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The reluctant pets!

(15 Posts)
DoinItForTheKids Wed 14-Feb-18 21:43:51

Hi all

I've posted a few times recently about getting a couple of rescue guinea pigs followed by cage purchasing traumas (apologies for that one!) and you were all lovely and gave loads of help, for which thank you.

Well, we have had them just two weeks now and on the whole things going very well. We've got a 120 Ferplast cage. They're on puppy pads with paper pellets on top, lots of hay out (eating well), eating their whole pellets and having plenty of fresh veg.

They were quite traumatised by the move from their 5 month stay at the foster carer's so we've been taking things VERY slow. We have two distinct personalities emerging. The black one has interacted quite well. We've not tried to pick either of them up yet - we felt it was too soon. So black one will now eat veggies from our hands when in the mood, keep eating if we hold onto the piece of veg, and come back for more - so that's a big improvement since last week. They still both consistently run away every time we open the door to the room they're in and are still very much in hiding mode. They're nowhere near the stage of running towards us when we come in with veggies. The white one I think was most affected. She opts mostly for 'grey rock' mode! If 'caught' out in the open she just sits unmoving as though we can't see her, but she will tolerate being stroked. I don't think she's actually deriving any enjoyment from it. Overall there's just a lot of running away and white one hasn't eaten from my hand at all although she has from DDs.

At the moment we have a blanket over the top of the cage for a little more of a feeling of security and safety, and we've just put in two little cosy padded fleece houses - sadly neither of them will go in them, they're sitting out 'in the cod' so to speak, when they could be snuggled up all nice and warm sad. We did put their evening veggies in there new bedrooms but so far (several hours) they've not gone in and neither one is sitting in them but I appreciate it's early days still and they might just need to get used to them.

DD has been brilliant in looking after them. She's feeling a bit wounded I think that they 'don't like her'! Bless her.

I had hoped the introduction of the fleece cosies (with them sitting in them!!) would make an easy way to 'pick them up' but I'm not sure how to proceed if they don't / won't go in them!!

Is it just simply more time, or some different approach we need to take??

Thoughts and advice all very gratefully received, thanks all.

TimeIhadaNameChange Thu 15-Feb-18 09:27:08

Aww! It is just time you need, really. How old is dd? Could she sit in the room and read aloud to them without paying them any attention?

I've currently got two rabbits in the house as they were both really poorly before Christmas and needed lots of medical attention. One has always been particularly wild (born in a burrow for a start!) and, combined with having been force-fed medicine on a daily basis for a month, is really not at all keen on me. If I look at her, even from afar, she bolts. If I go near her but ignore her she gets pissed off and, after a few goes past I can kneel down and stroke her! You do need to use reverse psychology with these creatures!

I've had two baby guineas for about 6 months now. The more timid of the two has only once, recently, squeaked at me for food. Generally she still doesn't want to draw attention to herself. She might, possibly, eat from my hand now but I wouldn't guarantee it, though the other youngster would, and my older girl only runs away when I'm trying to catch her.

As for the fleeces, I'm presuming they only have one entrance each? That may be the problem, that they don't want to be trapped in them either by each other or by you (they're not stupid!). They're much more comfortable with tunnels, or boxes (fleecey things included) that have more than one exit so they can always escape.

It sounds as if you are doing all the right things, you just need more time. Tell your dd that she'd be wary if a T-Rex came and offered her chocolate, yet that's what she's like to the guineas. Big and scary!

DoinItForTheKids Thu 15-Feb-18 19:26:09

Hi time and thanks for replying.

So long as we're on the right lines then I'm happy to keep keeping on in this vein. I was worried that we'd hit a plateau that we wouldn't move forward from sad but it sounds like we are ok and it's just time which is absolutely fine with me.

The black one has been sitting in her house today!!

The white one - still not having it solo, BUT, when I put a nice load of hay in earlier (which of course caused her to run off!) she ricocheted into the fleece house already being inhabited by black piggy whether black piggy like it or not!

So hurrah, they have used their houses and I'm pleased because I've been worried about them getting cold just sitting out in the open, so I hope the white piggly starts using hers soon so she can keep cosy.

Thanks for reassuring me I'm on the right tracks still.

TimeIhadaNameChange Fri 16-Feb-18 09:20:44

They may prefer to be in the same house together, as that way they can cuddle up together. If they do, then at least you can wash one whilst they have the other.

