EXTREMELY frantic pig

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Post   » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:02 am

My boyfriend and I have five guinea pigs. The two most recent ones, Francis and Elliott, did not come from a very good situation. We got them around October from a family who advertised them on Craigslist. The household had a lot of children and two large dogs, and the pigs were in small plastic storage containers with no food, water or hay. They told us that Elliott was the cuddly one, and that Francis hated to be held.

Both pigs fight with the other pigs, except for the two oldest pigs. Currently, Elliott and Francis have their own 2x3 cages, and the other three live in a 2x4, the minimum requirements for three pigs (except, 2 of those pig have a fungal infection so the other one is separated). The three boars in that cage never, ever, fight. Two of them are the most passive pigs ever born, and the other is playful but not too terribly bossy. All the cages have adjoining walls so the pigs can all see each other. We tried everything to house them together, including buddy baths, a big cage with 2 levels each 3x4, and trying the pigs paired up in different ways to see who was the most compatible. None of it worked. Acorn ended up needing stitches because of a fight, so he never sees Elliott and Francis. Francis has adjusted very well, and is content to see the other pigs through the bars, and play with Winston and Chester during floor time (except he can't play with Chester at the moment, as Chester has fungus). He also has become very hand tame, and he wasn't before at all. I'm assuming it's because his previous owners never held him (he bites very hard when intimidated), so he never entirely associated being held with something bad.

Elliott, on the other hand, is barely adjusting at all. He is extremely skittish. Literally if he sees anyone coming anywhere near his cage, he freaks out, nearly scaling the walls, then running around in circles frantically, then diving into a hidey or his hay rack, wheeking loudly the whole time. He freaks out every time he hears a noise too, even soft ones. He also sits obsessively at the wall of his cage staring at Francis and chewing the bars nonstop. Elliott usually gets floor time with Winston and Chester, and he seemed to enjoy it. He would run around and popcorn. However, today, when I put him on the floor with Winston, he seemed ok, but when Winston went over to the food bowl , Elliott ran other, chomped him on the face, and chased him off. Then he did it again before I could pick Winston up. Winston is fine, but now I do not want to put any off the pigs on the floor with Elliott, as he is the one who tore up Acorn's face. I have never seen him be so aggressive with Winston though. Winston is the gentlest, least dominant pig in the group.

So now Elliott only has very limited contact with the other pigs. I feel bad that he has to be alone, but I don't know what to do with him. He has gotten a bit better. He hates being picked up, but once you get him in your lap with some food he sits quietly for five minutes. He never nips. It's just when he's in his cage he chews obsessively at the bars and freaks out at every tiny noise. I can't get him to calm down. I almost wish I could give him some piggie xanax. I'm sure it has to do to with how he was handled at his last home. They said he was "cuddly", which leads me to believe he was handled roughly, traumatizing him. And, the lack of food at his last home explains the food-based aggression too. Does any one have any suggestions? I feel so badly for him.

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Post   » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:18 am

Have they ever been treated for mites? Mites can cause aggressiveness.

Going without food is very hard on guinea pigs. They are meant to eat non-stop. Not eating can cause GI issues and/or fatty liver disease. Illness can cause them to be skittish/aggressive as well. How is Elliott's weight?


Post   » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:37 am

They had mites when we got them, and all five pigs were treated. Perhaps they have it again? They aren't showing any symptoms, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to dose them again? I still have some medication. As for Elliott's weight, it has been consistently going up about 30-40 grams per week for since we got him. He's growing huge!

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Post   » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:34 am

I had a rescued pig once who simply could not process social cues from other pigs. It took him years to learn how to live with others, and even then you could see the other pigs were simply tolerating him.

He spent most of his life sharing a grid wall with other pigs and was pretty happy. I had to keep one end of his cage a dark quiet cave with his food and water or he'd freak out and not move /eat/ drink. Max never realized that he was going to have enough food and constantly ate everything as fast as possible.

Have you been to a good guinea pig vet to have him completely checked over? I would do that FIRST, then start modifying things to help soothe him.

Mite treatment should be done in 3 rounds, each round one week apart.

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Post   » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:55 am

Yes another course of treatment for mites might help. He may be in an aggressive adolescent stage too and might be better when he gets older.

If you put plexiglass in front of the adjacent wall, there will not be the risk of breaking teeth from biting on the wires.


Post   » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:31 pm

Yesterday I rearranged Elliott's cage so that a 3rd of it is covered by a towel, and the walls there are blocked so he can't see in the other cages under the towel. He seems a lot calmer!

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