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I Separated My Boars - What Next?

Zelsi

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#1
I have just separated my two boars, same cage but a divider down the middle.

While on holiday my family took care of them and when I returned I checked each one thoroughly and the younger one (12 months) had some bald patches / nips on his back and cheek. The larger one (2.5 years) did bite him last month, drawing blood.

We thought we would give them another chance but it's clear this is not a functional bond.
  • What advice would you have for my two boys?
  • Is it feasible for them to live like that permanently?
  • Should I consider neutering & putting them with sows?
  • Maybe wait for the younger one to get out of his teenager phase?
Any advice would be really appreciated. Thank you!
 

Wiebke

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#2
I have just separated my two boars, same cage but a divider down the middle.

While on holiday my family took care of them and when I returned I checked each one thoroughly and the younger one (12 months) had some bald patches / nips on his back and cheek. The larger one (2.5 years) did bite him last month, drawing blood.

We thought we would give them another chance but it's clear this is not a functional bond.
  • What advice would you have for my two boys?
  • Is it feasible for them to live like that permanently?
  • Should I consider neutering & putting them with sows?
  • Maybe wait for the younger one to get out of his teenager phase?
Any advice would be really appreciated. Thank you!
Hi and welcome

Please have your boys vet checked for mites (mange mites or hay mites) or a fungal skin infection. Fights do not cause bald patches, but both mange mites and fungal can cause a guinea pig to bite/scratch itself bloody. The discomfort can also put an additional stress on any bond that is already under pressure from holiday changes and puberty hormones.
Please do not treat on spec with low dosed broad spectrum shop products as you can make things easily worse than better. Mange mites and fungal requires different treatment. It is overall cheaper to see a vet promptly and address a problem correctly than fudging around on your own and ending up with an advanced/persistent case. You always have to treat all guinea pigs in contact and you have to do the full three rounds treatment for mites. Just one application is not enough.

As to what your further options are, they are listed in detail with their various pros and cons in the guide below. What you decide on ultimately depends on how much space you have, your access to a good rescue for bonding or a good vet for neutering. Please be aware that you cannot keep two neutered boars with sows in a single group; but they can live alongside in separate cages/pens.
Sadly your closest rescue, the Blue Cross in Burford, is one of the few of our recommended rescues that does not offer boar-boar dating. You can find our rescue and vet locator on the top bar or in the guide. We have listed all the rescues we can guarantee that you are in safe hands.
Boars: Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
 

Zelsi

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#3
Hi and welcome

Please have your boys vet checked for mites (mange mites or hay mites) or a fungal skin infection. Fights do not cause bald patches, but both mange mites and fungal can cause a guinea pig to bite/scratch itself bloody. The discomfort can also put an additional stress on any bond that is already under pressure from holiday changes and puberty hormones.
Please do not treat on spec with low dosed broad spectrum shop products as you can make things easily worse than better. Mange mites and fungal requires different treatment. It is overall cheaper to see a vet promptly and address a problem correctly than fudging around on your own and ending up with an advanced/persistent case. You always have to treat all guinea pigs in contact and you have to do the full three rounds treatment for mites. Just one application is not enough.

As to what your further options are, they are listed in detail with their various pros and cons in the guide below. What you decide on ultimately depends on how much space you have, your access to a good rescue for bonding or a good vet for neutering. Please be aware that you cannot keep two neutered boars with sows in a single group; but they can live alongside in separate cages/pens.
Sadly your closest rescue, the Blue Cross in Burford, is one of the few of our recommended rescues that does not offer boar-boar dating. You can find our rescue and vet locator on the top bar or in the guide. We have listed all the rescues we can guarantee that you are in safe hands.
Boars: Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
You are right. I have just checked Monty again and he clearly has mites. I have booked a vet appointment for them both to be fully checked. I'll also clean the cage and separate them into two cages once the treatment has been applied

I will need to think about what to do for them in the future but as we've only had Simba for a couple of months and he is very young he may be best at Blue Cross where they can neuter and put him with a female.

I think my concern is Monty. I don't want to give up on him - what are the chances of him working it out with another boar? Maybe one that's not going through the hormone phase!
 

