New rabbit and guinea are terrified and won't be held.Help!

(32 Posts)
AngryBeaver Sat 19-Jan-13 22:05:59

Our mini lop passed away and we replaced her with a Dutch rabbit and a guinea pig. This has conincided with Xmas, visits, holidays etc and as a result, they haven't been handled very much.
My dd is 6 and keen to hold her pets.
However, they are petrified the guinea cries and runs away as soon as we approach.
The rabbit freezes and gets low to the ground, and if we pick it up he kicks out and scratches terribly.
I am actually typing this whilst bleeding!!
Dd has scratches all over her chest and arms.
I am at a loss. Don't know much about furry things.

Dd wants them to be placid and floppy like the mini lop. She was lugged around everywhere and sat licking dd. She was a lovely thing, but handled everyday since the beginning.
What can we do?

Ooooh, I can see problems AngryBeaver.

OK- I don't know rabbits. I've never kept a rabbit. And from what I've read on here, I don't think I'd ever want a rabbit.
But I love my guineas and I've had them from 9 yo - 22 yo. Then more recently my DD got the boars.

You've kept bunnies before but have you kept guinea-pigs?
I know FernieB has a rabbit and 2 guinea-pigs but I don't know how much contact they have (they seem to play together and the rabbit seems very tolerant of the pigs).
Maybe put out a shout to her for advice.

But every website from the GP sites to the RSPCA says GP and rabbits don't mix.

Rabbits aren't really considered suitable for young children (I know you said your previous rabbit was placid but they're all different) They can kick and bite . And some don't like being lifted.

Your little guinea is scared understandably- but they are prey animals. Their instict is Hide.
My bigger boar gives the most unholy shriek when he's lifted (he did this the day we met him, so it's just him). It's just his protest. He's fine when we catch him.

Some posters corall their rabbits into a cat carrier.
I'd say you should lift the GP, wrap him in a towel and let your DD cuddle him.

Rabbits/Guineas have different food needs.
Pigs need VitC rich pelllets -unlimited.
Hay, veg.
Rabbits pellets are different, and they need less. Less veg. Unlimited hay /grass
Rabbits can give guineas a respiratory infection.
They don't communicate the same, it'd be like me living with someone who only spoke Italian.
And a rabbit can bully a GP and kick it to death (those feet are powerful, as you know)

Where did you get them from? Did they advice it to be ok?

If you want the rabbit then get another rabbit (opposite sex and neuter both)
If you want the guinea- depends what sex the GP is. Female+ female.
Male+ male (but it can be difficult to pair boars)
Or if it's a boar, neuter (risks involved) and get a female.

In your shoes I'd seperate them and try and rehome one.
(Of course I'd keep the guinea-pig but I'm biased) wink
Good Luck.

coldinthesun Sat 19-Jan-13 22:44:20

I need to ask a big question here as it sounds from your post that the two of them are living together.

Rabbits and guinea pigs SHOULD NOT be kept together. This is the advice the RSPCA give out.

You may be having problems simply because the rabbit and guinea pig don't get on and don't understand each other.

Really, guinea pigs should be kept in pairs or close to another guinea pig as they don't thrive very well alone. They are social creatures that need other guinea pigs.

In general, building up trust with animals takes time. You can't just get them and forget about them and expect that to happen. Don't expect miracles. You need to handle them daily and spend time with them. Tempt them by hand feeding them with treats. The more time you invest, the more you get out of having them. Its as simple as that.

We've had a lot of guinea pigs - bought young, breed and a few rescue guinea pigs. After just a month, I certainly wouldn't expect any to be anything but scared still; even the most bold. They are timid creatures, but once they get to know you know who feeds them they can become very, very affectionate. But it takes time and patience.

It sounds like you really do need to particularly familiarise yourself with the ways of guinea pigs. They are VERY different to rabbits. I'd really invest time looking up one of the many website about their care or investing in a good book. Guinea pigs have different diet needs for starters.