They're in the house, aren't they? In that case I really wouldn't worry about them getting cold, unless you keep your house at Arctic temperatures! If I put fresh hay into their cage my older one would far rather sleep on that than in a box (I think it's partly to stop the other two eating it!). They do need places in which to hide, but they won't necessarily be in there all the time.

I was surprised this morning, when I went back into the bedroom after feeding the guineas earlier, that Blaise, my timid lass, didn't run away. I'm sure she doesn't always these days, but more often than not she will when I get anywhere near her. And that's with the company of both her sister and my older girl who runs away for no-one if there's food around!

Not as surprised, though, to realise that the rabbit I was stroking first thing (I was still in bed) was my wildling, and not her mother! If she can trust me enough to be petted your guineas certainly can!

DoinItForTheKids Fri 16-Feb-18 09:59:09

Brilliant, DD is reassured and I hope that once they do use the cosy houses a bit more it might be a way to approach the picking up phase when we feel they're ready for it.

Wakeuptortoise Fri 16-Feb-18 10:04:50

Why can't you pick them up? They will only get used to being handled if you handle them. One hand under the belly and one under the backside once you've scooped under the belly. Avoid the legs so they can't kick off. Then place on your or dd lap with a hand gently on top to stop them running off. They like to burrow under arms. Lots of stroking and treats will soon get them used to you.

DoinItForTheKids Sat 17-Feb-18 08:17:03

We are definitely going to pick them up - obviously - BUT we'd just been giving them time firstly to do the initial settling, and secondly now that we've got the cosies it seemed like it would be easier, initially to pick them up in the cosy house - so instant 'lap pad', guinea pig not 'exposed', still slightly hidden in there, able to burrow away but still be able to be touched. Sadly though their use of these is highly intermittent anyway so it's going to be hit and miss to find them in there, be able to slide it towards the cage opening and then pick it up anyway.

I had half been thinking along the lines you're saying though @Wakeuptortoise as we have currently reached a plateau, certainly with the white one. The black one will now approach, eat, stay there and wait and be seeking the next piece of food. The white one does not approach, does not eat from hand, no food will tempt her - she just wants you to go away and leave her alone because she's clearly petrified.

I don't know if it's cruel to try and pick white one up because I was noticing yesterday (working from home and did a couple of talking, chatting and hand feeding sessions) that when she ran away you could see her - I won't say panting, but you could tell her heart was beating fast because she was scared and I don't know if it would be fair on her.... or if just getting it over and done with and repeating daily would 'prove' to her that nothing bad happens if she's got physical contact with us.

I think with the design of the cage it's going to be really hard to pick them up bodily without it being a real 'grab 'em!' affair!

We haven't even got to the stage where when they approach for food we can touch either of them - that would cause them to run off and I don't want to go backwards and they then associate hands with food as hands with food that want to touch us when we don't want touching.

Interestingly though, the night we went to pick them up from the foster carer and when she picked them up they squealed absolute merry hell! She had the white one held against her chest (and she was trying to run up her shoulder to get away) with the black one in one of those envelope-style cosy hideys tolerating DD touching her. They were quiet within a minute though. It made me wonder, how much had they actually been handled at the foster carer's bearing in mind the racket they made when she picked them up (she explained this was due to the fact she'd handled them a lot today, clipped their nails and bathed them).

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 17-Feb-18 15:58:33

Bless them it sounds like they're still pretty nervous and maybe haven't been handled much. The Foster homes for small furries are 99% volunteers who are involved in Rescue, working , families etc so don't have the time to cuddle them as much as you would yourself, they maybe assess their temper ( childs pet or adult/teen suitable) maybe piggies are recovering illness or neglect from previous homes.

One of our pigs (GP1) used to let out an enourmous I'm being skinned schreech when picked up from the day we met him to the day he died. Fine to cuddle , just vocal grin

My GP4/GP5 girls were little buggers to catch and if I look close I can still see the scar from when GP5 lacerated my wrist.
But in time with food bribes, familiarity, routine (they love routine) respect and careful but deliberate handling, they rallied.

Catching them in a box is easier, a small box with a door, they'll run in, you block the door and deftly scoop them. I used towels and a Half Nelson with GP5 !

