Guinea pigs are actually very sociable creatures by nature. In the wild, guinea pigs even travel in herds, adorably enough. Sometimes, however, guinea pigs do not get along. So, why do guinea pigs fight?
Why do Guinea Pigs Fight? Guinea pigs that consider themselves enemies may attack and bite each other viciously. Sometimes the issue is something that you can resolve simply. Other times, permanent separation is necessary. 5 reasons they fight are Injury, Pairing, Cage too small, Mating and Boredom.
To tell, monitor their behavior over time. First off, make sure that what your guinea pigs are doing is actually fighting. More common than fights among guinea pigs are domination behaviors, which they use to work out their hierarchy.
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Is It Natural Domination Or A Real Fight? How To Tell The Difference
After a bit of posturing, one guinea pig will usually back down, submissive. You can watch and wait for these instances to resolve. Other times, the fight reaches a new level, becoming seriously aggressive. When this happens, you will need to intervene.
When guinea pigs are competing for domination, they will: chase, butt-drag (to leave their scent), mount, raise their hackles, chatter their teeth, snort, and open their mouth wide (to show off their teeth). All of this is okay, so long as they are not getting excessively agitated or injuring one another in any way. The altercation should resolve.
When it comes to a real fight, things typically escalate quickly. Some sure-fire signs things are getting to this point are: rearing up on their haunches, a warning of serious attack; raised hackles; very loud, enraged chattering; and bites that are no longer light or playful, but draw blood painfully.
What would cause these normally peaceful little animals to behave this way? There are several possibilities. Here, we will go over 5 of the main reasons guinea pigs fight, and 5 easy steps to stop them from fighting, accordingly.
1. Illness or Injury
Should your guinea pig become aggressive or unfriendly out of nowhere, you may want to rule out illness or injury. A guinea pig that is not feeling well may become skittish or cranky. While you can check them for some obvious signs yourself, a vet is required for a more thorough examination, and to provide any necessary care.
Of course, when it comes to health, due consideration must be given to hygiene. Clean out your guinea pig cage frequently. Change the bedding every day or two, and sanitize the inside of the cage at least once a week.
Additionally, remove fresh food as soon as your guinea pigs have finished their meal. Otherwise, it can rot, and create mold and the like.
Another excellent way to help your guinea pigs stay spic and span is a special sandbath. You can build one of these for your guinea pigs with a large, knock-proof rounded bowl, and some special rodent bathing sand -not to be mixed up with bathing dust, which is too dusty. Set up the bath away from their litter box, so they do not use the bath for the same purpose by mistake.
2. Pairing Improperly – Sex
When it comes to happy, peaceable guinea pigs, the proper sex pairing is key. For instance, two male guinea pigs and one female is inadvisable. Predictably, the males will fight over the female – and the female is caught in the crossfire.
Instead, pair same-sex guinea pigs. 2-3 males or 2-3 females tend to work nicely. This also eliminates the need to get invasive spaying or neutering done. Of course, while same-sex guinea pigs are more likely to get on than opposite-sex ones, it is still no guarantee. Sometimes, their personalities simply clash.
3. Pairing Improperly – Personality
Guinea pigs tend to lean toward one of two personalities: dominant, or submissive. Dominant guinea pigs are best paired with those that are submissive. Otherwise, they will fight with one another to achieve the desired dominance.
You can pair a young guinea pig with an old one, as the older guinea pigs naturally claim dominance. The younger, more submissive guinea pig will normally instinctually defer to the older one.
The exception is when younger guinea pigs get uppity with age. They may challenge the older one for dominance. Luckily, disputes like this are generally natural and okay. Just keep an eye, so that they do not evolve into something more aggressive.
Should you have the chance to pick from among a few guinea pigs, watch how they interact with each other, and find a pair that seems to be complimentary. This in mind, even if a male and female get along, you will not want to pair them, because they will mate. Guinea pig pregnancy and birth can be tricky and even dangerous. Ensure that you are not getting mixed-sex pairs, or even a pregnant female, which is another risk.
