Saturday, October 28, 2017

Past Pignics: Pig Piles

This oatmeal box is just so fascinating.
This is the second post in a series of past Boston Pignics.  Today's focus is the cuteness of pig piles.

Guinea pigs are herd animals, and we get to see the dynamics at pignics.  If one pig finds something interesting, then it must be good.  And if it's good, then everyone wants it.  I will often hear squeals of indignation or discomfort as too many pigs try to stuff themselves into a cozy or a pigloo.  As you can see, oatmeal boxes are popular - there's already two pigs in there.  The other four pigs look like they're awaiting their turn, or maybe taking bets who will get ousted first.

Nose and butts
The problem is, the Really Good Thing may be kind of small for more than one pig to squeeze into.  Which doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent when guinea pigs are involved.  They will wedge themselves in, then wail or bite if things get too tight.  Often, it's where they really want to be:  I've pulled pigs out of overstuffed containers just to have them jump back in again.  At some point you just leave them to work it out amongst themselves.

Guinea pigs also have a firm belief that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence... or under another guinea pig's nose.  So even with plenty of space, they will often flock together.  There's always a few pigs that are happy to be in their own space (especially towards the end of the pignic, as the grass coma sets in).  But most of them will be hanging out with at least one other pig in company.

Cooler weather also brings pigs together.  That was the trigger for the massive pile of white and brown fur in the lower left photo.  One of our early fall pignics was held well into October.  It was a beautiful sunny day, but it was breezy and only the mid-60s.  We set up the pens in sunny spots, and the ground was warm, but the pigs were happiest in these massive pig piles.  I remember one little one complaining about being squished along the grids, but she refused to budge (she was pulled out at some point, but we found her back there again!). 

There's a paper bag in that photo, as well.  When the squealing got too much, we gently dumped out eleven sows.  Unfortunately, doing so shredded the bag, and no one was happy.  As cute as this was, we learned from this experience, and now cancel the pignic if the temperature is too cool or windy.

This last photo is back when we set up the boar and sow cages next to each other.  It's a favorite of mine - I like the green grass, and the direct overhead shot of the grid barrier.  Poor Wally is on one side, trying to impress the girls, while they appear to be gossiping together.

I've been asked often (especially in the years that it seemed like everyone had an orange and white piggy) if anyone has taken the wrong guinea pig home.  And looking at these photos, I can see why.  It looks like chaos.  But every caretaker recognizes they subtle differences in their pig.  In the 15 years of Boston pignics, we have yet to have anyone take the wrong piggy home, or accidentally leave one behind.

Scores of guinea pigs, all burbling and grousing with each other is one of the big draws to the pignics.  Some snuggle, others treat each other like adversaries.  The dynamics and the variety are so much fun to watch.  There is always something to see at a pignic.


  1. So interesting to read about herd dynamics in non-caprine herds! A lot of differences, but also a lot of similarities :)

  2. Not related to pig piles, but there's my Scooby looking like a majestic little buffalo in the lower left. She was such an awesome pig.


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