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Behavior Extremely shy pig


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Feb 19, 2012
Hey everyone...I'm looking for a little advice on acclimating my guinea pig to human contact. Long story short, this pig is between 4 and 5 years old and, until a month or so ago, belonged to a friend's family. They just moved out of state, and left the pig to my girlfriend and I. They provided the cage, which is around 35x50 inches, water bottle, plastic igloo, and a bunch of timothy hay and pellets, millet apples and other stuff.

Anyway, she seems terrified of human contact, and nothing we do seems to affect this. At her old home, she lived in a spare bedroom and was generally checked on and fed a few times per day. She's more exposed to interaction in our apartment, as she is in our living room, and usually at least one of us is home. She eats pellets right out of my hand, but the instant I try to pet her, she bolts around the perimeter of her cage in laps or hides in her igloo. Sometimes she will give up after a couple laps around the cage and let me pet her, but I can feel her entire body vibrating or trembling, and she has never been okay with being picked up. Even the process of taking her out for a few minutes to get her cage upstairs to our apartment was a two-person job; she struggled with all of her might and scratched at our arms.

I would like to eventually be able to take her out of her cage and allow her some exercise on the floor, as her cage is relatively small, but she just freaks out way too easily. Hell, the only way I can usually feed her and get her to come out of her igloo is to remove the igloo from her cage entirely.

So, I guess my question is, are there any particular techniques to getting my pig to stop being so afraid of...well, just about everything and everyone?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Catch her by shooing her into a box with holes in the ends. Put your hands over the holes and lift the box out. Or shoo her into a hidey and pick it up.

Sit with her on your lap and feed her yummy treats -- cilantro, dill, thyme, occasional bits of fruit, even part of her daily salad. She'll probably never love being caught, but she will love being fed, and that should settle her down.

They're prey animals, so they're always skittish, but with a lot of patience, she'll likely become more people-tolerant.
Thanks for the advice...I made a little tunnel for her out of a tissue box with both ends torn off, and I don't think she ever went in it once. :p Perhaps I'll bait her in with hay or apples...pretty sure the only times I ever hear her squeak are when she hears the bag of hay or millet apples rustling.
Talk to her softly, a few feet from her cage and offer her treats by hand. Don't rush too much, you can sit by the cage and type on a laptop and play on the internet (headphones encouraged) or, my favorite, read her a book, any book. I always liked to read black beauty to them. Yes, I am a crazy pig lady.
Then, you should graduate to lap time and treats while she sits on your lap. Be real gentle and snuggle with her and stay fairly quiet. She should warm up to you, when she knows where the food comes from! They are pigs for a reason. It may take days, weeks, or months - but if you do it right, she should warm up to fast enough.

The longest it took me to tame a pig was maybe a 2 weeks, so don't get discouraged.

Best of luck!
Thanks, Gig...I'm just worried that five years of relative solitude might be too much for her to overcome. I could understand if she were a much younger pig. Hell, I'm 22 and I have a hard time breaking my own bad habits. ^___^
She will come around. Piggies rarely carry a lot of baggage from previous homes. All of them are skittish, really. It just means you have to have time and patience.
We managed to coax her out of the cage and set up some space for her on our living room floor. We made a circular wall out of boxes, and turned one over sideways for her to enter, and put old sheets over the carpet in the whole area. We sat down with her and let her roam about, and she was quite agreeable to being stroked and held.

The funny thing is, as soon as she was back in her cage later, she went back to her usual skittishness. I guess I'll just give up on trying to figure out what makes her tick. :p
What kind of cage is she in? You mentioned it's small. Does she have ample hiding space in her cage? Piggies are prey animals and feel extremely vulnerable if exposed all the time.
Sounds like she really didn't like the old house and associates that feeling of loneliness with the cage. Piggies are herd animals, too, and crave pig-to-pig interaction.
I'm so glad she is coming around during play time! Perhaps one day you will be able to provide a friend for her? :)
we've started opening the front of her cage and giving her parsley, so now whenever the front of her cage opens, she comes out of her pigloo excitedly. Now im trying to hold her while i give her parsley and, as long as im feeding her, she has no problem being held. I feel its coming along, slowly but surely.
We are hoping to get her a new friend this weekend and we bought a new, bigger (oh my goodness its big) c&c cage that we are going to introduce when we introduce the new pig (so that its neutral territory for the both of them)
hopefully having a friend and new house will help her feel more comfortable.
sounds like you're doing an awesome job and she's lucky to have you!

It's great that you've gotten her a bigger cage and are getting a new friend :D sounds like they're going to be two very happy little piggies.
Make sure you keep a towel around just in case you do need to break anything up when you introduce them, but hopefully not. only break them up if it is quite bad, otherwise they usually will be okay with a few fall-outs at the beginning.

What's her name and do you have a picture of her!? :) (sorry if i missed it in the post)
Are you getting your new piggie froma rescue or from Petfinder? Store bought pigs are often sick or pregnant, can be falsely identified as male or female, and need to be quarantined for 3 weeks.
Do quarantine your new pig unless it comes from a reputable rescuer. That's to protect the health of your old pig and your pocketbook from vet bills -- treating two is nearly twice as expensive as treating one.
What's her name and do you have a picture of her!? :) (sorry if i missed it in the post)

For all intents and purposes, we have named her Quee (because thats the sound she makes)

Also, we're not sure where we're getting our new piggie yet. We've looked on craigslist, but theres not really a lot of postings for this area, and there are no postings for our area in petfinder. Regardless, we read up a bit on introductions and that we need to quarantine if we get her from a store. So we will just see how it goes and where we end up.
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