Herd dynamics upsetting one piggie?

hannahs26

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Hi everyone,

I've a question for those of you who've created a herd. Did any of your guinea pigs appear unhappy or withdrawn after creating a herd?

A brief background that brings me to this question: We had our pAir Lola, 5yrs, and Jessie, 3yrs, and bonded them with our new pair Rayla and Piglet, thought to be 8 months old. Bonding went well, and they are now a herd, however, it was touch and go for a few hours during introductions, as Rayla - the most dominant of the young pair - and Jessie - possibly the dominant older one - showed a lot of aggression to each other. It all calmed down though, and they've been living together for just over two weeks now.

In that time, about a week ago, Jessie seemed out of sorts, not coming over to huddle with the others when treats were offered, and usually just staying in a hidey and looking glum. She then seemed back to normal for a few days, but now she's back to behaving like she's unhappy again. She continues to eat plenty of hay and drink, and enjoys pellets and veggies when given, but she just won't approach us in excitement like the other three always do. She used to do this, so she's appearing to feel unhappy.

So, I am suspecting that perhaps she has lost the top spot in the hierarchy, and feels upset... it's hard to know what the hierarchy is though. all girls have a lovely relationship going on now, but Jessie definitely has a problem towards Rayla. They will happily sleep very close to each other, but when active, if Rayla approaches Jessie, Jessie will always rumble strutt, or throw her chin up high - but Rayla appears non-threatening, just grooming herself or moving away when Jessie warns her.

I have started weighing Jessie daily for a while, just to make sure there are no signs of something physical going on that may be the cause of her change in mood, but I'm hoping it may just be down to the new dynamics in the enclosure.
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Any thoughts anyone? Thank you :-)
 

PigglePuggle

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When we created our herd, one of our older girls Jezzy floof did have some trouble adjusting to having boisterous youngsters about, she kept getting chased and her bottom sniffed and she didn't like it at all!
They have settled over time, its actually Jezzy and Clover's 2nd gotcha day anniversary tomorrow so we've had them nearly 2 years!
2 weeks is still very soon for the older pair especially to adjust to the new normal, if there is no obvious bullying or fighting they will hopefully settle down better over time. If Jessie needs a bit of a break you can always take her out for half an hour's quiet lap time with extra treats- or you can do that with whoever is bothering her either- but try not to interfere or worry too much, they need to work this out themselves! x
 

hannahs26

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When we created our herd, one of our older girls Jezzy floof did have some trouble adjusting to having boisterous youngsters about, she kept getting chased and her bottom sniffed and she didn't like it at all!
They have settled over time, its actually Jezzy and Clover's 2nd gotcha day anniversary tomorrow so we've had them nearly 2 years!
2 weeks is still very soon for the older pair especially to adjust to the new normal, if there is no obvious bullying or fighting they will hopefully settle down better over time. If Jessie needs a bit of a break you can always take her out for half an hour's quiet lap time with extra treats- or you can do that with whoever is bothering her either- but try not to interfere or worry too much, they need to work this out themselves! x
That's reassuring, thank you. I'm hoping it's just her adjusting to the changes. :-)
Happy second gotcha day for tomorrow Jezzy and Clover! X
 

Wiebke

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Hi everyone,

I've a question for those of you who've created a herd. Did any of your guinea pigs appear unhappy or withdrawn after creating a herd?

A brief background that brings me to this question: We had our pAir Lola, 5yrs, and Jessie, 3yrs, and bonded them with our new pair Rayla and Piglet, thought to be 8 months old. Bonding went well, and they are now a herd, however, it was touch and go for a few hours during introductions, as Rayla - the most dominant of the young pair - and Jessie - possibly the dominant older one - showed a lot of aggression to each other. It all calmed down though, and they've been living together for just over two weeks now.

In that time, about a week ago, Jessie seemed out of sorts, not coming over to huddle with the others when treats were offered, and usually just staying in a hidey and looking glum. She then seemed back to normal for a few days, but now she's back to behaving like she's unhappy again. She continues to eat plenty of hay and drink, and enjoys pellets and veggies when given, but she just won't approach us in excitement like the other three always do. She used to do this, so she's appearing to feel unhappy.

So, I am suspecting that perhaps she has lost the top spot in the hierarchy, and feels upset... it's hard to know what the hierarchy is though. all girls have a lovely relationship going on now, but Jessie definitely has a problem towards Rayla. They will happily sleep very close to each other, but when active, if Rayla approaches Jessie, Jessie will always rumble strutt, or throw her chin up high - but Rayla appears non-threatening, just grooming herself or moving away when Jessie warns her.

I have started weighing Jessie daily for a while, just to make sure there are no signs of something physical going on that may be the cause of her change in mood, but I'm hoping it may just be down to the new dynamics in the enclosure.
View attachment 149223
Any thoughts anyone? Thank you :-)
Hi!

