Dominance is one of the most common traits in animals and guinea pigs are not different. They also tend to mark their territories and fight for essential things like food and attention.
If you keep two guinea pig’s in the same place, they are bound to start fighting for basic needs and even mating if they are opposite genders.
So it’s important to know how long guinea pig dominance can last to be sure this natural process runs smoothly.
While it doesn’t have an exact timeline, guinea pig dominance ends when one of the guinea pigs agrees to be dominated and becomes submissive to the other.
The dominant behavior is brought on by their different personalities because like humans, most of the time two guinea pigs may not like the same things even when they share the same habitat together.
What is Guinea Pig Dominance?
The dominance behavior doesn’t mean that two guinea pigs can’t share the same cage though. It just means that one of them will mark his/her territory especially if they were the first to have the cage.
They’ll try to show the newer guinea pig that they are the leader and as soon as the new one catches on, they will live together peacefully.
The dominant behavior in guinea pigs is apart of their bonding process and depends on each individual one and the circumstances surrounding this behavior.
This behavior isn’t usually that crazy and will not require your intervention. However, if this process becomes too extreme and starts involving fights or hostility, you can try to separate them.
Although, if they’re normally trying to establish dominance then you should never separate them.
So it’s very important that you know the difference between when they’re just playing around or if they’re actually fighting. You can read my post explaining the signs of both if you’re not sure and don’t want to mess up one of their natural processes.
Guinea Pig Dominance Behavior
Dominance differs with each guinea pig and their individual situations. One of the most common behaviors is teeth chattering. This usually means that they aren’t happy with the situation they are in.
You may notice them doing that immediately when you bring a new addition to the cage.
That move is meant to scare the newcomers into submission. Teeth chattering may be done by both guinea pig’s so it shouldn’t worry you when they both do it.
Another common behavior is humping. The dominant guinea pig usually mounts the one they are trying to dominate.
The mounting is never sexual and should not worry you. It just means that they are trying to mark their territory by showing the weaker one that they are in charge.
This behavior in guinea pigs can also mean that the dominant one is showing the dominated companion that they are on top.
Their gender and the relation to each other doesn’t usually matter with this dominance behavior. A male can climb on another male even if they are related just to prove that they are stronger.
Male Guinea Pig Dominance Behavior
Male guinea pigs have also been known to fight to show their dominance. If the new guinea pig doesn’t surrender and allow himself to be dominated, they could start fighting.
The fights aren’t usually serious but they can quickly escalate and even become aggressive and fatal.
That’s why you should pay attention and separate them if it starts to get serious and one or both of them starts bleeding. Butt sniffing and rumbling are other behaviors that male guinea pigs exhibit.
They are usually done as responses. For instance, one of them may go up to the other guinea pig to sniff their butt, and when that happens they may rumble as a sign for them to keep off.
It’s important to note that male guinea pigs can show aggression for extended periods of time.
You should then see a vet if you notice more aggression than usual, and you’re not sure what the cause is.
How Long Does Male Guinea Pig Dominance Last?
Male and female guinea pigs act differently when trying to establish dominance so knowing how long guinea pig dominance lasts in males is a common question among guinea pig owners.
The reality is there isn’t a specific timeline. It depends on how long it takes for one of them to agree to be dominated.
This process may take days, weeks or even months but it never lasts forever.
If, for instance, you brought a younger guinea pig and put him together with an older one, the older will dominate at first.
As the younger one becomes older and stronger, they will challenge the other guinea pig and the dominance process will start again. If this is the case, you should be prepared to see this behavior frequently.
Female Guinea Pig Dominance Behavior
Like males, female guinea pigs also shows dominance behavior. They usually start by rumbling and chattering but this behavior is also usually accompanied by dancing or head holding.
The dance is very slow around the one being challenged and the head holding face-off means that the guinea pig that drops their head first becomes dominated.
Another behavior among female guinea pigs is chasing. They usually chase each other around the cage and mount each other.
The dominant one will be on the attack and will start chasing the other while sniffing her butt.
Once she has her cornered, she will start to mount her and even hump while rumbling. This may go on for a few seconds and then they will get down, the rumbling may continue for a short while after.
This behavior will continue a few more times until she gets the kind of response she wants. If the other guinea pig doesn’t show submission, the dominant one will continue doing this until they eventually do.
Sometimes the mounting and humping may continue even after submission.
This is because female guinea pigs sometimes go through hormonal changes that push them to continue to act aggressively.
In other cases, the dominant one may become sick and the submissive one will try to take over. This causes a repetitive behavior pattern with the roles being reversed.
The behavior doesn’t usually last long this time around. They will act that way for a few days and anything more could be a sign of trouble. So be sure to monitor the situation.
How Long Does Female Guinea Pig Dominance Last?
Like in males, female guinea pig dominance behavior can last for different periods of time.
Sometimes the behavior lasts for two weeks and other times it lasts for only two days.
However, the duration may become prolonged if the female guinea pig is sick. A common illness that can cause prolonged aggressive behavior is ovarian cancer.
This could make the female continue to hump the other one even after they have submitted. When she starts to develop cysts, she will want to continue to hump.
Check for signs of such illnesses if you think this behavior is taking too long. Some of the signs to look out for include hair loss on the abdomen that can lead to bald patches.
If you notice any of these signs be sure to take your guinea pig to your vet for some professional attention.
What if This Dominance Behavior Lasts too Long?
In my other posts, I talk a lot about the split cage method. It can also be used if their dominance behavior lasts too long and your guinea pigs just aren’t compatible.
This can be done if they have a big enough cage by using a divider like mesh or a small wired fence, and splitting their cage right down the middle.
That way they can still interact with each other without fighting over who’s going to dominate who. They’ll have their own personal space and you can even try introducing other guinea pigs to the currently separated ones.
Remember guinea pigs are social so this option is preferred and better than keeping them in their own cage.
Guinea pigs are calm and peaceful animals that are great as pets. Their dominance behavior is just a normal process that they go through just like any other animal.
Other behaviors include raising fur, swaying hips and rubbing cheeks. Sometimes they can run their noses as well.
Whatever dominance behavior they show, they will rarely hurt each other. It’s still better to keep an eye on them to be completely safe.