AngryBeaver Sun 20-Jan-13 00:13:22

Oh bum.
The pet shop told me that we should get a rabit and a guinea and not 2 rabbits as they fight?! She seemed very sure!
As it is, yes they are together. They have a large cage and we open it every morning and shut them away at night. They have a large enclosure to run around.
They seem to be very friendly. They cuddle in together. And the rabbit licks the guinea. When you open the hutch door they are always curled up together?
Yes, we had our other rabbit for a year. She was like a fluffly toy, but did bite occasonally, usually when we were in her space.
I know bugger all about pets,tbh. Although I'm the one that always has to clean them out!!
They have the same food but it says for rabbits/guineas on bag. The also get veggies and broccoli leaves etc

Floralnomad Sun 20-Jan-13 00:25:09

Rabbits pick on Piggies and should never be kept together ,go back to the shop and complain loudly , so loudly that they provide you with a free cage for the piggie .then start handling very slowly and gently , just hand feeding / stroking until they are comfortable enough for you to pick them up.

Another one saying please don't keep them together. Rabbits can cause horrific injuries to pigs.

As for the trusting, it really does take time. I only really know about pigs. Firstly, think about your hands going in to the cage, to catch your animal. It doesn't know it's a pet - all it knows is its flight reflex. As a prey animal, your hand has the same sweeping movement as, for example, a bird of prey.

The best thing you can do, in my experience, is to spend time with your hands in the cage, holding "high value" food - the one your pig loves best. Parsley is often a good one. Let the pig come to you, eat out of your hand. And that's it. Gradually (over many days) build up to stroking. And eventually picking up.

If they can live in the house, so much better. Guinea pigs are an absolute joy in the house and soon learn the rustle of a plastic bag when you're back from the shops, or the opening of the fridge door. They begin to chatter and chunter at the door of their cage, climb up and generally beg. Noses can be stroked through the cage.

But please do separate the animals.

YY to go back to the shop and print off loads of information from the RSPCA and all the GP/Rabbit forums to back up your arguement.

Your rabbit will need neutered (males for behaviour females to cut the uterine cancer risk) And it's innoculations of course.

Your pig & rabbit are probably having a bit of a honeymoon period.
How old are they?
Guinea pigs start getting 'mature' between 3-6 months.
Your rabbit (?male) will most likely try to mate with the guinea-pig (which will harm the guinea as well as scare it) Is the pig male/female?
And if he kicks it, it will get injured.

You could keep them in listening distance of each other but really GPs want GPs.My two boars like their own space but they do need each other (Adult rescue brothers)

TBH, you might be better taking your pig to a Rescue, explain you were given bad advice (and if the Pet Shop do give you anything maybe give this as a donation to surrender him?) They would much rather rehome your guinea than put him at risk. He'll get matched up with a GP friend.

Please don't be tempted to return him to the PetShop. He'll be too old for them to sell. Can you imagine what will happen to him.?

Write to the PetShop. To their owner if it's independant.
To their Head Office if it's a chain.
They are giving out bad advice.

Not what you wanted to hear really sad

AngryBeaver Sun 20-Jan-13 01:26:33

Dd is very upset to hear this. She has a book from the library that she is quoting at me, to papraphrase, guineas and rabbits are fine together if they are bought at the same time when they are young?
She doesn't want to give up either sad

BonkeyMollocks Sun 20-Jan-13 01:38:17

Everyone has said everything i was going too .

Apart from this <parrot alert>

If you dont want the pets that your dcs want then dont get them.

If you aren't willing to read up on how to.look after them .properly , then donto get them!

If you don't want to be cleaning then out and feeding etc etc - then dint get them!

Ifully believe that pets/having/choosing should solely be a adult decision!
The fact that you have said you know very little about small furries, after a year if having a Rabbit means that your not that interested!
Either get interested and put the work in or find a decent rescue and rehome . And a big fat yes to complaining to the pet shop!

I really donto mean this to sound too harsh btw. Im just trying to stand up for the fluffy ones!

A good bunny rescue will match up your bun with a mate (and give advice.on jobs and neutering ) and likewise fir the guinea whichever one you keep. Or for both!

