Constant rumble strutting

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Hello, I have a 10 month male guinea pig (Pepper) and we have followed advice to bond him to a younger male, Noodle (4 months). The initial meetings went well and they moved in to their C&C cage together a few days ago. Since there Pepper has been constantly chasing and rumble strutting after Noodle. We have some pauses when they calm down/eat/rest, but otherwise it feels pretty constant. Noodle for the most part lets Pepper do this, except for spraying him with wee and some small nippy lunges (where he hasn't pierced skin/drawn blood - not sure if he has even nipped) occasionally. Pepper lets Noodle eat/drink. Yesterday the chasing seemed particularly bad and Noodle was making a lot of noise, so I thought I'd put a divider in the cage to cool things off a little. However, Pepper spent all the time aggressively eating the bars / trying to charge through (to a point where I thought Pepper would hurt his teeth!). Pepper was even trying to jump on his hidey so he could climb over the bars. In some ways the behaviour isn't physically aggressive (i.e. no actual fighting, no blood drawn) but I cannot see how this can be making either of them happy.

I'm finding it incredibly distressing to watch - but not sure if I should separate them yet. Worried about poor Noodle's mental health!

Thanks,

F
 

Piggies&buns

Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
13,711
Reaction score
16,738
Points
2,125
Location
Cambridgeshire
:wel:
This actually sounds normal. It can be distressing for us though. Pepper is asserting his dominance and establishing himself as top pig. The bonding period goes on for some weeks after initial introductions. Also, your boys are both within their teens which is the hardest time to bond them.
Put them back together and observe. As long as there aren’t any full on fights, then do just leave them to establish their bond and hierarchy. If you separate then you interrupt their processes.

The noise, squeaking etc, is usually a sign of submission. Noodle accepts pepper is boss. This is perfect and what you need to happen.

What size is their cage? Cage Size Guide

A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Thanks for your quick reply - I feel better! The cage is a 2x4 C&C cage, but I wonder if I should upgrade to a 2x5 or put in a loft extension. I'll keep watching them and hope they settle!
 

Piggies&buns

Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
13,711
Reaction score
16,738
Points
2,125
Location
Cambridgeshire
Thanks for your quick reply - I feel better! The cage is a 2x4 C&C cage, but I wonder if I should upgrade to a 2x5 or put in a loft extension. I'll keep watching them and hope they settle!
We recommend a minimum cage size of a 2x5 for two boys. Boys need more room than a pair of sows. If you can upgrade their cage, then do so.
A loft is fine to add, it does give them somewhere to get away from each other but only ground level areas count towards their cage size, so, if you add a loft, you won’t actually be making their cage any bigger.
 

Piggies&buns

Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
13,711
Reaction score
16,738
Points
2,125
Location
Cambridgeshire
Also, ensure you don’t have any enclosed hideys, all must have two exits so that noodle can’t get cornered.
Also ensure you have multiple of everything - multiple bottles, hay piles, food bowls and hideys (more hideys than piggies is often a good idea)
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Thank you - yes no enclosed hideys and two of everything - although they both only seem to use the same food bowls/bottles/food piles (which I was hoping was a good sign?). Thanks @Piggies&buns
 

Piggies&buns

Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
13,711
Reaction score
16,738
Points
2,125
Location
Cambridgeshire
I should have added, new territories often set off dominance behaviours. So if you change their cage size then do everything you can to minimise the impact ie don’t clean out their cage at the same time, keep the same bedding so that it still smells of them.

If they’re happy to share bowls, then that is good! Noodle isn’t yet into the most difficult part of his teens though so do keep an eye on things as he gets older
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
I should have added, new territories often set off dominance behaviours. So if you change their cage size then do everything you can to minimise the impact ie don’t clean out their cage at the same time, keep the same bedding so that it still smells of them.

