Bereavement & next steps and options

tasha25

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Hi,

We had a very happily bonded pair of boars for 4 years, however one of them recently developed a mammary tumor... he had it operated on and the vet and us were optimistic but unfortunately the next day he passed away, we think maybe his heart gave out. We are absolutely devastated as he was the sweetest, most fun little pig, and the pair got along so well. We're exploring our next steps and options to help our remaining pig through this.

I've read some of the posts about bereavement and introducing new pigs, combinations that work, etc. but had a few queries I hope someone could help with. We've had guinea pigs for many years but this is the first time we're experiencing this particular situation and want to do our best for our current pig and any future piggies. We are a little limited in that we are quite rural and don't have a lot of options for adopting guinea pigs, but of course we are targeting reputable breeders (and may go back to the place we got this pair from). I've had a look at rescues for older pigs but can't seem to locate any close enough that have any piggies available, and guinea pig dating is difficult given the present circumstances. So we're looking at getting a young boar, or maybe two, but had some questions! We don't want to rush into this but are aware that our current guinea pig will be experiencing loneliness.

Our guinea pigs have always been kept in the same room we're in throughout the day, and we are very hands on with lots of cuddles, feeding, floor time, etc. We're also targeting boars because we're comfortable looking after them despite them having a bad reputation, we've always had boars and they've all been lovely little chaps! So we're thinking about...

1 - a single young boar. What are the chances of this working out? We had very few problems with fights, we think our current pig was the dominant one but they had a very amicable relationship. If it didn't work out, but we kept the two of them side by side, would this be enough interaction (along with floor time together) for them both?

2 - a young boar pair. I've read that three boars has a high possibility of not working out? Is this definite or does it depend on age and temperaments?

3 - a young boar pair, but kept separately. Would it be enough interaction if we had a divided cage with the young pair in one area, and the older pig in an area on his own?

4 - if dividing the cage, do they need direct sight to interact or would it be ok if they were on separate levels? I get the impression that direct sight is important but would want to try and avoid scrapping through the bars.

Thanks in advance!
 

Piggies&buns

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I am sorry for your loss

Character compatibility is the most important factor when it comes to a compatible bond not age.

While getting a younger boar means he won’t challenge for dominance straight away, you won’t know what will happen when the youngster becomes a teen. If you took this option you would need to prepare for failure down the line (ie them having to live separately if their relationship didn’t work) if they aren’t compatible but hopefully they would be ok. More boar pairs do make it together than not, but there will always be that element of risk given you don’t know the temperament of the youngster. They could live by side by side should the relationship fail. However, If failure does occur, they can never have any physical interaction, they must always be kept apart so no floor time together. This would be the option I went for in your situation.

Three boars together is not likely to work at all plus the space required to even attempt it is rather large - a square metre per piggy but even with all the space in the world, three together is most often a recipe for trouble. You would most likely end up with fights and still with a single piggy and hopefully one functioning pair. At worst, all three could fall out and then you’ve got three single piggies. Of all your options, keeping three boars together would not be the one to attempt.

Getting another young pair and then living alongside your current single boy. This would be fine to do.
You would also want to bear in mind the chance that the young pair won’t be compatible down the line and once the teens hit, so if they were to fall out you would need to separate them. Potentially one of them could be bonded with your current boy, but again there is no guarantee, you could still end up with three singles.

When piggies are separated, they need to be side by side. They cannot be on separate levels. They need to be able to have constant through the bar interaction for sight (body language) and smell to prevent loneliness.

I know you’ve said you’re used to boars but neutering him (having the six week wait) and getting him a sow wife (or two) is the other option. A sow/boar pairing is the most stable long term. Once initial acceptance has occurred, you are less likely to have problems down the line.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
 
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Siikibam

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I’m so sorry for your loss. You did the best for your boy and I’m sure he felt very loved up to the end.

I wanted to pick up on your point of being rural. Please don’t discount rescues that are a little further afield, if you can get to them. A lot also don’t list single piggies on their website so you’re best contacting them and getting yourself on the waiting list.

I do hope you can find your boy a friend soon. Current circumstances have made things difficult but there is hope yet ☺
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome

I am very sorry for your loss!

