Frenchie12

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Hi guys, this is my first post so I hope it makes sense!
I'm posting because I recently bought a female Abyssinian piggy to keep my male, Mckenzie, company. I adopted Mckenzie from pets at home when he was 6 months old and he's now about 8 months. He was kept alone with his first owners and hadn't been with another guinea since his litter when he was younger. He's been neutered and has had over 2 months to heal and flush out his swimmers.
I bought Gouda on Sunday and she's a lovely if timid little thing. I was assured by pets at home that i'd have to be super unlucky for a male and female pairing to fail, but I'm now worrying my luck has proved terrible.
I have Gouda her 24 hours settling into a freshly cleaned cage, and on Monday after work I then separated the hutch into 2 (it's got the main house then an extended wooden run), putting Gouda in one side and Mckenzie the other so they can see and smell and hear but not get to each other. It's a large run so no problems in terms of space.
It seemed quite positive at first and he was popcorning about and squeaking to say hello, along with rumblestrutting and pacing in front of her which he hasn't done before. Gouda also seemed more at ease knowing he was there and started squeaking and moving around, whereas she'd been quiet on my lap.
On Tuesday I decided to try and give them a quick intro and followed all the guidance about neutral ground and distracting with food etc. Mckenzie was rumblestrutting quite a lot and I thought he was grooming her but it looked to be a little like hair pulling...
They had 10 minutes then went back into the hutch separated until later that evening when I gave them another 10 minutes together. This seemed to be where the problems became obvious as mckenzie was being quite boisterous and even sprayed at Gouda!
I tucked them in for the night and decided to see what the next day was like. Today I tried the bath as their neutral area and again Gouda seems to come out of her shell around mckenzie, but he was rumblestrutting like no tomorrow and seemed to try nipping at her and barging her. He didn't spray her but it didn't seem like they were comfortable either? After 10 minutes I put them in their cuddle cups on my lap and they were quite content yo lay near each other so it's confusing.
I'm a newbie owner so have no experience with this and don't want to end up with either of them getting hurt or having to keep them separate :(
If anyone could help advise me on whether it will take days for them to warm to each other and if there's any tips for male/female bonding I'd be really really grateful! I'm going to have to try and pay a rescue centre or an expert to help me otherwise as I'm more than a bit out of my depth with bonding them!
Hope someone can help x
 

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Wiebke

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Hi guys, this is my first post so I hope it makes sense!
I'm posting because I recently bought a female Abyssinian piggy to keep my male, Mckenzie, company. I adopted Mckenzie from pets at home when he was 6 months old and he's now about 8 months. He was kept alone with his first owners and hadn't been with another guinea since his litter when he was younger. He's been neutered and has had over 2 months to heal and flush out his swimmers.
I bought Gouda on Sunday and she's a lovely if timid little thing. I was assured by pets at home that i'd have to be super unlucky for a male and female pairing to fail, but I'm now worrying my luck has proved terrible.
I have Gouda her 24 hours settling into a freshly cleaned cage, and on Monday after work I then separated the hutch into 2 (it's got the main house then an extended wooden run), putting Gouda in one side and Mckenzie the other so they can see and smell and hear but not get to each other. It's a large run so no problems in terms of space.
It seemed quite positive at first and he was popcorning about and squeaking to say hello, along with rumblestrutting and pacing in front of her which he hasn't done before. Gouda also seemed more at ease knowing he was there and started squeaking and moving around, whereas she'd been quiet on my lap.
On Tuesday I decided to try and give them a quick intro and followed all the guidance about neutral ground and distracting with food etc. Mckenzie was rumblestrutting quite a lot and I thought he was grooming her but it looked to be a little like hair pulling...
They had 10 minutes then went back into the hutch separated until later that evening when I gave them another 10 minutes together. This seemed to be where the problems became obvious as mckenzie was being quite boisterous and even sprayed at Gouda!
I tucked them in for the night and decided to see what the next day was like. Today I tried the bath as their neutral area and again Gouda seems to come out of her shell around mckenzie, but he was rumblestrutting like no tomorrow and seemed to try nipping at her and barging her. He didn't spray her but it didn't seem like they were comfortable either? After 10 minutes I put them in their cuddle cups on my lap and they were quite content yo lay near each other so it's confusing.
I'm a newbie owner so have no experience with this and don't want to end up with either of them getting hurt or having to keep them separate :(
If anyone could help advise me on whether it will take days for them to warm to each other and if there's any tips for male/female bonding I'd be really really grateful! I'm going to have to try and pay a rescue centre or an expert to help me otherwise as I'm more than a bit out of my depth with bonding them!
Hope someone can help x
Hi and welcome!

