Advice on my stroppy boys please...boar behaviour/bullying issues

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hellsbells82

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These piggies are causing me much worry this week!

Basically I had two pairs or boars, they've never seen each other on the advice of people on here, and live above one another in the kitchen.

Charlie (4 months) lost his brother on Weds and seemed a bit lost without him, many people suggested that I put Charlie where he could see my other boars, Fitz and Roy, so he felt less lonely- so on Friday I put Fitz and Roy in the indoor run, and Charlie's cage on the floor next to them, they seemed fine and stayed out for most of the day. However in the evening, when back in their cages I heard a lot of noise and rushed through and found Fitz sat up in one corner of the big boys cage and poor Roy had lifted the hay tray up and was trying to hide underneath it, so was obviously scared, I got both boys out alone and checked for bites/teeth/nails etc and couldn't see any signs of harm, however I suspect that seeing Charlie had triggered some dominance behaviour and Roy had been given a good fright by Fitz.

As no blood was drawn I left the boys in the cage together and went to bed (Friday night), Saturday morning I came down and hardly any food looked to have been eaten, both boy were camped out in seperate corners and wouldn't come out to me when I took veggies to the cage, I picked Roy up and he was all wet and smelt of wee round the bum so had obviously kept sitting in his own wee on the hay in the corner. Anyway I took Roy out, with a tray of hay and some food etc and set him up in the next room, he was fine pottering about and eating etc and seemed much happier. After a couple of hours
I was sure he didn't seem ill injured so decided to set up the indoor pen and try the boys together again, initially in a totally empty pen, then added two food bowls, two hay trays, beds etc, both boys were running around, wheeking, taking food and went to sleep cuddled up together under a sort of fleece tent I made, I decided that as they seemed so much happier to leave them in there for a while and they slept in there last night and stayed in there this morning, seemingly getting along fine again with no signs of dominance.

So this afternoon (Sunday) I cleaned out their cage, totally rearranged it all and put them back, both boys have barely moved since, Roy was camped out on the upper level and Fitz underneath and neither came out for food etc, I've put food, hay, water and veg in reach of each one and they're both eating, but Roy especially seems very nervous and doesn't look happy at all, he's just come "downstairs" for the first time in hours but is huddled as far away from Fitz as possible.

Obviously I want to keep them together, but don't want them to be unhappy, and I'm quite worried today about how "different" they both seem, as they were fine in the pen I'm wondering if it's the cage that's an issue and whether to switch their cage with Charlie's- both are 120cm/4 foot cages, but the bigger boys have two mezzanine levels so actually have more breathing space (Roy is camped upstairs at the moment) so am wondering if putting them in the single tier cage will make things worse as they'll have less room.

I suppose I'm just wondering how long to leave it before intervening, I know some people say not unless blood is drawn, but they do seem pretty miserable right now.
 

hellsbells82

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anyone any ideas? They actually seem slightly better this morning, but Roy has just moved in to the mezzanine level which obviously isn't ideal, I've just done their weekly weigh in this morning and Roy has lost 90g, so obviously hasn't been happy for the last few days, am just debating whether to try them in the other cage as they seem fine when in the run.
 

lauralucy

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sorry no advice but just wanted to wish you luck with them all.
 

hellsbells82

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here is a diary of how it could be going on try washing everything like on day one
http://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/showthread.php?p=979484#post979484
problem with the bath is they've just had their last dose of ivermectin drops and am worried about washing it off!

Roy seems to have been bullied onto the upper level of the cage, they've lived together fine for months and months so am really hoping we can get past this, but am worried about the fact he's lost 90g in a week, am going to try switching the cages for now after cleaning with vinegar etc, and see if that helps, am going to weigh Roy daily, but if he keeps losing weight I don't think it's fair to keep them together. He's also been chewing a plastic bowl today which I suspect may be due to stress.
 

AudioHeart

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Have you tried a bonding bath? It might work if they all smell like one another...you could also see about having several hay trays and hideys dotted around the cage so they have somewhere to get away from one another, and eat/sleep in peace...how many hideys to you have in the cage atm?

Its odd that they arent interacting with one another though. I'd also take Roy out of the cage and feed him seperately from the others for a few days and see if that makes any difference. :)
 

gizmo01

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if you are wary of bonding try a dab of vicks on their nose they wont be able to smell each other because of it then
 

hellsbells82

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sorry I don't know if it was clear from my post, but only Fitz and Roy are together, Charlie is now right out of view of their cage alone, I'm not even going to consider bonding three of them as Roy and Charlie are quite close in age really.

Basically they're in this cage http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small_pets/hutches_cages/rabbit_cage/120_cm_cages/95923 with lots of cosies/wooden things/tubes, but Roy has just been living on the upstairs platform since I put them back in the cage yesterday, it's like Fitz has decided the rest of the cage is his territory and is happy as long as Roy stays up there, which he has, with veg, hay, water and pellets and fleece (it's getting a bit crowded though), put them in the run and they're fine together though!
 

hellsbells82

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sorry if my posts seem garbled, I'm juggling a screaming 17 month old with suspected chicken pox and a moody 3 year old and can do without naughty piggies to add to the stress
 

hellsbells82

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Just an update on Fitz and Roy- things are looooaaddss better and I'm so pleased.

Basically they were fine in the run, but the issues were happening in the cage, so while they were in the run I cleaned the cage out yet again, I scrubbed everything with vinegar and got out spare beds and bowls that haven't been used for ages, I took the mezzanine down and put it on the other side of the cage and even turned the tray round so that the corners would smell different, repositioned everything yet again then put both boys back in.

Put them both back in and Roy headed straight for the corner and hid, Fitz went upstairs and settled there and and I wasn't hopeful, but a couple of hours later I saw Roy out eating food in the cage for the first time in days, this morning I came to give them veggies and Roy was the first one up at the cage bars wheeking, I was so, so pleased and both boys seem much more relaxed, I weighed Roy and he's gained a few grams, not much but he's at least been eating in the last 24hrs as hasn't dropped any more weight.
 
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