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Aggressive guinea pig

(25 Posts)
regenerationfez Fri 18-Dec-15 17:09:34


We have two guinea pigs, brothers, who are nearly 5 months old. One of them (now known as Fat Matt!) is much bigger than the other (Stuart), and is clearly the dominant one. They sometimes have a bit of a barney but are OK. Yesterday, they had a massive fight and Stuart ended up with a ripped ear and a scratch to the head. We have had them inside for the winter but have been letting them roam around in the house for a bit every couple of days so they don't go stir crazy. I don't know what to do about the aggression, or the ripped ear. It seems to be healing OK, but I'm worried about him. We are away over Christmas and our neighbour is looking after them. I'm not sure about whether to take Stuart with us but it's quite a long journey, and they might be lonely apart,

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 18-Dec-15 18:32:09

they are at The Awkward Age (in our house we call it The Kevin Years)

5 month boars are entering full blown adolescence (though our boars had a barney at a year & a bit, our first winter with them)

How big is their sleeping area ( not their play area but the space they are locked into) . I found my boars were very judgey of a 4'x2' which is the 'standard' size for two adults.

If you seperate them (as in taking one away with you) then you'll have two lonely piggies.
How long are you away for?

They don't choose the best time to have a scuffle do they little gits

We put a divide in the cage for the first winter with GP1 and GP2 (so they had a small sleeping space each -not ideal I know) but they went out to their Pighouse every day so they had room to get out of each others' faces.

In your shoes-
I'd maximise their sleeping area however I could.
Bath them if they're indoors to make them smell neutral
Do a rebond - introduce them again on neutral territory.

For the sake of your neighbour's sanity , you might need to keep them apart physically but within talking range and vision. They need to communicate .
You won't be there to keep a stern eye on them but at least they won't have any punch-ups.

Of course you'll need to re-introduce them afterwards............. so hopefully between now and then they're more amicable.

What helped ours was - two boxes stuffed with hay . Their 'own' space and food to keep them busy.
Not allowing one to trap the other. So escape routes cut into the boxes.
A cover over the cage at night.

And it was our little boar GP2 who picked the fight . Too much coriander and hormones.

We had a boar who was a piglet when we got him but wasn't aggressive, just kept trying to mount his older cagemate (GP1)

Worse in Spring too......................

regenerationfez Fri 18-Dec-15 19:17:49

They have a standard indoor cage from pets @home that they said was suitable for two but we were going to get them a double decker hutch for outside in the spring. Maybe we'll get a little cage too while we're away and keep them next to each other. We've put an upturned shoe box in too but they are both going in it at the moment!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 18-Dec-15 19:51:34

The cages in most pet stores are way too small really (my DD calls them litterboxes with a lid). Minimum for boars I'd say 4'x2'

(My furbabies have a Playhouse with over 6'6" x 6'6" floorspace. We'd had combinations of either two boars or a neutered boar + two sows. They grow to fill the spaces grin )
Ours sleep in the indoor cage at night , minor grumbles (usually from the sows ) but no scrapping.

Have a look on Gumtrre for cages, loads of people sell them off , give them a clean and a spray with some cage cleaner (or a steamer). There might be people selling them off so their DC don't nag them for a new pet. Or need the space.

Double decker hutches work for some pigs. At the moment you have two energetic babies. They'll turn into Lardy Boars who'll look judgily at the ramp and say "What? Up there? ... Climb? "

Boars are lovely. Once they settle they are the snuggliest love sponges.

regenerationfez Sat 19-Dec-15 00:23:37

well, We've separated them and put two dates next to each other so they can chitter away and see each other's they have spent the evening staring at each other through the bars and trying to get to the other cage! They have even tried biting through the bars!! They seem to have calmed down now. I just feel so bad now separating them but they were getting really aggressive! I don't know why I'm surprised- they remind me of my human boys- fight endlessly but try putting them in separate rooms and they get very upset grin

differentnameforthis Sat 19-Dec-15 07:24:17

It won't improve now, op. You have to keep them apart.

Contrary to popular belief, Gpigs don't need to be kept in pairs.

regenerationfez Sat 19-Dec-15 13:09:41

Do you mean ever? ?? We were going to reintroduce them or join their two cages so they can be together or escape if they need to

fortifiedwithtea Sat 19-Dec-15 15:55:18

differentnameforthis what expert source are you quoting from? It goes against what the Rescue nearby me and my experience of guinea pigs.

A lone guinea pig can go into depression very quickly, they are by nature a herd animal.

However they can live fulfilled lives living side by side where they can see, smell and hear each other. My Old Boy (too old to neuter) and his girl friends proved this.

regenerationfez if the boys can't be bonded again without fighting they will be fine to live side by side.

