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Thread: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave
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    Exclamation Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    Hello Guinea Pig community,

    I have just got my two small piggies yesterday afternoon (today is Day 2), both female, and situated them in a 120 by 60cm cage with a plastic bottom and wire top (openable). One of them is a bit smaller in size but is 10 weeks old, while the other is a bit longer (and overall wider), but only 6 weeks old.

    Everything seemed relatively normal when I brought them home. My family decided to go eat lunch out, and so I cuddled the box carefully into the restaurant to avoid them getting heatstroke.

    Getting home, we kept the piggies in the box, set up the cage (covered the floor with a thin layer of cat litter, stuffed the side holder with hay, while also sprinkling some on the floor, waterbottle, pellets, 1 hutch).

    After transferring them into the cage, they both ran instinctively to the hutch, which was normal. I shut the cage and left them alone for the rest of the afternoon.

    At around 8pm, I cut some small apple slices and took it out for them. At that point I was unsure whether they even knew how to drink from the bottle, nobody had taken so much as a sip from it (they did drink around 20-30ml this morning though, but having refilled it and writing this now, they haven't taken a sip of the refilled bottle). I did rub some apple (to deposit some of its juice) onto the spout of the bottle, as some guides said to do. They were both eating hay, though.

    It's worth noting right now that the bigger pig (6 weeks old) is very shy and has not come out ever when humans are present. Even if she is eating, she will bolt back into the hutch at any sound or movement. The smaller one (10 weeks old) doesn't get too spooked anymore.

    However, this morning I took the two out of the cage and placed them in a small walled out area of my garden. After a while of peaceful nibbling on the lawn grass the two pigs started making chattering sounds, with the bigger one putting her nose up the smaller one's butt, and pushing it.

    The bigger one is very skittish, and absolutely hates any interaction with me. Trying to bring her back to the cage took 20 or so minutes, just trying to catch her. The smaller one is willingly letting me pick her up now, though.

    I have also noticed that the bigger one has now taken control of the only hutch, and the smaller one is left hiding in the corner where the food is. She [the smaller one] isn't even allowed in the hutch, as the bigger one will push her out, both making chattering noises. The bigger one also has not come out of the hutch, even when I cut some carrots just then and put it in the food bowl.

    The pigs were also not eating any pellets. As of now, I have taken the food bowl and replaced the pellets with carrots (stated above). If anyone is wondering, I live in Australia and am using Vetafarm Cavy Origins Pellets.

    My family absolutely hates any pet 'smell' so I have to keep my piggies under a big outdoor metal (not corrugated) roof, like a verandah but without the wood underneath. I have a blanket that I close and clip to the bars at night. I open the blanket halfway across the cage in the morning, shielding the pigs from direct sunlight.


    --------------------


    My question(s): Are these behaviours normal? If not, what should I do? Do I need to get a new/another hutch? New water bottle? See a vet?

    I'm just really worried (and stressed) that they might have some mental if not physical problems, and mainly because the two have very contrasting differences, not to mention the dominance behaviours exhibited by the bigger but younger pig.

    Thank you all :)

    (I've also gone ahead and posted this on Reddit r/GuineaPigs, but I doubt anyone will see it on there)

  2. #2
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    Hello! And welcome to the guinea pig forum! First of all, you used cat litter? Make sure that it’s a natural and paper based litter instead of the clay based ones. While you can use cat litter, I recommend using paper bedding made for guinea pigs. I personally use carefresh, but I don’t know it that’s accessible in Australia. You can go to your local pet store, and I’m sure that you can find some paper bedding for guinea pigs there.

    your guinea pigs sound like they’re trying to find out who’s boss. The big one is probably the dominant piggy and she wants the hutch all to herself. I recommend getting 2 of everything. 2 water bottles, food bowls, and hutches. This way they can both have the food and water that they need.

    The chattering sounds mans that they’re angry or agitated. For two guinea pigs it’s almost like they’re telling each other to back off and leave them alone. Since your guinea pigs are young, it’s probably just puberty. It’s normal for young guinea pigs to find out who’s boss. It’s the same for the butt pushing. In guinea pig language this means that I’m boss. Like, most guinea pigs HATE being pet on their butts for this reason.

    Another reason could be that female guinea pigs go into heat. If this turns into a cycle of dominant behaviors it could just be that one of the piggies are in heat. As long as no blood is drawn, then I would say just keep an eye on them.

