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Introducing New (male) Guinea Pig - Advice Needed

Elke

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So, here's the situation:

We have two guinea pigs (males), they've always been together (they're two years old). They behave normally, although we noticed that the alpha is mounting the other pig pretty often - but it was never anything dangerous for piggies.
We have decided to adopt a new piggie (about 1 year old, male), since we made a bigger cage (now it's two-storeyed, each floor is 45cmx100cm)

We've had to do a 3-weeks quarantine on our new piggie (during the quarantine he was in a different cage but in the same room as the boys, they've even talked to each other.), and today the vet said that everything's fine, so we could finally introduce him to the boys.

We decided to introduce him to the boys in an empty buthtab with some towels in it (this was the most neutral place), and we did everything we could to make them relax (we put food and hay in a different corners of the tub to keep them busy)
The first 10-15 minutes were very intense between alpha male and the new piggie, but there was no blood so we let them do they're thing. The alpha was squeaking loudly, teeth chattering and he was jumping around the new piggie. Our other pig was interested but not agressive, he was butt sniffing the new piggie, eating and watching the other two guinea pigs. The new piggie was butt sniffing too. After those first 15 minutes they started eating and ignoring each other, then again after about 20 minutes the alpha started to jumping around new guinea pig,teeth chattering and squeaking, but still no blood.

After 1 hour they calmed down and fall asleep, they were sleeping really close to each other and seemed to be relaxed.

Before the introducing we watched a bunch of videos on youtube and read articles about bonding, so we knew that there must at least 2hour period with no signs of agreesion between piggies before letting them in a cage together.

So after 2 hours of them sleeping and eating together we decided to let them in a cage. The cage was clean, most of the things were new or at least washed. We gave them fresh veggies and hay. At the begging they were exploring, then they started to mount each other.
And there's the problem - the second guinea pig (not alpha) mounted the new piggie, so alpha started to get aggresive towards the secong pig, and the new piggie was really confused. Alpha tried to mount both of the piggies, it took him really long time, but even when he did he woudn't stop trying. So after few hours he was still running around them and mounting them, and all of them started to get more and more irritated, and even the secong guinea pig who was really calm in the bathtub started to attack the new piggie. Also the older piggies started to get aggresive with each other, and that never heppend before.

They were in a buthtub for 3 hours and then in a cage for 6 hours, and there was a moment when they sit down and ate their food and fall asleep (in the cage), but then again mouting and squeaking and teeth chattering and fighting (still no blood)

At the end the second guinea pig was so aggresive towards the new piggie that we decided to take out the new piggie (older piggie was jumping and biting, and so did the new one, but there were no injuries. I found this description in the internet and that's pretty accurate:
  • Combination of raised hackles, loud and angry teeth chattering, rumblestrutting in place with the head staying in one position while facing the other guinea pig doing the same thing. Usually a signal of a biting attack. But they may back down before they engage.
  • Both pigs rear up on their haunches, face to face. This is a clear, brief signal of their intent to launch full attacks at each other. Separate if possible before the attack.

As soon as we separated them the new piggie was crying really loudly as if he was missing the piggies, and the older ones where mouting each other and this time they just did it and went sleep.

New piggie is currently in a different cage and we don't know what to do. Their aggresion was worse and worse every minute, and even now our older piggies are arguing and squeaking and mounting, and lightly fighting.

It seems like the introduction really confused them and now they have to figure out who's the alpha all over again.

We've been thinking about the bath buddies method, but it's really stressfull so we don't know.
Should we try again? How soon? Should we do something else?

Also, what do you guys think about castration if nothing else works? Maybe this would help with the aggresion?

Sorry for the long post, I just really wanted you to understand this whole situation.
 

Julie M

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First of all. Hello and welcome to the forum.

I’m very sorry to tell you this but a trio of boars rarely works out. Unless you have masses of space. Also neutering your boys won’t change their behaviours. All it does is take away their ability to make babies. You could maybe leave your two boys together and keep the new boy as a live along side piggie. Or get him a friend of his own. As if you keep trying to bond the trio you could end up with 3 single boys. I will try and post a link to the behaviours and bonding guides for you.
 

Julie M

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Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?

I can’t seem to copy a link.
 

LaurenKaye

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You are correct about them figuring out who the new alpha is. It might take a few days or so.

When I bonded my boys, they were the same way. They never truly hurt each other, but showed all of the following signs of rumblestrutting, teeth chattering, etc. Your pigs are probably just as confused as you are because they don't know the new piggy. The new piggy could possibly be the new alpha piggy.

As for the bathtub, it may have been too small of a space for the pigs to meet. When I introduced my piggies I enclosed the whole bathroom for them to meet. It gave them a lot of space to stay away from each other and also feel safer when they got close to each other. I also had food and veggies and toys in there. I think you did everything right but maybe sense there are 3 pigs vs just 2, they might need more space.

