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Adopting Adding a special needs pig to the herd.


Cavy Slave
May 7, 2012
Hello all!
I am new to the forum, but not new to piggy ownership! I am a veterinary student who had previously rescued two young pigs from a man selling them as snake food. I have guessed that they are approximately 6 months old, both female, and pretty sure they are both sisters. Both are doing great, no health problems and they are getting fat and happy at home with me
Recently a pig came into our clinic to be adopted. She had been dropped by her owner and badly damaged her right eye. The eye was taken care of by their vet (although he didn't suture the eye closed after removing it which I found odd), but they decided to put her up for adoption because the little girl was "grossed out" and wouldn't go near her anymore. Anyway, she came to our clinic to find a home but was left behind due to her condition. She was due to be put to sleep, so I figured I would give her a chance with my two.
I brought her home and did a quarantine period and just tonight introduced her to my other two. I estimate her (she was named Dusty, haven't decided on a new name yet) to be about a year old and in good health other than her eye (she is HUGE for a piggy!!). So far things have been okay. There has been some chasing, but no real fighting. As of now the two younger girls are sleeping in one side of the cage and the new pig is packed into the opposite corner. I just wanted to get on here and see if I was doing everything right/if there was anything else I could be doing.
I am used to having pigs, but not really used to bonding groups together. Am I making a bad decision to try to add the new pig to two already bonded sisters? I certainly don't want to cause undue stress or harm to any of the pigs; I just wanted to give "Dusty" a new lease on life. It certainly wasn't her fault she lost an eye!! Does anyone have any suggestions?? Should I just keep giving them time to get to know each other?
Also, right now I have them in a smaller version of my normal C&C cage. I am moving in a week, so I have broken down most of the cage to clean it and get it over to the new place to set up. There is still plenty of room for all 3, and next week they will all go into the 2 story version they will be living in full-time. Everything is cleaned and "de-scented" and rearranged around to prevent territory issues. I did my best to read as much as I could online. Will that "traumatic" move bring them closer together? Or is it just more undue stress? Any advice is greatly appreciated, especially given that the new girl is "special needs"! Thanks in advance!!!
First, I have to say, good for you, rescuing the poor little one. You are right! It's not her fault she lost an eye. She deserves as much of a shot at a good home as any other pig. I'm a softie for special needs and senior pigs, myself. :)

Did you introduce on neutral territory? Sometimes it can be harder for already established herds to accept a new pig, if they meet in an area that has the scents of the bonded pigs in it.

If they are tolerating her and don't seem to be bullying her, she should be okay for now. Just make sure to keep bowls, hideys, beds in generally the same spots so the one-eyed girlie can maneuver around with little to no difficulty.

You'll have to be careful when approaching her though. Make sure only to move toward her on her sighted side. She is likely to be startled and might nip if approached on her blind side. This also might be an issue with the other pigs coming by her. If she doesn't see them, she might try to nip.
Thanks for your reply!! I did introduce on neutral territory and they seemed to do fine. I then moved them to the cage, which I had cleaned really well. I washed all of the houses, all of the fleece and bowls with a safe product that we use to remove scents in the clinic. I then arranged everything in the cage in new places (new for the already bonded pigs) and put them in at the same time.

They do seem to be doing fine, they do venture towards the new pig on occasion and then will run away. I have noticed a few light nips, but again, nothing overly aggressive. They really aren't even rumbling or anything like that. The only dominance I have seen is the whole, throwing our noses up in the air as high as we can routine. One of the younger pigs seems to want to be alpha, and the new pig feels the same, so I honestly think they just need to make that decision and things will be fine. The new pig was originally in a herd of 4 other pigs, so she is used to being around others (obviously with both eyes though).

She actually does a great job of getting around with just the one eye, but like you said she is a bit more nervous. Surprisingly, she loves to rub that side of her face on my hand when I am holding her. I think she may think it's "weird" to not be able to see from that side and it may itch her a little. She is doing a great job adjusting to her injury, and I know I am being a little overly paranoid but I worry about her. Bonding pigs is new to me, I've always adopted a pig who couldn't be around others or pigs who were already together. I'd really love for her to be able to make friends with the other two, but I can always put a divider up in the new house if need be.
It sounds like things are going okay but like you said, it hasn't been but since tonight. The real story will play out over the next few days/weeks.

Maybe I missed it in your original post but what size cage are they in now?

Also, since it's a very recent event, you won't know for sure how things will shake out for a bit. Right now they are just unsure of her and might just be avoiding her because of it. Watch them closely over the next few days and note their reactions and interactions.