And when will the bloody pet shops stop selling Rabbits as ideal children pets . angry

Never had Guineas so I can't contribute to the Guinea\rabbit being kept together argument!

I've had rabbits since being 13 yo, I have owned seven (have five at the mo!) they all have their own personalities and characters, so just because your mini lop liked being held (which it must have because rabbits licking is likened to kissing) don't assume all rabbits love it.

If you've not had time to handle your pets, rather than going for the grab and hold tactic, let them run AROUND you and your DD to get used to your scent, lots of stroking and offering them tasty treats. They are prey animals so instinctively are very weary. Two of mine are adoptions (3yrs old) and hate being handled so I don't push it, but they both accept treats from my hand and like being stroked.

Astelia Sun 20-Jan-13 03:44:53

I agree with everything written- bunnies are wonderful but need a lot of time, money and careful handing. Guineas are easier but also need a lot of attention.

Please don't keep your rabbit in a cage, they need space to run and jump. Also they need company, neutering and stimulation.

It breaks my heart to see bunnies kept in solitary confinement in cages they can't even sit up in.

AngryBeaver Sun 20-Jan-13 09:24:37

ok, thank you all for you replies.
BonkeyMollocks yup, I'm not that bothered,thb.
I like to look at them, but I never really liked holding the mini lop, and definitely don't like holding this rabbit...or the guinea (never been keen on the paws!)
But don't mind feeding them and cleaning them out regularly.

Not sure any complaints would be worth it. Things are different here, we don't live in the UK and they are still allowed to sell dogs in petshops sad
We asked the girl which would be "an easy, low maintenence pet for small children" and she said "just get a bunny, couldn't be easier, they look after themselves" and we said we might get nother too, so they would have a friend. She shook her head solemnly and said "Not a good idea, they don't live well together, get a guinea, they are much better companions"

And with dd getting her library books on how to care for them etc plus the advice from petshop woman, she is convinced they are fine together. Maybe there is just different advice in this country??
I really don't want to upset her. We have had a lot to deal with in this last year (some of you may have read the threads so will understand) if not, trust me, things have been incredibly difficult. So, if I can avoid hurting her, by taking away her pet/s I would like to try.

salad dd has spent lots of today sitting in their enclosure talking to them. Not touching, just reading a book to them. And she fed them a few broccoli leaves etc
I let her read your replies and she promises she will do that everyday.

Astelia we only keep them in a cage at night. They have a massive area just for them, complete with lemon tree for shade. We did have our last bunny in the house for a while, and although we managed to train her with a litter tray, she chewed the wires and she seemed happier outside. She also had a big enclosure but we returned one day to find her dead. We think a cat must have scared her to death sad

BonkeyMollocks Sun 20-Jan-13 09:38:56

I really didn't mean to sound so harsh if thats the way it comes across - but the amount of times animals end up in rescues/new homes because 'the kids got bored' really riles me and the fact that it was the middle of the night and I was tired probably didn't help with my wording
An adult can make a decision that will be relevant for a the lifespan of a pet. I fully believe that a child (even teenager) can not!

I found when I got my guineas last year that alot of books are out of date and useless for advice. Google is your best friend! Yes there are still some bits that are abit hmm but you will always find one clear answer if you look properly!
All you need to do is find a guinea/rabbit forum and post the question and they will tell you what you need to know. i would trust those people more than anything!

You do really need to separate though. They may be getting on but there could be some serious damage caused to guinea by bun - even by accident playing. Guineas are quite delicate and a swift kick by a bun could cause some serious damage!
They also have completely different needs food wise!
You need to get some rabbit food and some guinea food - not one that caters to both - its no good! Guinea will need more veg! Both need tons of hay!
Can you keep them side by side until you can figure something out? Still have the company but safer and easier to sort out each one?

