Attempting to form a sow trio

Scooter Pie

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Hi everyone!

I'm new around here and joined to get advice and support as I attempt to bond a new girl with my bonded female pair.

Buttercup (almost 4, 1275g) and Kona (around 1.5, 875g) have been living together since May. Buttercup had lost her cage mate on April 1 - they were sisters and I had them for a little over a year. We adopted Kona who had also lost her cage mate and was very depressed. Lost 200g and self-barbered herself pretty significantly. Bonding was relatively easy, aside from Kona then barbering Buttercup...but thankfully that stopped and they both have beautiful coats again.

I have been determined to have at least 3 pigs. Losing a pig suddenly, leaving someone alone, is something I dont want anyone to go through again!

Close to 3 weeks ago, we brought Cinnamon home as a foster-to-adopt. Not sure it's going to work.

We had the pigs totally separate for a week, in the same room but not able to see each other. Then we started some meetings between the bars. Cinnamon would yawn and chatter her teeth at either pig each time.

We did some lap meetings which went really well - no aggressive displays at all.

Then we moved to a meeting in a neutral floor time pen with Buttercup and Kona together and Cinnamon on her own side. C again yawned and teeth chattered. Then Kona and Buttercup had a little dominance facing off of their own which I didnt expect.

After Cinnamon had been with us two weeks, just this past Thursday the 6th, we tried our first real meeting. Neutral large floor time pen with a big pile of lettuce and hay. They ate together without seeming to notice each other. This moment is my avatar pic!

Once the lettuce was gone, things picked up. First, Cinnamon turned her attention to Kona. Yawned at her, raised chin and chattered. Kona was kind of like "whatever" and walked away and Cinnamon didnt go after her.

Then Buttercup and Cinnamon faced each other. Both with chins raised and both chattering louder and louder till Buttercup lunged at Cinnamon. They walked around the pen again and a few seconds later, faced off and lunged at each other again.

Happened the same way a third time, and Buttercup had a tuft of fur in her mouth so we ended it. No injuries but...very discouraging. The whole time this was going on, Kona just ate hay like nothing was happening.

I should note, Cinnamon is around 1000g and more of a round pig like Buttercup. We dont know her age. 1-2 years is what the shelter estimated.

So...we then built a small extension on Cinnamon's cage which is side by side with Buttercup and Kona's. She seemed eager to be close to them. That was Friday, and they would half the time peacefully nibble hay near each other, but Cinnamon would also yawn and teeth chatter at them sometimes.

Friday there was one moment where Buttercup and Kona started chin raised chattering and a lunge at each other. This never happened since they've moved in together.

Saturday morning Cinnamon and Kona chattered/teeth chattered at each other through the bars, but that was it. The rest of the day they just nicely ate hay together near each other (I put lots of fresh hay on both of their sides and they can share some through the bars.

I'm attaching a pic of their setups with the area they can be side by side.

Anyway, it's 11:30 pm Saturday night here. Tomorrow, Sunday, we are planning on trying another floor time meeting. It will have been 2 days in between their first meeting, with those days with the side by side meeting area.

Any advice before we try again will be appreciated!

Cinnamon is technically a foster but we plan to keep her one way or another. She is extremely shy and very skittish - not the kind of piggie that most want to adopt. 3048BE0B-FF82-4D18-AD1E-36D5E3BC802A.jpegE470939A-6186-4FCB-BD34-737F950C2629.jpeg
 

Wiebke

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Hi!

I am very sorry for your loss.

Please take the time to carefully read the guide links below before you stage any intros. They take you step by step through all stages of the complex bonding process, which can derail at any stage. There is no magic wand measure that can make piggies like each other. Any tension in bonded piggies can come down between them and cause at the worst a permanent fall out. You need to abort the bonding asap as it is not going to work anyway in those circumstances.

When choosing companions and introducing at home, then please always have a plan B at the ready in case the bonding doesn't work out. Trios are unfortunately the most difficult constellation to get right; and they are the one that is most prone to an outsider problem of some sort. they are great when they work but they have a tendency to fail more often than not.

Once sows have made up their mind that another piggy won't suit, you have had it; they are not going to change their stance for the next few years, unfortunately.

The best way of finding a personality compatible mate is by rescue dating if you can get to a rescue that offers meet&greet intros at the rescue under expert supervision on adoption day.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
 

Scooter Pie

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Plan B is to just have them side by side....or possibly bonding Cinnamon with her own friend and having two pairs. She’s already in an enclosure big enough for two (and it could be made bigger)

Cinnamon was brought to the shelter in June along with her original cage mate, another pair of females, and a pair of males. The 6 of them had been housed together at a different rescue not as familiar with piggies.....and before long they were suspected to be pregnant. All except Cinnamon. She stayed at the shelter and the other 3 went to separate foster homes. I'm not sure how they got it wrong, but 70 days past with no babies and they confirmed at an exotics vet they were experiencing false pregnancies!

Any thoughts on reuniting? We definitely would take her to visit to see if they remember each other.
 