Mine always do a Benny Hill style runabout when we catch them and always always run into the dirty bedding when we roll it up .
Usually a chorus of "You don't get any better at this do you" !

DoinItForTheKids Sat 17-Feb-18 18:46:06

Lacerated your wrist? [gulp]!!

Yes, food is the key for sure.

I can update positively on things.

We decided to do a total cage cleanout and chucked out all the paper pellet bedding which whilst it was really good on many levels, being very dark green in colour you can't pick out where the poops are very easyily so they were walking round on a fair few of them which I didn't like so we've now got a lovely thick layer of high quality pet-friendly wood shavings with a full fleece covering over the entire top of it. This of course involved picking them up and moving them to temporary accommodations. White one succumbed in silence to the indignity of being picked up whilst black one squealed a bit but was ok.

They actually seemed more 'lively' after that. We also sat the white one on DDs lap for a bit which she seemed ok with (DD and white piggy!).

We noticed that the cosy pods they have are slightly wet inside from all their piddling so I've just put in an order with the lady who made the pods for 6 x waterproof cosy liner pads so I can change them every other day if not more frequently. Being Peruvians (them, not us!) we have noticed that even since coming to us, in three weeks they've got really yellow piddle-stained hair on their bum ends bearing in mnd they were bathed on the day we picked them up, so once we have the pads to change regularly, whether they like it or not, they are going to have to succumb to a bath to get rid of the pee soaked bum hair, and let's hope our new setup works better to keep away Yellow Ass Hair Syndrome.

I am left with images of you I have images of you doing the half Nelson!!! smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 17-Feb-18 20:42:36

Peruvians are hard work grooming wise , bless em, I think unless you plan to show them , just keep their bum hair trimmed for hygeine .
They might enjoy bath times once they've settled and you can get all lovely potions from Gorgeous Guineas . (I think I have Posh'n'Go or something, one of DDs is a Teddy and one has long silky hair - my guinea is smooth so low maintainence grin )

In GP5 defence - we did ask for feisty girls to match up with our boar who was off for neutering. GP4 and GP5 had been weaned from their piglets , gone to Rescue A then Rescue B then to us within 48 hours and met our boar (sniffing distance) so yes , she was pretty lairy . She was never a childs pet but she was a lovely little piggie , chocolate pointed ruby eyed Himmy with a crest. Sadly missed .

Most other piggies are not so stroppy grin

DoinItForTheKids Sat 17-Feb-18 20:58:10

Aw, she sounded like a proper character.

TimeIhadaNameChange Tue 20-Feb-18 11:29:57

Glad to hear of your update. That's lovely news!

Changednamejustincase Wed 21-Feb-18 00:04:49

It takes a while to gain their trust but it is so worth it and means more because you know they are discerning.

DoinItForTheKids Tue 27-Feb-18 17:42:33

I should like to update my previous post!

We are now regularly cuddling the white one who's gotten very used to it, and the black one DD actually picked up and had a bit of a cuddle with today for the first time. DDs gaining in confidence with them and them with her.

DD is SOOOOOOOOO happy now that she can cuddle them! She absolutely loves them!

Couple of weeks more and then we'll do floor time with them - now that we can pick them up ok I think we'll be better placed to do that although much blocking off of under the bed will need doing as otherwise they'll be into hiding places that we'd never get them out of if they didn't want to come.

We still have some milestones go to - wheeking when we come in the room - not yet. We will get there.

I believe we did see popcorning from the black one as I was stuffing the hay thing with holes in it (which takes a few minutes) - I think she was excited that the hay was coming as she particularly is hay mad.

Happy happy happy.

TimeIhadaNameChange Wed 28-Feb-18 11:19:31

That's GREAT news! Well done to you and your DD.

I will be interesting to see what they're like once they have floor time. be warned, they may be climbers. One of the boys I had once (would regularly find him in the drawer under the bed, which is a good 8 - 10 inches high. And one of my girls will climb up to the level of their cage (am using C+C grids to build a second storey, but haven't got round to finishing it so there's no ramp, nor proper flooring. That's not stopping her!)

It's lovely to see them popcorning, isn't it? They're so funny!

Don't be surprised if they start humping each other / chase each other round. It's perfectly natural. There may be lots of squealing but it's usually ok.

Can we get some pigtures?

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