    About the water, I think that it’s ok if they drank 20-30 ml. As long as they know where the water is and how to drink it then they should be fine.

  3. #3
    Cavy Slave 4boipigs's Avatar
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    Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    I would start by getting more places to hide, and probably upgrading the cage. They need to have multiples of items so they can have time to themselves. They may not want to hang out in the same hide, assuming they can fit. If you have a cage bought from the pet store, even the biggest you can find isn't going to be big enough in the end. The cages this website sells is a great example of what pigs should have. Finally, I would also leave them alone for a while so they can settle in. Let them adjust before handling them.

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    Cavy Slave Soecara's Avatar
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    Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    First things first the cage is much too small, it will be ok for now but they are going to get much bigger and it will be much too small very soon. They need to figure out who is dominant and they will continue to reaffirm that as they grow into adults, even as adults they may bicker a bit when they go into heat, and in a cage that is too small they are much more likely to injure each other as they can't get away into their own space when they are bickering.

    If you have to have a prebuilt cage I would suggest this cage https://thegeneralpetstore.com.au/co...cm-indoor-cage I know it doesn't sound that much larger being 140cm by 70cm but if you calculate the square meters and having actually seen this cage in person it really is so much larger (0.72m2 vs 0.98m2)

    You will have to be so extremely careful in summer, guinea pigs will get heat stroke in any weather over 28-29 Celsius even in full shade. I have had them get heatstroke inside when the air conditioner began to fail (it was still functioning but didn't cool the room down as much as it was meant to). It may not be so bad their first summer as they will still be young so they won't have as much fat on them as they will as adults, but once they are adults summer will be brutal to them.

    Guinea pigs really don't smell of much other than mildly of hay if you keep their cage dry. It should be cleaned well before the point where it would begin to smell. For my cages bedding I use a sheet of fleece on top, then two layers of microfibre that I cut to size, then a layer of second-hand towels folded in half so there are two layers of towels. I used to use just fleece and towels before I got the microfibre. My cages stay very dry, and as such there is never a smell, I keep them in my bedroom.

    If they don't like the vetafarm pellets you can get oxbow in australia https://www.petshopdirect.com.au/sho...uinea-pig-food

    I'm not a fan of the vetafarm pellets, they don't state the calcium content and the first two ingredients are fescue and then lucerne (aka alfalfa). Lucerne is a legume high in calcium so I feel very confident the calcium of those pellets is way too high for guinea pigs over 6 months old. I'm also not comfortable with feeding fescue to my guinea pigs just because of the issues it can cause in other animals like horses. However having said all of that, the Vetafarm pellets are still one of the better pellets available in Australia.

    If you are having trouble catching them to return to the cage consider getting a box (that can very comfortably support their weight - you wouldn't want the bottom falling out on them) or carry cage, have a hole in the side of the box or open the door to the carry cage and see if they will run into that for "safety" when you are trying to catch them. If they will run into that then its much simpler to close the door/cover the hole with your hand and pick the whole thing up.

  5. #5
    Cavy Slave
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    Exclamation Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soecara View Post
    First things first the cage is much too small, it will be ok for now but they are going to get much bigger and it will be much too small very soon. They need to figure out who is dominant and they will continue to reaffirm that as they grow into adults, even as adults they may bicker a bit when they go into heat, and in a cage that is too small they are much more likely to injure each other as they can't get away into their own space when they are bickering.

    If you have to have a prebuilt cage I would suggest this cage https://thegeneralpetstore.com.au/co...cm-indoor-cage I know it doesn't sound that much larger being 140cm by 70cm but if you calculate the square meters and having actually seen this cage in person it really is so much larger (0.72m2 vs 0.98m2)

    You will have to be so extremely careful in summer, guinea pigs will get heat stroke in any weather over 28-29 Celsius even in full shade. I have had them get heatstroke inside when the air conditioner began to fail (it was still functioning but didn't cool the room down as much as it was meant to). It may not be so bad their first summer as they will still be young so they won't have as much fat on them as they will as adults, but once they are adults summer will be brutal to them.

    Guinea pigs really don't smell of much other than mildly of hay if you keep their cage dry. It should be cleaned well before the point where it would begin to smell. For my cages bedding I use a sheet of fleece on top, then two layers of microfibre that I cut to size, then a layer of second-hand towels folded in half so there are two layers of towels. I used to use just fleece and towels before I got the microfibre. My cages stay very dry, and as such there is never a smell, I keep them in my bedroom.

