View Full Version : hi! im delfiend! Help with handling my OCD Abyssinian?

10-14-12, 01:14 pm
Hi. I'm delfiend, and my guinea pig's name is Skittles. He's a real quirky Abyssinian!
We've had him since the April. He was kind of a birthday present to me, though he's considered the family guinea pig. Getting him was a combination of seeing our cousins' amazingly tame guinea pigs over spring break and my mom wanting me to get rid of my lab mice that had been part of my science fair project of the effect of a certain protein on memory ability.

Anyway, Skittles, like most Abyssinians, can't be held. He freaks out when you get close to touching his belly or his bottom. I've held him all of three times: a week after we got him, my mom snatched him up and put him in his box/carrier he came in and I was able to pick him up and hold him (he must have been in shock), another time we were cleaning his cage and he was in his box, but this time he flailed with his back feet and scratched up my arms, and another time exactly like the second.

He's very tame, to say the least. His latest pastime includes climbing out of his cage on his cage door and into my lap. He likes to chew on my fluffy clothing and my jeans. He's overflowing with personality and has no fear of our lab, who simply ignores him. And when we're playing with Skittles, our lab Dewey comes over and lays down next to us so he can get attention. He used to growl and snarl at Skittles, out of pure instinct, but he doesn't anymore, and Skittles is obsessed with him.

Does anyone have any advice as to holding Skittles? He's just very OCD about where you pet him and such... about everything, really. I feel that his social needs are being neglected because there's not much anyone can do with him besides feed him and pet him for a while.

10-14-12, 01:49 pm
Not liking to be held has nothing to do with the breed. I've had Abbies that loved being held. He might have mites since he's sensitive to being touched. I'd treat him for mites. Depending on what his background is, he might be reacting due to the way he was treated in the past.

10-14-12, 01:57 pm
I had abbies as a teen, and they all loved being held. I second the suggestion to treat him for mites.

10-14-12, 02:01 pm
Thanks for your help. I didn't mean to generalize. I've just read books that have said that Abbies are generally not has handle-able as others. But I know how wrong generalizations can be.

Here's his background:

Probably born on some commercial guinea pig farm, either for show or pet stores. At 5-6 weeks he was sent to Petco either because his rosettes weren't show-worthy or because he was bred to go to a store. I'm 99% certain that Petco tests there new animals for fleas, mites, and diseases, because I've seen signs on new pets that they've yet to be checked for such things. No more than a week later he was bought by yours truly. He was observed to be skittish and high-energy while he was still at the pet store. He has gotten no more handling than I stated originally though he is extremely comfortable and safe in our house and around us. He's very healthy and has been fed a salad of lettuce and sometimes peppers, strawberries, and carrots on top of his receiving timothy-based pellets and timothy hay. As of quite a few months ago he's been getting 2 salads a day.

He's not exactly sensitive to being touched, just in certain places. He loves being petted on the face, head, and middle of his back. He just doesn't let his sensitive belly petted or his butt scratched by someone he doesn't trust. I REALLY need to start working with him so we can get his nailed trimmed. They're getting out of hand. Do you have any advice for a temporary solution to that too? I've read on some different sights that putting a brink i his cage to climb on would help wear his nails down. Is that true/does actually work?

Colorado Cavies
10-14-12, 02:13 pm
Just to let you know guinea pigs don't usually like being touched on the butt or the belly. There is very little you are going to be able to do to make them like that. If you were him I doubt you would like some giant pawing at your back side or belly either. Just stick to areas he does enjoy. :)

10-14-12, 02:16 pm
Petsmart and Petco get their guinea pigs from breeding mills where they're often raised in poor conditions and often inbred. I doubt he was treated for lice or mites at the store so I'd recommend you treat him yourself.

10-14-12, 02:25 pm
Okay. Is there any obvious signs of mites? Because from all the signs of a healthy guinea pig that I'm aware of he exhibits. My mom doesn't want to spend unwanted money for a check up for the guinea pig. The only pet in our house that even has a vet is the dog. I know we have a small animal vet somewhere, because a friend of my sister takes their guinea pig to the vet for nail trimmings. But my mom wouldn't spend $100 to get Skittles fixed because "he's so small" and "that's almost as much as getting the dog fixed!".... small animals and vet check-ups don't really go together in her mind.

10-14-12, 03:34 pm
I'm sorry but in my opinion if you don't want to spend the money on vet bills for an animal then you should not have that animal.

Guinea pigs need regular checkups as do any animals.

