dominance or agression in 2 sows

Signe2703

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About two weeks ago i bought two sows from the same litter. by now theyre about 7-8 weeks old (I'm not exactly sure how old they were when i got them). They're very frightened and hide most of the time I'm home, but will occasionally come out and eat if i dont make too much noise or any big movements. I try to handle them for about 15 minutes once every day or every other day where i place them in my lap with a towel over them to make it less frightening. (i dont kno whether or not this gets them used to me or if it frightens them more. ive read contrasting articles) I also give them floor time for a few hours every day (during which they mostly hide, but once again, will occasionally come out and look around). My issue is that, although they will mostly eat and sleep together, their dominance behavior has increased over the last few weeks instead of decreasing. I havent noticed much rumblestrutting or chin rasing, but one of the piggies keeps madly chasing the other and lunging for her while sometimes nipping her. The other one mostly runs away and hides but ive seen her rumblestrutting and mounting the first one on a few occasions. Their cage is on the smaller side (around 6 square feet/0,55 square metres) but until i can get a bigger cage I'm trying to make up for it with floor time. they chase each other maybe around 5 times a day (including nighttime) and this behavior isnt decreasing. Should i be worried? They have three hideys with two exits and i try to give them food and hay in two piles. What could be causing my problem?
 

Wiebke

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About two weeks ago i bought two sows from the same litter. by now theyre about 7-8 weeks old (I'm not exactly sure how old they were when i got them). They're very frightened and hide most of the time I'm home, but will occasionally come out and eat if i dont make too much noise or any big movements. I try to handle them for about 15 minutes once every day or every other day where i place them in my lap with a towel over them to make it less frightening. (i dont kno whether or not this gets them used to me or if it frightens them more. ive read contrasting articles) I also give them floor time for a few hours every day (during which they mostly hide, but once again, will occasionally come out and look around). My issue is that, although they will mostly eat and sleep together, their dominance behavior has increased over the last few weeks instead of decreasing. I havent noticed much rumblestrutting or chin rasing, but one of the piggies keeps madly chasing the other and lunging for her while sometimes nipping her. The other one mostly runs away and hides but ive seen her rumblestrutting and mounting the first one on a few occasions. Their cage is on the smaller side (around 6 square feet/0,55 square metres) but until i can get a bigger cage I'm trying to make up for it with floor time. they chase each other maybe around 5 times a day (including nighttime) and this behavior isnt decreasing. Should i be worried? They have three hideys with two exits and i try to give them food and hay in two piles. What could be causing my problem?
Hi and welcome!

The dominance phase can take longer than 2 weeks and you have to also factor in when sows come into season, which puts any dominance behaviour kind of on steroids for a couple of days.

Nipping is no worry; that is normal behaviour, but the lunging is a very strongly worded 'Stay out of my space'.
While sows in most cases won't fall out, anti-social sows can happen, even in sisters - I have a couple of sister pairs with that kind of behaviour, which sometimes settles down for a while to only flare up again. In my second pair, one of the girls has just upped sticks and introduced herself into a newly neutered boar's pen and existence without a backward glance. It has admittedly really calmed down things even though the boar was destined for one of the other sister pair... In my experience nopig squabbles as full on as litter sisters.

I would recommend to try a trial separation (see link below) and see how they react - whether they want to be together or whether one of them is suddenly perking up when away from the other. In the second case, you are dealing with a dysfunctional bond; in the first you have to put up with the behaviour. This is the best way to get an honest opinion from your guinea pigs as you can't ask them directly.
Bonds In Trouble

PS: both pairs have been born to very stressed mothers.
 

cucumberpiggies

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Don't worry - this is normal at the start.
First when guinea pigs meet each other and realize they have to live together, they chase eachother (only sometimes) and behave like your guinea pigs to find out who the boss is. This is totally harmless and you should not be worried at all.
During floor time, remember to give them places to hide. Also put some vegetables around the floor. This makes them want to explore more.

When you are holding them on your lab, get rid of the towel above them and just pet them and feet them some vegetables. They love to be petted under the chin and around the ears.
Remember guinea pigs need to eat 10% of their body weight in vegetables. An average guinea pig weighs about 0.7-1.2 kg.
This means every guinea pig needs to eat about 100 grams of vegetables.

LIST OF VEGETABLES TO FEED YOUR GUINEA PIG:

•CARROTS
•SALAD
•CAULIFLOWER
•PARSIL
•FRESH GRASS (not really a vegetable, but my pigs love that)
•CUCUMBER
 

Signe2703

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Hi and welcome!

