So you just bought a pair of guinea pigs, and they refuse to live in harmony?
There are a number of things that can set off these apparently docile and adorable rodents.
By taking action early, you can nip the problem in the bud. You can also stop a fight in its tracks if evasive maneuvers don’t work.
Why Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting?
Guinea pigs or cavies are generally social animals, which is why they make amazing pets.
While most are perfectly content living with their kind, fights are not uncommon.
Common reasons that can trigger a fight include the following:
- You have a female and two males vying for her attention.
- Your guinea pigs are not neutered, which makes them aggressive.
- A dominant male tries to assert his dominance over a docile male after moving in. While this may be necessary, it can lead to a fight if the other male gets fed up.
- Your guinea pigs’ cage is filthy and they are hungry most of the time.
Contrary to popular belief, both males and females can end up in a fight when they are trying to assert dominance.
Males are just more aggressive about it. If you want more than guinea pigs, you need to acclimatize them to each other first.
Do this by introducing the guinea pigs to each other in an open environment that neither can claim.
That way, they won’t fight for space and will sniff each other to say hello. During this time, they will also mark each other with their scents.
Females that are in heat can get aggressive in a cage with other guinea pigs to establish dominance over the limited space.
While this is normal, if the guinea pig refuses to back down, separating her in a different cage is a good idea.
What to Do When Your Guinea Pigs Are Fighting
If your cavies start to fight in front of you, your first instinct will be to separate them. You don’t want them to get seriously injured, after all.
However, those sharp teeth and claws will injure your exposed hands.
So, before you try and pry them apart and get bitten in the process, wear thick gloves.
Once you get your hands in between them, grab the dominant guinea pig and place it in a different cage.
Plus, keep the cage in an area where the other guinea cannot see it. That way, you can calm both of them down without injury.
Make sure that their cages have food and water that can distract them. An eating guinea pig is a calm guinea pig because they are always hungry!
Add some toys to refocus their attention, once they have eaten, to tire them out faster.
After the guinea pigs have calmed down, check them for injuries. If you broke the spat early, you may not find any wounds at all.
If not and you find serious injuries, take them to the vet immediately for treatment.
After returning from the vet, don’t place the cavies together immediately.
They should be kept apart for a whole day at least to cool down completely and then reintroduce them.
How to Prevent Guinea Pigs from Fighting Each Other
Most guinea pigs fight when they are neglected, bored, or have a limited food supply.
If your guinea pigs are precious to you, you should take measures that can prevent violent altercations.
Here are some things you can do to calm your cavies:
Give Them Space
While you should separate fighting cavies immediately, doing so will take a toll on them.
Nip the problem in the bud by creating small hiding places for them in their cage.
That way, each cavy will have a space it can claim as its own and won’t have to fight over.
Even though these furry rodents are herd animals, they are also quite territorial.
A retreat that remains in one place will make your guinea pigs more comfortable and free of anxiety.
Feed Them Regularly
Guinea pigs should be given a 1/8 cup of pellets per day.
If yours is pregnant or nursing, it should have a continuous supply to keep its strength up to take care of its pups.
If the amount of food is insufficient, they will fight amongst themselves for scraps.
Supplement their diet with veggies and make sure they have enough water to remain hydrated and calm.
An empty cage is a boring cage. Make it stimulating for your guinea pigs by adding balls, toys, logs, hay, and branches that they can crawl under or toss around.
These will act as distractions and keep your cavies from getting bored.
If they do get bored, they will try to find stimulation and turn on one another to get it.
Take them out of their cage regularly to give them a change of scenery and allow them to explore. It will tire them out and keep them happy at the same time.
Ideal Guinea Pig Combinations
While cavies love to live with their own kind, a small herd will be happier than a large one.
So if you are looking for a companion for your lonely pig, you should consider a few things before heading to a pet store or shelter.
For example, if your pet is shy and meek, get a female that has the same nature. A dominant one may bully her.
Similarly, don’t get a boar that has the same characteristics as yours does or you will be breaking a lot of fights.
However, you can get a calm male as a companion for a stronger female.
If you have several females but don’t want them to get pregnant, get a neutered male as a companion for them.
The male will be more relaxed than the females which will have a calming effect on them as well.
Unsuitable Guinea Pig Combinations
The worst thing you can do is get more cavies without checking if your existing ones can get along with them or not.
There are some combinations you should avoid. For example, don’t keep three boars together whether they are siblings or not.
They will start out fine, but will turn on one another eventually. One of them will be bullied at least.
Similarly, don’t get a younger male piglet as a companion for an older boar.
The youngster will be fine at first but will try and assert its dominance on the old-timer when it matures sexually.
This can lead to one-sided fights where your aging cavy will get seriously injured or worse.
Besides more cavies, keeping rabbits with guinea pigs may seem like a cute idea, but it can also prove deadly.
Even though the two species won’t fight, the smaller guinea pig may get kicked to death by the larger rabbit as it runs about the cage or hutch.
Plus, cavies are vocal unlike rabbits and continuous one-sided communication will depress them.
How to Introduce Guinea Pigs to Each Other
The best way to prevent your guinea pigs from fighting newcomers is by introducing them in the open.
Rather than plopping them down in front of each other and possibly scaring them, allow them to run outside their cage.
This will give them time to stretch their legs and explore a territory that neither of them has claimed.
If you have a yard, allow them to run around in the grass to distract and stimulate them.
The herd mentality will kick in and they will interact with the new pigs without getting aggressive.
Just make sure that you don’t leave them unsupervised. Predators, such as eagles, can swoop down and whisk them away.
If you introduce them indoors, make sure they have enough space to move around in.
Before placing them back in the cage, update it by adding toys, tunnels, and other hiding areas they can explore or claim.
Make sure there are enough for all of your cavies or you will have a turf war on your hands.
If your guinea pigs refuse to get along despite efforts, separate them by adding a wire mesh that divides the cage in two.
That way they can remain calm and communicate with each other without getting into physical altercations.
Once they are used to each other’s presence, remove the mesh.
This setup will also work if you want to introduce a male and female with one another for mating purposes.
Otherwise, they may start nipping at each other as soon as they are placed in a cage together.
Guinea pigs can be amazing pets but they can get violent with one another if you don’t respect their boundaries.
The best thing you can do is ensure their basic needs are covered and don’t be greedy.
If your lone cavy is happy on its own and is docile, don’t get a dominant one as a companion for it. Remember, a safe cavy is a happy cavy.
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