You may also find our singles guide helpful as it looks at singles in a range of situations and the different challenges they pose, including bereavement. It also has a chapter on companionship with valid options and their various pros and cons; and how to best go about them.
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities

Please stay off boar trios unless the boars can choose each other (character balance still applies!) and they are ideally all older adults whose testosterone is fizzling out but those trios are generally rare and the boars need to be all on the laid back side or ideally know each other from being neighbours and friends through the bars for some time.
The more youngsters there are in the mix, the more likely you end up with a pair and a single or three singles at the worst because they are most exposed to the massive hormone spikes. Balancing two personalities through teenage is difficult; with three you are very much on the losing side.

Rescue dating for companionship or a living alongside option are to be greatly preferred. Best of all is the direct companionship option with another boar.
If possible consider adopting from a good welfare standard rescue as that eliminates all the usual pitfalls that can come with piggies from places without quarantine or medical care, and you have the rescue to fall back if things don't work out to plan. anybody in this country can call themselves a rescue or a breeder (or anything in between) without licensing or supervision. Shows do not cover care at home, so some members have had some rather unpleasant surprises. We can only guarantee that you are in safe hands for the carefully vetted rescues in our locator.

PS: With a living alongside option you can also look at sows as long as the two parties cannot wiggle or jump into each other's cages (all piggies can make babies until the day they die, even in old age) and the boar's cage is secured with cable ties. Since your bereaved boar has nobody to fall out with, sow pheromones are not an issue.
 

Lady Kelly

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I think you are right to consider another boar for him. At 4 years old the option of neutering is still there but there is a higher risk the older the piggy is, I personally wouldn't want to neuter at this age unless he were unable to bond with any other male.

I agree with Siikibam, I would try and travel for the right rescue. Boar dating is fab and at least you can bring a new piggy home confident that there is a good bond. Also I know that boars, particularly older boars, are often overlooked in rescues so end up staying there for some time.

If this really isn't an option then make sure you ask plenty of questions of the breeder you choose. Whilst I don't believe there is such a thing as a reputable breeder (as with pet shops, profit will always have to come first) there are definitely breeders that are better than others. Would they be willing to help you bond your boy so that you would hopefully end up with a compatible pairing?
 

tasha25

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Wanted to say thank you for your thoughts and kindness. Our remaining piggie is definitely sensing that his friend is not just on holiday or hiding somewhere. :-(

We've been thinking about it a lot and discussing it and think going down the route of one single boar is best right now, and we're doing plenty of research on how to best introduce them and our various options for finding a good fit.

Definitely take on board the idea of getting a rescue and will be looking around to see what we can find, we do know that boars are overlooked a lot (a bit part of why we want to stick with them) and will be asking questions, etc. to make sure we can make things happy for all involved.

Thank you again and I'm sure I'll be back if we have more questions, I've read this forum for a long time and appreciate the expertise!
 

Wiebke

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Wanted to say thank you for your thoughts and kindness. Our remaining piggie is definitely sensing that his friend is not just on holiday or hiding somewhere. :-(

We've been thinking about it a lot and discussing it and think going down the route of one single boar is best right now, and we're doing plenty of research on how to best introduce them and our various options for finding a good fit.

Definitely take on board the idea of getting a rescue and will be looking around to see what we can find, we do know that boars are overlooked a lot (a bit part of why we want to stick with them) and will be asking questions, etc. to make sure we can make things happy for all involved.

Thank you again and I'm sure I'll be back if we have more questions, I've read this forum for a long time and appreciate the expertise!
Please rescue date if possible so you come home with a new mate only if acceptance has happened and the biggest first hurdle has been taken.

If you get boars on spec you will have to plan for the case that they do not get on (about 50% risk). Any boars that doesn't come from a rescue with mandatory quarantine/vet care will also have to undergo a quarantine. Our recommended good welfare standard rescues all rehome only fully quarantined and healthy piggies with an extra 10 weeks pregnancy watch for any incoming sows.
We cannot guarantee for other rescues or piggies from other sources - the risks are all on your side in this case.
New guinea pigs: Sexing, vet checks&customer rights, URI, ringworm and parasites
Rescue Locator
 
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