Females Not Getting On

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Emsguineas

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Hi. I'm a new member and have joined as I am having some issues with my two female guinea pigs. I got them from a rescue in May last year as an (apparently) bonded pair and although have never seemed to be that friendly seem to have tolerated one another, with some displays of dominace but nothing seemingly too serious. Over the summer they had a two tier large out door hutch and weather permitting were in a large outdoor run every day. From October I moved the hutch into a shed and then once it became really cold I brought them in doors in an indoor cage. I know this indoor cage was too small and the pigs relationship seems to have deteriorated with the larger white one consistently seeming to bully the smaller one, chasing her out of the igloo, away from water etc. Knowing the cage is too small I have built a much larger C&C type cage which gives several square meters of space. I hoped this would calm things down. However, I have now witnessed the larger pig activly seem to seek out the smaller pig who was nowehere near her in order to give her a nip. This results in lots of shrieking and a chase round the cage. I am looking for some advise on this as it is quite distressing to watch - my children are taking an active dislike to the bigger pig now for example, and it cant be good for either pig? I assume this is more than the normal dominance behaviour as it has been going on so long? What should I do next? Would seperating them termporarily help? (I could do this within the new big cage so they could still see each other) and for how long? Id be grateful for any advice.
 

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Hi! I am very sorry. it looks rather like ongoing dominance and bullying. Are you weighing your two girls weekly so you can see whether the smaller one is actually getting enough food? I would strongly recommend to feed them smaller portions several times a day in two separate bowls (veg AND pellets) to make sure that each girl is getting her fair share. I would also make sure that there are plenty of hideys, two water bottles etc.

As you have rehomed your girls, I guess that they are adult rather than sub-adults? Sows can suffer from hormonal issues. it may be worth seeing a vet to see whether your larger sow is suffering from small growing ovarian cysts (these are ones that usually cause aggressiveness/hormonal issues) and may profit from hormone treatment. We have got a piggy savvy UK vet locator on the top bar.

You can test-separate your two girls with just a grid divider. If the smaller one is visibly perking up when the other one is not around, you know that she is not happy. If she wants to be back, your two girls still have an established and functioning bond.
 

Emsguineas

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Hi. Thanks for the reply. I havent been weighing them but I will start doing so. The smaller one often comes out and about to the food when the other has retreated to her igloo, and is currently benefitting as the bigger one has not yet discovered the loft of their new cage so she has been chopping her way through the hay I have put up there. I have two igloos and two tunnels at the moment and will start putting in two lots food and get another water bottle. The rescue thought that the pigs were both around 1 year to 18 months when I rehomed them so are probably around 2 now. I will trial sperating them this evening/tonight and investigate vets. Fingers crossed that they do want to be together. If not, what would you do given my situation? Look at rehoming one and try and pair the remaining one with another single recue pig? I dont have the room/facility to keep them seperate permently and I guess neither of them would like that in the long term anyway.
 

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Hi. Thanks for the reply. I havent been weighing them but I will start doing so. The smaller one often comes out and about to the food when the other has retreated to her igloo, and is currently benefitting as the bigger one has not yet discovered the loft of their new cage so she has been chopping her way through the hay I have put up there. I have two igloos and two tunnels at the moment and will start putting in two lots food and get another water bottle. The rescue thought that the pigs were both around 1 year to 18 months when I rehomed them so are probably around 2 now. I will trial sperating them this evening/tonight and investigate vets. Fingers crossed that they do want to be together. If not, what would you do given my situation? Look at rehoming one and try and pair the remaining one with another single recue pig? I dont have the room/facility to keep them seperate permently and I guess neither of them would like that in the long term anyway.
I very much hope that your two girls are still feeling very bonded; at that age 2-3 years old, it is very likely a hormonal problem, especially as they have been together and getting on well for such a long time. Fall-outs are rare, but sows with hormonal issues can be a real pain! I would only think about special measures if your smaller girl is suddenly visibly happier as soon as she is alone. Having the space to get away from each other is hopefully giving your smaller girl the breathing room she needs.