Wiebke

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Plan B is to just have them side by side....or possibly bonding Cinnamon with her own friend and having two pairs. She’s already in an enclosure big enough for two (and it could be made bigger)

Cinnamon was brought to the shelter in June along with her original cage mate, another pair of females, and a pair of males. The 6 of them had been housed together at a different rescue not as familiar with piggies.....and before long they were suspected to be pregnant. All except Cinnamon. She stayed at the shelter and the other 3 went to separate foster homes. I'm not sure how they got it wrong, but 70 days past with no babies and they confirmed at an exotics vet they were experiencing false pregnancies!

Any thoughts on reuniting? We definitely would take her to visit to see if they remember each other.
If you could arrange a meet and greet option at the rescue to let Cinnamon choose which one she gets on best, then that would be the best option. If sows have not fallen out with and doesn't have personal issues with a sow she has previously lived with, they will often go back together with relatively little fuss as they know where they stand with each other - even several years later as my two oldies groups some years apart for different generations have shown.
 

Scooter Pie

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That’s good news that a reunion might work! The original cage mate is described as “very docile”.

I should have said before I posted....I did read all the guides. And I'm feeling really sad that trios are so difficult. You wont find that info too easily anywhere except here. Luckily Buttercup and Kona seem to be doing fine...

Would you guys say that if the meeting today is no better, I shouldn't continue?
 

Scooter Pie

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Me again, haha! I just watched the Strong Season video again. Buttercup does this for about 1 day a month. That just happened to be around the same day first tried the 3 pigs together. Maybe that will make a difference.
 

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That’s good news that a reunion might work! The original cage mate is described as “very docile”.

I should have said before I posted....I did read all the guides. And I'm feeling really sad that trios are so difficult. You wont find that info too easily anywhere except here. Luckily Buttercup and Kona seem to be doing fine...

Would you guys say that if the meeting today is no better, I shouldn't continue?
I wouldn't because in my experience even if they went together eventually, the problem is going to resurface again and again and again with the grudge factor growing. It doesn't matter whether they are related or not; eventually you will have to split or live with constant squabbling, mobbing or outright face-offs and even scuffles.

Just keep to your working pair as it is. Keep in mind that Cinnamon has likely got fear aggression problems and that 'very docile' rather translates as being 'rather traumatised and playing uninteresting prey' but that it doesn't necessarily say anything about how she is with other piggies so make sure that you have return option if things don't work. However, a known piggy would be the best way to get around the fear aggression issue.
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
 

Scooter Pie

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Ok...just to clarify, it's Cinnamon's original cage mate the shelter says is very docile. Not sure I expressed that. But you're right, I definitely think Cinnamon is experiencing fear-aggression. I cant even get up quietly from sitting next to her without her bolting to hide.

So you recommend not trying again with my pair, and seeing if we can get her old friend to work out?

I already feel like I really messed up bringing a 3rd home. I swear I googled "bonding new pig with bonded pair" every way you could imagine!
 

Wiebke

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Ok...just to clarify, it's Cinnamon's original cage mate the shelter says is very docile. Not sure I expressed that. But you're right, I definitely think Cinnamon is experiencing fear-aggression. I cant even get up quietly from sitting next to her without her bolting to hide.

So you recommend not trying again with my pair, and seeing if we can get her old friend to work out?

I already feel like I really messed up bringing a 3rd home. I swear I googled "bonding new pig with bonded pair" every way you could imagine!
Reuniting Cinnamon with her old cage mate would be my personal first option by an English mile (which is longer than the US mile).
 

Scooter Pie

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Can I just say this pig drama is probably me avoiding thinking about my kids going back to school in a pandemic?

They are pressuring me to try one more time with the 3 pigs. Because if we've only tried once how do we KNOW? I dont want to cause any real damage here. My kids are older and smart and very involved. Very persistant.

Thanks everyone for listening 💕
 

Wiebke

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Cinnamon is going to have a play date at the shelter tomorrow with her old friend Sugar. Will keep you posted. 💕🐷🐷✨🐷🐷💕
Fingers very firmly crossed! Once they recognise each other, they will hopefully be fine with minimal dominance behaviour.
 

Scooter Pie

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I rewatched the video from the first meeting. OMG. Both pigs were facing each other with mouths open, one front paw off the ground, and the lunging started almost immediately. I do not want to see that again!

But they are very peaceful and content looking across the fence sharing hay 💕
 

alpacasqueak

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I rewatched the video from the first meeting. OMG. Both pigs were facing each other with mouths open, one front paw off the ground, and the lunging started almost immediately. I do not want to see that again!

But they are very peaceful and content looking across the fence sharing hay 💕
Think you’ve definitely made the right decision then, doesn’t sound like a good meeting! At least no one was hurt and hopefully they can all be happy in pairs instead! :D
 

Scooter Pie

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Think you’ve definitely made the right decision then, doesn’t sound like a good meeting! At least no one was hurt and hopefully they can all be happy in pairs instead! :D
Right?! My 15 year old is driving me crazy. She wants to "try again" and I told her not to ask me, that it's not a good idea and do NOT get her little brother started on me too!

We witnessed the pair starting to chatter at the new pig through the bars just a little while ago. New pig was teeth chattering. She saw this and is STILL saying "it's not fair" I'm not letting her have an opinion.

Well as soon as she's online all day reading articles and asking for advice, she can have an opinion 🤪

Guess I should have read the manual on teenagers!
 
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