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Thread: Really shy guinea pigs !

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    Really shy guinea pigs !

    Hello everyone !

    I will introduce myself : I'm Pauline, I'm 21 and I'm French. I have had guinea pigs for almost five years now. My first guinea pig, Roger, died a year ago. He was bought, alone, from a pet shop. I had gotten all my information from bad books. Then, I did some research on the internet, and I got him a friend, Arthur, from rescue. And another cage ! Those two guinea pigs were really well tamed ! They always came to me for food and would sit on my lap in front of TV. Then, the poor Roger died and I got another piggie, Orphée, to live with the remaining pig. That was last summer. That piggie has always been quite shy, but, with Arthur, he would come to me, call me, and eat from my hand. Two months ago, Arthur died too. I tried to keep Orphée alone for a few weeks, as I didn't want any more piggies. I just wanted to keep the one I had and offer him the best life possible ! But Orphée couldn't live alone. He became really scared of me, he would run away as soon as I would get into the room and not eat anything from me. It was (and is) a real pain to get him out of the cage. He was not feeling good at all, so I decided to get him a friend.

    10 days ago, I found a guinea pig to rescue. I don't know how old he is, but around 5-6 months old, I think, as he weights 650gr. That piggie is really shy too... I didn't make a proper quarantine, as my Orphée was feeling so bad ! They loved each other really fast, after like, 15 minutes, they were friends.

    The problem I have is that they are both really scared of me, and really hard to tame.... They live in a (really big) pet shop cage, 120x60cm. That cage has always been opened, with all my piggies, to a play pen with toys and food. That way, they have a great space to live in ! But those two piggies won't get out of the cage, even if I'm not in the room ! I'm sure they know how to get out, but they feel safer in their cage so they stay in... (I'm sure they don't get out, as I put fresh vegetables in the playpen, that would be eaten if the piggies got near them). That's sad.

    The other thing is that I have no real contact with them. They won't come to me or even eat from me. Every time I need to hold them to clean the cage/put them in their outside playpen (which they love)/check they are okay, they are terrified...

    I'm so sad... Do you know anything I could do so they are less shy ?

    Thanks you !!
    Last edited by Ly&Pigs; 08-19-10 at 01:35 am. Reason: removing signature, not allowed. Please don't sign your posts.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Quote Originally Posted by thebestchicken View Post
    Hello everyone !

    he other thing is that I have no real contact with them. They won't come to me or even eat from me. Every time I need to hold them to clean the cage/put them in their outside playpen (which they love)/check they are okay, they are terrified...

    I'm so sad... Do you know anything I could do so they are less shy ?

    Thanks you !!
    Every pig has his own personality and these two are shy. I know it's hard, but you are going to have to accept that. BUT how are they at lap time? Do they allow you to hold them. We have one pig who loves to be held. He will lay in your lap forever. If they are particularly scared to come out of the cage, I know it's hard to get to them. Is there any way you could get rid of it, and just let them live in the playpen area with a few hidies to use for cover? Maybe that would make it easier to pick them up and they'd become less afraid over time. JUST MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLACES FOR THEM TO HIDE! Another thing is we always let our piggies smell our hands. That way they know who is picking them up. They have come to accept our smells, since we feed them and pet them sweetly. Now when I put my hand in, they will come over and smell it to see who is there and then stand still for me to pick them up safely. It's just something we started training them to do as babies.
    I wouldn't give up on loving on them. You may just have to learn to do it on their terms. You may have to pet them in the cage and not have floortime or laptime. Or it may be that they prefer sitting on your lap watching TV over floortime (which can be stressful if the house is really busy).

    It sounds like you are a good piggy momma, keep working with them. NO FAST MOVES, no chasing them around the cage. Entice them with food and soft voices. And if nothing else, at least you picked a companion for Orphee that fits his personality and not one that would be terrorizing him all day long. The little one may be taking cues from Orphee as to how to behave. You may find he's a different pig at lap time. Our Bambi is a quiet subdued pig in the cage, because Flower doesn't allow him to run around, or he gets rumbled. But at laptime or floortime, you'd better keep your hands on him because he's a wild man!

    Good luck. Give them time, and remember it's okay to be shy. That may just be your new norm.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Thanks you for your answer !

