3 boars - 10 months of fall outs HELP!

yenivs13

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This is a long story so I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible...

I have 3 boars, one who is ~3 1/2 years old (Garf) and two others who are 1 3/4 years old (Ozzy and Ted). Originally Garf lived with another guinea pig who sadly died, so I got Ozzy and Ted to keep him company (this was about 1 1/2 years ago). I introduced them all slowly and they got on very well so I kept them in the same pen.

They lived happily together until August 2019, when Ozzy suddenly started being viscous towards Garf, biting, bullying and chasing (Garf would be scared into a corner and not allowed to move). As a result, I separated Garf from Ted & Ozzy (spilt the cage with dividers so they could still see each other). Garf was instantly more relaxed and happy without being tormented by Ozzy. Ozzy seemed obsessed with Ted (humping him and getting worked up if Ted paid Garf any attention), so I assumed he was going through his hormonal ‘teenage’ phase.

Unfortunately the divided cage means less space for all the pigs so I tried on multiple occasions to reintroduce them using lots of different methods (on new territory, buddy baths etc.) but nothing has worked. Garf was still scared of Ozzy and would retreat into the corner, squeaking loudly whenever he came near. I resigned to the fact that nothing would work so accepted I would have to keep them separate.

However, recently I noticed that Ted has started lashing out at Ozzy. He is rumbling more than usual and they have occasionally been fighting. I noticed a few nasty bite marks on Ozzy. This happened during lockdown and the vet advised to treat at home by keeping them clean. I did this and they are healing. Strangely enough, Ozzy does not seem phased by this violent behaviour from Ted. He seems happy sharing a cage with him and still wants to be near him. He’s not quite as obsessed as he used to be, the humping has stopped. HOWEVER, Ted seems to want to get to Garf in the separated part of the cage! Wanting to sniff him, biting the cage when he’s near etc. It’s like a guinea pig love triangle!

Since this has happened I have tried blocking Garf from view to relieve tensions between the other two, but I’m worried Garf will get lonely from not seeing the other two.

Does anyone have any advice how to calm boar behaviour?
Should I keep trying to bond all 3? Or keep Garf completely separate (out of sight, not in an adjoined cage?) Unfortunately space is limited so I’m not sure how feasible this is. I would like to avoid rehoming any of them. They all used to get on so well, I’m devastated they’ve fallen out but I suppose this was always the risk with boars!

TL;DR - 3 boars used to get on. 2 fell out causing separation into 2 and 1 (cage with partition). 2 together then starting fighting (one biting other) but bitten pig seems happy enough. Biting pig seems to ‘want’ separated pig. How to deal with this?!
 

Siikibam

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Please don’t re-introduce the trio. Garf is the one to watch to see if the three way relationship was feasible - it wasn’t because he’s more lively and himself now he’s been separated from them. Boar trips rarely work, and as you can see, they can challenge the hierarchy once they reach their teenage months. Be warned that boars do still get the occasional hormone spike outside of their teenage months.

How did Garf and Ted get on when they all lived together? Was their Bond better than that between Ozzy and Ted? And how long has Ted been biting the divider and acting like he wants to get to Garf?

Space is really important for boars, a lot more than with sows. The absolute minimum for a pair of boars is 150x60cm. But we recommend 180cm, with two of everything. How big is the pairs’ cage and how big is Garf’s? Singles need 120x60cm at a minimum so you really need to give them all the space they need. I know you say it’s tight. Could you place their cages in a corner where they’d have more space? What size are their current cages?

I think I’d say maybe try removing the divider cover and see if Ted will eventually calm down. How is Garf acting while this is going on? He does really need the interaction but I wonder if he may also be the cause for the fallout with the pair. What I’d strongly advise is to keep an eye on the pair. Particularly if there have been a few incidents of scratching resulting in minor injuries.

You can’t calm down boar behaviour. That’s how they’re wired to behave. And getting along together depends on character compatibility and not age or any other factor. Have a read of the threads I’ve linked below.
Bonds In Trouble
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
 

Piggies&buns

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:agr:
As above, I’m afraid you cannot keep three boars living together - two boars together, provided they are compatible is perfectly fine but three boars together just doesn’t work and there will be fights so please don’t put them all back together again as it will be a disaster. In a worst case scenario, having three boars together can also cause trouble for the bond of the original two so all three of them fall out.

As @Siikibam said, Garf does need the interaction of having his cage next to ted and ozzy though so I’d remove the divider and see what happens and see if ted calms down in time.