10-14-12, 03:37 pm
Guinea pigs don't really need regular checkups. Mine have only gone in when they've had issues, and they've been fine. It's important to be able to go to a vet if your pigs get sick, of course, but there's no reason to go if nothing's wrong.

You can treat for mites without visiting a vet though. You just need Ivermectin, which you can get at farm stores or online. There's directions on Guinea Lynx.

10-14-12, 03:39 pm
Guinea pigs don't really need regular checkups. Mine have only gone in when they've had issues, and they've been fine. It's important to be able to go to a vet if your pigs get sick, of course, but there's no reason to go if nothing's wrong.

You can treat for mites without visiting a vet though. You just need Ivermectin, which you can get at farm stores or online. There's directions on Guinea Lynx.

my guinea pigs have always gone every few months to be sure

10-14-12, 04:11 pm
delfiend I'm sorry to say that guinea pigs are often quite expensive vet bill wise. You may want to rethink having a guinea pig if you can't pay to give the pig the care it needs. They also feel pain and emotions just as any other animal, so not taking them to the vet "Just because they are small" is not right.

10-14-12, 04:17 pm
I'm sorry but in my opinion if you don't want to spend the money on vet bills for an animal then you should not have that animal.

Guinea pigs need regular checkups as do any animals.

The OP did not say that he/she was unwilling to spend the money for a checkup but rather that his/her mom was unwilling to spend the money for a checkup. When one is dependent on a parent, one cannot exactly demand that the money be spent how one wants it to be spent. One can ask and one can make a good argument, but the parent will always have the final say. I would hope that if the pig was sick that the money would be spent.

At any rate: OP, you can treat mites yourself. If your pig seems itchy or irritable, or he doesn't like being touched (as you've described), mites are most likely the cause. Invermectin can be purchased online or at a feed store. Someone has already linked you to the instructions. It is super easy to apply, and it works with two applications, iirc. Best of luck to you and your pig!

10-14-12, 04:53 pm
asnnbrg Thanks. Its not that we're UNWILLING to pay for vet bills. Quite the opposite. My mom simply doesn't go to the vet unless our pets show sign of illness. But as with all of our pets, we try our best to prevent illness. We give our dog vitamins to keep him healthy and active, and we give our guinea pig pleanty of vitamin C rich vegetables such as bell peppers, along with his lettece.

Personally, I don't think he has mites. From what I've just gone and read, he'd be scratching more than usual, to the point of eventually scratching out his fur. I maybe see him scratch once or twice a day. He's certainly not scratching his fur out to any extent. Also, he LOVES being petted. If he had mites, wouldn't it bug him when he scrach his back and pet his fur down. Well, he purrs when we do that.

Ever since we got him, he's been jumpy and skittish. We've only been able to hold him when he was in his box: a small encosed space where he didn't feel vulnerable.

Does anyone have any methods or advice on handling a skittish guinea pig? I'm sure at least one of you have had a rescue pig or SOMETHING where the pig wasn't a fan of being held.

10-14-12, 04:59 pm
I find what works for skittish piggies is a towel. I do this with Salem still. When picking up out of the cage have a towel handy. I put the towel cradled in my arm and since Salem is still really small I can pick him up with one hand and support his entire body I put him on the towel and then fold the draping towel on top of him. Gives him a little towel cave. And settles him down. At first when I held him I always kept the towel cave and talked to him. I then went on to petting on top and then with him just on the towel and petting and talking to him. I still use the towel cave to bring him from my room to the living room as he gets a little scared when I walk with him

Colorado Cavies
10-14-12, 05:00 pm
How exactly are you holding him when he isn't inside of the box? Do you have him in a towel? On your lap or your chest?

Try wrapping him in a towel and folding part of it over the top of him so he can hide in there but you can still pet him. I find my piggies enjoy being on my chest but some HATE being on my lap. I think it's because if you are sitting up and they are on your lap you are kind of looming over them and it can make them nervous.

But like I said before don't try to pet his butt or his belly. He won't like it. He is never going to like it and doing so will only make him less happy about being held. Only pet him in areas he likes and give him his veggies or some hay while you are holding him. Soon he will associate lap time with treats and good pets.