If they’re happy to share bowls, then that is good! Noodle isn’t yet into the most difficult part of his teens though so do keep an eye on things as he gets older
Thanks! This is really helpful :)
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
77,143
Reaction score
53,930
Points
3,466
Location
Coventry UK
Thanks for your quick reply - I feel better! The cage is a 2x4 C&C cage, but I wonder if I should upgrade to a 2x5 or put in a loft extension. I'll keep watching them and hope they settle!
Hi!

It sounds about par for the course for me. Rumblestrutting is mild dominance behaviour. It is the way boars actually measure up to each other peacefully as well as wooing the girls. Give me a 'rumble-singer' anytime over a 'mountaineer' (a boar who expresses himself mainly by mounting their partner of any gender)!
What most people are not aware that the full bonding process lasts around 2 weeks on average until a new group if fully established, not just a few hours.
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics

When you extend your cage, please follow the tips on that issue in our boar guide in order to minimise the chance of a renewed hierarchy sort-out and more dominance behaviour: A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars

You may want to read up on the links in this threads as they teach you to understand interactive behaviour and the dynamics, understand the complex bonding process, learn to spot problems early and how you can best avoid them if possible.
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Hi!

It sounds about par for the course for me. Rumblestrutting is mild dominance behaviour. It is the way boars actually measure up to each other peacefully as well as wooing the girls. Give me a 'rumble-singer' anytime over a 'mountaineer' (a boar who expresses himself mainly by mounting their partner of any gender)!
What most people are not aware that the full bonding process lasts around 2 weeks on average until a new group if fully established, not just a few hours.
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics

When you extend your cage, please follow the tips on that issue in our boar guide in order to minimise the chance of a renewed hierarchy sort-out and more dominance behaviour: A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars

You may want to read up on the links in this threads as they teach you to understand interactive behaviour and the dynamics, understand the complex bonding process, learn to spot problems early and how you can best avoid them if possible.
Thank you :) my mind is at rest!
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Hello! The bonding process between Pepper and Noodle has taken on a slightly different character now. For the most part the behaviour is the same, but there are now instances of teeth chattering (quite loud) and some lunging. Still, no blood has been drawn yet. I've noticed that Noodle has started to challenge a bit more, by doing a little chasing and even lunging at Pepper. He still sprays wee too. It seems that the aggression has gone a notch up and I'm rather worried about it.

I should note that they do also exhibit some of the positive behaviours listed in the 'Bonding and Interaction' guide, such as eating together, sleeping near each other and sniffing. But it seems few and far between!

On a related note - is it normal for guinea pigs to be a little more withdrawn during bonding processes? I feel both have regressed in terms of their confidence levels with humans!

Gosh - it's a horrible time for guinea pig parents :(.

Thanks all for your time!
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
77,143
Reaction score
53,930
Points
3,466
Location
Coventry UK
Hello! The bonding process between Pepper and Noodle has taken on a slightly different character now. For the most part the behaviour is the same, but there are now instances of teeth chattering (quite loud) and some lunging. Still, no blood has been drawn yet. I've noticed that Noodle has started to challenge a bit more, by doing a little chasing and even lunging at Pepper. He still sprays wee too. It seems that the aggression has gone a notch up and I'm rather worried about it.

I should note that they do also exhibit some of the positive behaviours listed in the 'Bonding and Interaction' guide, such as eating together, sleeping near each other and sniffing. But it seems few and far between!

On a related note - is it normal for guinea pigs to be a little more withdrawn during bonding processes? I feel both have regressed in terms of their confidence levels with humans!

Gosh - it's a horrible time for guinea pig parents :(.

Thanks all for your time!
Hi! your boys are now in the post-introduction dominance phase where they may or may not be able to work out a hierarchy and a functional group between them. A bonding can fail at this stage when they can't come to an agreement.
 

