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Guineas fighting... what should I do?

(25 Posts)
simonthedog Wed 05-Dec-12 16:49:02

So I have 2 male guinea pigs. One is about 2 1/2 and the other is just over 1. They have lived happily together for the last year outside in the hutch and last winter in their indoor cage.
Last week with the onset of the cold weather I brought them inside again in the indoor cage just like last winter. After 2 days I noticed the younger one trying to hump the older one and about an hour after that they started fighting and the older one bit the younger one on his neck, below his mouth, drawing blood.
I immediately separated them putting the younger one back outside in the hutch. Two days later I tried to put them back together again inside. Straightaway they both made a stange clicking noise i've never heard before and within the hour they were properly fighting. Both are okay but obviously I've separated them again.
What do I need to do? I'd like them to live together. Is the cage too small? although they were in it together last winter. Should I get one or both castrated. Or must they now live separately. Am also worried that one is now still outside and it's cold. Although we are by the sea and it's not as cold as some places. Please help.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 05-Dec-12 17:10:56

Oooh sad.

OK - to recap (hope this is right, this is how I'm reading it)
Last year your Pig 1 would've been 1.5 and your Pig 2 would've been a piglet baby boar?
Fine inside the cage together.
Then over the summer, your baby hits The Teens (about 6 months). Probably no problem outside, lots of space for them to get away from each other.

But now they're in close confines possibly warmer and less to keep them occupied.

The trouble with separating them away from vision/hearing is when they get together you have to 're-introduce' them. So they squabble.
How big is your indoor cage?

Can you get a bigger area than you can split up if you need to?
Don't spend the money and the risk of surgery getting them neutered for the aggression.It makes no difference. If you wanted to pair them up with a couple of sows (and have two boar/sow pairs) then fair enough. But it won't stop males fighting.

My boars (brothers 2 yo) were little gits in their indoor cage last year. We got them a 4'x2' and they were a bit 'in each others faces' but have a huge fight after pigging out on coriander (my mild mannered Abbysynian boy started it)
We put a thick grid between them, but they went out to their Pighouse every day where they've got loads of space.
When they saw a Rodentologist this summer she said "don't seperate them".
They were nightmares over Guy Fawkes indoors.But they've had to come in at night now. I put two boxes in and put a duvet over the cage.They're in my small bedroom, away from the radiator so they don't get too warm.
They have a heater in their outside house.I don't want them huddling up in the hay all day.They'd be worse at night through boredom.
BonkeyMollocks (she had a Christmas name now) has her boars side-by-side but hers are younger and IIRC the trouble started when her LittlePig got puberty.

It's a shame to seperate them if they've got on before.
Is it possible for them to have a neutral area to re-establish themselves? Then more cage space and hiding spaces.
And if you can keep them warm after give them a bath (Gorgeous Guineas "Just For Boars" shampoo is nice) to make them smell the same?

And FOOD. I'm shock how much my boys will scoff at night when they've got food all day, and they should be sleeping hmm

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 05-Dec-12 17:13:50

And I find it never hurts to remind the guineas that it's Christmas in a few weeks and they taste like chicken.

Just why do you think I'm giving you parsley , boars?

simonthedog Wed 05-Dec-12 17:24:59

Thank you for your reply. You are right about the ages. I think it is the cage that is too small. It is only 2x3. I will get a bigger one. The cage is in my daughter's bedroom, it is quite warm although i have turned the radiator down to it's lowest setting and they are not right next to it. It is interesing what you say about neutering so I won't go down that route.
I did read somewhere before that bathing them together can make them bond.
I have had a stern word with them but they don't seem to be listening!

guineapiglet Thu 06-Dec-12 20:04:36

Hi Simon - I reckon the cage is far too small for two growing guineas, especially boys who seem to need more space to be in charge of their territory?! Do try Freecycle or Gumtree in your area, people are always getting rid of cages/runs and you might find some better ones there- they might be scrapping because they are bored and if they have their own space they wont be at each other all the time - also igloos are quite useful for dividing the space up, although this can lead to fights about whose igloo it is. IF in doubt, offer food!

<gets drawn into thread>

I agree, it sounds to me like a mixture of less space/ a change of environment/ and hormones are the issue.

I have done buckets and buckets and buckets of research about boy pigs.

If you want to try and get them back together then try a bath together (to make them smell the same), then pop them into a cage that has been scrubbed within a inch of its life so there is no 'one pig' smell. A new cage would be fab!

No tunnels, no houses, 2 food bowls, 2 water bottles, loads and loads of hay and veg and hope for the best! If there is nothing in there for the time being then there is nothing for them to get arsey over and nothing to pin each other in.

Now - the problem you may have like me is nerves! I have done the above twice! The second time resulted in two bleeding pigs and was (to put it politely) fucking awful!

Since then they have been side by side, (at the moment one on top of t'other to make way for the impending christmas tree) , which they seem very content with. they run in the kitchen with a divide down the middle every day.

My problem - Once LittlePig pushed the divide down and got with BigPig, I very nearly shit my pants - but I armed myself with water spray (to squirt the hell out of them if they started) and sat watching them like a hawk. There were a few dodgy moments which I diffused quickly, every time LittlePig tried to hump BigPig I shouted hmm .

