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Guinea Pigs/Do you think I should make their cages smaller in order to make catching my pigs easier until we've re bonded like before?

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Question
Hello. I have a bit of a dilemma and would really appreciate and value your input. I have 2 adult male guinea pigs who had to be separated back when they hit 'puberty' due to fighting. They each have their own 12 sq ft C&C cage which is 3 grids by 3 grids. They live in my bedroom with me and one piggy took to me fairly quickly and enjoyed spending time with me during floor time and lap time. The other is much more shy and reserved and even after giving him the same attention as the other he still was hesitant to let me actually pet him and always ran whenever I tried to pick him up but he'd always come up to me when I'd sit on the floor with him during floor time and he actually enjoyed laying next to me in my bed or on the couch during lap time (he never would actually lay on me or in my lap but he liked to be close).

I have a few pre-existing medical conditions but they never were as severe as what happened recently. Basically I was unable to walk due to severe pain in my hip. Because of this I had a lengthy hospital stay and even once home I was basically on bed rest but not in my room, I was in the master bedroom since the bathroom was closer (master room is on the opposite side of the house from mine). That meant my mom and brother (who both work) had to share the task of caring for my boys. My mom is afraid of any animal that isn't a dog or fish so she would only give them food,salad,water and treats. My brother did the things that meant actually touching them but the shyer piggy was even harder for him to catch so his play pen was disrupted and he didn't get to come visit me in the other room as much.

I finally am feeling and doing a bit better and I've moved back into my bedroom but I am finding it difficult to clean their cages now so I need to change them to the standard 2 grid by something. I also want to change their cages to help make it easier for me to catch them, especially the more shy pig. The other piggy is more cautious when interacting with me but he still does for the most part. The shy one reacts to me more like I'm a stranger to him again :(  :(  :(  :(

I want to try and give them the same amount of square footage they currently have but I would like to know your thoughts on whether I should take them to a 2x3 or 2x4 until I can re bond with them first or if I should just build their 2x5's or 2x6's like I ultimately want to do? I figure in the 2x3 or 2x4 it will make it easier for me to be able to catch them when play or lap time comes since in the larger sized cage I'd have to chase them around a bit more before actually catching them (most likely anyway). I don't want to stress them anymore than I already have which is my main concern.

Answer
I'm sorry to hear about your health issues and I understand as I also have some limitations.  

A 2x3 grid cage is certainly enough room for each pig. If you are able to do a 2x4 that's good too. If you provide them with a 2x4 grid you might want to try this. Connect two grids together and just use them when you want to catch your pig. Simply put the grid in the cage and herd him to whichever side is easiest for you to lift from.

After you've had play time or cuddle time you can remove the extra grid and they will return to having more room to romp. It's the same principal as herding pigs or cattle. Simple squeeze them into a space that will allow you to do what you need to do.  This will allow you to contain each pig into a small enough spot that you have no trouble reaching for them, and they can't run away.

You can move the 'herding grid' to as little as six inches if you need to. It's not going to be attached, it's just being used as a 'squeeze grid' if you please. The purpose is to corral the pig to a small enough spot that you don't have to do a marathon to catch.

I've had pigs that loved to be held, but made you work like a dog to catch them. I think it's a game of "catch me if you can."  I'm sure the pigs enjoy it, I don't.

Let me know if this helps ease your problem. And don't worry about them forgetting who you are or not wanting to be held by you anymore. Even the sweetest pig will make a run for it when they think they're going to be caught. As I said, I think it's often just a game for them.  

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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.

Experience

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.

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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.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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