2 boars having a big fall out

Pigger

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Hi all piggie friends. I'm looking for some advice as I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing for my boys atm. So I got them off someone who didnt want them anymore in May 2020 and was told they are approx 5 yrs old. Other info given is that one is a cuy and the other peruvian, both in a bit of a mess with nails and coats etc but managed to do some research and cleaned them up and treated them for mites etc. Boys seemed happy in their "small petshop cage"...... until....... I upgraded them to a 4 x 6 C&C together. I went to check on them one morning and notice splatters of blood? I checked them both over and couldnt find anything obvious. A couple of days after I noticed the cuy seemed to have a swelling on the side of his face. He'd been eating and pooping the same prior to finding this. Got an appointment with our vet who after examination found a nasty abscess on the side of his face. Well I was horrified and felt so sorry for him. So, basically after 2 weeks of antibiotics twice daily and several vet checks later, its all cleared up and no surgery required! Yey! So now, from watching and doing more research on bonding I have permanently split them into a C&C each that is 4 x 2 and they have the 4 grids joining so they can still see and smell each other. Ive tried supervision and watched them closely without the divide and also on the grass, but there is lots of chasing and teeth chatting and also rumbling at each other, which escalates to me having to remove them. They both are eating well still and still do all these things with the grids between them, but I dont want to be doing wrong by them. I love them both and they are such lovely boys so they are not going anywhere! Id be really grateful for some advice or insight into what may of happened, so if anyone has any comments please let me know. Ramble over, thanks for reading <3
 

Piggies&buns

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When did you upgrade their cage?
When changing a cage, it constitutes a change in territories and can set off dominance. Changing a cage size etc has to be done very carefully. Equally moving them from one home to another can do the same thing - they has to reestablish themselves in a new environment.
Have they ever had a full on fight?
Rumbling, mounting, chasing, chattering are all normal dominance behaviours and in themselves aren’t reason to separate them. They are things which boars will do throughout their lives but more so if there has been a big change in environment. Some will even do it at each cage clean out (it is advisable to leave some soiled bedding in the cage at each clean so they still feel at home). but if they have had a full on fight then they cannot be together and they must be separated.

What you can’t do is separate them, then put then together for playtimes and then separate them again. You need to be sure whether their relationship is functioning or not and then either leave them permanently together if its working, or permanently apart if it’s not.

A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonds In Trouble
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
 

Wiebke

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Hi all piggie friends. I'm looking for some advice as I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing for my boys atm. So I got them off someone who didnt want them anymore in May 2020 and was told they are approx 5 yrs old. Other info given is that one is a cuy and the other peruvian, both in a bit of a mess with nails and coats etc but managed to do some research and cleaned them up and treated them for mites etc. Boys seemed happy in their "small petshop cage"...... until....... I upgraded them to a 4 x 6 C&C together. I went to check on them one morning and notice splatters of blood? I checked them both over and couldnt find anything obvious. A couple of days after I noticed the cuy seemed to have a swelling on the side of his face. He'd been eating and pooping the same prior to finding this. Got an appointment with our vet who after examination found a nasty abscess on the side of his face. Well I was horrified and felt so sorry for him. So, basically after 2 weeks of antibiotics twice daily and several vet checks later, its all cleared up and no surgery required! Yey! So now, from watching and doing more research on bonding I have permanently split them into a C&C each that is 4 x 2 and they have the 4 grids joining so they can still see and smell each other. Ive tried supervision and watched them closely without the divide and also on the grass, but there is lots of chasing and teeth chatting and also rumbling at each other, which escalates to me having to remove them. They both are eating well still and still do all these things with the grids between them, but I dont want to be doing wrong by them. I love them both and they are such lovely boys so they are not going anywhere! Id be really grateful for some advice or insight into what may of happened, so if anyone has any comments please let me know. Ramble over, thanks for reading <3
Hi and welcome

Sadly a well meant cage upgrade can cause a fall-out in an established pair if there are already underlying relationship issues. The switch to a new territory requires a re-establishment of the group hierarchy so if there are pre-existing grudges, there is a good chance that they will resurface. If your boys are happier as next door neighbours with each having their own territory and interaction through the bars, then that is perfectly fine. We have a number of 'can't live together and can't live apart' boar pairs on here plus some sows, too.

However, any separation has to be permanent. Guinea pigs don't do play time; for them, every meeting is a full-on bonding session. They can either live together or live apart.