    They both hate lap time... They are really stressed, they don't move at all, or run away as fast as they can to hide under some of the couch pillows.... I won't stop loving them because they are shy, I'm not that kind of person I feel sad for them actually, as they are uneasy whenever I'm near the cage... What a stressful life ! And they are forced to live in a not-so-big cage... The cage is the bigger I could get in France, but, without the playpen, it is not big enough for two piggies !

    Here is their cage :


    What I call "playpen" is actually the carpet. They won't get out of it, the floor is to slippy for them. They have toys, hideys houses, not pictured. All my piggies loved to run around there and would get mad when I closed the door for vacuuming or anything !

    I'm often forced to chase them around the cage, to clean it. Every two days or so, I'll take out some of the dirty bedding etc... I try to get them softly, but it is not easy...

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    Cavy Slave blackarrow's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    One thing I found that really helped my piggies get into lap time was the use of a "sleeping bag" for them. Well, that and big piles of cilantro (their favorite) only while getting cuddles. I wonder if they aren't scared of your ramp to the ground, which keeps them from leaving the cage? You might try making a cover for it (to make it seem like a tunnel.)

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Well, I have used that ramp for years, and my previous piggies used it well. Orphée used it too, when he lived with his former buddy... Now, he won't.... I'm sure you are right though. I'll try to cover it up, but it is not easy, because, if the cover moves, they will be scared too

    I understand they might be scared to use it when I'm in the room, but they are alone the whole day, so they have nothing to fear....

    I love the idea of your sleeping bag ! I need to make one like that for my piggies !

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    Cavy Slave brindyzoeycandy's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Could you perhaps make a C&C cage? My pigs came out of their "shell" when I made their C&C.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Do you really think that would make a difference ?

    It's quite difficult for me to build a C&C cage, as grids are hard, if not impossible, to find in France. The only Coroplast you may get is used coroplast, with writtings on it. Not a nice, new and colorful one.... Besides, they have room. My previous piggies used that room (as show the white pee stains in front of the cage ), but they sadly don't...

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    Cavy Slave Sirene's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    If they don't come out of that cage on their own, you're going to need a bigger cage, as yours is simply too small.

    I've just done some googling for you, and found some cubes:
    Cubes de rangement modulables (lot de 6 ou 10))

    I'm sure you'll be able to find more, as I only know basic French! :-)

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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Quote Originally Posted by thebestchicken View Post
    Thanks you for your answer !

    They both hate lap time... They are really stressed, they don't move at all, or run away as fast as they can to hide under some of the couch pillows.... I won't stop loving them because they are shy, I'm not that kind of person I feel sad for them actually, as they are uneasy whenever I'm near the cage...

    .
    Didn't mean to imply that you'd stop loving them. I am sure you wouldn't or you'd just would have stopped caring for them and not asked for help. Sorry to make it sound like I thought you might.

    One thing I would try if you really can't build a bigger cage, is to make the ramp you do have wider and as less steep as possible. They may just be afraid to attempt the ramp. The newer one may be afraid of it, and therefore they are just staying in their cage. I am assuming you put hideys in the play pen area. What would happen if you put them in the playpen area? Do they go and get back in the cage? Or do they just hide there as well. I know it's frustrating because you are so worried about them. One thing I have noticed with my pigs in their cage is they seem happier at waist level than on the floor. If you were able to find the grids, and could make a safe C and C, you could elevate it a little off the floor and that might help. I'd definitely keep trying to coax them out with fresh food. I understand about having to chase them to clean the cage. YOu have to get them out to clean it, and sometimes they don't want to be caught. The piggy sleeping bag works really great for that. And they feel safe enough to be held as well. Good luck. I can tell you really do care about them and want them to enjoy not only the small cage, but the playpen area that your other piggies enjoyed as well.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Sirene : I searched for cubes like a month ago, and didn't find any ! Thanks you ! I may build a C&C cage, if my piggies really need it ! But actually, the cage is not so small. The outside mesures (I know it's not exactly as big inside, due to the bottom's shape) are a little above the minimum advised on C&C.

    Flowers Grandma : I'm sorry you felt I was offended by you, it was not the case. Your answer was really sweet and wise ! Very helpful ! French is my mother tongue. I feel quite uneasy writing english so I may be misunderstood sometimes. Sorry about that.
    I was thinking of that kind of wooden tunnel, to make a way out of their cage. I would get the huge version, that is very wide. I may buy one tomorrow, if I find time to go to the store...