    If they don't like the vetafarm pellets you can get oxbow in australia https://www.petshopdirect.com.au/sho...uinea-pig-food

    I'm not a fan of the vetafarm pellets, they don't state the calcium content and the first two ingredients are fescue and then lucerne (aka alfalfa). Lucerne is a legume high in calcium so I feel very confident the calcium of those pellets is way too high for guinea pigs over 6 months old. I'm also not comfortable with feeding fescue to my guinea pigs just because of the issues it can cause in other animals like horses. However having said all of that, the Vetafarm pellets are still one of the better pellets available in Australia.

    If you are having trouble catching them to return to the cage consider getting a box (that can very comfortably support their weight - you wouldn't want the bottom falling out on them) or carry cage, have a hole in the side of the box or open the door to the carry cage and see if they will run into that for "safety" when you are trying to catch them. If they will run into that then its much simpler to close the door/cover the hole with your hand and pick the whole thing up.
    Thanks so much for the quick reply :)

    LITTER: Yes, most of the people yelling at me in the replies (that may have been on Reddit, oops), I am aware that clay litter is harmful and can clump in the piggies' tummies. I am using 'Breeder's Choice' cat litter, (it has nothing to do with Breeders) one of the only good ones in Australia. 100% Recycled Newspaper, I'm pretty sure. I know the pellets may be hard on the piggies' feet, so I'm going to be putting some fleece on top of the litter. Please tell me if that's a good idea to ease some of the potential foot pain! So... I hope that answers some of your questions regarding 'responsible animal care'.

    Cage-wise, I've made them another hutch and they've stopped bickering now (have for since the rest of yesterday afternoon). The bigger one hides in the bigger hutch, and the smaller one is content in snuggling up in the original one. As for getting a bigger cage... that's out of question. My parents are convinced they don't need that space. Nothing I have said over the past few days has changed that.

    Yes, I'm aware that summer can be a bit harsh on the piggies, and I'm thinking of bringing them into the house (my family hates animals in the house, it's not just the smell). We have central AC that can be quite refreshing (nearly Summer in Australia) when it's hot. I should be able to negotiate a bit of wiggle room.

    About the pellets, I just don't want to waste the remaining Vetafarm ones (it's still money, you know, and that stuff doesn't grow on trees).

    The box trick seems so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of that. Thank you for mentioning it.

  6. #6
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    Yep, I'll definitely be buying some toys for them to play with and to keep them occupied. I've put in another hutch that I made, and they're quite happy now. The smaller one is a lot more trusting with me now, but the bigger one still tends to hide when I open the door.

  7. #7
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Are my piggies' behaviours normal? I'm so worried.

    Quote Originally Posted by teambenji543 View Post
    Hello! And welcome to the guinea pig forum! First of all, you used cat litter? Make sure that it’s a natural and paper based litter instead of the clay based ones. While you can use cat litter, I recommend using paper bedding made for guinea pigs. I personally use carefresh, but I don’t know it that’s accessible in Australia. You can go to your local pet store, and I’m sure that you can find some paper bedding for guinea pigs there.

    your guinea pigs sound like they’re trying to find out who’s boss. The big one is probably the dominant piggy and she wants the hutch all to herself. I recommend getting 2 of everything. 2 water bottles, food bowls, and hutches. This way they can both have the food and water that they need.

    The chattering sounds mans that they’re angry or agitated. For two guinea pigs it’s almost like they’re telling each other to back off and leave them alone. Since your guinea pigs are young, it’s probably just puberty. It’s normal for young guinea pigs to find out who’s boss. It’s the same for the butt pushing. In guinea pig language this means that I’m boss. Like, most guinea pigs HATE being pet on their butts for this reason.

    Another reason could be that female guinea pigs go into heat. If this turns into a cycle of dominant behaviors it could just be that one of the piggies are in heat. As long as no blood is drawn, then I would say just keep an eye on them.

    About the water, I think that it’s ok if they drank 20-30 ml. As long as they know where the water is and how to drink it then they should be fine.

    Thank you!!

    I'll definitely be looking into getting a much bigger bottle (I saw one at 800ml). The litter problem I answered in my earlier post (replying to Soecara). Yes, they've settled down into their corresponding hutches now, they look like neighbours on a street! Most of the time they spend their time poking their heads out of the little holes and looking at each other, then looking away again, which is very cute :) They've also started eating (water level hasn't changed when I checked this morning though) a lot of hay.

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