That night I got on the net and checked out the needs of guinea pigs. Next morning I went to see them and was disgusted at what I saw. Three black pigs were in a hutch with saturated newspaper in the sleeping quarters and a chicken wire floor outside. Their food trough was empty and there were orange skins and half an apple rolling around on the wire. They did have a water bottle. No hay, no grass. They were not thin, so must have had enough pellets to eat, but they looked miserable sitting on the dirty newspaper. The family had got a new puppy and didn't want the pigs any more. When I asked their names, the owner said they didn't have any. How can people have pets and not name them? Weird. I took them straight home.
The first thing I did was sex them. I found I had a family of mother, father and half-grown son. The sow I named Nugget (smooth black with small gold markings) and immediately put her in her own new house. The old boar I called Mister Tuft (black with silvery tones Abby), and the young boar I called Snubby because he's got such a snubby little nose. (Snubby is smooth and completely black). Mr Tuft and Snubby have their own pad and get on really well. But I am concerned about Nugget, she is not a tame pig, is very shy and I'm sure she's lonely, but she must not be allowed near the boys. She can hear and see them, and I don't know if that helps or just upsets her more. Anyhow, she is definitely pregnant (so says the vets at work) unfortunately, so in view of that she must stay how and where she is. Hopefully she will have healthy babies, including a daughter, who can live with her. Any sons will have to move in with Mr Tuft and Snubby. Snubby is the cutest, tamest little fellow, despite being roughly grabbed by his previous owner's small child. Mr Tuft is getting very tame as well. I hope Nugget will gain some confidence once she's been here for a while.
I am really enjoying the pigs, watching them, finding out about them and their needs. This is a great site for that. I just wish people wouldn't get guinea pigs for little children, especially when the parents are not interested in the animals. I hate to think how many little pigs are leading miserable lives like mine used to. It's a pleasure to see them in their clean dry houses with lots of fresh sweet hay, they look so happy!
PS I meant to have Snubby's Mum as a user name, but put Snubby instead and now it won't change! But it is me writing these posts, not Snubby, altho I bet he'd like to try, he's so intelligent.
As far as 'Nugget' goes, what we do with "untamed" pigs is simply place our hand in the cage. Don't move it, don't try to pick the pig up, just let your hand rest in the cage. Guinea pigs ARE curious creatures (at least, every one that has come through our home has been) and will come out and check out this "new thing" in the cage. let them sniff you and run off. Let them do this for a few times, then just remove your hand and walk away. Talk to Nugget while your hand is in the cage in a soft, soothing voice.
Rinse, lather, repeat. Keep this up and after about a w(h)eek, Nugget will 'know' who you are, and this strange hand in the cage will not harm her. Then you can slowly start to move to pick her up. Make sure all their feet are on your arm so they feel secure, and you may need to place your other hand on top of them as well (we've never really had to do this though, but have read it here on GL that it is sometimes needed).
Another thing I've read here -- that we have not had to do with our herd -- is to wrap them in a towel so they feel 'safe'.
She'll learn to love you. But always remember -- unlike cats, dogs, or any other 'common pet' -- guinea pigs are prey animals. Their natural instinct is to RUN!
Good luck with Nugget!!!