If your guinea pigs have been rehomed from a rescue, they will revert to it again during their lifetime in case of a problem of yours (it is usually stipulated in their adoption papers), so if your girls are really unhappy together, you will have to work out a solution with the rescue. :)
 

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Hi. I seperated Pickles (smaller) and Belle (Larger) last night after another incident when Belle went for Pickles as soon as she ventured out of her loft space (she seemed to be trying to bite the back of her neck?). Pickles has been out and about more rather than hiding away, and seems more confident, she was running round her section of the cage last night, which I havent seen for a long time. However, she does seem to be staying near the divider and is poking her nose through the bars so does seem to be missing Belle, just probably not the aggression. Belle initially tried to get at Pickles through the bars when she first appeared and did try and get to Pickles food when I put it down, despite having her own. Overall, they both seem a bit more contented with losts of chirping away to themselves noises and moving about rather than fights and hiding! I think my next move will be to take Belle to the vets and see if there is a physical cause to her anger issues. And then I guess I need to think about re-introducing them? I've read it is good to do this on neutral ground?
 

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Yes, this seems to be the best way forward. As long as they can interact through the bars, they will hopefully stay friends and any intros should go pretty smoothly although you are likely to see some dominance behaviour again from Belle again as she re-establishes the hierarchy, but after the dominance phase of the intros, things will hopefully be more peaceful. Pickles popcorning as soon as she was on her own means clearly that the situation with Belle was becoming borderline but them sitting together next to the divider means that the strained bond has not yet completely broken.

Here are our tips. With sows, the much touted pre-intro buddy bath is not necessary as what it does is removing the smell of testosterone from just or nearly fallen out boars' coats.
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/introducing-and-re-introducing-guinea-pigs.38562/
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/dominance-behaviours-in-guinea-pigs.28949/

Wishing you all the best with Belle. I hope that you can get her sorted. We have got a piggy savvy UK vet locator on the top bar. Please keep us updated!
 

Emsguineas

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Just an update. The girls are still seperated. I took Belle to the vets this week, he gave her a good check over and couldnt see/feel anything obvious in terms of cysts or anything else. I went to one of the above practices but didnt get the piggie expert so my vet is going to consult and get back to me, he mentioned the possibility of an ultrsound to check for cysts and talked about hormone injections and if that not work spaying. In the meantime I think Pickles has especially been missing Belle and the other evening I took them both out onto my lap and they shared some veg with no trouble at all, just sat and ate, Pickles seemed to snuggle into the side of Belle happily, she was making a sound but i'm unsure if she was rumbling (she didnt seem unhappy, was eating etc) or purring? Belle just munched on the veg throughout and made no sort of aggresive move. I've taken this as a positive sign and am aiming to try a reintroduction on Sunday when we have no plans and I can keep an eye on them all day. Fingers crossed it goes well and we dont have to think about injections etc.
 

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Further update. Vet just called. Agreed first stop is try a very careful reintroduction keeping everything crossed. If things dont go well, he will do an ultrasound scan and can put in a hormone implant if there are cysts there.
 

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Best of luck! It sounds like their bond is still working, which must be a great relief to you! Thankfully, there are now alternative, much less invasive treatments to a spaying operation available.

Here are our tips for re-introductions. Sows are much less territorial than boars and don't need a buddy bath, but it would be good to start on the lap and then on neutral ground before you move them back into a cleaned out cage.
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/introducing-and-re-introducing-guinea-pigs.38562/
 

Emsguineas

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Well... Piggies have been reintroduced very carefully. First on lap, then in bath, then in cleaned and rearranged cage. It initially went well in lap and bath, a bit of chin raising but that is all. Moved to cage and there was a fair bit of chasing and squealing but no biting. They have been together two days now and I'm not sure how well things are going. There is no full on violence but whenever pickles ventures down out of the loft space she gets chased around by belle and isn't left alone until she goes back up the ramp. Belle seems to rule downstairs. However, in typing this I've just been to check on them and found them both sat up together in the loft seemingly quite happily. So... Hopefully they are still working things out.
 

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Keep an eye on Pickle's weight and happiness to see how she is getting on. Make sure that the girls have everything they need on both levels and that you can split them if necessary.
 

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Thank you for all your advice. I have moved a food bowl and hay so both are on both levels, I will move a water bottle also. Just looked again and pickles has been booted out of the loft. Will keep an eye on Pickles' weight.
 

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A few more days on and things are looking much better :nod: next to no chasing and squealing now. Belle has discovered the loft and sits up there, and Pickles stays there too, albiet in the doorway, but together. This has meant that Pickles has total access to food, hay and water with no issues from Belle and I have observed her happily pottering around munching for long periods of time (its addictive watching isnt it!). There is also no trouble when it is veg time and they share well. So all in all it looks like all is well in their little world! Thanks again for all your advice.
 
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