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 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.
There are some valuable links here to advice on introductions which are more detailed and better than I could add:
Especially check out Thalestral's page (linked to on the companionship page):
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!
- And got the T-shirt
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.
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.
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!).
- Supporting my GL Habit
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!