Mother guinea pig bites her one and a half week old son

Tinychels

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Hello! My name is Chelsy & I just wanted to start off saying that I’m new to this website so hopefully I can get some answers from other piggy owners :). One of my female guinea pigs (her name is Akira) just recently gave birth to two girls (Ruby and Athena) and one boy (Niko). I was in the middle of cleaning one side of their cage when suddenly I heard a loud squeak (sounded like it came from one of the babies) & I see that Akira is attacking Niko :(! I immediately separated them and carried Niko in attempt to calm him. It seemed like he got really comfortable with me, by the time I put him back in the cage, he was struggling to stay on my hand. He had no bite marks (from what I can see), but I’m super worried for Niko on what caused Akira to attack :(. Is this just nature doing it’s thing or is something else going on?
 

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Hello! My name is Chelsy & I just wanted to start off saying that I’m new to this website so hopefully I can get some answers from other piggy owners :). One of my female guinea pigs (her name is Akira) just recently gave birth to two girls (Ruby and Athena) and one boy (Niko). I was in the middle of cleaning one side of their cage when suddenly I heard a loud squeak (sounded like it came from one of the babies) & I see that Akira is attacking Niko :(! I immediately separated them and carried Niko in attempt to calm him. It seemed like he got really comfortable with me, by the time I put him back in the cage, he was struggling to stay on my hand. He had no bite marks (from what I can see), but I’m super worried for Niko on what caused Akira to attack :(. Is this just nature doing it’s thing or is something else going on?
Hi!

Please put your boy back to his mother. Nipping is a carefully judged very common dominance gesture that lets another guinea pig feel the teeth but does not break the skin. The normal reaction to it is loud squeaking - not from pain but usually either from surprise and most often as a reaction of submission. Akira has simply put the boy in his place. You are bound to see a lot more of it as the babies are coming up towards weaning time, when they are more and more emphatically discouraged from drinking and are firmly pushed to the bottom of the group hierarchy. That is going to look very rough to the uninitiated, but is right at the heart of any functioning guinea pig society. ;)

Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics
 

Jomundy

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What you may have been seeing is her trying to clean his bottem . They kind of pin the baby down . It looks like there fighting but she's only helping them x
 

Tinychels

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Hi!

Please put your boy back to his mother. Nipping is a carefully judged very common dominance gesture that lets another guinea pig feel the teeth but does not break the skin. The normal reaction to it is loud squeaking - not from pain but usually either from surprise and most often as a reaction of submission. Akira has simply put the boy in his place. You are bound to see a lot more of it as the babies are coming up towards weaning time, when they are more and more emphatically discouraged from drinking and are firmly pushed to the bottom of the group hierarchy. That is going to look very rough to the uninitiated, but is right at the heart of any functioning guinea pig society. ;)

Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics
Thank you so much for clarifying this! I was wondering if it were that. I wanted to make sure before doing anything. :)
 

Wiebke

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Thank you so much for clarifying this! I was wondering if it were that. I wanted to make sure before doing anything. :)
Please take the time to read up on guinea pig behviours. it is time well spent because you will understand and notice so much more, and you can also enjoy and interact with your piggies a lot better. Guinea pigs are group animals with a much more complex communication than expected as recent research has shown.
 

Tinychels

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What you may have been seeing is her trying to clean his bottem . They kind of pin the baby down . It looks like there fighting but she's only helping them x
I’ll remember that next time, thank you for replying :)!
 

Little Piglets

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You'll hear different "distress" calls over time and know to recognize them.

When mom is cleaning/licking their bums, they let out a unique sound. Once they start going on their own, you might hear the same sound once in awhile. The licking seems to encourage "pooping" and eventually urinating. She might pin them between her front legs (i.e. an ambush cleaning) or she'll do it when they are nursing. You'll see them sticking their bums in the air and flaring their sack hole like boars do as adults as well. If you are hand-raising parent-less pups, you have to encourage this yourself so they'll go if I understand it correctly.