Good luck! smile

Animals (any animal) when it's domesticated, has the responsibility to look after itself taken out of its hands (paws, hooves etc)

WRT the rabbit looking after itself (PetShop advice) I'm [shocked].
They need daily handling even if it's just to give them a check over for lumps and bumps.
And the risk of FlyStrike in rabbits (you mention lemon trees so I guessing you are somewhere warm). Withing hours they can start to hatch and get to work.
My little guineapig has an assortment of little fatty lumps that we check daily.
He got hay in his eye (he's got a fatty eye)
GP1 gets grass stuck in his teeth and gags on it .(Have to pull it with tweezers) hmm

Floralnomad Sun 20-Jan-13 09:55:16

I don't know where you live but they are way behind the times ! Rabbits are not good pets for small children and most definitely do not look after themselves, well not if being treated correctly. You don't need to get rid of either pet just provide another house and run for the piggie. It is a little worrying that you seem to take so much advice from a 6 year old but we are all different !

AngryBeaver Sun 20-Jan-13 10:26:44

No, don't worry bonkeymollocks. It's clear you just love animals and want the best for them.
I just didn't think this would be such a big deal, I suppose!
I didn't think I would have to be invilved other than the cleaning out bit.

70 Yes, we are in NZ, you could say it is warm at the moment!!

flora grin at taking advice from a 6 year old! She is just very keen to learn all about them.
Will talk to her again tomorrow about re-homing one.
You think a guinea is better for the children than a rabbit?

Rabbit seems fine (if scared) but has caused quite a bit of injury, as I say, to dd (and myself) by scratching to get away. Even when I have to put it in at night, I usually have to crawl under the lemon tree to get it,and it goes beserk trying to get away. Cutting me to ribbons in preocess

coldinthesun Sun 20-Jan-13 10:49:13

AngryBeaver - read the link to the RSPCA I posted. It said what to do if you do have a rabbit and a gp together already. If you can separate them, great, but the RSPCA's advice is a little more complicated than a straight "separate them immediately in all cases" clear cut rule. It may not be in their interests to separate them - but you need to look at the situation and know the pitfalls.

Some people find GP as bit boring shock
Rabbits (especially a pair) will happily run round a rabbit safe garden.
Guinea-pigs love an outdoor run but need alot of protection from damp, wind, extremes or fluctuations in temperature and predators.

Some rabbits don't like being picked up. I had one GP who wasn't cuddly (she'd sit for maybe 30 seconds) then dive off the sofa back onto the floor. But she'd follow us round the house.

Personally, I would trade a pretty rabbit binkying round the garden and sitting up on it's hind legs for a snuggly little chattering pig that I can tuck into my fleece jacket and say "Oh, what's in the salad drawer.Lets go and look"

But as I said upthread I've never had rabbits. My DD helped look after the Schools rabbits ,and took her responsibilty very seriously. But she still prefers her boars grin

FernieB Sun 20-Jan-13 14:50:12

Angrybeaver - I have 1 house bun and 2 GP's (all male). Ideally they should not be kept together - there are health reasons to back this up - but if yours seem happy and content together, I would let them be. It's probably better to let them live happily together than be miserable alone. My boys are largely separated but do run round together every day and get on well mainly. From observing them, I would say that whilst the rabbit has the strength and potential to do more damage, it would be more likely that the pigs would bite him. Having said that, all animals are individuals and have different personalities and my current bun is a wimp.

As for the scratching - get the bunny neutered (better for health and calms them down). Rabbits hate being picked up (there's always the odd one who loves it) and a lot will kick and scratch, but then settle if held on your knee. A lot of patience is required. It sounds like your DD is being very responsible and caring about her animals and clearly wants to care for them well. If she spends time with them, feeding them treats and just being near them, they will get used to her and probably approach her themselves. You will also need to spend the time with them so they're used to you.

Rabbits can be trained (quite intelligent) and once they are used to a routine will follow it well. Try only feeding your rabbit at bedtime, so it knows it has to go home to be fed. I do this with my boys and current bun (who is always hiding in the living room at this time) comes running as soon as he hears the pigs shouting for their cabbage as he knows it's 'biscuit' time. He still tries to outwit me, but as with all animals (and most males) he thinks with his stomach, so it makes him easy to put to bed.