Wiebke

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#4
You are right. I have just checked Monty again and he clearly has mites. I have booked a vet appointment for them both to be fully checked. I'll also clean the cage and separate them into two cages once the treatment has been applied

I will need to think about what to do for them in the future but as we've only had Simba for a couple of months and he is very young he may be best at Blue Cross where they can neuter and put him with a female.

I think my concern is Monty. I don't want to give up on him - what are the chances of him working it out with another boar? Maybe one that's not going through the hormone phase!
Perhaps you can try to contact the Littlest Rescue in Bristol re. Monty? I am not quite sure what kind of dating they conduct. They are a fairly small rescue, but worth enquiring as they are your closest.

The rescues that offer residential/full boar dating (i.e. a boar stays at the rescue for a week and meets up to three boars) are all further away, but if you do not mind a waiting list and travelling quite a distance, then they are the way forward for you. Residential boar dating works for boars of all ages, and because a bond is stress tested for stability before the boys come home, it means that their bond is as stable as a sow bond.

Rescues that I know for sure offer residential boar dating and will rehome and date piggies from further afield:
East Peckham Guinea Pig Rescue, Southeast London
Glynneath Guinea Pig Rescue, South Wales off Neath
Little Pip's Guinea Pig Rehoming, near Buddleigh Salterton, East Devon
Not quite sure about Palace Piggie Rescue in Crawley (by Gatwick), you may need to enquire as well as they would be one of your closest ones. But they may be able to help you further.

Little Pip's Guinea
 

Zelsi

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#5
Perhaps you can try to contact the Littlest Rescue in Bristol re. Monty? I am not quite sure what kind of dating they conduct. They are a fairly small rescue, but worth enquiring as they are your closest.

The rescues that offer residential/full boar dating (i.e. a boar stays at the rescue for a week and meets up to three boars) are all further away, but if you do not mind a waiting list and travelling quite a distance, then they are the way forward for you. Residential boar dating works for boars of all ages, and because a bond is stress tested for stability before the boys come home, it means that their bond is as stable as a sow bond.

Rescues that I know for sure offer residential boar dating and will rehome and date piggies from further afield:
East Peckham Guinea Pig Rescue, Southeast London
Glynneath Guinea Pig Rescue, South Wales off Neath
Little Pip's Guinea Pig Rehoming, near Buddleigh Salterton, East Devon
Not quite sure about Palace Piggie Rescue in Crawley (by Gatwick), you may need to enquire as well as they would be one of your closest ones. But they may be able to help you further.

Little Pip's Guinea
Regarding Monty residential boar dating would probably work best to give him a chance. After all it is trial and error and can take a long time to bond a pair, see if it works, and keep trying.

Do you know much about how these trials are run or if there is a cost involved?

It sounds a bit bad to say but for me I have tried bonding before, following all the advice, and it is very stressful and scary. If I could I would absolutely leave him with an organisation to pair him appropriately, then adopt them "back" if that makes sense?

Thank you again for the information, I really want both of these boys to be happy. Monty's brother Trevor (in the picture) passed away from bloat - completely unexpected - so it's upsetting for every one that we're in this situation. I want the best for all of my piggies.
 

Wiebke

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#6
Regarding Monty residential boar dating would probably work best to give him a chance. After all it is trial and error and can take a long time to bond a pair, see if it works, and keep trying.

Do you know much about how these trials are run or if there is a cost involved?

It sounds a bit bad to say but for me I have tried bonding before, following all the advice, and it is very stressful and scary. If I could I would absolutely leave him with an organisation to pair him appropriately, then adopt them "back" if that makes sense?

Thank you again for the information, I really want both of these boys to be happy. Monty's brother Trevor (in the picture) passed away from bloat - completely unexpected - so it's upsetting for every one that we're in this situation. I want the best for all of my piggies.
There is no additional cost and you only pay a donation fee for the adopted piggy. Waiting lists can be quite long as it is a very time consuming process and the rescue needs to have enough single boars for dating in, but it is absolutely worth it. Monty will only come home with a new friend if they get on well and all the hassle happens at the rescue. The rescues also offer support during the lifetime of their adopted piggies if there is trouble at some point. The beauty is that is works for boars of all ages and is the way, adult boars can be bonded and re-bonded after a bereavement.

