When you keep guinea pigs together in a cage, usually one will try to assert dominance over the other one. It’s more so during the adolescent age of 3-5 months.
This, along with many other reasons can result in fighting between the guinea pigs. They naturally settle most issues themselves but sometimes, their fighting can get really serious and you have to know when to separate your guinea pigs.
It’s time to separate your guinea pigs when full fights break out, when they bite each other causing injuries or if you notice any bullying like one keeping another guinea pig from eating or drinking.
If the fights are aggressive and constant, it’s better to separate them and keep them away from each other to prevent any more harm.
If this is the case, it’s best to separate them for a while. This can happen with any pair of guinea pigs:
Reintroduce them after a while and watch how they behave with each other. If they enjoy being together without resorting to fighting again, you can allow them to share a single cage. It is important to know when to separate your guinea pigs.
Some of their actions can be confusing, which is why you should know the difference between actual fighting and their normal behavior so you don’t interfere with their natural processes.
Don’t Mistake Normal Behavior For Fighting
Normal guinea pig behavior can sometimes look like fighting to us. Behavior like Chasing, nipping, and rumble strutting are all apart of normal behavior that guinea pigs show.
When they do this a lot it can also look like bullying or maybe a kind of dominance game going on between them.
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If your guinea pigs are constantly chasing each other, raising their head too high, or engaging in frequent butt-sniffing, it can sometimes point to an uneasy relationship between the pets that can flare up to a full-blown fight.
Similarly, nipping is quite normal because guinea pigs discover and communicate with their teeth.
Nipping by guinea pigs can mean many things like that they are playing or showing affection. At times, they also dig their teeth into the fur of other guinea pigs to dig out bugs, stuck food, dirt, or anything that may be irritating the skin of a guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are naturally timid and can be easily scared with loud noises, thunder, or vacuuming.
Usually, they would retreat to their burrows or a safer place but they can also hint that they’re nervous by nibbling. Sometimes, their nipping can mean they are in pain.
Rumble strutting or rumbling is a sound that guinea pigs make as part of their dominance ritual. Sometimes, it can also indicate that your guinea pig is under pressure from their fellow pets.
In all these cases, you should closely monitor the behavior of your pet to get to the root of the problem.
If any of these signs indicate distress because of their cagemates, they should be separated. Remember a lot of the ways that they act with each other can be confusing.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if they’re just playing, establishing dominance, or actually fighting. It’s important as a guinea pig owner that you can differentiate between those behaviors.
You don’t want to separate your guinea pigs prematurely because it may mess with how they naturally establish dominance with each other.
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Signs You Need To Separate Your Guinea Pigs
The most common signs that you should look for when trying to figure out when to separate your guinea pigs are:
- When they get into actual fights.
- When they start lunging at each other.
- Any excessive yawning due to unpleasant living conditions.
Like humans, guinea pigs have their distinct personalities and keeping them together requires matching up their personality traits. Many pet owners have multiple sets of guinea pigs and they get along well.
The trick to ensuring compatibility is to match up guinea pigs of dominant and subordinate personality traits together.
Examples of pairs that can work:
- An older and larger guinea pig living with a younger one.
- An older guinea pig with a younger guinea pig.
- Generally a larger guinea pig with a smaller one.
The reason being they would have a natural sense of who is superior. But make sure that you don’t keep together a younger and feisty guinea pig with a calmer and laid back older one.
In this case, there is a chance of the younger one challenging the dominance of the older one.
When To Separate Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs should be separated when they start showing abnormally aggressive behavior towards their fellow cagemates.
These behaviors can look like constant and aggressive:
Under normal circumstances when they do this it’s not really an alarming situation unless it becomes aggressive and has the potential to cause injury to other guinea pigs.
In this case, separating the guinea pigs is the right decision.
Guinea pigs are great as social animals and usually, they live happily with each other. But fights do happen.
Keeping Your Guinea Pigs Properly Paired
It’s not advisable to keep a female guinea pig and two male pigs together in a cage because this can make the males behave aggressively.
It makes more sense to have your pets properly sexed prior to bringing them home so that they don’t cause problems or so you don’t have a pregnant female guinea pig on your hands.
Most of the time the presence of a female among two or more male guinea pigs can lead to fighting.
In this case, separating your guinea pigs may be the only way out.
Even when there is no female, two male guinea pigs living together can have fights. Throughout their life and when they’re new to a cage, they usually try to establish their dominance upon each other.
These kinds of scuffles are part of their settling down process, and usually don’t escalate into full-blown fights.
If your guinea pigs are shaking and baring their teeth, these can be more signs of an uneasy relationship, but if one of them backs down, that little scuffle can end there itself.
In that case, both are trying to assert their supremacy and they may start lunging at each other or end up with non-sexual mounting. If that’s what’s happening, just keep an eye on them.
If one backs out at this stage, their fight may end but if none of them is ready to give in, the fight may escalate to biting and more dangerous and aggressive behavior on their part.
Biting can end up with a guinea pig getting injuries that draw out blood. So if they are engaged in that kind of aggressive biting, you need to separate them.
If you have a pair of guinea pigs that are constantly playing and fighting, you’re certainly going to have a tough time making them calm down and behave.
However, knowing the difference between the two and also knowing when you actually need to separate your guinea pigs is the important part.