Behavior change in new baby

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EdenFoxe

Post   » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:15 pm


Hi all! First time posting, I hope you all can help.

Background:
I just got a new baby piggy, bringing our herd to 5 females. We have a 2 piece Midwest cage, so it was pretty easy to put a divider in for the first few days of bringing her home. The new pig (unnamed so far, so I'll refer to her as Newbie for simplicity) has a super friendly disposition, very curious and exploration, and willing to interact with her new humans from the start. Our existing 4 are 3-5 years old, in case that's relevant. The one we think is the boss pig (Rogue) can be pretty curmudgeonly, but she typically only harasses her sister(Gwen). (We adopted Gwen and Rogue together, as they were already bonded). Our oldest is Tesla, and Nebula was the friendliest before Newbie came home.

After three days of having Newbie home, the whole herd seemed to be very interested in her through the barrier. I even caught them cuddling her through the bars! So, we wend ahead and introduced them. The introduction went better than any I've ever done. My herd took to her right away, with just a little bit of chasing and sniffing. When they started laying in the hay in the introduction area rather than eating it, I figured we'd been successful, and removed the barrier.

The trouble:
The day after the introduction, I heard some distressed wheeking, and saw Gwen striking at Newbie. It seems Newbie had invaded Gwen's hidey. She was able to get away, so I didn't think much of it. After all, a baby has to learn how to behave, right? Yesterday, I was hearing it a lot more- chasing, nipping, and at one point Newbie screaming bloody murder in response to Nebula sniffing her. I watched for a while, and it looked like Newbie was having Zoomies and the other girls were nipping at her every time she ran by. Until Gwen cornered her and nipped her every time she moved.

Today, Newbie was different. No running, no curiosity, scared of everything, just running and hiding at every little sound. We put the barrier back in to give her some rest. Did we jump the gun with the introduction? Is this normal and I'm too sensitive? I'm concerned that Newbie seemed depressed today.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Fri Jul 02, 2021 10:54 pm


I am guessing you actually need more space. Visual barriers could help along with spaces small enough that she can only get in and out and she can find her own respite.

There are some valuable links here to advice on introductions which are more detailed and better than I could add:
http://www.guinealynx.info/companionship.html

Especially check out Thalestral's page (linked to on the companionship page):
http://www.guinealynx.info/introductions.html

I am sorry things went south when they looked so promising. I actually haven't had guinea pigs for a few years so other members would offer better advice!

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2021 12:44 am


Do read the introductions page. Removing a barrier in a cage is not the way to introduce pits and put them together.

Also, I don't know what you mean by a two-piece Midwest Cage, but two Midwests put together aren't large enough for five pigs. You'd need at least three, even then that's not a great arrangement because of all the walls. Pigs need a flat space to run in.

EdenFoxe

Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2021 4:49 am


To clarify, we didn't just remove the barrier to introduce. We set up a neutral enclosed area with a pile of hay in the middle. The barrier wall was removed after the introduction had gone so well. I recognize that people have strong opinions about cage types, but I would hope that dissenting opinions could be shared nonjudgementally.

The advice to provide additional space is appreciated. We're going to get a third Midwest for them. Is there anything more anyone can tell me about small spaces for a baby guinea? I'd want to make sure that no one could get stuck, but I like the idea of her being able to get away if she needs to.

Also, Newbie seems to have recovered after being separated from the herd again, and is back to her exuberant self. So that confirms that she was seriously stressed.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2021 9:45 am


Perhaps an enclosed corner of the new cage with the opening adjusted for her size to block out other guinea pigs. You could run tests with a cardboard wall/corner. Card board is obviously malleable so you would need to be creative to define the entry - which might need adjustment as she grows bigger.

Bpatters has been advising guinea pig owners on all sorts of things guinea pig and I consider her an expert in minimum cage sizes and much, much more. She was the primary impetus to have Thalestral's valuable advice added here permanently and tracked her down (though Thalestral was a member here for some years, people can disappear into the abyss!).

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PooksiedAnimals
Supporting my GL Habit

Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2021 11:28 am


Becoming part of a herd is stressful no matter what. I would have kept an eye on her weight, and let her stay longer unless she started to lose weight. The subdued attitude may have changed back after a few days, when she got accustomed to the rules of the group. Screaming bloody murder often sounds a lot worse than it is - making noise like that usually diffuses the chance of fighting.

You freaking need nerves of steel to do introductions. I hate doing them because it feels like I'm torturing the pigs for days on end. But then, after a day or two, I can see small improvements, and by the end of the week, there's more peace. One of my best pairings came after a terrible battle and another of a week of "drive-by biting".

I know that fleece forests can obscure line of sight, which helps keep the calm.

EdenFoxe

Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2021 5:44 pm


Thanks, everyone, for all the great advice, and for providing some perspective. We will re-attempt the introduction when we get the 3rd Midwest, and I'll do my best to keep the humans out of it. I'll make my husband read the recommended posts, too, since he's a big softie with even more protective instinct than me!

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2021 3:10 am


If you or your husband are a builder, here's a couple of ideas for a fleece forest.

Image

The fleece strips on this one are pretty close together making it pretty thick. I made it that way for one of my pigs who preferred to be more hidden. I used untreated wood for the legs, which I had to change periodically because he loved to chew. In retrospect I should have used metal or something else he couldn't chew and that wouldn't absorb urine. When he passed away, I tossed it out.

Image

This one is perfect for a smaller pig who likes to be in the corner with their back to the cage. Being triangular, it allows for 3 ways in or out when placed in the right place. In this case, it wasn't necessary but your situation may be different. Again, I probably should have used something for the legs that is resistant to chewing and soaking up urine. Both were designed so I could remove the fleece strips and wash them.

Of course you can always tie fleece strips directly to the top of the cage if there is one.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2021 9:49 am


Thanks for those ideas! Can I add your pics permanently to this topic?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2021 1:30 pm


You could do those out of PVC pipe and elbows. Totally pig proof.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Mon Jul 05, 2021 4:33 am


Of course you can add those and any photos I post anywhere on this site permanently. You have my permission to use any photo I post in any way you see fit.

PVC pipe is a lot easier to work with than metal. There are ways to secure legs made out of it to a wooden top. I prefer to use wood for the top because I can drill holes in the pattern I want. Then I cut the fleece strips to the length I need, tie a double knot in one end and run them through the holes. That allows me to pull them back out when they need to be washed and put them back in when they're clean.

On a side note, isn't Sammy just adorable laying under his fleece forest?

Bookfan
For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:27 am


He looks so contented.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:34 pm


Thanks! i will likely ask you again if I forget you've already given permision.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Tue Jul 06, 2021 4:04 am


No problem. I'll just tell you yes again. 😁

EdenFoxe

Post   » Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:12 am


Hey all, it's been a while so I thought I'd post an update.

Per your suggestions, we expanded the cage and added more hideys. We reattempted the introduction, and I could not have asked for a better result. Our "boss pig" seems to have adopted the new baby (who we've named Nyx) as her own, and comes running to her defense any time Nyx cries. By the end of the introduction, three of our existing girls were cuddling her and defending her against Gwen, who remained unconvinced for a few days. Now, we have a happy herd of 5 pigs!

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:20 am


That is super! So glad you had such a wonderful result! Thanks for the update.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2020

Post   » Sun Jul 25, 2021 1:03 am


Thanks for the update. So glad they accepted the newbie and are getting along well.

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