Rescues start with introducing the most likely candidate first. If that goes well, then the bond is kept under observation for a few more days in a smaller cage to make sure that it is stable.
If the first bonding doesn't work out, then it is onto candidate #2 on the following day to allow tempers to cool. It takes on average 1-3 dates for a boar to find his 'Mr Right'.
Thankfully with boars, it is generally rather quickly obvious whether a bond is headed in the right direction or not.
This is why residential bonding generally takes a week in order to allow the rescue time to introduce up to three boars on separate days and to then stress test the new bond to make sure that it is solid before the boars are allowed home. How old is Monty?

I am very sorry about Trevor. I have lost piggies of mine to severe bloat, too. It is one of the nastier killers. :(
 

Zelsi

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#7
There is no additional cost and you only pay a donation fee for the adopted piggy. Waiting lists can be quite long as it is a very time consuming process and the rescue needs to have enough single boars for dating in, but it is absolutely worth it. Monty will only come home with a new friend if they get on well and all the hassle happens at the rescue. The rescues also offer support during the lifetime of their adopted piggies if there is trouble at some point. The beauty is that is works for boars of all ages and is the way, adult boars can be bonded and re-bonded after a bereavement.

Rescues start with introducing the most likely candidate first. If that goes well, then the bond is kept under observation for a few more days in a smaller cage to make sure that it is stable.
If the first bonding doesn't work out, then it is onto candidate #2 on the following day to allow tempers to cool. It takes on average 1-3 dates for a boar to find his 'Mr Right'.
Thankfully with boars, it is generally rather quickly obvious whether a bond is headed in the right direction or not.
This is why residential bonding generally takes a week in order to allow the rescue time to introduce up to three boars on separate days and to then stress test the new bond to make sure that it is solid before the boars are allowed home. How old is Monty?

I am very sorry about Trevor. I have lost piggies of mine to severe bloat, too. It is one of the nastier killers. :(
Thank you for your kindness. I've never lost one to bloat before and I was so heart broken and powerless to help him - they were found abandoned in a box when the rescue took them in and were inseparable, very malnourished but absolutely adorable. Sometimes we do everything we can but nothing can be done. We can only do our best for them!

So with Monty I think what I will do is look at those centers you mentioned and the best & closest one, and give them a call to discuss. Waiting list is fine and it can't happen until after Monty is clear from any mites any way (so a month at least), and Simba will most likely be taken to Blue Cross where I am certain he will find a lovely girlfriend.

Monty is 2.5 years old. He was submissive with Trevor, and never had any problems. With Simba he has been overly aggressive with a lot of close face-to-face contact (he did bite him once, drawing blood, which is why we kept a very close eye but as Simba has marks on his back from Monty bullying him we've decided it's not going to work out). Simba is a lovely boy, I think Monty just didn't like him for whatever reason! I never know what goes through their minds.
 

Wiebke

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#8
Thank you for your kindness. I've never lost one to bloat before and I was so heart broken and powerless to help him - they were found abandoned in a box when the rescue took them in and were inseparable, very malnourished but absolutely adorable. Sometimes we do everything we can but nothing can be done. We can only do our best for them!

So with Monty I think what I will do is look at those centers you mentioned and the best & closest one, and give them a call to discuss. Waiting list is fine and it can't happen until after Monty is clear from any mites any way (so a month at least), and Simba will most likely be taken to Blue Cross where I am certain he will find a lovely girlfriend.

Monty is 2.5 years old. He was submissive with Trevor, and never had any problems. With Simba he has been overly aggressive with a lot of close face-to-face contact (he did bite him once, drawing blood, which is why we kept a very close eye but as Simba has marks on his back from Monty bullying him we've decided it's not going to work out). Simba is a lovely boy, I think Monty just didn't like him for whatever reason! I never know what goes through their minds.
Both your boys are still a good age for neutering by an experienced vet, so you could consider having them both neutered and living with a sow each after the obligatory 6 weeks post-op safety wait. The baby in my avatar (my by 6 years old Tegan) is the surprise legacy of a supposedly safe over 5 weeks post- neutering op boar (not one of mine), just to prove that particular point. It can - and does - really happen as late as that. Monty may also be much happier with a sow companion than with another boar. I know of several 4 year old boars that have spent a very happy retirement with a group of sows after they were successfully neutered!