10-14-12, 05:09 pm
Thanks guys. He's extremely comfortable climbing out of his cage and into my lab. He often sits there and chews on my pants or shirt or sleeves. I tried a towl, but maybe I did it wrong. I laid it out on his door, and when he climbed out onto the door I tried to wrap him up. He freak out and ran back inside.
I don't really try to pick him up, because I know it'll freak him out. There's been times I've had to, though, like when he tried to climb out of my lap and into the world, and when I tried blocking him with my arm as I always do, he would nibble on me hard. I wouldn't say bite. More like chew. His teeth uave been bugging him. We got him something new to chew on today. He seems to like it.

How exactly do you hold them with a towl? Like, how do you get them in? Do you think he would freak out less if ai lef the towl in his cage so he became familiar with it? The only problem there is he LOVES chewing on fabric and would probably gnaw the thing to pieces.

Colorado Cavies
10-14-12, 05:15 pm
If he comes out onto your lap on his own then just put a towel over your lap and let him climb up like normal. Honestly though no guinea pig I have likes being picked up. They are prey animals and their instinct is to run. So you are just going to have to grab him. He probably won't ever like it, but he'll get over it in about 5 seconds.

10-14-12, 05:16 pm
Another thing, if skittles is an only male pig, there's no need to get him neutered if that's what you meant by "fixed" in fact in guinea pigs since they're so small its a risky surgery. Just don't get a female, and you'll be fine. If you decide to get him a friend make 100% sure they're both males. neutering doesn't change guinea pig behavior either.

Even my vet says not to bring a guinea pig in except for yearly or bi-yearly checkups or if something is wrong. She's very experienced, so don't you doubt her because I say this, I've been through a lot with this vet from Rhino's eye injury and finding out about his partial left side of his face paralysis. She know's I'm a full time college student and that my funds are tight. If you have the money and time to take them in more often, go for it, if not, I'd say bi-yearly (every 6 months) or so should be fine as long as you're making sure you're doing the right thing, which this forum really helps out with. Like the others have said, problems with guinea pigs are usually expensive, I've spent easily a couple hundred on Rhino's vet bills, set aside some money just in case.

10-14-12, 05:18 pm
Oh and by the way, Skittles is very cute!

10-14-12, 05:48 pm
Thanks Rhinos_mom! Yeah well why we were going to get him neutered was because originally we were going to buy Skittkes and his white Abyssinian brother as pets, but the manager lady at Petco, who is SUPER knowledge, told us that they'd eventually have problems living together and that we'd need to get them neutered. So instead, we just bought Skittles.

Thanks for the towl advice. I just feel bad for Skits because part of the reason we got him was because our cousins' guinea pigs Chocolate and Smores were so tame. I imagine they've been handled since they day thet were bought. And now with Skittkes, who doesn't like to be held, he seems like there's something wrong with him (to my family members). It'll just be nice to be able to hold him to get him out of his cage or take him to the vet if needed, without his squirming wildly eith him scratching up my arms up and me worrying he'll hurt himself.

Colorado Cavies
10-14-12, 05:54 pm
I'm sorry but the woman at petco is clearly NOT knowledgeable about guinea pigs. Two males are just fine living together and neutering them won't change their behavior at all. The reason they usually fight is because their cage is too small. Speaking of which the pet store cage you have at the moment is FAR too small for even one guinea pig let alone two grown boars so please consider building a C&C cage.

Also this site is very anti pet stores and anti breeding so if you do eventually decide to get another guinea pig going through a rescue is recommended.

10-14-12, 05:57 pm
Usually you do want to get different age pigs so I can see why she'd say that, but honestly, seems she wasn't quite telling the truth or didn't know that neutering doesn't change behavior, if you neuter them, they'll still be boys and still act exactly the same, once he settles down you should consider getting him a friend, but only if you can provide a big enough cage.

10-14-12, 05:58 pm
my female alby was very finicky about her hind quarters. I assumed it was just that she was not hand tame cuase she was not treated well at the home where I got her from. I waited a month of really working with her and took the advice of the seasoned people on this site and tried treating her for mites. I did it myself at home ( my piggs have both seen the vet for an initial visit so I know they did not have any underlying issues)

she is a WHOLE new pig when it comes to picking her up and petting her. She no longer freaks out or ninja kicks me. she is also more willing to be picked up to be held. Not as tame as my silke...but still Lilly is so much more social! I can"t guaruntee it will be a game changer for your piggy...but we had great results. I treated her for $8 or $12 can"t remember I got my ivermectin paste at fleet farm in our area and then got a single needle free syring from the pharmacy department at the grocery store for free :)

other than the cranky and ninja kicks and infrequent itching...she did not have any extrememe or Yep she has mites signs...but treating her was all the proof I needed.

