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Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

  • Thread starter Resident Psycho
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R

Resident Psycho

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Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

Hi! I'm new here and I'm virtually clueless when it comes to guinea pig behavior, I've had my pig for a year now but it wasn't until recently that I've given him a LOT of attention, it was my mother that mainly did.

His name is Piglet and he lives happily in a 30 gallon fish tank, I have a cat so the wire cages weren't good because my cat still has claws, and he's very curious and definitely would shove a whole paw in there or swipe at any part of my piggie. So anyway. He refuses to be picked up, he seems to think that any thing that makes its way into his home is somehow food. He's nipped at me and my mother on several occasions when we've tried to pick him up. So now we're chickens.

He doesn't get to run around outside because of the cat, I would let him in the bathroom and close the door so there's no cat and there's no objects for him to hide under but since he won't let anyone pick him up that doesn't work. I feel bad that he doesn't get the excersize and I'm going to try and find a larger tank or something plastic but I'm having a very hard time.

I'm worried about him! He used to stay in my bedroom, he was in there a year but hardly anyone was in there so we would put the tv in incase he was lonely, we've put him in the living room now but I think it was driving him insane, yesterday he started digging holes in his carefresh litter, he's NEVER done that. And all he would do was SQUEAK. We'd give him veggies, pet him. But he'd just keep squeaking. We put him back in the bedroom for a day and now have him in a different part of the living room and he seems calm.

I give him hay, and sometimes little blocks of colored wood they sold at the petstore, he sometimes gets treat sticks and I gave him a small ball with a rattle-y thing in it so it's not like I don't treat him well. Do you think he's happy? He has a tunnel too that's always in there for him to hide in incase he's scared.

So do you think he has a horrible life? Ah! And do you have any recommendations for a new habitat for him?
 

Marlania

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Familiar Situation

Hi there,

One of my friend's pigs behaves similarly to yours. She (the pig) hates to be taken from her cage and will run around frantically the entire time you're trying to get her out. She's also a big-time biter, and my friend has a hard time handling her because she's (the pig) just not friendly. She spends time with both of her pigs every day, and she's even tried to house them together, but it didn't work out because the scared one is just too timid for her other piggie.

I've had more success with her for some reason. I'm not sure why. I guess she feels more comfortable for some reason. My friend doesn't do anything differently than I do, but her pig reacts very differently when I hold her.
Her pig also has a great home with toys, veggies, etc., but she just won't come around. So you're not alone.

As for a solution, I wish I knew! lol Good luck.
 
T

TheDreamingDrgn

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

He lives in a fish tank? Offhand, I'd say that it's rather inadequate housing for guinea pigs. Cavy Cages has a page on why fish tanks aren't entirely suitable for guinea pigs. Most of it has to do with ventilation and space.

(broken link removed)

I've seen a few links on various sites that mention being able to catproof a cage, and several people have cats and pigs. Jessica over on CavyMadness uses a catproof cage.

(broken link removed)
(broken link removed)

He could probably use a same-sex friend too. Guinea pigs seem to do better in pairs since they're social animals and if you're away for long periods of the day, it gives him someone to play with. My two boars have the run of a 2x4 C&C cage which basically gives them 10.5 square feet of space.

Now, if he's nipping at you when you try to pick him up, maybe you should use a small cardboard box and let him climb into the box before you lift him out of the cage.
 
R

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

A breakthrough! I guess I've been trying harder since I read somewhere that no matter how much you've held a guinea pig their natural instinct is to run away when you try and pick them up. I found a small towel and have been able to pick up Piglet sucessfully! I've done it four times already in the past two days! Yay.

I'm still nervous holding him, even though he hasn't tried to bite me yet so I don't hold him for too long, maybe a few minutes then he gets squirmy because I don't get him into such a great position. But he likes it!

As for the fish tank, when I bought him we asked several times if that kind of home was good for him, they said it was fine.. They even hold them in large aquariums until they're sold. I'm still looking for a good habitat but the C&C will not work for me, my cat will shove his paw right through there and he has claws.

I know Piglet likes his home, I'm doing my best to try and get whatever would be the best for him.
 
