View Full Version : New member and first time owner with questions!

08-24-09, 02:25 pm
Hello all! I've only just joined today, but I've been using this site and others like it for gathering guinea pig information for a while now. Yesterday, my husband and I finally took the plunge and picked up our first pair of guinea pigs! They do not have proper names yet, because I'm so picky and names are important to me. They seem to have picked up nicknames however, and that's what I'll use to refer to them.

Nibbles, aka, Mr. Nibbles, is an American male we adopted from a local animal rescue. PR, aka, Punk Rock, is an Abyssinian male we purchased from PetSmart.

I would appreciate it if you could spare me the pet store rants, and all the horrible reasons why guinea pigs shouldn't be acquired there. Believe me, I know and agree with them. I've spent a few weeks scouring Craigslist and the Internet for adoptable guinea pigs in the area, and came up empty. I called the local shelters, yes, even the ones that specified they were "cat and dog" shelters, and I was actually, ironically enough, told to get a guinea pig at "PetCo or whatever." We found a local rescue that was having a adoption show at PetSmart this weekend, and we went looking for piggies. They had two females and a male, Nibbles. We fell in love with Nibbles immediately. We didn't want ANY breeding possibilities, as none of them were fixed and we only have one cage, so as sweet as the two females were, we had to leave them. While there, we looked in the store's guinea pig area for a companion, and my husband saw a fuzzy ball with a white mohawk, and, well, that was it, he was coming home with us.

They're home now, in their cage which is a tad small, but only temporary until the C&C cage is complete. I have a few questions regarding their behavior, and how I should be caring for them.

Nibbles eats frequently, and will take food offered from my hands with no hesitation. He dislikes being picked up though, and I can't tell if he minds being pet or not. He does a chewing motion with his mouth when I pet him, it's odd. He only starts it when I'm in contact with him, and my hand is moving. If I place my hand on his head and don't move, he won't do it. But if I move it at all, he begins to chew. I've checked recordings for the angry teeth chattering noise, and it doesn't sound similar. He doesn't back away or shake or seem uncomfortable, he just sits. Does anyone know what this is?

I read online that when first placed in the home, guinea pigs should not be given a hiding place so they will adjust better to the comings and goings around the house. I have the pigs in my from room, where I spend most of my time, where they can view the door, so there is quite a lot of activity around them. I can see how not giving them a hiding place could help them adjust, but it seems like dropping a child in a pool so they can learn to swim so they don't drown. So far I haven't given them a hiding place during the day, but at night when I'm not around they each have a spot. What is the right way to approach this?

So far, PR hasn't done much of anything except run from me. He eats when I'm not watching, and doesn't move when I'm nearby. I know this is normal, new piggie behavior, but I'd really like to avoid traumatizing him as he gets used to me. Will he become trusting enough to let me handle him, or at least pet him just through feeding him? Or do I need to pet and handle him before it's an enjoyable activity, to get him used to it? Part of me is horrified at the idea of forcing him to associate with me.

I'm so sorry, I know I write huge walls of text. But hey, at least I'm descriptive! Thanks so much in advance, for the help.

08-24-09, 03:16 pm
They need hideys at all times. Whatever you read was wrong. You will have to handle both pigs regularly to get them used to you. Try holding them in a towel.

You should have waited until pigs to adopt came along, even if that meant not getting any pigs for quite a while. I hope you take your pigs to the vet and treat them for mites/lice. They are likely to have them or other illnesses. You should also make sure they are males.

You should not have gotten them until you had a proper cage built. It's disappointing that you did research on this site first and still made these mistakes.

08-24-09, 03:21 pm
Hi and welcome. I am new to piggies also. I have been a proud mom of 2 piggies about 10days now. And what i did learn is that it takes a few days for the pigs to come round to the new enviroment. The chewing while holding i can't answer. My poppy does the same. It's normal for them to run away when you get near.

It will take a while. Even with my 2 girls. princess is still shy but poppy comes up to my feet as soon as i enter her room.Theres lots of people here with a lot of experience to help you out with your questions.

08-24-09, 03:49 pm
Princesspoppy, thanks for the welcome! I appreciate the encouragement too. I've read a bunch of times how skittish pigs are, but it helps to have someone confirm that it's not me they don't like, it's just their nature to hide.

Akstrohm, thanks for the info on hiding places and handling. I appreciate it, and have added their hideys back to the cage.
I want to avoid arguments. I know my choices don't live up to your perfect cavy care standards. It wasn't our intention to buy a second pig at the store. My husband and I looked at them while buying Nibbles' supplies and we knew we wanted him. It was the mohawk, really. My husband was in a punk band back in the day, and he fell in love with the little guy. Honestly, of the two, PR, our pet store piggie, was more of a rescue than Nibbles. Nibbles was in a proper cage, living in a foster parent's home while he waited for someone to adopt him at one of the weekend shows. I know that even purchasing one guinea pig supports the industry. I have indeed taken them to the vet, and despite your assumption, neither has mites, lice, or anything at all wrong with them. They are both males.
Our cage is a more than adequate size for one pig, which is what we were expecting. The two of them will be just fine for the less than 24 hours they spend in it.

08-29-09, 03:21 am
You did luck out that they are healthy.. i wasnt so lucky. :( The two i bought had not only mites but ringworm!

I know the mouth thing you are talking about! I had a rescue rat that would do that.. i think it just feels good and thats why they do it.. he didnt mind being handled but when you scratched him he would do it. So, I called him Elvis haha.

09-03-09, 05:31 pm
Aw, I hope your piggies healed up well!

I guess it does just feel good. They both continue to do it, even though they're comfortable (or at least, more comfortable) with me now. That's a great name for a rat!