I got my first guinea pig about two years ago, and she was always very shy and scared of me and my husband but we had the mentality that if we showed her a lot of love, she would eventually come around. Although she was only a couple months old when we got her, I think she must have had some bad experiences with people because she has never came around like we thought. Since then I have gotten 3 more guinea pigs, all very cautious and weary of people. We had them in our room for the first year or so of their lives, and then moved them to the living room when the allergies from the hay got bad. But either way, they were in places where we were constantly around, so they've had plenty of time to get used to us.
In the beginning I handled them every day but stopped when I didn't see a change and because they seem to hate it so much. All they do is try to get back to their cage. I'm wondering how other guinea pigs act with people and does anyone have any ideas of what we did wrong? I have 4 guinea pigs by the way, all females, around 2 years old.
I have 2 two pigs that are bit like that. Leo is about 2.5 yrs old and I have had hime since he was a baby. He has always been very weary of humans. Lately he has actually let me pet him though which makes me very happy.
I find that if you hold them often, speak gently, keep other noises to a min and always have a treat handy they can come around. Sometimes they don't, but even if they don't like being held, I am sure they appreciate you in their own way
I think these piggies are prey animals by nature, so they are all a bit on the shy and cautious side to start with.
And just like people, they each have their little personalities.
Out of our 4 pigs, Meimei is the master of the household; she needs to investigate every person/thing/objects in the house. She will come come up to you voluntarily for anything from food to attention.
Beibei is exactly the opposite, she is the happiest when you just uh.. leave her alone.
Mojo used to be a shy little boy too, but he is slowly coming out of his shell and starting to enjoy more and more of the attention and cuddle time. He is one who enjoys floor-time the most. : )
McMac is our signature lap pig, he will sit and sleep with you contentedly for some time, and starts to scratch or fuss when he needs to go back to the cage to pee.
I've had Jeffy since he was 7 weeks old and he still runs when I get near their pen.
It sounds to me like they are not socialized with you. Very young pigs are very squirmy and it seems like they are trying to get home.
I also would recommend daily handling with treats. And time.
I'm not sure what to tell you other than lots and lots of time and patience. Usually a pig will very much dislike being picked up but will calm down considerably when placed on your lap in a quiet environment. Each pig has a different spot where they like to be scratched or petted but many like behind the ears and underneath the chin. Very few like being touched on their rump. When you feed them their daily veggies, always try and get them to take it from your hand. That will help them associated The Hand with something favorable. It's a long and slow but very rewarding process.
Maybe my guinea pigs are not as anti-social with people as I thought. I just thought guinea pigs were more friendly than this.
My pigs love being petted on their chin and ears. They'll lift their chins when I'm petting them, it's so cute! And they easily take food out of my hand, and even come up to me when I'm sitting by their cage but I think that's only because they can trust I wont try to pick them up since I usually don't unless I have to due to the fact that when they're on my lap, they shake slightly like they're cold (I'm positive they're not cold though) and just keep trying to get back in their cage. Even if I take them into another room and sit with them on the floor, they'll start walking in the direction of their cage and stand by it since they can't get in by themselves. And they'll let me pick them up when they want back in their cage.
It breaks my heart to pick them up and sit with them on my lap simply because they seem to hate it so much and be so unhappy by it. I'd rather they be happy and content in their cage than sad and scared on my lap. I thought they'd get over it but after like 6 months of trying, I just gave up cause I hated seeing them unhappy like that. I guess I'll go back to trying though. I do feed them from my hand almost every day though during floor time.
It sounds like you're doing the right things so please, don't get discouraged. It's hard sometimes. I've also found that sometimes a scared pig will be more comfortable in my lap if I bring a small flannel receiving blanket to cover them loosely with. They don't seem to feel as exposed. The fact that they lift their head for chinnies is encouraging. Your floor time idea is excellent. You could try closing the door, so they can't get back to their cage, and then putting some tastey veggies scattered about. I also have a "home base" on my floor where the pigs can run back to if they get scared. It's just a small, open C&C pen with a fleece floor, a water bottle, and some hide outs made from cardboard boxes.
It's very hard for us, as predator animals who are used to predator pets (dogs and cats) to get used to the prey mentality. I think we'd all agree to that from experience.
Both my guys vibrate, I always thought that was that purr I've read about. It always happens when things are calm and quiet and they're getting lots of scritches and love.