There is nothing wrong with your bonding but an overanxious owner!

Please allow your piggies time together in a neutral area to bond fully. Acceptance has happened; your two want to live together!

Allow them to now work through the dominance phase to establish a hierarchy and a working group, which is the less nice, but vital part of the bonding process. That will not happen in 10 minute slots when you split them up again at the first sign of dominance behaviours.
Bonding takes several hours before you can move them to a shared cage without any places the underpiggy can be locked in an kept away from hay, food and water, and overall about two weeks until the group hierarchy is fully settled and firmly established.
Do NOT separate until there is fight with blood bites!

Cross gender bonding is a pee-fest. Boars spray sows with their pee to mark them as theirs. Sows target pee to keep the boys away from sticking their noses where they shouldn't. You ideally chose a neutral location in a run on the lawn in summer or in a location indoors where you can have a window open (testosterone-laden pee STINKS) and wipe everything down afterwards. ;)

Please take the time to carefully read this guide here. Bond at a time when you have got several hours in one go and DO NOT INTERFERE. Unlike you, your piggies know the bonding manual and are actually proceeding nicely along it. ;)

Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics

This guide is part of our new owners' guide collection, which you may find very helpful and interesting as it covers quite a range of subjects we get the most questions about by new owners.
Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides

All the best!
 

Frenchie12

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Hi and welcome!

There is nothing wrong with your bonding but an overanxious owner!

Please allow your piggies time together in a neutral to bond fully. Acceptance has happened; your two want to live together!

Allow them to now work through the dominance phase to establish a hierarchy and a working group, which is the less nice, but vital part of the bonding process. That will not happen in 10 minute slots when you split them up again at the first sign of dominance behaviours.
Bonding takes several hours before you can move them to a shared cage without any places the underpiggy can be locked in an kept away from hay, food and water, and overall about two weeks until the group hierarchy is fully settled and firmly established.
Do NOT separate until there is fight with blood bites!

Cross gender bonding is a pee-fest. Boars spray sows with their pee to mark them as theirs. Sows target pee to keep the boys away from sticking their noses where they shouldn't. You ideally chose a neutral location in a run on the lawn in summer or in a location indoors where you can have a window open (testosterone-laden pee STINKS) and wipe everything down afterwards. ;)

Please take the time to carefully read this guide here. Bond at a time when you have got several hours in one go and DO NOT INTERFERE. Unlike you, your piggies know the bonding manual and are actually proceeding nicely along it. ;)

Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics

This guide is part of our new owners' guide collection, which you may find very helpful and interesting as it covers quite a range of subjects we get the most questions about by new owners.
Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides

All the best!
Thank you SO much for the speedy reply. I did try reading the articles on here but it's hard to figure out sometimes if they're actually behaving naturally or I'm just giving into wishful thinking!
Just to clarify- at this stage should they still be kept separate? Or should I clean the cage fully again tomorrow and give them access to each other and let them work it out in their home away from my anxious eyes? There's plenty of space for Gouda to get away from him including another housing area in the run extension and tunnels with a couple of exits.
Or should I wait til tomorrow afternoon when I'm off work, put the pen on a new patch of grass and give them the hours like you said and only put them in the house together overnight if they haven't drawn blood?

Thanks again for the help- it's very much appreciated!
X
 

Wiebke

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Thank you SO much for the speedy reply. I did try reading the articles on here but it's hard to figure out sometimes if they're actually behaving naturally or I'm just giving into wishful thinking!
Just to clarify- at this stage should they still be kept separate? Or should I clean the cage fully again tomorrow and give them access to each other and let them work it out in their home away from my anxious eyes? There's plenty of space for Gouda to get away from him including another housing area in the run extension and tunnels with a couple of exits.
Or should I wait til tomorrow afternoon when I'm off work, put the pen on a new patch of grass and give them the hours like you said and only put them in the house together overnight if they haven't drawn blood?