What i actually need to do is leave them to it and let them sort out the boss role, but.....I'm scared and atm my nerves can't take it! It could be fine - but all I see if them fighting until death shock or until they both need vet treatment and make me bankrupt!

Neutering will do bugger all for mood, only do it if you are getting wives, and even then, really think about it because its a big op for such a small animal!

I'm sure I read somewhere that a dog diffuser thing (maybe cat? Must check!) may help? I will be trying this in the new year.

And avoid piggy crack like Parsley and Coriander. I know 70's GP" had a slight 'moment' after coriander and my LittlePig would kill a dog to keep his parsley. The first time LittlePig was brave enough to nip BigPig was after his first taste of Parsley. hmm
Stick to safe boring things like peppers and leaves wink

DizzyHoneyBee Sat 08-Dec-12 16:38:47

We got a new piggy two months ago, she's horrible to the male we already had and it looks like she's going to have to go back to the rescue centre sad
The teeth chattering is a sign of aggression unfortunately.

Our two are horrible together, the male is docile but the female goes and attacks him just for being there and she pulls out mouthfuls of fur and that's when they are on neutral ground in the lounge. She won't even sit on my knee next to him without biting him and he will no longer go near her - he's scared of her sad

Floralnomad Sat 08-Dec-12 16:45:52

My mum had 2 girl piggies ( sisters) who shared a huge inside cage . After a couple of months they had an almighty scrap which resulted in them having to live side by side in separate huge cages. The reason I'm responding is that ours was also bitten through the neck and ended up with a massive abscess that took 2 operations and in the end daily packing with honey to heal, so please keep an eye on the wound.

guineapiglet Sun 09-Dec-12 15:20:50

dizzy I think your girl is trying to tell you she is very stressed by having the male so close to her, his presence may be causing her to act like this - I would really recommend splitting them up - he may be trying to hump her when you are not around and her behaviour suggests she is finding him too stressful to be near......I am sorry to hear they are not getting on but it would be very unusual for a boy and girl to get on without some kind of power struggle. It is quite unusual for sisters to fight in such an agressive way, I am surprised flora, do hope she is recovered by now.

agnesf Tue 11-Dec-12 23:52:57

It must be the season. My married couple seem to have fallen out too and bossy big girl is bullying not so tough boar. Every time I sneak in to see them he is outside of the hay filled house (the have an indoor house & run) making rumbly noises and doing stealth walk but going all wimpy when I try to shuffle him into the cosy hay house . I am considering giving him a batchelor pad at other end of run

Floralnomad Tue 11-Dec-12 23:58:39

guinea yes we were surprised as well as we'd always ad pairs quite happily before. The biter actually had to be PTS early this year but the other one is 6 this Christmas and she's fabulous .

KRITIQ Wed 12-Dec-12 00:53:41

Dizzy, I think guineapiglet might be right about what the sow is doing. Sometimes pigs just don't get along (just like people don't!)

I don't know if there might be a change in the weather, change in amount of daylight or something like that involved as well in pigs changing "mood." Mine will go through periods of "having words" (which can include teeth chattering, which doesn't actually escalate to physical altercations, so it's not hopeless if that does happen,) 2 or 3 times a day, to weeks on end of harmony and bliss, mutual grooming, cuddling, etc. Pigs are funny that way!

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 10:21:03

Hi all- firstly, sorry flora didnt realise your biter was no longer with us, bless her - but glad to hear girl2 is thriving and hope you have a lovely Christmas with her - maybe the biter was aggressive because she was ill - their behaviour is affected, like us, with environment, wellbeing, contentment etc agnes I think a bachelor pad is a good idea, girls do get very broody and stroppy at times, and they do fight/get arsey when they are cooped up in a small space when they can't get out - we are the same really! - If they are busy and occupied they dont turn on each other in the same way. Also opposite sex relationships can get strained at this time of year, is it a breeding time of year? <sounds like a marriage guidance counsellor!>

Kritiq - you always make me laugh, perhaps your boys deserve the nobel peace prize! - I did like the description of them 'having words' - I guess their teeth are the only weapons they have really, but the noise this can make can be amazing - does show that they are grumpy and getting their point of view across. - Just like us they are affected by the weather and this cold snap has been a miserable time for guineas, altho' most on these threads dont realise how lucky they are being cossetted indoors!smile

<goes back to plans for guinea exerciser>

Floralnomad Wed 12-Dec-12 15:37:46

No she did the biting and then lived for another 4 years ! The bitee has actually been very ill this year and we did think we would lose her but I think she's actually immortal!

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 18:35:23

flora sorry your special girl has had a bad year, she is a grand old age and I hope she gets lots of pampering and attention, do give her a hug from me! They do get all sorts of funny things but seem to pootle on especially where food is concerned and they have lots of love.

