to talk on the phone, but he might just have picked up that he gets cuddled when he talks a lot (because I do love the talky pigs). I'm not sure his incessant licking is communication as much as it's perception.
Cuddles begs for attention and hardly ever runs away when I pick her up. When I'm holding her, she talks at length although she's holding more of a monologue than a conversation. She likes being petted some ways some times, and bites when she's petted in any other way or when she's in a bad mood. I think her illness has made her closer to me simply because I handle her more, try to calm her down, pet her, cuddle her, and kiss her belly. (I can't help it! If you saw her belly, you'd want to kiss it too. She has a stripe!) She recognizes her name, which catches her attention more than any word except "hay". She yells and chatters at Suzi and raises her chin and threatens to bite her, but doesn't ever hump her. She also has a different yell for the boys when they hit on her. She talks at the phone but I don't know if she specifically thinks of it as something she should talk at, or if she just happens to be talking.
Jackie knows his name and runs when I say it. He rarely makes any noise other than a scared chatter and a rumble, although he does squeal at the girls, and he sometimes whines when he's upset. He runs away from me, chews my shirt when he's upset, hits on my shirt when I've been holding a girl, tries to hide in my shirt when he's scared, and eats the phone. He very politely shoves his butt off my body and poops on the floor, however.
Suzi was a lot like Doom while Doom was still alive. They talked to each other a lot from the very beginning, not just rumbling but squeaking. They had a little communication problem for a few weeks but eventually Suzi learned that Doom didn't like her to chew on his feet, and she chewed her own feet instead. Suzi will relax most on my shoulder, passing gas or peeing on me sometimes. She nibbles my ear affectionately and squeaks loudly (but conversationally). Normally when I pick her up and pet her, before she relaxes, she rumbles angrily at me. When she was nursing Einstein and Jackie, she'd be in the hidey house nursing Jackie and Einstein would be outside stumbling around crying with hunger. Suzi would yell at him with gradually increasing volume. I suspect that was some sort of "I'm here, idiot" or "Shut up!" noise. Einstein would also come attack her nipples while she was trying to get hay from the hayrack, and she would squeak and chatter and run away. She's been quieter since Doom died and she had that surgery it took so long to recover from. She knows her name and the word "hay", at least, and she will sometimes squeal loudly for food or attention (at least that's why I think she's squealing when she has more than enough hay, water, and pellets). She reminds me of veggie times and shrieks when she hears the refrigerator door or the kitchen sink.
The hardest part was that she started coming to the corner nearest me and wheeking for attention the day after my worse allergy attack. I just wanted to reach in, pull her out, and hold her. She just was looking right up at me on her talking to me in a way she never had before. She still will come to the corner and wheek at me.
Other times I really don't know why she's calling out, esp. when she's in her tunnel and is just resting.
But I do know her "feed me" wheeks and her "I'm lonely. Look how cute and wonderful I am" looks/wheeks.
She also enjoys being held (once you can get her out of her cage) and will snuggle up against you while you pet her, though she rarely talks to us then. When she does, though, she sounds contented.
I also know that some pigs just want to be left the hell alone. Some like the attention once in awhile. Piggie is my most hugable pig. She'll tilt her head all the way back as you are scratching her nose, ears and chins. I usually tkae that as a sign that she wont mind being picked up. ;-)
- I Love Lucy
Miss Pea is my most social pig in terms of interaction with humans. She WHEEEEEEKS the loudest and longest for veggies and just about any other time she hear me nearby. She love to be held and gurgles when I pet her. It's easy to tell what her favorite petting motions/areas are by her responses. Gurgling is good. She has this little quiet but high-pitched noise she does to protest petting she doesn't like. She also licks my arms while I hold her. It's the sweetest thing ever. I see it as affection. She only starts doing that after you've been petting her in good ways for a good while. She never runs away from me when I come to the cage unless I give her a cherry tomato-- then she runs off with it shaking her head as if I'm going to steal it away! Although at the same time, she makes this happy "rrrurrrurururrrr" gurgling noise (more pronounced than the petting one). I interpret that as sheer joy. I love it. She does it when she gets either her favorite treats or something new to try.
