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Behavior What to do with new pigs?


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Feb 25, 2012
I got my two pigs, Matt and Toni, from my local rescue today. Matt is a neutered male and Toni is a female.

Anyway, they both seem to be pretty skittish. Any tips? They are very reluctant to eat veggies from my hands. Actually, when I got them out of their travel carrier and put them in their exercise pen for floor time while I set up their cage, (I got it from the rescue, so I didn't have it before I got them. Very easy to set up however) Toni scratched my hands and arms multiple times trying to get out. I know that I was holding her properly, so do you have any tips for squirmy pigs?

Also, what did you do when you first got your piggies to help them adjust? In their cage they have a litter box, pellet bowl, hay box, pigloo, fleece snuggle sack, and waterbottle.

Thanks very much! I was going to try to leave them alone once they were in their cage, but they were just too darned cute not to watch and pet. I did get Matt out for lap time once, but he seemed a little bit uneasy, so I put him back in his cage. Other than that, they've been in their cage since I brought them home.

Thanks for any tips! I just really want to make sure that they adjust well and get used to me.
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you should wait a day or two to let them get adjusted. all animals experience relocation stress when moved.
It will take time, how long will depend on their personalities and how often they are gently handled.

One thing that can help with the real squirmy pigs (and keep their sharp claws away from you!) is to put them in a cuddle cup or cavy bed (or your snuggle sack) right away after picking them up, and using that to carry them or transfer them from cage to pen.
Time is really the key, as @foggycreekcavy said. All new guinea pigs are initially going to be frightened, but they will eventually get used to your routine and who you are. Hold them calmly, gently, and securely for a little while each day and try to hand-feed vegetables while handling them. Spending time around them (i.e. cleaning the cage, replenishing hay, checking water bottles, etc.) will also help them get used to you. Truthfully, it's all about time, and there really isn't anything you can do to make it happen any faster. It sounds like your cage is great! I would add a tunnel of some sort (I like oatmeal tubes with the ends punched out as well as the soft kinds made of fabric).

Good luck and congratulations on your new piggies!
Your pigs sound just like mine when I first got them! I even had a squirmy pig, but after about a month or so, that was mostly fixed. For the first few days or so, leave them alone, and don't pet, touch, or take them out of the cage. Just try softly talking to them. So they get used to your voice and you being around. I find it helps to just read a book out loud, as it's kinda hard to find something to talk to guinea pigs about. xD In these three days, your guinea pigs will be getting over the shock, and getting to know there new home. It's just like if you were suddenly put on another planet, you would need time to figure everything out. After these three days are up (I know it's a hard wait!) You can begin picking them up for lap time every day. At first they will be very shy, but with a lot of love and time, they will warm up to you. Here's a tip I found worked with my squirmy pig. When going to pick them up, make sure they see you coming, don't just quick reach in and grab them. Also right after you have picked them up, hand them a treat so that they know getting picked up = yummy food. Hope this helps! :D
I am dealing with squirmy piggies.

Just be patient, and it does take time, as stated.
It is very hard not to try and pet them!

Today I coaxed them into their little piggy snuggle sacks and got them out for floor time that way. They both still run away, even though whenever I approach them it is very slowly and quietly.

Oh, and sdpiggylvr, they do have a tunnel. I forgot to mention it.

For the next 2 days, I am not going to touch them. I am just going to talk quietly to them. They still refuse to eat vegetables out of my hand, they only eat them out of their ceramic dish. They are still quite scared of me, but if I sit still beside their cage they think that I'm not there, and they'll run around and explore and eat.

Any other taming tips? I think that I may have handled them a bit too much (I've held them both once, but attempted to hold Matt a different time and he would NOT have it). I'm just going to give them a breather, and starting on Tuesday I'll start having lap time with them. I think that I'll wait until Tuesday for floor time as well.

I feel kind of bad for holding them so soon. I hope that they get used to everything!

Also, I realized that when the Pigloo was in their cage, they wouldn't come out of it for anything. So, I took a piece of fabric from their travel carrier that was originally from their former home at the rescue, and made a little overhang on the corner. Then I put their little snuggle sack under there, and they started to run around. Then when they get frightened, they head under there and they feel more secure.

Thank you so much for the advice so far! I am going to try really, really hard not to bother them, but to get them used to me.
I find it helps to just read a book out loud, as it's kinda hard to find something to talk to guinea pigs about.

Thank you so much for this tip! I read to my pigs for 2 hours, and now they are soo much more open! I haven't petted them or anything, but they loved being read to. Now I can calm them down with my voice. This worked beautifully! Thank you so much!
No problem! I'm getting two more piggys in about two weeks, and since that worked so well with Phoenix and Godric, I'll most likely break out the Mortal Instruments series and see how they like that xD Hope all goes well with your pigs! :D
when i first got my piggies they would never come up to me in their cage so every day i would carry them out in their snuggle sac and have floor time with them the floor was tiled so i covered it with towels had their favourite hideys set up and i would just sit talking quietly with their favourite veggie treats in my lap (parsley, spinach, corn leaves, etc) gradually i would start moving my hands while they ate and then petting their cheeks and heads now i can pet all of them and they come straight up wheeking at me in their cage hope this helps.
Now Matt and Toni (who have been renamed Griffin and Raven, tentatively) are much more adjusted. Griffin came out for lap time today, and he let me touch him all over. We had a lot of fun together.

Now I'm going to see if Raven wants some veggies and lap time. Thanks so much you guys!
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