[ Podcast ]

EP53: The reasons guinea pigs fight, how to avoid it & how to stop them.

EP53 - The reasons guinea pigs fight, how to avoid it & how to stop them

Listen to the episode:

In this podcast episode I share:

  • all the knowledge you need about guinea pig fighting,
  • what to be aware of,
  • how to avoid it,
  • how to stop it,
  • & how to know if you need separate guinea pigs or not.
TIMESTAMPS:
  • 4:00 – Reasons guinea pigs can start fighting
  • 8.15 – What is normal fighting & when does it become something to worry about.
  • 9:37 – Normal/Playful ‘fighting’ behaviour
  • 14:58 – Not normal/Violent intent fighting behaviour
  • 19:10 – POPCORNER OF THE WEEK
  • 20:50 – Ways to avoid & stop guinea pigs from fighting
  • 30:06 – What to do if your guinea pigs are continually fighting, blood has been drawn & you need to split them up.

LINKS MENTIONED:

Subscribe to The Popcorning Piggy Podcast:

Check out our guinea pig products in the shop:

Why are my guinea pigs fighting? How can I stop them? My experience of 20+ boys within pairs & herds.

Podcast Notes:

Hi & Welcome to the Popcorning Piggy podcast, your audio guide on all things guinea pigs. I’m your host, Sam, & this week’s episode is all about why guinea pigs fight.

You’re no doubt listening to this episode because you’re guinea pigs have been fighting & you’re worried about them hurting each other. 

Or maybe you’ve seen & heard of lots of other people’s guinea pigs falling out & are worried about your own. If you have boys, this might be something you are especially worried about because you don’t know of many successful boy bonds & herds.

In this episode I want to give you:

  • all the knowledge you need about guinea pig fighting, 
  • what to be aware of, 
  • how to avoid it, 
  • how to stop it 
  • & how to know if you need separate guinea pigs or not.

I’ll be sharing my experience of having cared for over 20 boy guinea pigs in pairs or groups – some successful & some not! I’ve possibly seen it all by now at least once!

Do all guinea pigs fight?

Guinea pigs by nature are calm & non-aggressive. They are social creatures and their instinct is to live in large herds.

It’s important for your guinea pig to always have a friend. They can be very lonely & depressed without other guinea pig company no matter how much time you spend with them, us humans are not a substitute for a guinea pig friend.

However, sadly sometimes our guinea pigs can start fighting & this can happen for a variety of reasons.

Reasons guinea pigs can start fighting

Usually fights occur between guinea pigs because they are establishing & exhorting their dominance over something. This could be areas of their cage, food, water, toys, or their position with their group.

Therefore reasons for guinea pigs starting to fight can be lack of space, not enough houses for one each, not enough room in feeding areas – such as hay racks, bags, food bowls or food is in one areas & not spread over several. Arguments of who is drinking at the same time – both want to drink. Not enough enrichment & stimulation – need more to entertain themselves. As well as a change in the group dynamics such as a loss of a cage mate, introducing a new guinea pig or reducing their teenage or elderly years.

Other reasons could be because your guinea pig is in some sort of physical pain or if they are unhappy with something.

Fighting therefore can be quite common but it’s important to acknowledge what is normal fighting (think of it like annoying your sibling or friend) & what is not normal fighting & therefore is something to worry about as an owner & when you need to step in & put a stop to it.

Check out our guinea pig products in the shop:​

What is normal fighting & when does it become something to worry about?

Normal or Playful 'fighting'

  • Nudging heads – usually seen around the food bowl, hay or water bottle
  • Raising heads – this is a sign of ‘don’t do it, dude stop! you’ll regret it later’ & usually the other will back down & run away or groom the other to show submission.
  • Mounting or humping – this is usually hormone driven & can happen with boys & girls with other boys & girls. It is once again a way of them establishing dominance over the other. They are higher up the group seniority ladder.
  • A non-threatening bite action or lunge – again this is a sign that the one guinea pig is annoyed with the other & is telling them off & to stop what they’re doing. You’ll know the difference between a non-threatening one & a threatening one based on the intent & usually noises that follow – lots of noise, running & whines is a threatening one.

Normal or Playful 'fighting'

  • Blood has been drawn between guinea pigs – this is your flashing red light & ringing warning alarm. If a piggy has bitten or attacked another piggy & drawn blood then this when you must step in & split them up!
  • Excess mounting & humping over many hours & days – when introducing new guinea pigs to each other a bonding situation, this is very normal. However, it should not be violent in any way & will usually look more like excitement. It will also usually calm down within an hour or two. If not, then this is a concern.
  • Guinea pigs that are constantly picked on – they are likely staying in a house & never coming out, last to the food bowl & wait for others to leave, you never see them drinking or at the hay rack. They may even look like they’ve lost weight.

Ways to avoid & stop guinea pigs from fighting

  • Ensure your guinea pigs have enough space – if you have two guinea pigs they need to be in a 70cm x 140cm cage (2×4 in C&C grids). If you have boys you might want a 2×5 C&C grid cage. 
  • Ensure you have at least one house per the number of guinea pigs you have. More is better. They need to have space to get away when they need it. There are very few guinea pigs who like to sleep next to or near their cage mates.
  • Ensure you have several spots for food such as hay, veggies & pellets – this might be spreading veggies around the cage for them to find, or providing food in 2 or more bowls or areas.
  • Ensure you have at least one water bottle per piggy.
  • Ensure you are providing enrichment for your guinea pigs such as foraging activities, toys, tunnels, variety of houses, bonding time with you
  • Ensure you treat all your guinea pigs equally – don’t only cuddle one & not the other(s) or give one more treats than the other(s) etc.
  • Ensure you have complementary guinea pig personalities in a cage – one dominant male or female & the other(s) are happy to go with the flow & are laid-back.

What to do if your guinea pigs are continually fighting, blood has been drawn & you need to split them up.

  • Never put your bare hands in to separate a fight. Always wear gloves or use something to help separate them. You can wrap your hand in a towel or I’ve most commonly use a small sofa cushion. Then when you’ve safely separated them, pick up one of the piggies & remove then from the cage. 
  • You need to figure out which guinea pig started or caused the fight & why. Obviously then addressing why it happened & finding a way to fix it – see previous methods above.
  • If you can’t put the other guinea pig in another cage then you’ll need to find a way to split your current cage, whether spare C&C grids, cardboard or something similar. This is a temporary solution only!
  • After a little bit of time has passed, hours or days. You then need to make the decision on if you think they can be reintroduced & you want to try to reintroduce them or if they cannot. If they can, then you’ll need to follow bonding procedures – see my youtube video for more help (link in the show notes). If not, then what are your next actions to help those piggies not become lonely if they are on their own.

When you see guinea pigs fighting it is incredibly scary to witness & certainly makes us worry. Don’t forget to firstly identify if it is playful or annoyance rather than actual violent fighting. Do everything you can to help prevent any fights & if there is violent intent then step in & protect your guinea pigs & decide on the next best steps for both guinea pigs to have the best life possible.

Check out our guinea pig products in the shop:​