Male pigs are definitely more dominant and that can lead to them being more aggressive. I have had my boys together for over a year now and they still show rumblestrutting and teeth chattering every so often. I think its just normal boar behavior.

If your pigs are separated now, maybe leave it like that for another week or so so they can take a little while to be by themselves. It may be helpful to have the cages next to each other so they can see and talk to each other. I would then try bonding again. I'm not the most educated with bonding guinea pigs as I have only done it once, but others on the forum have had better experience. There are also articles on the forum about bonding. Here is the link
Behaviour and Bonding

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!
 

Elke

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Thank you for your answers. @LaurenKaye how many piggies do you have? I mean, now i know that trios are hard to work with, do you have a trio?
 

LaurenKaye

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Thank you for your answers. @LaurenKaye how many piggies do you have? I mean, now i know that trios are hard to work with, do you have a trio?
I actually only have 2 boys right now but I am wanting to add a third boy soon after I get a larger cage, so I haven't worked with a trio myself. I have heard they can be difficult though.
 

Elke

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Thank you @LaurenKaye. Honestly, I am considering few options right now:

1. Try again one more time in few days/a week - but I'm really afraid that we might brake the bond our older piggies have right now and that would be heartbraking
2. Keeping new piggie alone - but I don't want him to be lonely
3. Taking another guinea pig from the shelter and keeping two pairs of piggies - but I'm pretty sure that another piggie would need some medical treatment and again a quarantine to deal with, and after that we can't be sure if the introduction would be succesfull, so we might end up with another lonely guinea pig
4. Returning piggie to the shelter - and I'm only mentioning this because I know that it's an option, but I can't imagine that - the piggie is with us for almost a month now and we love him already.

Is there anyone who was in a similiar situation?
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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I would definitely recommend getting a bigger cage, the one you have is too small for 2 unfortunately so 3 would definitely be a squeeze. It's recommended to be a 5x2 feet space for 2 boys so if you wanted to bond a third I would probably be safe and go up to an 8x2 to give them the extra space.

Is the rescue not very good? I've never had to quarantine a piggy from a rescue before as they do it before they let them go to new homes (and do vet checks). Both the rescues I've used near me will let you bring your pig to them to bond them there and then, I don't know what your rescue is like though as they're all very different.

I had a similar situation with my boy pig as I rescued him from someone when he was very ill after being neutered. It took ages to get him healthy again and bond him with my 4 girls and there were many moments where I thought I would have to keep him separated and find him his own friend. Touch wood, they seem to be working out as a group of 5!
 

Elke

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I would definitely recommend getting a bigger cage, the one you have is too small for 2 unfortunately so 3 would definitely be a squeeze. It's recommended to be a 5x2 feet space for 2 boys so if you wanted to bond a third I would probably be safe and go up to an 8x2 to give them the extra space.

Is the rescue not very good? I've never had to quarantine a piggy from a rescue before as they do it before they let them go to new homes (and do vet checks). Both the rescues I've used near me will let you bring your pig to them to bond them there and then, I don't know what your rescue is like though as they're all very different.

I had a similar situation with my boy pig as I rescued him from someone when he was very ill after being neutered. It took ages to get him healthy again and bond him with my 4 girls and there were many moments where I thought I would have to keep him separated and find him his own friend. Touch wood, they seem to be working out as a group of 5!

As i mentioned in my first comment the cage is two-storeyed and each floor is 45cmx100cm (or ~1,5ft x 3,3ft for each floor, and our piggies are using both of them all the time), so I don't think that the space is our problem.

Also, when we tried to bond them in a cage, at some point we added an extension to the first floor, and it was also about 50cmx100cm, but it wouldn't help.

The rescue is fine I guess, but the system is that the piggies are checked by the vet when they arrive, then they are treated and then they go to the temporary houses before adoption, an often they spend in these houses months before an adoption and unfortunately those piggies might be in a bad shape from the beggining, so getting sick is possible, even if the temporary house is good, they still may got some kind of parasite from the hay or whatever, and our piggie did. So that's what I'm afraid of.
 

Elke

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Our two older piggies (Romeo i Pogo) are peacfull right now, they've been arguing during the night and now it's all fine. So, we've been thinking about a solution, and that's what we've been talking about:

1. Give them a week
2. After a week give it one more try, bath all three of them (but not together, our piggies hate baths, so it would be stressfull for them and we don't want them to link the stress to the new piggie)
3. Introduce them on a neutral teritorium, but this time way bigger, not a buthtub. Give them time to figure out the dominance in a neutral place. And I mean TIME - we can sit with them for ten hours if that's what we have to do.
4. If everything's ok let them in the cage, but this time with the extension from the beggining, so that they have lots of space.