They're all so different...it could just be the personalities of your particular pigs. My husband and I currently have 8 boars. Of those, only four are really what I would call "affectionate." Zachary and Henry are the friendliest and love to be held. Tobias tolerates it for a short time, especially with my husband. Sebastian loves being held by my husband, but has always disliked me.
Otis, Petie, Oliver and Sidney don't like being held at all. Otis vibrates all over when held and is terrified (adopted as a baby, and he's 3 years old now); Oliver couldn't care less either way (adopted when he was almost 2); Petie dislikes people AND other pigs (we've also had him from a very young age).
What was interesting to me, was when we pig-sat over the summer. Two boars came to stay with us who were incredibly friendly and begged us for treats and to be held. It made me wonder what we were doing wrong with OUR pigs.
Like I said, they're all different. You might never find that your current pigs are really "people" pigs. Or they might come around eventually. We adopted a senior boar back in August who took to us immediately. Same with Winston, who passed last year. Other pigs have taken a long time to become comfortable with us. Zachary is the most loving little pig imaginable, but he still runs like crazy when we go to pick him up.
So don't feel bad, and don't despair. Even if they never become "lap pigs," you can still enjoy the company of your girls. ;-)
All my piggies run like the butcher was coming after them. Yeah, still after 5 years! Other than that, they're calm and quiet when you go in the cage to pet and scritch them behind the ears. It will take then a while before they come running to the front of the cage.
It's been 3 weeks and Mochi is only half way to the front of the cage when it's time for food.
Piggies are very complicated animals in this respect! When I go to pick my boys up from their house you would think I repeatedly beat them the way they act. They can't get away fast enough (although they are slower than they think!). Then I have unhappy grumblings until they are quietly settled down in the crook of my arm (wooly jumpers are most appreciated).
I often find that it is worse if I take them out together. I think sometimes one gets jealous if the other gets more scratches. Although there is a bit of "don't forget about me" wheeking from the one left behind.
I have always felt that Goose and Maverick didn't like me and that everyone else's pigs were much more affectionate. However I was so delighted the other day. They were playing on the kitchen floor and I was stood in the doorway. When I called Goose's name he came running over to me!!! Maybe I am not so unloved after all.
One tip I would give is that they are much happier when I take them out of the cage and put them straight in their puppy bed to carry them. I think there is a quite understandable feeling of not being terribly secure when carried. It must seem a long way down for a pig when they are in your arms.
Cuzko demands lovins every day. But she was hand raised, so she doesn't know any different. Oaxaca on the other hand is very skittish, but he's coming around slowly.
Some pigs just aren't into the whole human interaction thing. If they like chin scratches, that's something.
Do you wrap them up in a hand towel or small blanket when holding them?
I've had some pigs that like being held, others that can stand 5 minutes of it before they want to be anywhere else but in your lap. But I've had some that were nervous until I bundled them up, at which point they relaxed. I've also had some that are happiest if they're having lap time with another pig. Willow hates to be alone, but settles right down if Pippin is with her. Teddi was the same way (although for her, that meant she'd be still for 10 minutes, instead of 5, before pestering her sister).
I've also discovered that sometimes they get nervous because they need to pee, and don't want to pee on you. Eclair used to do this - so I'd put her back in her cage long enough to pee, and pick her up again and she'd be fine.
Not all of my pigs have been like Steve and Jules and Max. They were incredibly friendly and social toward people.
I find it easier if I hold them on my lap in a towel or cuddle cup (the one I just got is getting a lot of use!). Something they can hide in/be warm but also be near me. None of my current pigs like to be picked up even though the Little Guys have been with either me or my mother all their lives. Gus is getting better about it and once he's out, he makes himself comfy. It's just the getting out he's not too sure of.
Enjoy your pigs for who they are. Many pigs mellow as they age and you may find your efforts paying off later. Even if they never like lap time, try things like setting up mazes or interesting floortime and sitting on the floor with them. Give them a hidey spot when they're out so they have options besides the cage.
Edit to add: Gus will start shifting and chewing on the cuddle cup if he needs to pee. If I ignore this, it's my own fault.
Edited by RavenShade on 1/3/2007, 9:21 am
PooksiedAnimals, I get that from Maverick too. After about 15 minutes of cuddles he starts to wheek really loudly and I know it is time for him to go back in his house. He starts wriggling around to find somewhere to pee.