The dominance phase can take longer than 2 weeks and you have to also factor in when sows come into season, which puts any dominance behaviour kind of on steroids for a couple of days.

Nipping is no worry; that is normal behaviour, but the lunging is a very strongly worded 'Stay out of my space'.
While sows in most cases won't fall out, anti-social sows can happen, even in sisters - I have a couple of sister pairs with that kind of behaviour, which sometimes settles down for a while to only flare up again. In my second pair, one of the girls has just upped sticks and introduced herself into a newly neutered boar's pen and existence without a backward glance. It has admittedly really calmed down things even though the boar was destined for one of the other sister pair... In my experience nopig squabbles as full on as litter sisters.

I would recommend to try a trial separation (see link below) and see how they react - whether they want to be together or whether one of them is suddenly perking up when away from the other. In the second case, you are dealing with a dysfunctional bond; in the first you have to put up with the behaviour. This is the best way to get an honest opinion from your guinea pigs as you can't ask them directly.
Bonds In Trouble

PS: both pairs have been born to very stressed mothers.
the one who is showing more submissive behavior isnt looking depressed and her weight is fine. Shes the more courageous one whereas the one showing the dominant behavior is much more skittish. besides running away when the other one is zooming around the cage like crazy shes mostly pretty tolerant. i also dont know whether its the zoomies or chasing. its hard to tell whether the noises they make are happy or frightened. they usually run around for a minute or so before immediately going back to eating or drinking and occasionally popcorning. I havent watched them groom each other but theyll groom themselves in front of the other and eat and sleep together. So this mixed with the dominant behavior/playing has gotten me a bit confused. if the behavior doesnt clear up ill try the separation! Thank you for the quick reply!
 

Signe2703

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Don't worry - this is normal at the start.
First when guinea pigs meet each other and realize they have to live together, they chase eachother (only sometimes) and behave like your guinea pigs to find out who the boss is. This is totally harmless and you should not be worried at all.
During floor time, remember to give them places to hide. Also put some vegetables around the floor. This makes them want to explore more.

When you are holding them on your lab, get rid of the towel above them and just pet them and feet them some vegetables. They love to be petted under the chin and around the ears.
Remember guinea pigs need to eat 10% of their body weight in vegetables. An average guinea pig weighs about 0.7-1.2 kg.
This means every guinea pig needs to eat about 100 grams of vegetables.

LIST OF VEGETABLES TO FEED YOUR GUINEA PIG:

•CARROTS
•SALAD
•CAULIFLOWER
•PARSIL
•FRESH GRASS (not really a vegetable, but my pigs love that)
•CUCUMBER
i always have at least three hideys so they can get away from each other, and as theyre so young they arent really into eating vegetables yet. I'm slowly getting them used to eating carrots and will wait until they're comfortable with it to introduce a new vegetable. same with lap time. they wont eat anything and are too frightened to move so ive found the only thing that "unfreezes" them is giving them a towel or a piece of fleece they can hide under while getting used to my scent. (although i am in no way sure that this approach is correct) thank you for your reply and advice!
 

Bill & Ted

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As long as they are eating lots of hay then slowly introduce veggies a little at a time x you can also try them with foraged stuff from the garden like dandelions and fresh grass, most piggies find these irresistible, so you could try feeding them on your lap x

If they are unhappy without a towel on them at lap time then let them have it, piggies don’t like wide open spaces, it’s natural for them to be grazing under undergrowth to hide from predators. Small steps, a little patience and you”ll soon find they will grow in confidence.
 

Signe2703

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As long as they are eating lots of hay then slowly introduce veggies a little at a time x you can also try them with foraged stuff from the garden like dandelions and fresh grass, most piggies find these irresistible, so you could try feeding them on your lap x

If they are unhappy without a towel on them at lap time then let them have it, piggies don’t like wide open spaces, it’s natural for them to be grazing under undergrowth to hide from predators. Small steps, a little patience and you”ll soon find they will grow in confidence.
thank you! I just really want them to be happy but i worry that I'm not doing a good enough job. at the moment i have them out for floor time but they just keep hiding under the same hidey while teeth chattering and nipping each other. someone suggested that i try to separate them, but I'm not sure I'm good enough at reading their body language to interpret what they're telling me. i dont know whether or not this is dominance or whether they're warning each other before having a big fight
 
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