What do you guys think? We are considering this option, because as I mentioned in the first post, they've been able to even sleep and eat together during an introduction, so it's not all anger and aggresion.
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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Hopefully this link will be helpful regarding cage sizes:

Cage Size Guide

Honestly the bigger the cage the better for boars, they really do need a lot of space and unfortunately different storeys doesn't really help.

For my two girls I had a 121cm by 60cm cage and that's the minimum, it's recommended to have more space for 2 males so for 3 it would be quite a bit more. Unfortunately if they're in close quarters they are far more likely to fight, especially as they get older and they have more testosterone.

I wouldn't bother with the buddy bath as it is a bit of a myth that it will help in bonding. It causes more stress than it does help.

The extra space will definitely help if you wanted to try introductions, have you got a big run you could do it in?

I'll tag @Wiebke as she's a bit of an expert! :)
 

Elke

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We can do the introduction in our kitchen or bathroom (we will secure the area of course) so that's not a problem. I've already asked @Wiebke for help in my "Introduce youself" post, so I hope she will be able to help knowing our situation. I still have hope, because of those 2 peacefull and friendly hours of introduction.

Thank you again for your help! :)
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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No problem! We're always here to help :)

Did you have a chance to have a read through the cage guide? That will definitely help a lot :D
 

Elke

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No problem! We're always here to help :)

Did you have a chance to have a read through the cage guide? That will definitely help a lot :D
Yes, I've checked the cage guide :) Here in Poland it's more like that:

1. 50x100cm - minimum for two piggies (no diference between males and females)
2. 50x120cm - minimum for three piggies (no diference between males and females)
3. 50x150cm - minimum for four piggies (no diference between males and females)

I'm not saying that it's right - I'm just saying that most of the guinea pig owners in Poland are following these instructions, and we've decided that our piggies need more space, that's why we made them a bigger cage than these instructions. Photo attached. :)

PS. Our piggies are using both floors equally. They are running up and down with no problem, they are sleeping, eating and running on both floors.

IMAG0489.jpg
 

Wiebke

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Hi!

Please never separate a boar bonding unless it is going really badly (fighting or excessive humping). it means that your boars will have to start all afresh again on page 1 of the bonding manual.

If there has been no fight and dominance has been in the mild to medium range, then you can persist with the bonding. Your boys are obviously laid back enough to cope with the hierarchy problem; they are thankfully all over the worst of the teenage hormones and the new arrival is not too dominant.

Count yourself lucky if your boars decide to get on. Many trios end up with an outsider problem of some sort; they are in my own experience the most difficult constellation to get right. If they work, it is great; I have had wonderful trios myself, but I have also had more trios that have never come together or gone badly wrong.

We generally recommend to not move your boars into a large and neutralised/new cage until they have had a shared nap and are still getting on with each other when they wake up. If necessary leave your piggies in the bonding area overnight and do not rush this stage because dominance is going to flare up again in the new/cleaned cage as the boys settle in. Ideally you want to have a roughly established and undisputed hierarchy before you move any guinea pigs into their home to make sure that any new bond is stable enough, which means that all piggies are willing and able to live together.
it takes about another 2 weeks until the bond is fully settled (dominance phase). If there are unresolved problems, these can flare up during the period and may lead to a failure if a peaceful agreement cannot be reached.

Please take the time to read our bonding guides. in the over 10 years this forum has been in existence, we have have had plenty of opportunity to learn the hard way which of the regular 'surefire' tips work and which not!
Behaviour, Bonding & Bereavement Guides

Best of luck!
 

Elke

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Thank you so much @Wiebke! We will definietly try again following your instructions, I think that leaving them in a bonding area overnight is possible, we will figure it out. Can you tell me how soon we should try again? We were thinking about leaving them for a week and then on a weekend (when we have more time) try again in a bigger space. Do you think it's ok? And of course we will read all of the informations you send us.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you so much @Wiebke! We will definietly try again following your instructions, I think that leaving them in a bonding area overnight is possible, we will figure it out. Can you tell me how soon we should try again? We were thinking about leaving them for a week and then on a weekend (when we have more time) try again in a bigger space. Do you think it's ok? And of course we will read all of the informations you send us.
Wait with the introductions until you have got a full day or two for the bonding and for keeping an eye on the boys in their new home. Space in the bonding area is not as important as in the cage. A smaller bonding area is Ok because it is showing up future conflicts during the bonding where there is potential for one. Bonding is the time where guinea pigs need to interact in order to establish a hierarchy and where they need to work out whether they can (and want) at the bottom line live together or not.
A large cage for the trio with space to get away from each other is helpful because lack of space is one of the big conflict starters especially for boars. Boars establish a ranking order by rumblestrutting and mounting (I call these 'boar hakas' from the Maori greeting ceremony); if they have space, the underboar will move away and out of the range of the immediate terrority. Boar fights usually happen because in a small cage there is no option to move away.
 
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