Widget lives in the upper part of what used to be one big cage. He has a 2x2 space that connects to a 1x2 space via a .5x2 walkway (the longest part of his cage is actually 5 grids long). Widget LOVES his cage and his space. He usually bounces a long the length of it, making tons of noise.
I wondered if something was wrong with the hay and gave him fresh hay.
A few hours later, I noticed he still hadn't touched it. We took him out of the cage to check him out. Teeth seem fine. He's not showing any other signs of being sick. But he was jumpy, jumpy, jumpy. Something set him off while I was holding him, and it was all I could do to keep him from leaping off of the couch.
I cleaned out the cage. Usually, when I put in fresh towels and fleece, Widget runs all over it and alternates between popcorning and marking the clean area. Then he burrows in the new pile of hay. I usually clean the 1x2 where the hay goes first so he can munch while I clean the 2x2 side.
What I discovered is that he refused to cross the walkway, much less get to the hay pile. When I cleaned the 2x2, he sat in the entrance to the walkway so I could clean, but otherwise wouldn't budge.
I put some hay in the 2x2 side, and he resumed eating. But he suddenly won't go to the other half of the cage. In fact, last night, he was still so upset about something that he wouldn't even come out of his pigloo unless either of us humans was down there. Today, he'll come out of his pigloo, but he won't go near the walkway. The poor guy is living in his 2x2 space.
I did wonder if he's been "bitten" by something sharp in the hay pile, since the haypile SEEMED to be the focus of the fear - but hard to tell.
My bigger worry is that a spider or something was in the cage. This year has been really bad as far as spiders go, and *I* almost stopped going to the laundry area because I saw a big wolf spider.
We never did figure it out. I hope Widget just returns to his old self soon.
I begged him to tell me what caused his fear, but he just stood there and let me pet him.
I have read that animals tend to react to the smallest thing that we don't notice. Like a bunch of cows wouldn't enter a barn because on a fence many yards away, there was a yellow raincoat that someone left a few days ago. No one noticed but the animal psychologist.
So it could be the way you put down the bedding possibly? A sweater you left nearby on that side of the cage? Any other animals that could jostle that walk way?
Wish there were more guinea pig whisperers :)
I did notice a binder clip missing. The walkway is lined with a piece of non-slip rubber hallway runner, and on top of that I put handtowels so it doesn't get gross.
The runner is held to the grid with binderclips. We noticed one clip was missing. It is on the 2x2 side of the walkway. We have no idea how long it has been missing, but I could see if maybe one day Widget became curious about it, and started messing with it, and it snapped...you get the picture.
That's just a guess.
Meanwhile, I just found a sludge pile in Tom and Linus's cage. *sigh* The fun never ends.