The other pigs, all of whom live together in an enormous cage, have actually gotten less social in terms of being held. It's like the behavior of the skittish ones rubs off on the others. The second I reach in the cage, everybody runs to the back. Frankie's by far the easiest to catch. She's just a very laid back pig. Benji's difficult to catch, but once you get him, he adores attention. He doesn't really communicate much when you're holding him, but it's just his expressions and body language that makes it evident that he loves a good head scratching.
Buttercup hates being picked up, hates being held, squirms and wiggles and protests a little. It's not out of fear though... she's just a spunky pig. She likes to run around and jump on things and DOES NOT want to SIT STILL in a LAP!!! That's precious time when she could be bossing around somebody else. Sugar, on the other hand, is actually frightened of being picked up. She SCREAMS bloody murder every time I get my hands on her... but once I get her out of the cage, she sits very still and is submissive. I rather think she just doesn't know what to think.
Mama Pig is very sweet when you hold her. She nibbles a little (and sometimes bites, but not hard), and licks arms like Miss Pea, although not as often. She also seems to realize more than her cagemates the function humans perform in regard to yummies. The other pigs all wheek whenever they're either 1) out of veggies and I walk by, 2) hear a bag rattle, 3) hear someone else wheek, 4) hear me feed the cats, 5) hear Miss Pea eating a cherry tomato (it drives them nuts when she gets her extra treat after medicine and they don't get any, even though they just had a huge pile of veggies!)... and a number of other things. Mama Pig wheeks too, but rather than just running around demanding food, she puts her feet up on the front edge and looks up and out and sticks her nose out. She also does this if I'm nearby, even if there's no bag-rattling etc. involved.
Elliot was one of the most interactive pigs I had, and oddly, only really got this way after he got sick and needed constant handling. I'm a firm believer that pigs who get lots of hands-on attention tend to interact more with their humans. Elliot got to the point where he'd follow me all around the house wheeking and nibbling on my toes while I prepared his Critical Care every day. At first, it was just the kitchen-- usually if I walked to the other room, he didn't realize where I'd gone before I could get back. But before long, he would actually follow me wherever I went, just like a puppy. It was adorable.
He loves being cuddled but will let you know in no uncertain terms when he needs to go back to the cage for a wee. I made the mistake of falling asleep for a few minutes a while ago whilst holding Spike and was rudely woken by a sharb bite on my finger!!
Both Frankie and Spike make noises to tell me that they are happy and comfy whilst being held but Bobbie never has. Bobbie always looks like an animal caught in someone's headlights. He's getting slightly better but because of lack of noise I'm still not sure if he likes being held or not.
Frankie on the other hand is just a great big softie. He loves being cuddled and held but will also let you know when he's had enough. He is also very good at letting me know that he hates the bath I just gave him or the nail clipping or the butt cleaning. A slight nip to my neck makes his feelings pretty clear.
All three love floor time, which they have for an hour to an hour and a half each night. Popcorning like mad and running round the room like greased lightning. They also love going back into a clean cage and always popcorn around it for a while after.
But they are at their most comfiest when they come to watch tv with mum and the dogs. All three sit on the back of the sofa and just completey chill out man! But you have to make sure to get them in the correct sitting order - Spike first, then Frankie in the middle then Bobbie. Otherwise its nose lifts till dawn until I intervene and split Spike and Bobbie up. Frankie is a great peacemaker!!
- My home, ruled by pigs!
Sophie never utters a word. She communicates solely with her eyes and the expressions on her face. When she really wants something bad she stares at me intensely with her nose up in the air. Somehow, she just refuses to make a sound.
Angel chortles and purrs the entire time you hold her. But, she shrieks bloody murder when you go to pick her up in the cage. Once she's on your shoulder, the purring begins.
Elsie squeaks the entire time you touch or hold her. She also communicates like her mom, Sophie. She has expressions that let you know when she wants to be held, petted or picked up. She purrs too when you hold her and she's my chirper.
The way I communicate back is just talk to them like they're human and touch and kiss them constantly.
"How strongly do you feel you really understand each other?"
Very strongly!!! The one who never speaks, Sophie, understands everything I say.