10-14-12, 05:59 pm
you can also try getting him to willingly go into a box, tunnel or pigalo and then scoop him up :)

10-14-12, 06:01 pm
Well I only have Skittles, and the cage is about 7.5 square feet. We probably wont get another guinea pig. At least the family wont. If I had had the money, I had my eye on a very large, open cage that I thought would be perfect for them to run around in. I'm looking into getting a job soon, as I'll get my license in a couple months. Since I really wont have anything to spend my money on but gas and my pets, I might get Skittles a bigger cage.

10-14-12, 06:18 pm
Boys can live together without being neutered, it won't affect their personalities. My pigs hate the initial picking up, but once I have them they calm down. Cuddle him close to your body when walking, that calms my pigs right down

10-14-12, 06:22 pm
Thanks @Rhinos_mom (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=20466) ! Yeah well why we were going to get him neutered was because originally we were going to buy Skittkes and his white Abyssinian brother as pets, but the manager lady at Petco, who is SUPER knowledge, told us that they'd eventually have problems living together and that we'd need to get them neutered. So instead, we just bought Skittles.

I hate to tell you, but if she advised you to have them neutered just because they'd be living together, she is NOT super knowledgeable. Male guinea pigs can often live quite happily together. If they are going to bicker, they're going to do it whether or not they are intact.

10-14-12, 06:35 pm
Just out of curiosity, what happened to the mice you had?

Guinea pigs don't enjoy being picked up, by nature, nor do they like being held. They tolerate it to different degrees and if your cousins have guinea pigs that seem comfortable being held, it's because they've been handled a great deal. Not holding or handling your guinea pig because you think he doesn't like it is going to keep him skittish and intolerant of being held. At a minimum, you need to be able to trim his nails. I can only imagine how uncomfortable he must be if his nails haven't been trimmed since April (or before).

10-14-12, 06:44 pm
Thanks once again for the advice. Other than the whole neutering thing, she was very knowledge. And by that, I mean she wasn't just trying to make a sale. She made sure we knew the commitment we were making (and we did). She's had many guinea pigs of her own.

The mice I had were given back to the pet store. My mom only let me get them for my science project because I had talked to a friend about feeding them to her snake when I was done. Of course, I became too attached to my highly intelligent and personable mice, Snowball and Napoleon, and was relieved the pet store had male mice in stock and was willing to put mine in with them. I know they were most likely bought to be fed to someone's snake, but I wanting nothing more than to give them a better chance at life.

Quick question: can a guinea pig injure its back if its picked up and it squirms to get free? I'm always worried about that when I have to quickly pick up Skittles and put him in his cage, like this one time where he freakrd out and ended up outside of his cage and in the open.

10-14-12, 07:33 pm
Hate to tell ya but many of the mice at Petco and Petsmart end up being snake food anyway. Too many times I've seen people in Petco to get, "feeder mice".

A guinea pig can injure its back if it falls from squirming to get free but as long as you have a firm and proper hold, that shouldn't happen.

10-14-12, 07:37 pm
Guinea pigs all have very different personalities, I have two abys myself. One of my abys runs away whenever you try and pick him up, but once he is being held he is happy and loves to be pet. My other will let you pick him up no problem, doesn't mind that at all. However, he does not really like to be pet and held and will only tolerate it for a few minutes before he tries getting away and starts chattering his teeth. Neither like to be pet on their bellies or back, but like to be pet under their chin, the sides of their face, behind the ears, that sort of thing. It it just takes some time to get to know their personalities and their likes and dislikes.

One potential injury I could see is that you say he likes to climb out of his cage on the cage door. That is fine if you can put something over it, but based on the picture he shouldn't use the door that way as his feet or legs could slip between the bars and could break. This can be remedied just by putting something more solid over it so he can continue to use it as a ramp but will not be able to get his legs caught.

I'm not quite sure I follow your other question on injuring his back, none of mine ever have and they can be quite squirmy, but it could depend on how you are holding him. If you scoop him up quick around the middle you should be able to easily use both hands to support his bottom as well, which will cut down on squirmy-ness. If you are carrying him you could also try by holding him against your chest with a hand under his rump, the more supported they feel the less they will squirm, because they won't be as nervous. Not sure if this was the answer you were aiming for or not?

Hope this helped and good luck with your new piglet :)

10-14-12, 07:41 pm
Also having a brick in his cage can help with his nails, but they will still have to be trimmed, it doesn't help that much. I have had one before but I don't have one now, it really doesn't make that much of a difference in my experience.