Note what happens at meal times. Do they all eat together without incident? Is she being kicked out of/blocked into hideys?
I think it sounds pretty good.
In my experience usually when they don´t get along that is obvious right away. Once I had to remove a second fixed male after two or three days. But both males were on different levels most of the time, they hadn´t seen each other that often.
But besides of that I had two problematic introductions and in both cases the new pig attacked the second they were in the group (and it still worked after they had that solved).
They might still have to decide who will be the boss, I think the chance it gets so bad you have to seperate them is very very small. Good nerves always help though. Because even so everythink is still normal and no reason to seperate them it can sometimes get hard to watch.
I'm out of my know how zone on this one. I haven't come across any threads on disabled pigs yet, but I have a couple of questions on this situation myself.

First, is it safe to put in a second floor for a piggy that can't see so well? I'd be concerned she would fall. Is it possible to expand the cage out rather then up, at least for the time being?

Also, what happens to disabled pigs in the wild? I know that some animals are ousted from the herd, being that it's survival of the fittest out there. Is that what might be going on here?

Finally, are you sure the half blind piggy wants to be dominate? When does she nip? When she can see her companions or when they sneak up on her, even if inadvertently, as CavyMama predicted?

I know I have many questions and no answers, but if you don't ask questions, you won't get answers and won't learn, right? God's blessings on you for trying to give "Dusty" a better life. I hope you both are able to settle in and relax.

Here's something I just thought of. I've heard that when someone loses a limb, that area itches. They remember what it was like to have that limb and it plays tricks with their minds. It is possible "Dusty" feels the same way about her eye and that's why she's scratching it. Sounds really silly she's doing it with your hand though! LOL.
We have a pig who is entirely blind in one eye and has very little vision in the other. He is also partially paralyzed (left side, left part of face), has some tooth issues (b/c of paralysis), arthritis, and is hard of hearing. A lot of that is a result of severe neglect. His ears have also been chewed on.

One upside, in a way, with pigs is that most of them seem to have pretty lousy vision to begin with. Only one of our four appears to have really good eyesight. If one of your piggy's eyes is still intact, that goes a long way. My understanding, too, is since piggies don't have depth perception in most of their range of vision b/c of eye placement, it isn't like a human or most predators losing an eye.

We do approach Picckalo from the right, where he can see some light and shadow, and we talk to him as we do it. He seems to perceive floor vibrations really well and knows my husband's footsteps (my husband is currently Picckalo's main human). His hearing issues mean that he doesn't bolt except at really loud sounds or if something makes a big vibration (something falling, tremor/earthquake, etc.).

He is currently a solo pig but we are on a waiting list with a rescue for a female pig for him. We have a female that cannot be paired due to her hating other pigs (long story) and our bonded pair are male and female and they definitely wouldn't be the right option. We want to go to a rescue for the pairing because we can let him meet other sows and also if something goes wrong, we know that the sow will go back to a good place, even though it would hurt to give her back. But right now 5 is our limit.

One concern we had with him getting a herd of female fans is that we wondered if part of the reason he got chewed on was that he couldn't see visual signs of dominance -- he wouldn't have been able to see someone "tall pigging" him, and he would have a hard time hearing rumbling, too. I'm sure he was kept in a small space with overcrowding and given his condition probably had to fight, largely unsuccessfully, to get any food at all.

Do any of the more experienced members/mods have any thoughts on the visual cues issue? That might not be as much of an issue for your pig since she has some sight.

On the second level question, if the ramps up are enclosed enough that a sighted pig can't fall off, I'd think it would be okay for a partially-sighted pig. In other words, the universal precautions here would cover it. We try to keep everything in the same location in Picckalo's pen (water, hay, food, cozies/fleece forest) but he does a remarkably good job of navigating during floor time even when we move the huts and toys around. I think he uses his whiskers and cavy radar to sense what is immediately around him.
cavy radar
LOL, cool.

I just wanted to chime in to say "Good for you" for saving this little girl. I don't understand people who want to put her down because they caused the injury by dropping her. Jerks. I think it's great you took her in, even though it's outside your comfort zone. I wish you all the best of luck.
@CritterLuvva, there are no guinea pigs in the wild anymore, as far as I know.

Els9547, thank you for taking in this pig. I think you'll find that taking care of her is pretty much like taking care of any other pig, other than approaching her on her sighted side. Good luck!
@bpatters I didn't say our piggies are wild, but guinea pigs in captivity retain at least some of their characteristics, right? (ie: dominance, best with friends, etc) I haven't studied wild guinea pigs, but I was wondering if that was a possibility. I have no idea what a wild piggy would do with a disabled herd mate.

There aren't guinea pigs in the wild? I've been reading My Guinea Pig by Immanuel Birmelin and it mentions wild cavies in the beginning of the book. It sounded like they had been working with wild cavies recently too.
I'll chime in as another "good for you for taking in that poor piggy!" voice! It's so kind of you to give her a new lease on life. For the girl who was grossed out by her, I certainly hope none of her family members ever has a disfiguring injury.
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