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THE PIG SHED

CHOOSING & TAMING YOUR GUINEA PIG
ABOUT ME
THE PIG SHED VIDEO
PIGGY HISTORY & INFORMATION
SETTING UP HOME
CHOOSING & TAMING YOUR GUINEA PIG
DIET & NUTRITION
PIGGY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES
THE GUINEA PIG SALON
WHAT'S MY PIGGY?
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
PROBLEM PAGE
GUINEA PIG INFORMATION
GIRLS ALBUM
THE REST OF THE GANG- RABBITS
THE REST OF THE GANG- CHINCHILLAS
LINKS PAGE

SOME OF THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE AS ALL GUINEA PIGS ARE DIFFERENT WHEN HANDLING AND TAMING IS CONCERNED, SO DONT HESITATE TO TRY YOUR OWN TECHNIQUES

CHOOSING

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

         When choosing the right guinea pig, you should always pick the one that is running around like a psycho. This shows that they are able to walk and run properly and you can get a good look at their body size and shape. A guinea pig can grow to be at least 13 inches long and can weight up to 1.5 kg, so I personally dont recommend them as pets for small children. I have heard of a case when a guinea pigs back was broken in half when a toddler threw it over their shoulder to carry around.
 
         Although most books recommend them as the perfect pet for children, I think that just because they are easier to look after compared to a dog or cat they shouldnt be taken for granted. Young children do not understand that they need to be handled with love and care and sometimes they dont know their own strength. If a guinea pig is bought as a pet, handling sessions should be supervised by a parent or adult to prevent any accidents from happening.

BREEDS

         There are several breeds of guinea pig ranging from short to longhaired. The short-haired varieties are easy to look after in the sense that they do not have to be brushed. I have 6 longhaired breeds altogether and they need regular grooming with a brush or comb to prevent the fur from becoming tangled and dirty. Just like human hair, guinea pig hair can become very tangled and painful to brush so to keep it tangle free on a regular basis will prevent any discomfort in the long run.

AGE

         The age of the guinea pig is also a problem factor. Young guinea pigs that have been taken away from their mother too early may not survive long. This is not because they are dependant on their mother as they are born Precocial meaning they come out fully furred, with their eyes and ears open, able to run around and eat solid foods. It is because they suckle from their mother until they are at least 5 weeks old; this milk provides the body with Cholostrum, which contains antibodies to help the immune system fight disease and infection. If the young guinea pig is taken away too early it hasnt received all the antibodies and therefore will not be able to fight any illness.
If you purchase an old guinea pig then the transporting, change of environment and new home could cause severe stress problems. Also the average life span of a guinea pig is 4-6 years so to get a companion the younger the better.

GENDER

         When the gender of a guinea pig is concerned I have no preferences. The only point I will make is to never buy just one guinea pig. This is because they become very lonely and withdrawn and can be impossible to tame. I find that if they are alone their mortality rate is increased quite substantially, which could be due to the fact that they have no interaction with other pigs, this in turn causes them to be depressed and unwilling to eat or drink. Other people say that it is best not to pair two of the same sex together unless they are related. Personally I have at least three sets of non-related pairs who have become the best of friends. On the other hand I do believe that the younger they are paired up the more compatible they are. 
 
         If you want to keep Boars, which are male guinea pigs, then it is best to have them from when they are at least six to eight weeks old. They will establish a pecking order as they grow and will stick to it until they die. If you find yourself in a situation where one of the boars has died leaving the other by itself the best option is to buy him a new friend. This friend would have to be a young male who will learn that the older male is the boss and they will live happily.
         When Sows, known as female guinea pigs are concerned, the same circumstances apply; the younger the better. You could also pair up two guinea pigs of opposite genders, but I would recommend that the male pig is castrated in order to prevent any more from being produced. It is safer to have the male castrated compared to the female. This is because the males reproductive organs are easily accessible, so the operation is quick and safe. The females reproductive organs are located inside the body so a full-scale operation would be in order. This can be dangerous, as they would have to be anaesthetised causing the animals life to be threatened, due to small animals being unable to cope with the stress of the operation.
         When pairing up your guinea pigs they should be watched very carefully to prevent any fighting. After about 48 hours if they are still bickering they should be separated, if not then they are getting along fine.
I have three males who have been together since birth and they often have small arguments but nothing to cause me any concern.

TAMING

         When taming your guinea pig the best approach method is to be gentle and careful. Imagine what you would feel like in a new home, a new environment with strange smells all around you. It would be very scary and weird. That is what it would be like for a guinea pig.

         When you bring the pig home leave it in its hutch for a couple of days talking to it when its time to be fed. Try placing your hand out in front of it and maybe offer some food, show that youre a friend. After a couple of days I usually attempt to stroke the pig and let it get used to my smell and touch.
 
         When approaching the cage dont sneak up on the poor animal and give it a fright, let him know that you are there by talking to him, reassuring him that you arent going to hurt him. It is also best to have the hutch between knee and stomach height. This is to prevent the animal from feeling threatened by feet that walk by and also stops them from falling out of the hutch and plummeting to their deaths. Also guinea pigs are lively creatures, so placing them on a secure bench or table will prevent any rocking which could cause the hutch to tip or fall to the ground.
         After a few days of this approach technique your pig will have become accustomed to your smell and voice and you will have gained his trust. The next stage should be done carefully and quickly. Make sure the cage door is only open slightly so that you can fit your arms in, otherwise when the pig sees you coming he may dart like a rocket to the other side of the hutch and fall out.
 
         My own technique is to cover his head and eyes with my hand and scoop his bottom with my other hand. Covering the eyes prevents him from seeing where he is going and from lunging forward and out of the hutch. Gently scoop and bring him into your chest, not so fast as to make his stomach turn but fast enough so that he isnt able to jump away. I also tend to have a blanket ready just in case they become nervous and have a little accident on my lap.
This should only be done by an adult or older child who understands the importance of handling small animals. If you feel your child is mature enough, then make sure you supervise these handling sessions until the pig is tame and comfortable being picked up. 
        
         After a while your guinea pig will be so tame that it will take food from your hand, come to you when the hutch door is opened and squeal in delight when it is food time.
Remember, with a lot of time, effort and patience your pet pig will be like one of the family.