4. Too Small A Cage
In the wild, guinea pigs have plenty of space to roam around and play. In a cage that is too small or cramped, the free-spirit little guys are sure to become unhappy. As a general rule, the minimum cage size requirement for two guinea pigs is 7.5 square feet. The kinder choice is a cage that is at least 10.5 square feet in size.
There are also other ways to give your guinea pigs more space. Vertical structures are a great idea. For example, walkways. Just be certain that they are wide and low enough for your guinea pigs to traverse with ease.
Next, include some hideouts. Provide your guinea pigs with private spots where they can be alone. You can make these at home, out of old butter containers, cardboard boxes, etc., or you can get ceramic ones at the store. Homemade hideouts are cheaper but need replacing over time. Ceramic ones will not get nearly as dirty and are bite-proof.
For guinea pigs with plenty of space, clearly, this is not the root of their disputes. Before resorting to separating them entirely, you can try a divider, so that they can see and smell each other, but they cannot reach each other to do harm.
5. Not Enough Toys Equals Boredom
Guinea pigs are usually pretty easy-going. Once in a while, if they do not get enough stimulation, they will become bored, restless, and irritable. As a result of this, they may lash out at other guinea pigs, and even humans, nearby. In this state, real fights between guinea pigs become more likely.
To keep your guinea pigs entertained, they must have a few good toys available. First and foremost, you will want things that they can chew. For this, aspen wood sticks or blocks are a good choice. A hay-stuffed sock is another item that just about any guinea pig will happily drag around and chew.
You can include cardboard box huts, and tunnels for your guinea pigs to run and play inside. Tug treats along on a string. Hide treats for them to discover.
READ OUR ARTICLE: GUINEA PIG BOREDOM BUSTER!
People are also recommended to take their guinea pig out to explore. Guinea pig-proof the area by closing doors, moving cords, plants, and food, and blocking and holes, accordingly. Then, let your guinea pig roam for a little while. Not only do they find this enjoyable, it is also good exercise.
Giving your guinea pig ways to keep busy is one way to keep them relaxed and happy. This, in turn, should aid in reducing any agitation that they might otherwise direct at their cage-mates.
5a. Toys to prevent Boredom in Guinea Pigs
Breaking Up Serious Guinea Pig Fights
As soon as it becomes apparent that your guinea pigs mean business, and are not at play, you will need to step in. Just know that when guinea pigs are in a real fight, they will bite whatever is in the vicinity. Always wear oven mitts or thick gloves, or wrap a towel around your hands, before putting yourself in the middle.
Now, you may need to toss a blanket on the guinea pigs to get them to hold still, so you can capture each. Once you have accomplished this, put them in separate, enclosed spaces. They should not be able to see or hear each other so that they can calm down properly. You can proceed from there.
- Can Guinea Pigs kill each other? Fully grown Guinea pigs to not like new roommates and especially of the same sex. If the adult guinea pig is larger, he or she may attack or even kill a younger guinea pig.
- Do Guinea Pigs Play Fight? Guinea pigs are sociable animals and will interact and play with each other. But like all animals ( and humans) fights often break out for no reason but usually end just as quickly.
- What’s the best ways to prevent Guinea pigs fighting? Provide two of everything. Water Bottles, Play toys, Hides and tunnels to prevent fighting over these items.
- How long does guinea pig dominance last? Dominance behavior normally lasts for two to three days. After three days normal behavior is usually resumed. In certain cases it can take much longer.If after 20-30 days things haven’t improved I would consider that they may never get along and separation is the only option.
Conclusion: Why do Guinea Pigs Fight?
Usually, guinea pigs are good-natured little fellows. Sure, they face-off for dominance every once in a while, but this is normal. On the other hand, aggression or misbehavior that pops up out of nowhere is worrisome.
The top causes are health troubles, injury, improper pairing, insufficient space, and inadequate stimulation. Whatever the case, real fighting between guinea pigs must be dealt with swiftly. They can hurt each other all too easily otherwise. Sometimes, veterinary care is called for. Others, you should be able to deal with the situation on your own, simple.
Just do your best to find out what is up, and go from there. With a bit of thought and care and a little luck, your guinea pigs will be feeling better and getting along again in no time.