Several of the Tribe 'husboars' have been fallen-out or unbondable boars that fetched up in rescue. My Carwyn was a 3 year old neglect case ex-breeder boar when he was neutered; he is now 5 years old and still going strong with his little harem of sows. You can clearly see his disfigured lip from a nasty fight with one of his brothers.
For All Piggy Lips Lovers!
Making Carwyn Wheek For His Pellets!
 

Wiebke

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#9
PS: The best neutering vet I know of is Simon Maddock in Northampton. When I had my Nye neutered a year ago, he didn't even require a post-op consultation and he had a a very smooth recovery with no loss of appetite and not even needing an antibiotic. Simon has about as close to a 100% success rate as you can get in any vet or surgeon in guinea pig neutering. Well worth the travel if you'd consider going down that route! He's also operated on several old and/or frail piggies of mine in much more taxing ops. It is not all that much further from you than from me!
The Cat and Rabbit Care Clinic

Here is a video of little Nye on the evening after his op - as you can see, Nye is behaving as if nothing untoward happened. Nosgan and Nye are my only boar pair; they are both neutered as I can't risk an accidental meeting or wiggle through grids in my room ending with a pregnancy. I have too many elderly sows!

This is Nye 10 days after his neuter. Carwyn is the big white lump on the left and the black long-haired boar in the next cage is Gethin.
 

Zelsi

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#10
@Wiebke thank you so much for taking the time to make that post.

There are honestly so many routes I can do down and I've been thinking a lot and trying to make the right one.

I took Monty and Simba to the vet today, they are both very healthy and have no mites/lice etc.

I decided to put them back together as they seemed a lot happier and calmer after having some time out yesterday. They have been together for about 4 hours now and haven't chattered / chased, they ate dinner together and are currently sleeping side-by-side.

I will of course keep an eye on them, and I have a divider ready if I need to use it.

As well as that I've ordered them a bigger cage which a large upper level to give them some more room, this will help a lot I think as the boys definitely need their space!

We will see how things go but I think their relationship will be a daily thing for me to monitor, and just wait and see how it pans out.
 

Wiebke

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#11
@Wiebke thank you so much for taking the time to make that post.

There are honestly so many routes I can do down and I've been thinking a lot and trying to make the right one.

I took Monty and Simba to the vet today, they are both very healthy and have no mites/lice etc.

I decided to put them back together as they seemed a lot happier and calmer after having some time out yesterday. They have been together for about 4 hours now and haven't chattered / chased, they ate dinner together and are currently sleeping side-by-side.

I will of course keep an eye on them, and I have a divider ready if I need to use it.

As well as that I've ordered them a bigger cage which a large upper level to give them some more room, this will help a lot I think as the boys definitely need their space!

We will see how things go but I think their relationship will be a daily thing for me to monitor, and just wait and see how it pans out.
That is good news. Hormone spikes can be just short lived and piggies will go back once they have calmed down again. I has worked for my own adult&teenager pairing a couple of time when tempers were boiling over a bit.

If you switch to a larger cage, please wipe it down with used bedding and also use their current bedding at first to minimise the risk of the two boys falling out over having to re-establish their hierarchy in new territory (=renewal of dominance behaviour).
 

Zelsi

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#12
The boys have been very good, no signs of any severe aggression. Monty hasn't been taunting Simba by putting his mouth near his / trying to bite him. I have checked Simba a few times and haven't found any wounds or marks. Monty is also healthy.

They seem to use the hidies a lot and Simba finds them helpful for getting space from Monty if he needs to, although I haven't really noticed a lot of aggression. Sometimes there is a little chattering when Simba goes behind Monty / surprises him but otherwise both piggies are squeaky, eating a lot and generally happy.

I have been giving Monty more attention, I think his behaviour may have been due to jealousy as well as he seems a lot calmer and happier now that he is treated "more" than Simba (they both get lap time, cuddles, treats and fed equally but Monty is always first / gets a bit of extra time than Simba).