Thanks again for the help- it's very much appreciated!
X
Wait until tomorrow and then bond in a neutral space where they cannot get possessive. As long as you make sure that the run is secured against cats, dogs and birds of prey and has some shade (and it is not too cold where you are), you can just leave them to it if you find watching too hard. Otherwise use a big bath towel or two to line the bottom of your bathtub and do the bonding in there. Make sure that no paws can get accidental caught in the drain when things get a little lively.

What you can do tonight is to switch sides so everything smells of both of them, so you do not have to another clean.

PS: Just so you can brace yourself for some action and harden yourself up - here are some videos of a really strong season in a group of mine... There is a lot of drama but not violence! Young piggies can be very vocal and dramatic! :D
When Sows Experience A Strong Season (videos)
 

Frenchie12

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Wait until tomorrow and then bond in a neutral space where they cannot get possessive. As long as you make sure that the run is secured against cats, dogs and birds of prey and has some shade (and it is not too cold where you are), you can just leave them to it if you find watching too hard. Otherwise use a big bath towel or two to line the bottom of your bathtub and do the bonding in there. Make sure that no paws can get accidental caught in the drain when things get a little lively.

What you can do tonight is to switch sides so everything smells of both of them, so you do not have to another clean.

PS: Just so you can brace yourself for some action and harden yourself up - here are some videos of a really strong season in a group of mine... There is a lot of drama but not violence! Young piggies can be very vocal and dramatic! :D
When Sows Experience A Strong Season (videos)
I'll try the lawn route as it's a bit fresher and Gouda kept hiding beneath the towels in the bath earlier!
Thanks for the video- super loud 😱 I'll post my outcome :D

Thanks again for all the help and speedy replies :)
 

Wiebke

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All the best! Piggy bonding is always somewhat nerve-wracking, but the first time is worst.
 

Swissgreys

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I just wanted to say that you have had brilliant advice from our resident expert, but please know you are not alone.

For my first bonding I sat on the arm of the sofa with oven mitts nearby (in case of a fight) for 3 hours :yikes:
I tend to leave the piggies in the bonding pen for as long as possible, but at least a few hours, with a large pile of hay/grass and a couple of step stools for shelter (but all open so they can always see each other and no one gets 'trapped').
Since they will be in the pen for a while I try to place it somewhere i can see and hear it, but also will allow me to make a coffee and start cleaning the main cage with a view to putting them back in later.

Good luck - once they are bonded it will all be worthwhile.
 

Frenchie12

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I just wanted to say that you have had brilliant advice from our resident expert, but please know you are not alone.

For my first bonding I sat on the arm of the sofa with oven mitts nearby (in case of a fight) for 3 hours :yikes:
I tend to leave the piggies in the bonding pen for as long as possible, but at least a few hours, with a large pile of hay/grass and a couple of step stools for shelter (but all open so they can always see each other and no one gets 'trapped').
Since they will be in the pen for a while I try to place it somewhere i can see and hear it, but also will allow me to make a coffee and start cleaning the main cage with a view to putting them back in later.

Good luck - once they are bonded it will all be worthwhile.
Thank you for this! It's reassuring- I'm a worry guts and knew I was most likely overreacting but as a newbie to guinea pigs it's all strange new territory!

Fingers crossed by tomorrow evening they make progress in the dominance phase 😊x
 

Claire W

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I remember a bonding I once did in the bath tub. I even sat on the toilet eating my dinner as I didn’t dare leave them! Thankfully all went well.

All the best for the bonding although like already mentioned, they have already accepted each other.

All the stress will be worth it in the end :)
 

Betsy

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When I bonded my lot together there was lots of bum sniffing, humping, wee spraying, nips and all sorts I stood by with the oven gloves and a towel. It all went well and I left them to it. Now they all live as one happy family. It is nerve wracking to watch but they know what they are doing!
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum.
Glad the bonding is going well even if it’s stressful for you.
Please post lots of pics when you can
 

Frenchie12

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LONG overdue update but the bonding went fine in the end :D
Mckenzie and Gouda happily live together now, though whenever I get them out for lap time Mckenzie seems to get a tad mean still... Not sure if this is a jealousy thing? Bit strange as there's no trouble at all when they're in their run and house.
I've added some photos of them during our hot summer- they both had their feet sticking out, super cute 😍
Thanks again for all the help and invaluable advice/reassurance 🧡
 

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