If I ignore him (which I quickly learned not to do) then a little puddle appears and he looks at me as if to say "well I did tell you".
mayo377, I understand your feeling they don't like you. I think some of us humans expect them to act differently than they do and this may be part of the reason that people "get rid" of these little guys instead of enjoying them for who they are. And each one is different.
Of the three pigs that spent the longest time with me, one would tolerate my holding her so long as the food bribe I had was not eaten. Then she tugged on my clothes violently, indicating she had had enough of me. She did like chin rubs though.
Another would sit on my lap with her butt in my face. Did not relate to me at all. Had no use for sitting in my lap.
Another pig that was eventually the last pig I had would run up and hide her head near my cheek. She eventually learned to relax and I think I enjoyed her more as a lap pig than any of the others. Still loved the violent tugger (who was a real character) very very much.
What I did was give my pigs a room so they could go from one area to another. It was fun to see them on the move. Groups of pigs are good to observe.
I think you need to enjoy that contact you do have with them in the cage more. They have learned to trust you. Perhaps watch and interact with them more in the cage too. Think about giving them a space large enough that you can join them on the floor.
Welcome to my world. It takes time, time, bribes, time, bribes, and more time before a guinea pig learns to ‘relax’, if it can be stated a guinea pig can ever relax.
I’ve told this story several times before on Guinealynx, but when I adopted my present two girls, you had to know I had guinea pigs to know I had them. Otherwise, all you saw was an apparently empty cage. Whenever I entered their room, both sandwiched their bulk, an excess of 6+ lbs. of guinea pig, into 1 big pigloo. (They now both have their own pigloo.) I would have to leave the room and shut the door behind me before they would emerge to eat anything. It took about 1 ½ years before they decided I just might NOT be trying to do away with them.
Now sometimes, they will take favorite treats from my hand. Even rarer, they sometimes will let me touch them in the cage.
They are still skittish and don’t like being handled. My more dominant one seems to really like my sister. She has a habit of staring at her when she comes. My sister can pick up her and hold her for about 2 minutes. Then the guinea pig tugs on her clothing to let her know she’s had enough (both of them will also tug at your clothes to signal they have to go potty) and would like to be returned to the cage.
They both seem happiest in their cage. Watching them, I kind of feel I have my own private 'guinea pig cable channel' that never shows the same movie twice.
Even my foster girl, who is grateful for any attention and will let you freely pet her in the cage, will run when startled. However, when I try to pick up her, she will always run around the cage like her backside is on fire. What seems to work is guiding her into her litter box. I then pick up the litter box and can get her. Once with me, she will sit and sit, taking treats ,‘watching’ television, and making her own ‘snack chips.’
My son feels the same way as you.
But they are fine and will stay in his lap when he sits.
I have a girl (Grace) since she was born. She still screams if you pick her up. Grace will even try to get back into the cage if she can see it.
I sit with her in a different room and she is fine happy sitting in my lap. But she does like ie when I have an arm around her. Kinda hugging her.
So give them time they will be relaxed in your arms the more you give them some one on one.
I thought I was the only one who had skittish piggies! My two take much patience and time, but I can usually get at least Charley to come to me and sniff my fingers. I do know that pigs want attention from their owners. When I adopted my two babies out last weekend to a true piggie lover, (she has 39 of them!) she gave me a pig by pig tour. She took almost each and every one out for me to hold. Most of them were very tame and were rescues from horrid situations. The one that I found most endearing was a blind pig, a lethal, she called him. He came up to her when he heard her and wheeeeeeeeeked ever so sweetly for her to pick him up. What a doll. She had another with a handicap, a twisted arm, that she called "Twisted Pretzel". Each and every one was well taken care of and loved and it-oh-so showed by their attitude. It was very heartwarming, and although she does have many pigs, I am so glad I gave them to her and her husband. She frequents this website, so if you are reading this....Thank you for everything, you are a true blessing!
What's "weary" of people?? Are they tired of them?? I know many pigs are "wary" of people (scared of them).
Sorry, I don't mean to nitpick, but that common mistake along with "skiddish" when the word is skittish, drive my English loving/teacher self crazy. Not that I don't make plenty of errors myself......