Senior Guinea Pig
Boars! Simple Dominance Displays or Fighting?
I thought it may be handy to have a sticky on typical boy piggie behaviour for a reference - hopefully it may help humans understand boars and their behaviour a bit more, perhaps avoid some problems and stop getting these poor, misunderstood boys a bad reputation!
Below are listed types of behaviour and possible reasons to help determine what may be happening and possible solutions - is it a proper fight that can result in an awful ending, or just normal and usual dominance behaviour? Obviously this is a guide and not law, but it may help identify issues and offer likely causes and suggestions that may help.
If anyone feels I have missed anything, please do PM me
Normal Dominance/Getting-To-Know-You Behaviour:
These types of behaviour can include: Bottom wiggling, raised fur or hackles, hip swaying
Purring or quiet/low rumbling whilst doing the above or sometimes without the movement
"Nose offs" - not necessarily aggressive, it's just like teens squaring off to each other and swaggering a bit
Bottom sniffing and cheek to cheek rubbing - scent glands are situated in these areas, so these will be popular!
Dragging the bottom along the ground (a bit like territory marking)
Mounting (from all angles - head, side and rear!) and chasing or chasing and mounting combined
Mild teeth chattering (fairly quiet chattering, almost like they are munching loudly on dry food or hay just with a bit more volume, but NOT the loud clatter for aggression, see below)
Warnings / Getting irritated and more serious:
If one or more pigs are snorting, (a bit like a quiet sneeze or a puff can mean extreme irritation), stressed squeaking with increased volume, head bobbing nose offs accompanied with very loud teeth chattering and slight raising up on back legs, yawning to show the teeth and/or giving narky little nips, kicking out and/or wee squirting, then I would be watching very carefully and get ready to distract them as they could be about to have a fight.
If the above events do not calm down fairly quickly, this can escalate into the pigs lunging or pouncing at each other, loud rumbling, obviously vicious bites rather than nips, a concentrated mixture of most of the above warnings (snorting, obvious rearing up on their haunches as if rearing up to fight, raised hackles, loud rumbling, yawning and loud teeth clacking - this noise is unmistakeable), and will likely result in pigs causing serious damage to each other - the pigs will have to be separated immediately.
Never put in your bare hands to separate, always have a towel handy to throw over them as those pigs will not realise or care that your hands are getting in front of their teeth and can result in really nasty bites.
So what may cause this type of behaviour?
Are they at the stroppy hormonal teen stage (anything between on average 3 months to 15 months)? If so, they may just be testing for dominance. This can go on for a while and will need monitoring, but usually settles down eventually.
Time of year perhaps?
Spring can invoke all kinds of ancient instinctive behaviour when the weather starts to warm up, the hormones start to get going and the boys are looking to strut their stuff. This can often result in increased normal dominance behaviour and lots of rumblestrutting and mounting to prove to all around that they are men and they are feeling good! Also, the heat of the summer can sometimes get to them, resulting in bad tempers and frustration as they are hot and uncomfortable, and may start squabbling with their cagemate. Another reason to keep your guineas as cool as possible during the hot months!
What else can trigger them to fall out?
Other things that may set them off are being near females, change of environment, illness, bullying or simply the teenage hormones kicking in. If you suspect an illness may be causing behavioural problems, please make a vet visit.
Possible ways to avoid a fallout -
Loads of space, as much as you can spare. Try a C&C cage, plenty of examples can be found in the Housing section of this forum.
Two of everything - including dry food bowls, wet food bowls, water bottles, toys, hidey-holes, tunnels etc.
Bathing can often help, but make sure you use the same shampoo for both pigs!
If you have females, try and keep them a distance from the boys if you think it may be this that is causing the problem - if the females are in a completely different area, try and handle the boys first before the girls as the smell of females on hands, clothes, items or faces can set them off too.
Hay is often a good distractor as well.
Try a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheremone), these waft calming pheremones over the pigs which can help them to calm down. It must be the dog one though, not the cat one.
If they are still squabbling and looking like they are really getting on each other's nerves, try a trial separation with a mesh divider - quite often a few hours "time out" can really help them calm down, but try not to leave it too long before you try them together again.
Of course, sometimes they may just not be able to get along and simply don't like each other! Sadly, there is little that can be done about this, and if they look constantly stressed even if they are not seriously fighting, it's worth getting their health checked and then reconsider your options with them.
Last edited by boureki; 04-02-09 at 11:57 AM.
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Adult Guinea Pig
That's a fantastic posting Julie, really informative. Many thanks for putting it together. I'm sure many will find it useful. Thank you.
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Senior Guinea Pig
Thanks Louise! I hope so - there's so much mis-information about boars I thought it may help some people figure them out rather than just think that's the end of the road, they've fallen out because there's a bit of chasing and mounting or teeth chattering. I hope it will help.
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Senior Guinea Pig
That's brilliant - will be great to refer people to it, as so many people think boars are 'fighting' when they're just displaying normal b behaviour (normal for boys, LOL!). I've got 3 old chaps sharing at the mo and they have the odd head raised backing off type moment but generally all is peaceful!
Thanks for that,
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Teenage Guinea Pig
This is brilliant- very very useful Thank you!
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Very well put together Julie and a great idea!! Thank you
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Adult Guinea Pig
Excellent thread ... thank you.
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Hopefully boars wont get such bad rep now
Thanks for putting this together
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Haha, both my females are doing these sort of things, so I don't understand why everyone says it's boars.
Last edited by alora; 18-02-09 at 01:40 PM.
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Teenage Guinea Pig
primarily its boars that behave in this way although it does occur with sows also.
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