I would also, as mentioned by siikibam, keep a close eye on ted and ozzy. If there are bite marks, then I’d be concerned that their relationship may have issues and ozzy may not be as content as he appears. I would keep a close eye on his weight to ensure he is being able to eat enough.

Also, as siikibam mentions, character compatibility is absolutely key to whether a relationship between two guinea pigs will work but lack of space between two boars can be a contributing factor to problems. As advised above, two boars need a cage of at least 160 x 60cm so if they don’t have that, there is a risk that tensions can also spill over again between ted and ozzy. However, you also have the issue that a change in environment (ie change in cage size) will cause an increase in dominance between ted and ozzy as they will need to reestablish territories. They really do need that cage size though otherwise things could escalate further and all three of them have to live separately.
 

yenivs13

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Please don’t re-introduce the trio. Garf is the one to watch to see if the three way relationship was feasible - it wasn’t because he’s more lively and himself now he’s been separated from them. Boar trips rarely work, and as you can see, they can challenge the hierarchy once they reach their teenage months. Be warned that boars do still get the occasional hormone spike outside of their teenage months.

How did Garf and Ted get on when they all lived together? Was their Bond better than that between Ozzy and Ted? And how long has Ted been biting the divider and acting like he wants to get to Garf?

Space is really important for boars, a lot more than with sows. The absolute minimum for a pair of boars is 150x60cm. But we recommend 180cm, with two of everything. How big is the pairs’ cage and how big is Garf’s? Singles need 120x60cm at a minimum so you really need to give them all the space they need. I know you say it’s tight. Could you place their cages in a corner where they’d have more space? What size are their current cages?

I think I’d say maybe try removing the divider cover and see if Ted will eventually calm down. How is Garf acting while this is going on? He does really need the interaction but I wonder if he may also be the cause for the fallout with the pair. What I’d strongly advise is to keep an eye on the pair. Particularly if there have been a few incidents of scratching resulting in minor injuries.

You can’t calm down boar behaviour. That’s how they’re wired to behave. And getting along together depends on character compatibility and not age or any other factor. Have a read of the threads I’ve linked below.
Bonds In Trouble
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
Thank you for your advice!

There cages probably weren’t big enough so I have done some ‘remodelling’ today! Ozzy and Ted are now in. 180x60 run and Garf is in a 120x60 cage that I had spare in my garage. They’re both still next to each other but the cage has a solid base, so the view between the two is a bit obscured. I’ve attached a photo so you can get the idea!

I have tried housing Garf and Ted together in the past with Ozzy on his own, but Ozzy just went crazy biting the bars and walking up and down the divider, which made Garf uncomfortable. I think they’re best as they are now.

550A6C18-3C54-4F23-BA9C-1B53C20B6135.jpeg
 

yenivs13

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:agr:
As above, I’m afraid you cannot keep three boars living together - two boars together, provided they are compatible is perfectly fine but three boars together just doesn’t work and there will be fights so please don’t put them all back together again as it will be a disaster. In a worst case scenario, having three boars together can also cause trouble for the bond of the original two so all three of them fall out.

As @Siikibam said, Garf does need the interaction of having his cage next to ted and ozzy though so I’d remove the divider and see what happens and see if ted calms down in time.

I would also, as mentioned by siikibam, keep a close eye on ted and ozzy. If there are bite marks, then I’d be concerned that their relationship may have issues and ozzy may not be as content as he appears. I would keep a close eye on his weight to ensure he is being able to eat enough.

Also, as siikibam mentions, character compatibility is absolutely key to whether a relationship between two guinea pigs will work but lack of space between two boars can be a contributing factor to problems. As advised above, two boars need a cage of at least 160 x 60cm so if they don’t have that, there is a risk that tensions can also spill over again between ted and ozzy. However, you also have the issue that a change in environment (ie change in cage size) will cause an increase in dominance between ted and ozzy as they will need to reestablish territories. They really do need that cage size though otherwise things could escalate further and all three of them have to live separately.
Thank you for your advice!

See my reply above about the cages and see photo as wellZ I have been watching Ozzy and Ted and they seem happy together, sleeping near each other etc. There definitely seems to be less angst between them and hopefully the larger cage will help!
 

Siikibam

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Hopefully the lack of space was the main issue. I’d also add another hay tray/pile and another bowl when you feed veggies and pellets. As an aside, pellets should be kept to just a tablespoon for each piggy per day.
 

yenivs13

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Hopefully the lack of space was the main issue. I’d also add another hay tray/pile and another bowl when you feed veggies and pellets. As an aside, pellets should be kept to just a tablespoon for each piggy per day.
I’m going to buy another hay tray when I get chance 😊 Thank you for the advice!
 
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