Piggies&buns

Forum Donator 2020/21
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
13,711
Reaction score
16,738
Points
2,125
Location
Cambridgeshire
This link shows the ramping up of behaviours.
Prepare for the worst but hope for the best - have extra grids or another cage at the ready in case you need to separate. Fingers crossed they can sort things out, but it’s always best to be prepared

Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
 

FrancesV

New Born Pup
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
46
Reaction score
98
Points
225
Location
London, UK
Hello all,

we’ve almost come to the end of two weeks of pepper and noodle living together for the first time. To be honest, the situation has improved in some senses (they seem calmer some of the time) but other times it’s still a little difficult to watch. What I am seeing is:

- pepper still rumblestruts (most times when noodle moves near him - so every 15 minutes or so).
- we occasionally see teeth chattering but not nearly as much.
-pepper lets noodle eat and drink and sleep. I don’t think there is bullying here.
-noodle is starting to ‘play up’ a bit. He was always the more submissive of the two, but recently I’ve seen him starting on pepper by raising his nose and giving a little lunge. He is young and playful and sometimes I think he just snaps with pepper’s constant rumbling ! He also doesn’t seem to respect pepper’s space - he will run up to him and try to take his food which inevitably leads to tension!
-noodle spends most of the day emitting the quiet squeaking which you previously described as part of the submissive behaviour.
I’ve expanded their cage - it’s now 2x4 with an extension of 1x3 and they have two of everything (although they seem to both like to use the same bowl and bottles interchangeably).
I don’t quite know when I should a) accept that this is a rocky pairing and keep them together knowing that they may always be scrappy with each other (and wary that it could escalate) b) house them separately in c&c cages (unfortunately it would have to be one on top of the other rather than side by side for space reasons) and post lockdown consider neutering and finding them a girl guinea each, or taking them for boar bonding somewhere in the hope they can both find a match to bring home.
I suppose I don’t know whether this is normal behaviour. Previously boys I had used to have some aggressive moments at times but it was by no means daily (even less hourly!).

many thanks all,

f
 

Wiebke

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
77,143
Reaction score
53,930
Points
3,466
Location
Coventry UK
Hello all,

we’ve almost come to the end of two weeks of pepper and noodle living together for the first time. To be honest, the situation has improved in some senses (they seem calmer some of the time) but other times it’s still a little difficult to watch. What I am seeing is:

- pepper still rumblestruts (most times when noodle moves near him - so every 15 minutes or so).
- we occasionally see teeth chattering but not nearly as much.
-pepper lets noodle eat and drink and sleep. I don’t think there is bullying here.
-noodle is starting to ‘play up’ a bit. He was always the more submissive of the two, but recently I’ve seen him starting on pepper by raising his nose and giving a little lunge. He is young and playful and sometimes I think he just snaps with pepper’s constant rumbling ! He also doesn’t seem to respect pepper’s space - he will run up to him and try to take his food which inevitably leads to tension!
-noodle spends most of the day emitting the quiet squeaking which you previously described as part of the submissive behaviour.
I’ve expanded their cage - it’s now 2x4 with an extension of 1x3 and they have two of everything (although they seem to both like to use the same bowl and bottles interchangeably).
I don’t quite know when I should a) accept that this is a rocky pairing and keep them together knowing that they may always be scrappy with each other (and wary that it could escalate) b) house them separately in c&c cages (unfortunately it would have to be one on top of the other rather than side by side for space reasons) and post lockdown consider neutering and finding them a girl guinea each, or taking them for boar bonding somewhere in the hope they can both find a match to bring home.
I suppose I don’t know whether this is normal behaviour. Previously boys I had used to have some aggressive moments at times but it was by no means daily (even less hourly!).

many thanks all,

f

Hi and welcome

Most people are not aware that guinea pig bonding doesn't just take a few hours but actually several weeks. On average it takes about two weeks after the introduction to fully establish a group.

The behaviour is totally normal and very much within acceptable bounds. You will have to play the teenage by ear and take it as it comes. More boys than not will actually stay together but it is always an issue, especially as most people choose their boars for looks and not who they hang out with most.

Here is more information:
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics (also covers the post-intro dominance phase)
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
 
Top