In the meantime, lots of aloe vera/witch hazel for the scratches. As I told my DD's you can't count yourself a true pet owner until you've been scratched/nibbled a few times. One of my DD's was terrified of being bitten (by previous rabbit who was very narky), but once she had been bitten, she lost her fear and handled her quite happily (rabbit was not so happy).

guineapiglet Sun 20-Jan-13 15:25:08

Hi - lots of great advice here, hope you can get them settled and sorted, but would suggest separate housing for them and time apart might help. My sister had a rabbit and guinea combo, also recommended by her local vet - it lasted about a week, the guinea was constantly bullied by a very large rabbit and became increasingly terrified at being held....in the end she had to keep them separate, separate runs, cages etc and they lived completely independently of each other.

.I love seeing rabbits in the wild, we have loads of them round here, but not quite sure about them as pets, I guess watching them in the wild you can see they need loads of space, they naturally burrow, and when they fight they are quite aggressive - I have rabbit sat for friends and family and just dont find them as interactive as guineas, although from what others have written on here, I guess it just depends on their character and personality.

Some friends up the road have them in small cages where they can barely move, others have free ranging bunnies who just live outside and so enormous they can square up to local pets. I guess part of the reason I love guineas is they are so dependent on you, and have such engaging personalities, there is something so appealing about their cheekiness.....

FernieB Mon 21-Jan-13 09:56:05

guineapiglet - I agree about rabbits being less interactive. The pigs I have now are my first (although I've been a rabbit 'mum' for several years) and they are very chatty and funny to watch. They have very engaging little characters and a determined way of conveying exactly what they want to you (usually cucumber).

In comparison my rabbits have been quieter. Previous bun and current bun were/are free-ranging house rabbits and although they do have their mad moments where they run round leaping on everything, they are generally calmer animals and spend a lot of time sleeping in corners. They do have their own personalities/habits - previous bun loved undoing shoelaces (obsessed with it) and current bun hates socks - bites them and if you leave one on the floor he will wrestle it. They can be trained to obey commands/hand signals but that depends upon the rabbit - previous bun understood 10 commands, current bun just about knows his name.

AngryBeaver Mon 21-Jan-13 19:11:41

current bun, hee hee!<childish>

All interesting to know, thanks for your advice and replies smile

grin I love the "current bun" too,

Not enough to make me want my own current bun you understand blush

KRITIQ Mon 21-Jan-13 23:58:15

Just had a quick scan over so sorry if I missed something, but I can see lots of good advice here.

I'm sure there are ethical, decent pet shops that sell livestock, but I've yet to find one myself. I wish this were the first time I'd heard of pet shops providing incorrect and even dangerous information about an animal, just to get a sale. Oh, and the tales of mis-sexed guineas and rabbits, resulting in surprise litters (which not surprisingly, they are happy to take off your hands as a courtesy, and sell for more profit - clever swiz.) I'm sorry to hear that this one took advantage of your not knowing anything to sell you a pup (or rather a guinea and a rabbit which NEVER should be housed together for all those reasons cited in that link.) If they had any scruples, they would have recommended some reading material and asked you to come back when you'd done more research and thought about whether you were genuinely prepared to take on the responsibility of pets, and which ones would be most suited to your lifestyle.

It sounds like you are thinking of rehoming them, and that sounds like a wise thing to do. Until you do though, it's best to separate them, but spend maximum time with each individually, cuddling, grooming, etc. If your DCs want to help, that's cool, but it's the adults' responsibility to ensure it happens. It will only be until they find forever homes. It's also possible you might decide to rehome one, keep the other and find it a new companion with advice from the rescue. They do have a way of growing on you.

differentnameforthis Tue 22-Jan-13 01:46:08

Please don't keep rabbits & pigs together. Rabbits like to bang their rear feet. We bought a pig that was kept with a rabbit & at one point it trampled the poor pig. We had the pig 3 hours before DH (life time keeper of pigs) took one look at her & said she wasn't right. The vet put her down that night after concluding that she had broken rear legs or back. sad

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