Advice for special needs boar - new rescue boar coming to live with 2 older boars in private cages

VeeAngel

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Hi All,

I'm hoping for a bit of advice about introducing my new rescue boar into the overall household with my 2 current boars.

My current buddies are a formerly bonded pair, that had a falling out after a medical separation. Former top piggie, Sam-son, is a bit relentless in his strutting, following and bothering, but he is NOT a biter and I've never had him bite at us or his brother. Deano-Beano is more skiddish and a clicker. When rebonding, Deano decided he'd had enough of being bothered and gave Sam-son a neck bite that required 7 stitches (and a big, deep bite on my finger cause I wasn't wearing my mits when breaking up the fight, like I knew I should be). So they are happily living in an adjoining enclosure with interaction through the bars. Sam-son seems a little lonely. Deano-Beano seems very happy to have his own space. Both are rescues around 4 years old, but with plenty of signs of testosterone!

I recently brought home a new rescue guy, Jack-a-doodle. He was at the BCSPCA...alone. He was part of an animal cruelty seizure of over 40 pigs living in extremely cramped conditions. He is small and blind, and was being food deprived and extremely bullied by the other males. He was in care for 1 month with the SPCA to recover from his wounds and was being adopted out as a single pig. He is 6 months old. I just COULD NOT let him face life alone after all that, with no interaction with other piggies. I rescued him with the assumption that I would likely have three single boys, living in their own spaces, with enrichment through the bars. There was alway a small hope that one of my piggies would take to him...but I'll admit to being very skiddish about trying a bonding after the previous, serious wound, and with Jack's history of being bullied.

I am currently settling Jack in, and letting him adjust to the new space. I did not feel the need to fully quarantine, as he had been in care for a while with the SPCA (over a month in a facility with no other guinea pigs) and needed additional treatment only with anti mite and flea (Revolution), which I believe is standard when intaking by the SPCA. All other swabs and tests were negative. He's off to see my specialist vet for his full physical on Monday Jan 4th.

I was hoping to start with all their enclosures side by side, but honestly Sam-son was making such a scene for the first 4-5 hours of having Jack in the house, that it was upsetting Deano, and scaring Jack. So I built Jack a "settling in" enclosure nearby my other boys, but not next to, for the moment.

Sam-son still becomes a bit crazy when he's out on his floor time, trying to find Jack and get to his cage. He REALLY wants to interact with Jack, but he's just so overbearing. I'm trying to explain to him that this is how he loses friends. Deano seems less interested overall, but I also don't think he's interested in sharing his space. I'm not sure about Jack's personality yet. He's really starting to come out of his shell. We've been hand feeding him, handling and socializing him as much as he will tolerate. Which is actually going very well. He's exploring more around his cage in the day. He has a favourite little hidey box that, he sometimes moves around like a hermit crab, so he can explore and also be covered. But he's coming out without his shell more and more. He's wheeking for his fresh greens at mealtimes, and has even starting to respond to Sam-son's calls. (He just hid and made absolutely no attempt to respond to the others for the first few days).

I'm getting them used to each other's smells and sounds, and am in the process of building a new enclosure for all three that will allow bar interaction, but no shared cage space. I'd LOVE to think that Jack could bond with one of my older boys, but I'm becoming skeptical of that possibility. Deano clicked loudly at him when nearing his enclosure, and gave us a decent bite when moving him away. (Deano is a bit of a biter, but this was a deeper, upset piggie bite, and Deano is very big and strong. Twice Jack's size and weight). Jack was also clicking with Deano being nearby, but he was near Jack's personal space, so it was not neutral ground.
Sam-son tries to get at Jack's enclosure and just goes crazy with the purring and rumble strutting when he get near Jack's bars. Sammy never starts clicking first, but Jack does after a minute with the crazy man Sammy making such a scene. Jack gave us a deep bite when moving him away from the bars with strutting Sammy on the other side. Jack was clicking and upset fairly quickly with all the ruckus, and I think he might bite Sam if we try a bonding. I don't think Sam will bite, but I do think he would be completely relentless with the dominance behaviours and eventually get bitten by little Jack when he pushed too far.