Alteratively, it they are young, neuter them so they can each have a sow.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 19-Dec-15 19:17:54

regen there are loads of PigMums who've had sparring boars and got them back together (*Fernies boys were apart and re-introduced, dietcoke had to go down the neuter route but her boars are paired up with sows now)

My boars were a year when I got them, they were fone once they sorted themselves out.

The main problem I can see is it is it's a bust time of year (can't be helped , it's Christmas) and they honestly don't do it on purpose wink , if you're away then yoiur NDN won't be able to keep a close eye other than feed/clean.

In your shoes I'd keep them apart until you can get back to rebond but not take one away.
If they are side by siding they have company.

Then you go back to basics (there are lots of guinea-bonding/guinea-fight threads). It's terrifying to watch and even worse to hear them knocking & shades out of each other.

Rebonding means everything neutral.
Scrub the bejesus out of their cage (and I'd 100% put my money on the size of your cage being an issue. I've been in P@H. I'm not enamoured TBH)

Bath them. Gorgeous Guineas shampoo. Strong smell ( Just for Boars maybe. I bought Cedar and Lemongrass to bnd my trio)

Empty paddling pool or similar enclosed space. Pile of hay. Keep an eye of them. Prepare to intervene if you need to, I'd keep a spray water bottle (mind their eyes/ears) to squoosh them) and a towel to throw between/over if they start.

It might be that your little boys can't live together . But it's worth a try.

D'you wonder why so many 5-6 month boars end up on Gumtree? Do these owners all suddenly get allergies/new jobs/new landlords?
Nope. Their pigs reach puberty.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 19-Dec-15 19:19:25

fone -fine

regenerationfez Sat 19-Dec-15 23:06:15

Thanks! I'll definitely try reintroducing them when we are back and try concocting a double cage for them and seeing if that works. When are they out of puberty? I can live with them being separate I just don't want them to injure each other!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 19-Dec-15 23:42:36

It's hard to say but this time (the 5-6 months ) is when alot of them kick off.

We've had a couple of really 'boary' boars (GP1 and GP3) very prowly, rumblestrutty. GP1 went straight into the clean cage and always did a marking pee , even if he had just peed he squeezed something out. They both had the distinctive (not unpleasant) boar smell.
They weren;t boar aggressive. (but GP3 was a dominance mounter)
It was GP2, Mild Mannered like Hong Kong Phooey -until... pow

Our currant boy was in Rescue , neutered after fighting his brother. He is the most laid back soppy article , puts up with the sows barging him out the way, climbing over him and literally taking food from his mouth.

The sows though, sometimes have a snipe at each other.
DD and I were cuddling them on the kitchen floor. The ladies kept trying to leap off my leg onto the other one hmm

differentnameforthis Sun 20-Dec-15 00:01:08

Reintroduction of fighting boars has never gone well in my experience (over 20+ yrs of having GP). Once they have started it is very unlikely that they will be peaceful again.

And I am quoting from my own experience, re not having to have pairs. I have had many & we are often down to one, after some die, and they live very happy little lives, quite little one I have now is no where near depressed & she has been a loner for over a year.

FernieB Sun 20-Dec-15 19:44:22

My original boys fought a bit as teens, but I did not separate them and let them work it out. One if them lost a small bit of ear but ended up top pig. A few months later he injured his leg and they had to be separated so he could rest it properly. I managed to get them back together quite easily although there was a lovely incident when they were rolling round on the floor biting each other.

Keep them within sight and sound of each other at all times and you should be able to get them back together later.

There's plenty of us here that have been through it.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 20-Dec-15 20:28:50

I recalled a leg related seperation with your pigs Fernie, I know you got them back together sucessfully.

There was BonkeyMollocks too that had horrendous trouble with BigPig/LittlePig (after being wrongly adviced that boars must live alone)
Last I heard they were living as a pair.

It is worth reading up on the levels/stages regen of Boar:Boar aggression.

Often it's noise and bluster but it has escalation stages that you need to be aware of.

Our GP2 got his teeth into GP1 back, miraculously no wounding but that's a pretty full on attack.
He was usually a very mild, sedate boy.
They lived together fine, they had their space to get out of each others faces which is vital.

I think alot of owners forget the fact that 2 boars (or a single pig for that matter) is a very artificial existance. In their natural state they wouldn't live like that.
Domestication has created these situations for them,, so we have to deal with it.
Always with the best unterests of the animals concerened,

regenerationfez Mon 21-Dec-15 09:47:04

Thanks! I definitely want to try reintroducing them. We were going to get them a double decker outdoor hutch for the spring, and it seems a bit pointless to get two separate ones. My SIL has a neutered male and female living together. She's a get so I'll bask her advice when I see her at Christmas. I will bread up on boar:boar aggression.