Your girls are still in the dominance phase. As Rayla seems to be a rather dominant personaility, it looks like Jessie has lost her place as second in the ranking to her and is naturally unhappy about that. Please be aware that any intro has a several weeks dominance phase in which the new group hierarchy is confirmed and fully established. It travels from the top down with the sow ranked above reaffirming her standing by the kind of dominance behaviour you are reporting, and has now reached the level between Rayla and Jessie. Once that has been fully sorted it will move onto the relationship between jessie and Piglet.
When this phase is finished and the new group is fully established things should relax again. it lasts on average 2 weeks but can take longer if one rung on the ladder is very much in question/not happily resolved or if the winner feels insecure enough to keep reinforcing their position for longer than they would otherwise and keep throwing their weight around more than strictly necessary.

If problems continue post dominance, then you may need have to look at other possibilities.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics (See chapters group bonding and dominance phase)
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts) (includes chapter on sow specific dominance behaviours and dynamics including post-intro)
 

hannahs26

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Hi!

Your girls are still in the dominance phase. As Rayla seems to be a rather dominant personaility, it looks like Jessie has lost her place as second in the ranking to her and is naturally unhappy about that. Please be aware that any intro has a several weeks dominance phase in which the new group hierarchy is confirmed and fully established. It travels from the top down with the sow ranked above reaffirming her standing by the kind of dominance behaviour you are reporting, and has now reached the level between Rayla and Jessie. Once that has been fully sorted it will move onto the relationship between jessie and Piglet.
When this phase is finished and the new group is fully established things should relax again. it lasts on average 2 weeks but can take longer if one rung on the ladder is very much in question/not happily resolved or if the winner feels insecure enough to keep reinforcing their position for longer than they would otherwise and keep throwing their weight around more than strictly necessary.

If problems continue post dominance, then you may need have to look at other possibilities.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics (See chapters group bonding and dominance phase)
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts) (includes chapter on sow specific dominance behaviours and dynamics including post-intro)
Hi Wiebke,
Thanks for your advice :-) That all makes sense. Good to hear that what I'm seeing sounds like it's nothing to be too concerned about at this stage. Thanks so much for those links - I'll have a look now. :-)
 

Merab's Slave

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Bonding 2 pairs of sows can create a degree of anxiety for us slaves.
When I did that it was this forum that kept me reassured that the behaviour of the 2 middle sows was perfectly normal.
They did sort it out but it took the best part of 2 weeks then they decided to be best friends.
Hope your herd settles and you get lots of pleasure from them
 

PigglePuggle

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It certainly takes time, even more so if the new girls are still young and settling in to a new home and routine! Our younger Piggle who we'd had for 3 months as the bossier half of a pair took a while to realise she wasn't the boss of everypig, and older Jezzy floof was so defensive every time she got sniffed, she also got barbered a fair bit as the younger short haired piggies had never seen a giant sheep-pig before and they were very curious! Took about 2 months for them to become completely settled and happy and work out each others boundaries, hopefully you will get there too :) x
 

hannahs26

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It certainly takes time, even more so if the new girls are still young and settling in to a new home and routine! Our younger Piggle who we'd had for 3 months as the bossier half of a pair took a while to realise she wasn't the boss of everypig, and older Jezzy floof was so defensive every time she got sniffed, she also got barbered a fair bit as the younger short haired piggies had never seen a giant sheep-pig before and they were very curious! Took about 2 months for them to become completely settled and happy and work out each others boundaries, hopefully you will get there too :) x
Thanks for reassuring me :-)
Well we have just had 24 hours of drama in their enclosure! Rayla suddenly started to show dominance behaviour towards our eldest, Lola. Every moment she was awake she would follow her nose to bum, rumbling, with poor Lola constantly squeaking, and occasionally kicking Rayla in the face. Once Rayla managed to get Lola into a corner (there are no enclosed spaces that they can be cornered in, and only 2 way tunnels at the moment), but I guess Lola would just get tired or escaping after a while, and if cornered, would then let Rayla hump her. Then there'd be a bit of nap time going on, and then it'd happen all over again! I took Lola out once for a cuddle, to get some respite, and blocked Rayla from reaching her for a few minutes so that poor Lola could eat hay in peace for a bit - otherwise I left them to it. Lola didn't seem to be fighting back, other than one nose butt I saw, and lots of kicks and squeaks - she's a very chilled-out piggie, bless her. Anyway, by this eve, there seems to be no rumbling or running about or squeaking, so I'm hoping it's all calmed down again :-) Really hoping this is it now, and Rayla has achieved what she wanted, and calm can return! 😂
 
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