PS: A bite to the face is more often an instinctive defence bite when a piggy is feeling cornered with no other way out but it looks likely that there has been some bullying/grudge going on earlier on in their life; they had to learn to live together because there was no other option.

You may find the information in these guides here helpful:
Bonds In Trouble
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars (territory changes see chapter 3)
" Biting" And What You Can Do (Biting, Tweaking, Nibbling and Nipping)
 

Pigger

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When did you upgrade their cage?
When changing a cage, it constitutes a change in territories and can set off dominance. Changing a cage size etc has to be done very carefully. Equally moving them from one home to another can do the same thing - they has to reestablish themselves in a new environment.
Have they ever had a full on fight?
Rumbling, mounting, chasing, chattering are all normal dominance behaviours and in themselves aren’t reason to separate them. They are things which boars will do throughout their lives but more so if there has been a big change in environment. Some will even do it at each cage clean out (it is advisable to leave some soiled bedding in the cage at each clean so they still feel at home). but if they have had a full on fight then they cannot be together and they must be separated.

What you can’t do is separate them, then put then together for playtimes and then separate them again. You need to be sure whether their relationship is functioning or not and then either leave them permanently together if its working, or permanently apart if it’s not.

A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonds In Trouble
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
Hi, thank for your comments. It was probably about 3 weeks after getting them that I was able to upgrade them. I didnt realise a change in environment could cause this, so that is a very good learning experience! I think they did have a full on fight so Ill definately just keep them apart from now on. Watching them together I'm not sure on the relationship status, but who would be able to determine this for me? Could a rescue help? Thanks
 

Pigger

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Hi and welcome

Sadly a well meant cage upgrade can cause a fall-out in an established pair if there are already underlying relationship issues. The switch to a new territory requires a re-establishment of the group hierarchy so if there are pre-existing grudges, there is a good chance that they will resurface. If your boys are happier as next door neighbours with each having their own territory and interaction through the bars, then that is perfectly fine. We have a number of 'can't live together and can't live apart' boar pairs on here plus some sows, too.

However, any separation has to be permanent. Guinea pigs don't do play time; for them, every meeting is a full-on bonding session. They can either live together or live apart.

PS: A bite to the face is more often an instinctive defence bite when a piggy is feeling cornered with no other way out but it looks likely that there has been some bullying/grudge going on earlier on in their life; they had to learn to live together because there was no other option.

You may find the information in these guides here helpful:
Bonds In Trouble
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars (territory changes see chapter 3)
" Biting" And What You Can Do (Biting, Tweaking, Nibbling and Nipping)
Hi, thanks for your comments too. Hierarchy is definitely an area I need to look into. I think they are happy as they are and they do lay down next to the bar and kind of lick through them sometimes. The bite was more on the neck than face and the vet did think he would need surgery so I dont really want to risk that again. Thanks for the links too, Ill start reading! :))
 

Piggies&buns

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Hi, thank for your comments. It was probably about 3 weeks after getting them that I was able to upgrade them. I didnt realise a change in environment could cause this, so that is a very good learning experience! I think they did have a full on fight so Ill definately just keep them apart from now on. Watching them together I'm not sure on the relationship status, but who would be able to determine this for me? Could a rescue help? Thanks
As they need to be live apart permanently now due to a full on fight then their relationship status no longer matters. They will still be able to talk to each other through the bars so won’t get lonely but being physically together is no longer an option.
 

Wiebke

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Hi, thanks for your comments too. Hierarchy is definitely an area I need to look into. I think they are happy as they are and they do lay down next to the bar and kind of lick through them sometimes. The bite was more on the neck than face and the vet did think he would need surgery so I dont really want to risk that again. Thanks for the links too, Ill start reading! :))
Just leave them through the bars so they can still interact and stay bonded and stimulated but without any dominance issues getting in the way. It is a lot less stressful.

PS: Be aware that laying against the bars is more commonly a dominance behaviour ('power lie in') to demarkate the border of a territory. It is virtually unknown outside experienced long term owner circles because it is usually misinterpreted. Sleeping close by can sometimes mean friendship if the body language is very relaxed but the other gesture is much more common especially in the wake of a fall-out, in new piggies or after an acrimonious bonding attempt.
 

Pigger

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Thank you for the great advice. I feel much better about it now. I'm going to keep them apart and not have play together and just see what happens. They both seem happy so I'm not going to do anything to mess it up. Its great to know there is support out there so thanks again x
 
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