FernieB Mon 21-Dec-15 10:52:17

Don't give up on them. They've lived together in the past and should be able to again with a bit of patience, a lot of parsley and an increase in your stress levelsgrin. A lot of people give up on boars as soon as they show any sign of aggression and separate straight away. When I was trying to boar match my Scruffypig, an 'experienced' rescue owner only allowed him in with a new boar until teeth chattering happened as she thought that was a sign they were incompatible. I tried to tell her teeth chattering is normal daily boar life but she insisted it wasn't. Incidentally she had a mass array of hutches all containing a single boar as she couldn't bond any of them. I had success at a better rescue where my Scruffy was allowed to chatter, mount, rumble strut and generally show off to his hearts content for over an hour with his new friend.

With his previous companion, daily arguments were normal as was the odd nip. They have to decide who's boss and then maintain that status so a bit of argy bargy is expected.

Always give them separate hidey holes so they can have their own space. If the arguing is bad, separate food bowls could help. Also bath them so they smell the same and thoroughly clean out the cage so it's neutral and doesn't just smell of one of them. Moving things around inside it confuses them into thinking its new too.

When you reintroduce, fur may fly initially, but watch them carefully and give them fresh veggies as a distraction. If they start fighting and it looks nasty, never go in with your hands as you could get a nasty bite. Throw a towel over them first to confuse them. Luckily pigs are easily confused and distracted with food.

regenerationfez Mon 21-Dec-15 11:24:21

Thanks. I'll try that. They are in separate cages for a week over Christmas while we are away but are next to each other. Is that too long?

FernieB Mon 21-Dec-15 13:39:39

Can they see each other at all? It should be fine for a week. My original boys were separated completely for one week and then separated but in the same run for two weeks. They'd eat next to each other.

regenerationfez Mon 21-Dec-15 22:31:10

Yes they can. They are often to be seen gazing lovingly at each other through their bars, forgetting their scufflesgrin

starry0ne Mon 21-Dec-15 22:42:40

I had 2 boars...Got on fabulously till about your Boars age... Things I did ( after advice) was made sure they had two water and 2 feeding bowls...Indoor cages are tiny... Mine live outside ..We have an inuslation cover for winter..

One has now died and the other is living very happily on his own..

differentnameforthis Tue 22-Dec-15 03:12:14

A lot of people give up on boars as soon as they show any sign of aggression and separate straight away. I didn't give up on my first set of aggressive boars until instant, regular fighting started. I am talking pretty aggressive, then after that any boars that were even slightly aggressive with each other, we DID separate for good, almost instantly, because it isn't in the pigs best interests to be fighting on a regular basis.

They get stressed very easily, and constantly trying to reintroduce boars, is imo, very stressful for them.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 22-Dec-15 09:22:57

if you phone or email some Rescues for advice (offer a donation, it's Christmas fgrin )
Outline the situation and ask for some tips on going about re-introducing (they'll be busy so ask them to get back to you when they can)

The Rescue we got our little furries from will always give advice for the pigs' lifetime.
They will try and boarmatch when they get a new consignment , often a mixed group/mixed ages.
They do end up neutering boars if they can't match them , I think it's easier to rehome a boar+sow/s if they're already established. Their vets will neuter at a discount and sadly, some won't make it but that's a calculated risk.

Make sure you keep your sparring teens away from SIL female pig!!! (Maybe that's why so many Rescues end up being snipped. There are females in rescue and it drives them batty? )

Our boars had one vicious fight (I blame the excess coriander I gave them , rather stupid of me I realised later ) then we sorted their living arrangements, took away any potential hotspots like narrow doorways in boxes , trapping at foodbowls.

I am glad we gave them the option to rebond TBH, they were lovely together and GP1 got very fretful even if we took GP2 out of the run away from him. He;d stand watch in the run while GP2 slept on the grass.
When GP2 died, GP1 was miserable until we got GP3.

HarveysMum22 Tue 22-Dec-15 19:13:56

Hi, have had guinea pigs for many years and had the same problem as you, (although we had 4 male piggies in a double cage so could easily separate the ones that did not get on as well). Couple of short term solutions may be to separate into two cages and them swap them round so each cage gets both scents, bathe them to get neutral smell, feed them fresh snack together in a neutral setting (on the sofa on a towel for example). Could let them argue it out for a little while keeping a water squirted close in case things get too heated, this seemed to work for us.

Long term solution would be to have them neutered, although make sure you select a good vet piggies are very temperamental when under anaesthetic. This worked with ours but make sure the vet in competent in guinea pig surgery

PurpleDaisies Tue 22-Dec-15 19:18:54

Neutering doesn't usually make any difference to boars who are fighting. Ours continued after they were neutered, although it does mean they could be paired up with lady pigs.

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