    They use their ramp to climb if I put him inside the cage, but you are right, it may be to much stress to climb on it and go outside at the same time. I'm going to change that !


    Actually, I tried to elevate the cage, when I noticed Orphee was not well, alone in his cage. It changed nothing. So, when I got him his friend, I changed the whole set up before putting them back together in the cage (so Orphee wouldn't be too territorial They had met before, of course. ).

    If I can make things work that way, I'll build a C&C cage. I have wanted one for years anyway, since I first got on this website. But at the time, it just felt better to have a random cage, opened to a wide space. That way, I may be able to have a whole family of piggies I always only have two at the time, as, even if they have space, I was afraid that the cage, which is an enclosed space, even with the door opened, might be too tight for three. It's not the same as a big, whole C&C cage !

    Anyway, thanks for your advices, you are being really helpful !

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    Cavy Slave 1frankie7's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    You could use wire shelving instead of grids. Those would be pretty easy to find.


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    Cavy Slave brindyzoeycandy's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    If you really can't find the materials for a C&C you can order the Midwest Guinea Pig habitat; I think it's the only cage that is acceptable for pigs other than the ones you make. I think you have to combine two together for two pigs, but one is bigger than the pet store cage and definitely better.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    I love that Midwest cage ! But the measurments are exactly the same as the cage I have right now

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Quote Originally Posted by thebestchicken View Post

    Flowers Grandma : I'm sorry you felt I was offended by you, it was not the case. Your answer was really sweet and wise ! Very helpful ! French is my mother tongue. I feel quite uneasy writing english so I may be misunderstood sometimes. Sorry about that.
    I was thinking of that kind of wooden tunnel, to make a way out of their cage. I would get the huge version, that is very wide. I may buy one tomorrow, if I find time to go to the store...



    They use their ramp to climb if I put him inside the cage, but you are right, it may be to much stress to climb on it and go outside at the same time. I'm going to change that !

    !
    I fully understand about trying to type in another language from the one you are accustomed too. My children took High School Spanish and my son took it in college. They are both fairly fluent at it, although they speak it with a bit of an United States accent. But I am horrible at languages. I even tried sign language and failed the class.

    That looks like a good idea for the ramp. Hopefully you'll be able to find the C&C stuff. You will love the cage, so easy to keep clean. And so will your pigs. Wishing you so much luck!

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    Thanks you FlowersGrandma !

    I got them the big wooden ramp tonight. They are getting used to it right now. If they don't use it, it will be a great hidey place anyway. And I'm stitching a fleece sleeping bag right now !

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    Cavy Slave genuinefairy's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    One great way of making piggies less shy is getting them used to your presence. I did this with my rats too - I'd sit nearby the cage all day if I could, reading a book or doing whatever, and talk to them. That way they get used to my voice and movements, and I don't seem as scary. You can progress to offering food, if they want to come and say hi, or you can just get to it if you're impatient like me and haul them out (but don't scare them to much chasing them, try herd them into a box) and hold them careful and talk quietly to them, wrapping them up in a towel or letting them tunnel in one while they're on your lap. I still use a towel in case they "accidentally" pee.

    Good luck!!

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    I know how you feel. I had a bold talkative pig and after he passed away, I got two girls from an animal shelter who were terrified of me. they never really got over it and I had to learn to live with shy pigs. I know this might sound nuts and you may not have the room for it, but once I had to go out of town for 10 days and I set my pigs up in a kids wading pool filled with bedding and blankets and hid houses. I had a housekeeper to feed them, but did not want her to have to move the pigs to clean their enclosure so we tried the pool. The pigs had a huge amount of space. It was great but took up my daughters whole bedroom! Anyway, even if your pigs are shy, at least they have a home that loves them and is conscious of their issues.

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    Cavy Slave Nicolene's Avatar
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    Re: Really shy guinea pigs !

    When we first got a pig we could only hold him for 10 secs before he freaked out and bit us. But we did it every day, for 10 secs at a time. Thing is, it takes time and you have to hold them gently, often, so they get used to you. So just keep being gentle and holding them and they will eventually relax. I used a "sleeping bag" for a while too! Good luck!

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