Corrective "nips" from mom, need to be left alone as the pup needs to understand what she's teaching it (manners). You'll hear another kind of distinctive stress call, which reminds me of a sulking child that just got scolded by a parent, after she nips. Eventually, you'll see them look away and seemingly "pretend" to be interested in something else immediately after a nip, or they'll freeze up and stare in another direction while making the "sulking" sound. It's 100% normal. It'll happen on and off over the weeks, and once the pups are old enough, they'll nip each other once in awhile as they establish boundaries and presumably hierarchy status, though interestingly enough (mine) don't sulk from each other.

From what I can tell, my sow started the nips kinda early, as if to "prime" them so they'd understand what the nip meant. If they stared head-on at her while getting too close, that seemed to be a trigger where she'd correct them. Other times, if they got over enthusiastic and where bum-rushing her, she might nip in succession (I have 4 pups and 3 were almost always chasing her non-stop) so it was like a boom, boom, boom and she just corrected 3 of them in less than a second. They'd sulk for 10 seconds, and back to chasing mom or they'd leave her be.
 

Tinychels

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Please take the time to read up on guinea pig behviours. it is time well spent because you will understand and notice so much more, and you can also enjoy and interact with your piggies a lot better. Guinea pigs are group animals with a much more complex communication than expected as recent research has shown.
I just read it & WOW, I will definitely revisit that article. Everything makes even more sense, bless you for sharing this! :)
 

Tinychels

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You'll hear different "distress" calls over time and know to recognize them.

When mom is cleaning/licking their bums, they let out a unique sound. Once they start going on their own, you might hear the same sound once in awhile. The licking seems to encourage "pooping" and eventually urinating. She might pin them between her front legs (i.e. an ambush cleaning) or she'll do it when they are nursing. You'll see them sticking their bums in the air and flaring their sack hole like boars do as adults as well. If you are hand-raising parent-less pups, you have to encourage this yourself so they'll go if I understand it correctly.

Corrective "nips" from mom, need to be left alone as the pup needs to understand what she's teaching it (manners). You'll hear another kind of distinctive stress call, which reminds me of a sulking child that just got scolded by a parent, after she nips. Eventually, you'll see them look away and seemingly "pretend" to be interested in something else immediately after a nip, or they'll freeze up and stare in another direction while making the "sulking" sound. It's 100% normal. It'll happen on and off over the weeks, and once the pups are old enough, they'll nip each other once in awhile as they establish boundaries and presumably hierarchy status, though interestingly enough (mine) don't sulk from each other.

From what I can tell, my sow started the nips kinda early, as if to "prime" them so they'd understand what the nip meant. If they stared head-on at her while getting too close, that seemed to be a trigger where she'd correct them. Other times, if they got over enthusiastic and where bum-rushing her, she might nip in succession (I have 4 pups and 3 were almost always chasing her non-stop) so it was like a boom, boom, boom and she just corrected 3 of them in less than a second. They'd sulk for 10 seconds, and back to chasing mom or they'd leave her be.
WOW, I’ve been noticing that with both pups (boy and girl). The one that got bitten was the boy, and recently I’ve been seeing that the boy and the girl pup is tailing their mother. Eventually she kind of gets on top of them or sort of rustle them & they seem to stop. Thank you for explaining that!
 

Little Piglets

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Yeah, if she's "holding" them down and licking the bum, it helps them "poop". Corrective nips, are like a quick nose-butt or a "stop it poke". Pup might persist and get nipped again.

Them following her (constantly) is normal too. When she eventually starts weening them, you might see them chase her, stop an inch away, then VERY slowly inch closer to her (being sneaky). Once close enough, she'll either nip, get up and move, stomp a foot/kick up bedding, etc. etc..

GL with them!
 

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I just read it & WOW, I will definitely revisit that article. Everything makes even more sense, bless you for sharing this! :)
You can use these behaviours to make friends or assert your dominance and to solve problems (tweaking, wiggling when grooming or medicating etc.) with a spot of 'piggy whispering'.
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

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