Because of Jack's history of being bullied (his poor ears are just shredded!), and also his blindness, I don't want to subject him to Sam-son and all his dominance behaviours. Especially right now, with Jack still getting used to us, and all the strange sounds and things in his new home.

At the moment, I don't even think bar interaction is wise until everyone settles down a bit. Does that seem right? Should I move Jack next to the other boys sooner?
I fear Sammy might break his teeth trying to yank the bars, if I do that. I had to cover one side for the first few nights, as he was trying so hard to get out and find Jack.
They are all smelling each others smells on the main floor area. (Sammy hunts nonstop for Jack during floortime. Deano really doesn't care and mostly wants food).

Should I switch around items from their individual spaces in the meantime? I haven't been doing that, as I don't want to put them on edge, but I know it is an introduction technique when introducing other species of animals who will share a home. I'm not sure if that is helpful for piggies, or if I will just make them think their home turf is being threatened by swapping toys and hidey's around.

And one more follow up question - If I cannot bond any pair out of my 3, what are the thoughts on neutering and adding female companions? Space wise, I could consider more female piggies to come be companions...especially with Sammy, who clearly wants a friend... But my two older guys are 4yo. I'm scared about the prospects of a neuter surgery for them, since it isn't strictly necessary. Deano and Sammy will lie together and nose poke each other through their shared bars. But seeing Sammy so desperately trying to get to Jack makes me think he's more lonely than Deano.

PS. I've read all the guides about behaviour, bringing home a new piggie, and bonding. I've read all the guides a few times, actually, because they are GREAT! Just looking for some additional thoughts on this, maybe more unique/sensitive situation. If anyone has done a boar bonding with a previously bullied piggie, I'd love to know more.

PSS. Sorry for the novel :)
 

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Siikibam

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I don’t know that swapping bedding is a good idea in their case, especially Sammy. If he was trying to get to Jack it’s not necessarily friendly.

I would consider trying him with Deano maybe...what do you mean when you say they click at each other? Do you mean they teeth chattering? That doesn’t entirely bode well either to be honest. That’s the problem with taking in piggies on spec. Another thing is that Jack is in his teenage months. This can make bonding more difficult, although not impossible.

The option to neuter is there, especially if you have an experienced vet that you trust. There have been boars on here neutered past age 4 who have come out of it okay. So I guess it’s up to you really.

I would put Jack’a cage next to your other pair. He needs that interaction and won’t get it when it’s a little far away. They don’t have the greatest eyesight.

Someone else will be along soon to advise you more.
 

VeeAngel

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Thank you! Good to know about neutering surgery at 4+ years! I think I'll inquire with my vet when I take Jack in for his health check. I'd like to know all the options, in any case. (Especially with Jack going forward, as he is so much younger than my older pals). I'm not looking to make to many more big changes right away until we settle from this last big shift ;)

Yes on the teeth chattering. Deano got a bit loud...but honestly, I think he's a just grumpy old man and really wants to eat his hay alone and in peace. However, this was not an introduction or attempted bonding. Deano was just poking around Jack's enclosure during his floor time. Jack also started his teeth chattering, but could have been in response to Deano's noise, or could have been defence of his space. I do worry Jack will be food insecure going forward and territorial because of his history.

I plan to try moving Jack's cage closer after his full physical on Monday. That'll give a few more days for the excitement to settle, and Jack to be reassured that he is safe. I can move him back a few feet or next only to Deano if it's too stressful to have him next to Sammy. Sammy is my little angel, but he can be exhausting!

I had vowed to myself that I wouldn't take in more piggies without trying to do an introduction first (there is only one group that will maybe do that in British Columbia. And I'm a donor for Small Animal Rescue Society of BC, but haven't actually inquired if they do Guinea Pig bonding. I know they are home fostering organization only, so unsure about dating service). Most rescue piggies here are through the SPCA, and they don't offer introductions or much other than medical rescue and rehoming. They do what they can, but they deal with huge volume of mostly cats and dogs, so they really just need to put animals into homes asap. I could not stand the thought of Jack being adopted out as a single and being alone forever.

Emotionally, I was prepared to have three single bachelor pigs when taking Jack (although I harboured secret fantasies of a love-at-first-sight match! I really need to stop reading romance novels!)
 
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