The new cage is on the way! It is a 2x5 c&c cage with a 2x2 loft as well. I will post pictures of the old vs the new cage once I get it for those interested. It's significantly bigger than my current one so I'm sure the boys will love the extra space.

I appreciate all the advice I have gotten and despite Monty drawing blood and biting Simba they are still together and I'm not seeing any reason to separate them now. I know that in general people separate if blood is drawn but I think there are some exceptions e.g. aggression caused by other factors (hormones, lack of space, discomfort, illness etc.) or accidents where piggies misjudge their nips!
 

Wiebke

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#13
The boys have been very good, no signs of any severe aggression. Monty hasn't been taunting Simba by putting his mouth near his / trying to bite him. I have checked Simba a few times and haven't found any wounds or marks. Monty is also healthy.

They seem to use the hidies a lot and Simba finds them helpful for getting space from Monty if he needs to, although I haven't really noticed a lot of aggression. Sometimes there is a little chattering when Simba goes behind Monty / surprises him but otherwise both piggies are squeaky, eating a lot and generally happy.

I have been giving Monty more attention, I think his behaviour may have been due to jealousy as well as he seems a lot calmer and happier now that he is treated "more" than Simba (they both get lap time, cuddles, treats and fed equally but Monty is always first / gets a bit of extra time than Simba).

The new cage is on the way! It is a 2x5 c&c cage with a 2x2 loft as well. I will post pictures of the old vs the new cage once I get it for those interested. It's significantly bigger than my current one so I'm sure the boys will love the extra space.

I appreciate all the advice I have gotten and despite Monty drawing blood and biting Simba they are still together and I'm not seeing any reason to separate them now. I know that in general people separate if blood is drawn but I think there are some exceptions e.g. aggression caused by other factors (hormones, lack of space, discomfort, illness etc.) or accidents where piggies misjudge their nips!
That is great news! I always make sure whether it is a severe intentional bite or not and to make sure whether any bite wounds to the rump are caused by a companion or are due to a skin issue. Generally a re-introduction on neutral ground gives you the answer whether your boys are still willing to live together or not. ;)

Please make sure that you follow the tips re. moving your boys to a larger cage to minimise any dominance behaviour and another crisis.

Both forcing the chin up and nipping are still mild dominance behaviours that are also very common in sows.
 

Zelsi

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#14
Yes I will keep the tips in mind, cage hasn't arrived yet so waiting on that.

Something I need advice on is how long this behaviour will go on for. They have good days and bad days, so far I can't see any marks on Simba and they are both eating / letting each other eat. Today there has been some mild chattering and chasing but Monty gives up pretty quickly. They were sleeping side-by-side just now as well.

It's obvious Monty is in charge but I can't understand why the dominance behaviours are continuing - it's been 6 weeks since their introductions. Any idea how much longer it will take to calm down? I'm sure the new cage will help a great deal and I try not to stress them too much / "fiddle" with them as this agitates them a bit.
 

Wiebke

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#15
Yes I will keep the tips in mind, cage hasn't arrived yet so waiting on that.

Something I need advice on is how long this behaviour will go on for. They have good days and bad days, so far I can't see any marks on Simba and they are both eating / letting each other eat. Today there has been some mild chattering and chasing but Monty gives up pretty quickly. They were sleeping side-by-side just now as well.

It's obvious Monty is in charge but I can't understand why the dominance behaviours are continuing - it's been 6 weeks since their introductions. Any idea how much longer it will take to calm down? I'm sure the new cage will help a great deal and I try not to stress them too much / "fiddle" with them as this agitates them a bit.
There is no firm rule for dominance behaviour - some piggies of either gender do it daily and others never. Most are somewhere in between. Yours are coming up to their teenage months anyway now.
 

Zelsi

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#16
I have shared my new cage in the Housing, Enrichment and Seasonal care section! :) There's even a video :o

Also I did take your advice and I put fresh newspaper down, and some fresh hay, but I also took the old bedding from the previous cage and mixed it in. They didn't do any chattering or dominance behaviours actually when they went into the new cage, I think the smells helped a lot. Also, so far they seemed to have calmed down a lot with each other. They seem a lot happier and are getting along really well!

Monty & Simba's New C&c Cage!

Thank you for all the suggestions @Wiebke !
 
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