DizzyHoneyBee Wed 12-Dec-12 19:31:03

sorry to hear she's had a bad year Flora

We've now got a new cage, we're yet to put it up, which will accommodate them both but it's much bigger and has a divider down the middle so they can see each other but not touch so we will see how they get on with that. If that doesn't work then it is back to the rescue centre sad

FernieB Fri 14-Dec-12 15:17:41

Good luck with them Dizzy. Hope they get on okay.

We have 2 boys who, although not brothers, have always lived together. We adopted them when they were 6 months old after their previous owners gave them up because one of them was sick (Smooth pig). They went through a rough stage around 8 months old when they fought like mad - Smooth pig is the biggest and Scruffy pig kept challenging him. Since then they've been fine, but just recently Scruffy is at it again. After reading this thread I'm wondering if it could be the time of year as they were 8 months old this time last year.

Luckily Smooth is a tough cookie and largely ignores Scruffy and so far we've not had any major issues. They are like the Odd Couple - don't get on, but don't like to be apart.

simonthedog Sat 15-Dec-12 19:31:58

Thanks for your replies every one and I hope all your piggies settle down.

So to update. I bought a great big new indoor cage. I set it all up with lots of food hay etc. I got them both together and bathed them in the bath. They were fine at this point, probably terrified i would imagine. Then I dried them and then put them both in the new cage at the same time. They were okay for about 1 minute then the teeth chattering started within 5 minutes they were fighting again nastily. They were just like one big rolling furball. It is quite frightening. I had put big thick gardening gloves on so I split them up again and they are now in their separate cages in the same room!

I don't suppose any of you guinea experts are in swansea are you? Or know of a mn guinea pig expert who is?

Oh dear sad

My dh threw a cushion at ours when they did this and I always have a water spray handy to take the lid off and chuck over them .

What's the plan next?

Can you keep them as they are? My two are in the same set up and are fine. Not ideal - but they are content. They take up loads of room though.

simonthedog Sat 15-Dec-12 19:52:17

They could stay as they are but they do take up a big space now and it's double the cleaning out! I don't know what to do. They really go for it when they are fighting, they don't look like they would stop of their own accord. It's so strange when they were happy for so long. sad

Well, you could boar date - get them a mate from a rescue/breeder etc but would you give one up? Or do for both?

Neutering is another option and get wives. get a decent vet though!

Try again - not foolproof. You could still have the same result. I have tried mine a few times now...

Keep them as they are?

Bloody pigs!!!!

simonthedog Sat 15-Dec-12 20:24:13

I'm definitely not getting any more, what if they fought too i'd end up with loads of guineas all in separate cages!!! So will keep them in separate cages in the same room. Maybe i'll try them again in a few days. Giving one up would be difficult. My favourite is the older one but my DD who is 5 prefers the younger one.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 15-Dec-12 20:56:32

It might be that you need to side-by-side them while they are in.
I always put mine out in the Pighouse by day with heat pads in winter last year.
I know they still squabble , but they are the same age even though GP1 is 50% bigger than his brother.

They were in their rabbit run (in the garage) with lots of boxes and tunnels for a play today.
Even when they are happy with lots of toys and a pile of hay they still did the squaring up.

Of course that is nothing like the extremes of your pigs behaviour.
But hopefully if you can side-by-side them and they still see/smell/hear each other they will settle.

There's a website called Barmy4Boars. You could email them?
They have lots of boar-keeping volunteers. They could give you some advice.
Lots of pig stories of 'boar-dating' but even some of these pairings didn't work.

I think if mine did go back to their arsey ways -and winter has only just started here.They've been in at night for a week so I'm still on eggshells- I'd put their barrier in again.
I'd rather they had the reduced space and be safe. In the Pighouse they've got 'get out' room.

guineapiglet Sun 16-Dec-12 14:45:55

It is upsetting when they fight like this, I have witnessed it and it is horrible, plus you dont want one getting so stressed they have heart attack ( I have seen a guinea die of a heart attack and it was extremely distressing) - I think it is the proximity to each other which causes the Alpha male behaviour and as you will see from others' comments, it can be when boars reach a certain maturity - it would not be something I would want to see, but as you say, it is much more work having them side by side, but for many this is the best option - it might be they will settle down with this kind of separation, the key is really lots of neutral space, like the run of the garden, where they are not confined but can escape when needed. I have had to integrate a number of girls over the years, and it is very time consuming and unpleasant to watch when they start at each other, - read up on the Barmy4Boars and see what their best advice is. From my experience of girls, it takes lots of time, lots of together time and lots of separation time until the balance is right. You are doing the right thing keeping them apart but seeing each other, Bonkeys experience with her two recently shows that it is hard work and requires alot of input from their human 'parents'. Keep going! Really hope they settle for you.

DizzyHoneyBee Sun 16-Dec-12 18:05:13

We have had our male neutered, as of today they are in the side by side cage and we have opened the door in the dividing wall. They are alternating between squeaking to each other nose to nose at the wall and teeth chattering. They venture into the other half and are fine for a bit and then fight and go to their own half. Each time we have them out or have the divider open we are putting them back in the other half and closing the divider so neither of them see one half as their own territory. The cage is the size for 2 guinea pigs but with the divider they don't have enough space so I hope we can leave it out soon.

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