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TheDreamingDrgn

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

Just curious, did you buy the fish tank at the pet store? Of course they would say that it's a good cage. They're making money that way. I don't think that a glass tank is the same as the kind of aquarium things that the pet stores keep guiea pigs in prior to purchase. Those are made of plastic, and there's a definite difference between plastic and glass. I've kept hamsters in glass tanks because they're nasty-minded little escape artists, but it's tricky to make sure that the ammonia buildup doesn't become a problem. Since you have a cat, I'd wonder if you have some sort of mesh cover on the top of the tank. That probably cuts down on the proper amount of ventilation that can get through as opposed to it being an open top. Not to mention the amount of heat that might build up in the tank. It's made of glass, and you know how a car dashboard gets when the sun shines through the windshield, right? Add in ammonia buildup from urine, and it could turn into something like a sauna pretty fast. Glass tanks just don't provide enough ventilation at all.

I would also hazard a guess that the reason why your Piglet might be prone to nipping and such is because the glass walls block off his ability to smell his surroundings, so he feels less social. Think of it as living in an area the size of your average king-sized bed with a clothespin over your nose. You can't smell a whole lot, and for an animal that relies on their sense of smell in addition to sight to react to their surroundings, it's almost like a disability.

To be entirely honest, I wouldn't keep a guinea pig in an aquarium, they're just too inadequate for the needs of the animal. Besides, most pet stores have somewhat antiquated views about animal housing. Most websites I've seen about guinea pig housing don't reccomend aquariums as housing, and I've seen very few books that do either. In fact, PetsMart.com says that aquariums are not appropriate.

Did you check out that .pdf link that I posted? The spacing between the cage is very small and I doubt a cat could get their paws into there. You need to be fair to your guinea pig by providing him with a more ideal habitat than a glass tank. He's not a reptile or a fish, and it's not fair to him to live in a glass tank. It's up to you to provide a good home for him and that includes a safe, well-ventilated habitat for him to live in. It may take some effort and work on your part, but you should be capable of providing a cat-proof cage that is not an aquarium. It's not fair to Piglet to have to play second fiddle to a cat and be inconvienced just because you have a cat. There are lots of people who have cats and guinea pigs, and they find ways to provide a good habitat for both without shortchanging one or the other.

Also, does your cat have free range throughout most of the house? Or at least several rooms? If so, it's doubly unfair to your guinea pig because he's stuck in a glass tank that can't possibly be more than a foot or so wide by little over two feet long while the cat gets the run of the house. I suppose if you absolutely had to have an aquarium for your pig, you'd need one that was acrylic or plastic so you could drill ventilation holes into the thing. But those kind of aquariums are terribly expensive (at least $170+) and you could probably make a catproof cage with organizational closet shelving for far less.
 
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TheDreamingDrgn

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

I don't have a cat, so I'm not sure what else would work other than trying to catproof a cage using the organizational shelving. Perhaps you might want to visit Guinea Lynx or CavyMadness and see what they have to say about it. I'm sure there's a number of people who have dogs, cats and guinea pigs in any sort of combination, they might be able to suggest ways to make a good habitat.

Guinea Lynx

(broken link removed)
 

CavySpirit

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

There's no excuse to have your pig in an aquarium. C&C cages are just fine with a top with cats. See the cat proofing section on cavy cages. MANY, many people have cats and guinea pigs with enclosed C&C cages.
 
R

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

I found the perfect cage today at Petco! The wires are thin enough that my extremely brazen cat can't stick his paw inside and there's two or three levels. There's also a wheel I'm going to see if I can take it out because I know it's not good for them.

I'm going to go next week when I get the money to buy it. The levels are made of the same wire the cage is made of (very sturdy) should I cover it with some sort of material or maybe I have some pieces of carpet laying around the house but I'm not sure about that.
 
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TheDreamingDrgn

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

How big is it? I'd probably be more concerned about the levels being too steep.

Is it this one?
 
R

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

Yes! it is that one. Are the levels too steep? I wonder if they're removable so I can make them less of a climb.
 
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TheDreamingDrgn

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

I've never actually seen it in a store so I wouldn't know. It seems terribly small though, less than 2 feet long and little over a foot and a half wide. It's high, because it's meant for chinchillas and rats who like to climb whereas guinea pigs really need more space spread out rather than going up.

I still think that you can make a good catproof C&C cage and it would probably be a lot cheaper then that cage.
 
R

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Re: Ah! I don't understand my Piggie!

(broken link removed) I found a better one. I think I'm definitely going to buy this one, I went up to Piglets tank and measured and it's a lot bigger then the one he's in. It's like 3x2 which I know.. Is not 4x2 but His tank right now is only 2x1. I didn't realize it was so small but not to worry! He WILL most definitely be getting a much larger home.
 
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