Katie's Journal

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Pig 3

by @ 9:41 am on September 2, 2006.

Around a month ago (give or take) I was at the barn talking with Nancy. We were discussing how old our bunnies were, and Nancy was lamenting that since she didn’t want to see hers live alone, she kept buying friends for it, and he kept outliving them. My poor bunny lives alone, but at 9 years old now, I can’t see changing his lifestyle (not to mention I don’t really want another bunny). Anyway, a few days later when I saw Nancy at the barn, she says, “It’s all your fault!,” and then clarified, “Well, not really, but you’ll understand when I tell you.” I thought about for a second, and then asked if her bunny had died. Sure enough, he had. So now she was lamenting she had this guinea pig she’d bought in January, and she wasn’t sure what to do with it. She didn’t want to keep her alone, but also didn’t want to get into buying another friend. She knew I had my two piggies, and asked if I wanted a new pig. I said sure. It took another couple weeks after that for me to hook up with Nancy to pick the pig up, but soon enough she came into the house. So, before I continue on with the story, allow me to introduce Carnival, aka Pig 3:

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If you’ll notice in the picture, Pig 3 has a few strands of long hair sticking out from each ear. Makes her very cute. I don’t know what her name was before (I keep forgetting to ask Nancy), but I renamed her Carnival as it fits in with my other two pigs Calliope and Carousel. Of course, if you ask anyone in the family what their names are, pretty much everyone but me would answer Pigs 1, 2, & 3. At this point, the three pigs all get along quite well. I think my original two are still bonded more to each other than to Pig 3, but I do see them all lying together sometimes. And there remains the occasional scuffle (always between Pig 3 and one of the other two), but nothing major. But it was a process to get there. Not as bad as some storied I’ve read of getting pigs to get along, but still. Here goes.

 

Pig 3 came with her cage, a pet store cage maybe a little over 1/3 the size of the base area of my cage. In there she’d lived with a dwarf rabbit most of her life. Seemed awfully cramped to me, poor thing, but that what most people use, I suppose. Anyway, Laura (Nancy’s daughter) didn’t much like P3, and said she’d been bitten a few times by her. Nancy said she’d never been bitten, but still dubbed P3 “rotten”. Wondering why I took her? I was a little concerned about it at the time, but most pigs by nature are pretty sweet, and I figured it was just a function of the small cage as much as anything (cage size can make a *huge* difference in pig personality, or so I’ve read). Anyway, I think the big problem is that P3 was never handled at all really, and was just scared. It was tough to get her out of the cage the first time – she was obviously terrified of being handled. Anyway, I’d read the best thing to do is introduce them on neutral territory, so I rolled out some vinyl on the floor to protect the carpet, and put P3 in there along with P2 (my less dominant pig). They sniffed at each other, and that was about it. So I added P1, and again the same thing. No fighting, no squealing, they just all huddled together. So I went ahead and put them all in the main cage. Now the fighting began. I should have cleaned the cage out really well first, but I didn’t (shame on me). At this point, no blood was drawn, but there were some pretty spectacular leaps and some nasty screams. P3 ended up hiding in a corner, and P1 lay on the opposite side of the cage, making damn sure P3 didn’t move. Well, that wasn’t going to work, was it? So I got back on the Internet, read some more, and ended up putting the pigs back onto the floor. Once again, they were fine. I completely scrubbed out my cage, and then toted all three pigs into the bathroom for a Buddy Bath. The idea is pigs generally don’t like water. Bathing them together not only makes them all smell the same, but it puts them through a traumatic experience together and helps them bond. Sounds a little silly, but I’ve read it really does work a lot of times. Well, in my case, P1 no longer picked on P3 – P3 now picked on P1! But overall they did seem better, so I let them be. The next morning, I woke up and found P1 had a new cut on her lip, and she was sulking in the top part of the cage, refusing to come down. At that point, I added water and a new hay bin to the upper level, and figured she could stay there as she pleased then, without me worrying if she was still getting enough to eat/drink. She stayed up there for most of the next couple days, and after that things settled down. I still have three bowls for the pigs, so they each have their own, but they wander around and eat out of all the different bowls, often at the same time. P3 has lost some weight, and is looking better. She was getting rather obese from a diet of too many pellets and not enough room to run around. She’s still the worst of the three when trying to pick her up, but she’s getting better. She let me clip her toenails with minimal fuss, and all three pigs now run all around my hand as I give them their meals. Of course, they still tend to run if I reach for them specifically, but that may never go away. Since pigs are prey animals, it’s just their nature to run. But all in all, P3 has settled in nicely at this point, and I have to believe she’s much happier than she was before with her bigger cage to run in, and her new friends. I’d love to make their cage bigger yet – a 2×5 grid cage is recommended for 3 pigs, and mine is a 2×4. Although I do have the upstairs space for them, which I think makes a difference. Still, I always think bigger is better. It’s just that in order to make a bigger cage, I’d have to give up my bed and sleep in a little ball in the middle of the floor. I don’t love my pigs quite enough to do that.

 

Anyway, a few more pictures while I’m posting about my piggies. Here’s an example of a typical breakfast:

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Usually they only get 1 grape tomato, but with it being tomato season, we’re overflowing from the garden, so they got an extra one. They always get their handful of lettuce, and then their veggies include green pepper, carrot, apple, tomato (as mentioned), yams, green beans, peas, cucumber, celery, grapes, blueberries, etc. Of course they don’t get all of that in a day. The first 4 mentioned they get every day, and the rest get alternated in for variety. I’ve read and reread about proper pig diets, and the only controversial part of my diet is the daily piece of apple. Some places I read to give fruit daily, others I read to only give it a couple times a week. So I compromised and give them only a very small piece of apple a day, which is the favorite of all 3 pigs. Next picture is a cute one of Pig 2:

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And here’s a fun picture of Pig 1 running off with a piece of apple. She had to jump over her water dish to get to her own space away from Pig 3 (the pigs do steal food from each other when the occasion arises, even though there’s a bowl full of food right near them):

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And finally, here’s a picture of Kassie, who takes her job as supervisor of the house very seriously:

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