TL;DR: I don't know if I have an anti-social pig or if there is a problem.
I started with 2 piggies, Niamh and Aoife, then we got a third, Nollaig, because 1) she was a lone baby pig that needed a home and 2) we had a bullying issue with the first two and we wanted to disrupt the balance of power (separation was not an option for these two, they're extremely bonded to the point of codependence.) We always assumed Nollaig was maybe a little slow, she was never that quick on the uptake and she kinda just spaces out and stares at walls, took her a long time to understand her name... Just a little dumb, maybe. But she acted weird enough for me to be concerned over months of observations. She ate/drank/pooped normally, but most of her time was spent chilling in one of the houses or fleece forests, only ever coming out for breakfast, food, hay, water, and treats. Then she stopped coming to eat breakfast unless there was a forest or house for her to hide in while she ate. Then she stopped coming out for treats, we had to bring it to her because she seemed catatonic in the house.
I took her to the vet, concerned that maybe there was some underlying problem, but the vet said she was perfectly healthy. Nothing out of the ordinary in anyway. He did ask if she had a bondmate, though, and I hadn't seen her be affectionate towards either of the other girls. Aoife's a big sweetie and will groom literally anything, so I had seen Nollaig receiving affection, but she never returned any. He suggested that maybe she was lonely and perhaps had a mild piggy depression. Since we had the space, time, and money, we waited for our local pet store to have a lone baby girl to initiate Project Bonding.
We got Fiadh (affectionately called crackhead), and made sure when it came time for introductions that Nollaig met her first. Fast forward almost a year in time and Nollaig. Hasn't. Changed. She still chills in the house by herself, only being "social" at breakfast and while in the hay. Fiadh loves all of the girls, she'll attempt to snuggle with any of them, just a big ball of energy who loves other guinea pigs and hates fingers, so there's no bad blood between any of the girls.
Is Nollaig okay? Do I just have an anti-social herd animal? Any suggestions are appreciated, I cannot make sense of this weird, squeaky potato.
- Supporter in 2020
I buy lots of little interactive things like timothy hay balls, hay rings, crinkle "surprise toys", etc (I used to give them paper towel or toilet paper rolls that I'd stuff with hay to give them something fun until I thought that there might be unhealthy glue on it). and she loves to interact with them, but she usually takes the toys and runs right into the house and guards it like a furry dragon. She's not aggressive, either, I should add. We do have to keep a strict treat order, though, because if she gets fed before one of the older girls she starts attempting to display dominance, and it's stressful for the other pig. She always gets her treat third in line.
We have a 1Br apartment and they live in a large CC cage that takes up a good portion of our living room, so someone is usually always with them and watching them. I tried to position the cage so if we're sitting on the couch we can see them well, so we generally can watch them being when they're playing or running around. She seems to come out more often when my husband and I are both in the room talking to one another, which happened a lot until we moved his "office" to the bedroom because it was distracting for both of us to be working from home in such close proximity... Maybe because we used to both be in the same place for her life up until last year when the pandemic hit us, she thinks something is wrong?
If you can't take them outside, there are other ways to encourage them to forage for their food. If you feed them pellets, you can spread the pellets around the cage vs putting them in a bowl. You can do the same with their hay, treats and pretty much everything you feed them. If you do floor time, spread small bits of food around the pen. I use wheat grass or shredded bits of veggie treats. You don't want to overfeed them treats, so you don't want to spread around a whole lot. Just enough to encourage them to forage around. Hay is also a good thing to spread around since they are supposed to get an unlimited amount of it. The only thing is that it makes such a mess. I don't mind having to clean it up though. My piggies are worth it.
Mr Bubbles was overweight from inactivity and overfeeding. Once we were made aware of the error in our ways, we got him out more and used many enticements to make him want to run around. We finally ended up having to goose his butt to get him to move around. It took a few times of doing that before he started moving around more on his own. It was the foraging behavior we encouraged that got him to be active and he's been at his proper weight and in great shape ever since.
- Supporter in 2020
I really hate that they demolished the really big pasture nearby to build stupid apartments that few people can even afford because it has displaced not only the hawks, but the coyotes as well as the golfers and other rodents they used to hunt over there. My neighbor has a big granite boulder as a landscape decoration in his yard which now has a family of golfers living under it. So I have to make sure I take the baseball bat with me and put a good overhead cover over the outdoor pen if I want to have the guinea pigs out there.
I also have to watch out for my cats because of the coyotes. They are known to kill and eat cats if they catch them, especially if the cats are out at night. Hawks can also take a cat. It irks me how these developers don't give any consideration to the damage they cause or what trouble it causes the community. There are lot of us in this neighborhood who have cats that spend time outside and there are a lot of small breed dogs that are now in danger. There should be a law.
"...it has displaced not only the hawks, but the coyotes as well as the golfers and other rodents..."
"... but the coyotes as well as the golfers and other rodents they used to hunt..."
I trust you meant to say gofers and not golfers :-)
- Supporter in 2020
- Supporter in 2020