You are here:

Guinea Pigs/I have a question about my guinea pig.


My name is Samantha. I fell in love with guinea pigs last summer. Now, I have 5 beautiful pigs. Most of them rescued, two of them from the petstore. The one I have a concern with is Jonah. He's around 7months old. He's an Abyssinian. And I got him from the pet store, when I got him, the same day I got Theo. They are the last two. They're cage mates, because when I brought them home my other three just fought for dominance, mostly Elliot. The oldest. He and Jonah did NOT get along. Anyways, everytime I reach my hand into Jonah and Theos cage he comes over and greets me. But the problem is he bites me. Everytime. He is the cutest thing, because he'll squeak and reach up to me as if he wanted me to hold him, but then he bites me. I can't touch him at all because he either kicks up his back legs, or turns his head around to bite. I can't clip his nails, I can't do anything. I try every day. What I noticed recently though was I was able to get him one day, and while he was on my lap I looked at his rosettes and noticed the skin was flaky. But only in his rosettes. He does itch. But not excessively. Theo the other pig won't let me touch him either. They are terrified and I've tried everything. Could it be possible they have something wrong with them? Causing Jonah to bite me? He dosnt bite as if he were afraid either. He bites every single thing. My arm, my finger, my hand, etc. I don't know if it's just him, or if it's something else. I would take him to the vet, but I would like to get a second opinion by someone who knows about guinea pigs. Please get back to me as soon as possible. :) thank you!
Oh I forgot to mention I do give him plenty of things to chew on, a pumice stone made for piggies, an assortment of blocks, and sticks, and wooden pig huts. Nothing seems to work.

Congratulations of finding the wonderful world of cavies!

Abys are unique unto themselves. We've always called them the "Jack Russell Terriers" of the guinea pig world. They're incredibly smart and always busy. And they can be cranky.  You took a big risk putting the boars together and chances are they will always bicker and probably fight if left together.

These are herding animals. In the wild they live in large groups but there is still only one alpha male. As young boars are born they're allowed to stay until they begin reaching sexual maturity and try to challenge the alpha male for breeding rights. They will fight to the death or until one of them gives up and is banished from the herd.

This is the same dynamic that controls all herding animals, horses, wolves, lions, elephants, rhinos and every other of the herding groups. So you might want to reconsider your housing arrangements and prevent that from happening.

I've listened to people tell how they've tried to introduce on neutral turf, but it still rarely works. It's the hormonal drive and they're hard wired to behave that way. The exception is when you have a boar that is old and beyond breeding years and who represents no threat to the alpha male.

The dandruff you're seeing is a normal thing. You don't see it in the longer coated pigs or those with smooth short hair because you can't see underneath the coat unless you run you fingers through it. The rosettes on the Abys make it clearly visible.  I would recommend you get some Adams spray from your pet store and spray each of them to treat for mites.  Most pigs get them periodically and anyone who thinks their pigs won't ever get them is like believing your dog can never get fleas.

Mites are species specific and will not get on anything but another pig. The Adams spray is made with Pyrethrins and is non toxic.  Just a couple of sprays on each pig is enough to keep mites at bay.  Do this every six weeks just as a precautionary.  We don't know where these mites come from, but they're a part of life. They can cause the flaky skin.

Climate is a factor as well. During the winter the humidity is lower and the dry skin is more prevalent. You probably notice that even on yourself. Our hands seem to need more cream than usual during the winter months.

Sometimes mites will make a pig cranky and nip. But another thing you might try is washing your hands before you try to pick up Jonah to eliminate the smell of either food or another boar on them. You may also have to toss a towel over Jonah to pick him up. Then wrap him like a burrito with just his head sticking out. You'll be able to control him better.

Some pigs make you work hard to catch them, then once you're holding them they settle down. But it may be that he's irritable because of the mites. And with Abys they don't like to be held as much because we tend to pet them from head to rump as we would a dog or cat.  Rubbing the hair against the growth direction is very irritating to them.  You have to stroke their coats from the inner part of the rosettes outward.

If you think about how it would feel for someone to stroke your hair from your neck to the top of your head you'd see how irritating that is.  Abys march to the beat of their own drum and are the most difficult breed to handle.  It's just their nature, so don't take it personally.

On the judging table judges will always remark about the Aby Attitude. It's just the way they are.  

Guinea Pigs

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

©2016 All rights reserved.