Guinea Pigs are social animals, so they should live in pairs and/or groups of up to twenty others. They need companions when you are not around but at the same time, they fight to the death or even play fight with their cage mates.
Housing Guinea Pigs Together for the first time
It is better if we house guinea pigs of the same gender to avoid any pregnancies. You can’t directly introduce the newly bought guinea pig to the old one or any guinea pig.
First, you have to keep them in a different enclosure for few weeks so that you can analyze their behavior and their health conditions. Also, analyze whether they are calm also whether their behavior meets your expectations.
After that, you have to clean every accessory and the cage of your older guinea pig to remove the scent marks. If not the new one and the already existing one will fight for territory.
Some guinea pigs will always fight if you house them with any other guinea pigs but many will eventually bond with the new guinea pigs. It all depends on the character of the guinea pig.
Before housing together, place the new guinea pig in a separate cage adjacent to the older guinea pig. In this case, they both will get to see and learn without hurting the other. After few weeks if they behave well place both of them in the same cage.
For few weeks you have to closely monitor the pair. Be ready to separate the guinea pigs when they fight. When one of the guinea pigs’ hair stands on the end and chatters the teeth then they are likely to fight.
They will get along eventually but at first, you have to watch them for hours to avoid any aggressive behaviors. Give them treats and rub them with the hay. If you have more games and toys in their cage they will concentrate more on exploring the cage together than fighting.
Still, after several attempts, if your guinea pigs don’t get along then you can keep them in a cage with a mesh partition in the middle. In this way, they can see each other but they won’t fight for their territory. After few days remove the mesh and check whether they get along if not repeat the process.
It is best to have young guinea pigs to the adult guinea pigs. The adult guinea pigs won’t be territorial with the younger ones and will be less threatened.
Guinea Pigs usually get along well, especially if they were from the same litter or caged as babies. They will have strong bonds, sleep together, and play together daily.
The signs of the Guinea Pigs playing together mean that they are having a strong bond between them. They will be happy whenever they play. If they are playing that just means that they are healthy and normal.
But the signs of the fighting of the Guinea Pigs are different. They will bite aggressively, one another around the head and tail areas, usually drawing blood. These fighting Guinea Pigs should be separated immediately before it harms another Guinea Pig.
Reasons for Fighting
Sometimes Guinea Pigs will play fighting and it is absolutely normal. So, this will never cause injury. But sometimes the Guinea Pigs fight for real. The Guinea Pigs’ fight is too rare between their partners as they are bonded. But it can happen without warning. But no need to worry about it. It is quite common in female Guinea Pigs than in Male Guinea Pigs.
Real fighting causes injuries, and sometimes it may also cause death. The reason for most Guinea Pigs fighting is because they have gone through a process called declanning(It is a term for when the clan splits apart).
Signs of fighting
- Puffed-up fur and arched back: This is a clear warning sign that a fight is imminent.
- Chasing: The attacker will chase the subordinate Guinea Pig amd they will be fast and aggressive, accompanied by strikes to the other Guinea Pig.
- Biting: Guinea Pigs that have a real fighting will bite face of each other, rear ends, and tails. It is more sticky than nibbling or grooming.
- Fighting in a ball: The Guinea Pigs will dive at each other and grab on with their paws and teeth. This will be faster than the rolling around seen in play fighting.
- Teeth chattering and squealing: Adult Guinea Pigs are quiet most of the time. Fighting is often done through vocalization.
How to stop fighting?
Guinea Pigs fighting to the death is not an uncommon activity. It is because they are uncomfortable in the same cage and can not get away from each other. They do not know to forgive and forget. So, once your Guinea Pig pets have declanned, they will not stop fighting until they kill one of them in each other.
- If your Guinea Pigs are fighting, act fast, and they reach the arguing point of fighting, it can get nasty quickly.
- When you find your Guinea Pigs fighting each other, you need to remove one from the cage and place it in another cage.
- Try to identify which Guinea Pig was the winner. The loser Guinea Pig will be injured around its tail end from being attacked as it runs away.
- You need to place the other Guinea Pig which is not involved in the fighting with the winner Guinea Pig.
Split Cage Method
It is a method to stop the fighting between two Guinea Pigs. But if you don’t have the space in the cage, you have to use a second cage(this method is not used if there are three or more Guinea Pigs).
- Take out your Guinea Pig pets from the cage and place them into separate cages.
- Keep your Guinea Pigs separate for at least one week. This allows them to recover from the fight and their injuries. During this time, you need to provide them with an empty and thoroughly cleaned cage.
- Place a divider in the middle of the cage that should be made up of wire mesh. So that the Guinea Pigs can see each other, but they can not touch each other. On each side, provide them with some bedding, a water bottle, and a food dish.
- Put your Guinea Pigs back into the cage, one on each side.
- Swap the Guinea Pigs to the opposite side at least once a day. This will allow them to get used to each other’s scent.
- Watch for positive signs. Encouraging signs include sleeping next to the divider, trying to groom each other through the mesh, and general calmness.
- Remove the divider when your Guinea Pigs have been exhibiting positive signs for at least one week. Immediately mix both sides’ bedding together, to combine your Guinea Pigs’ scents.
- After removing the divider, you need to keep a close watch on your Guinea Pigs for the first 24 to 48 hours. If they start to fight again, separate them right away. Start again from step 3. It may take several weeks or months for your Guinea Pigs to lead a happy life together again.
Play fighting in Guinea Pigs is completely normal and also it is harmless. It can look like real fighting to the owner’s eyes, but nothing to worry about it. If they start to play fighting, your Guinea Pigs will finish fighting and then behave as nothing has happened and spend some time together as normal.
Play fighting is interspersed with cuddling, grooming, and toilet breaks or water breaks. It is quiet and does not cause any injuries or blood being drawn.
Signs of play Fighting
- Guinea Pigs chasing each other: The Guinea Pigs which do play fight will chase and will be quite slow and non-aggressive. They start to chase each other.
- Jumping: The Guinea Pigs will hop around together side-by-side.
- Boxing: The Guinea Pigs stand on their hind legs and bat playfully each other with their front paws. They do not hurt or bite each another while play fight.
- Wrestling: The Guinea Pigs when they play fight gently roll around with each other in a way, it looks like wrestling. If you look closely, you will see them grooming each other.
The Guinea Pigs will fight with their partners for many reasons. But as a guardian, you have to stop their fights by following some guidelines. Because they may end up with injuries or sometimes they may end up with death. So, you have to take care of your Guinea Pigs by monitoring them again and again.