Need suggestions for bonding sows

seaskyking

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Hi,

I have a 2-year single sow Toffee, who has been alone most of her life. She is generally very happy and active, begging food whenever she got the chance and patrol her playground every now and then to do a treasure hunt. Toffee was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst that needs an operation but was postponed by the pandemic.
Last week, I found her a friend, a 7-month-old sow Marble, who has some problems with her previous group, so I rescued her and try to pair them up. Marble is generally calm and laidback; she is very easy to handle and enjoy lying down while eating.

When I tried to bond them for the first time after I got Marble home, I put them in a different place with clean lines. It seemed Toffee wanted dominance, she made those territory noises and tried to mount Marble sometimes. Marble fought back with her pee shot and back kick, but Toffee was still winning. I also tried a buddy bath. It seems they are ok after the bath. However, after a week, Marble started to make territory noises more often and tried to mount Toffee. Sometimes, I saw Marble attacked Toffee with her teeth, so I separated them during most of the day and let them interact when I'm with them, such as cleaning and vegetable time.

I'm not sure whether this is a chance for them to bond. Obviously they have very different personalities and both of them want dominance. Toffee is very curious but Marble doesn't appreciate constant disturbance when she just wants to lie down or eat. They both like to eat from the other's bowl and sometimes they can peacefully enjoy the hay from the same feeder, but they still make territory noises quite often even though they are separated by the bars. I wish Toffee could tell me whether she will be happier with a friend or being alone.

Should I keep trying to bond them or they are not a good fit? How long should I wait before trying to bond them again in a neutral place? What should I do before trying another bonding session?
 

Piggies&buns

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You can’t gauge how they will get on until you actually do a proper bonding in neutral territory. How they are with each other when they are in separate cages is not an entirely accurate representation of how they will be.

If you have however put them together physically then you can’t keep separating them and reintroducing them - each time you put them together they begin their processes and when you separate and put them back in their own cage the process is interrupted - they never actually establish a relationship. You need to put them in neutral territory and let the bonding happen through to conclusion - whether that be success or failure.

You will see mounting and dominance behaviours when you put them together which is why you need to let the bonding play out and not interrupt if things are within normal dominance levels.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
 
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Wiebke

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:agr: with @Piggies&buns !

Please take the time to carefully read our comprehensive bonding and behaviour guides, which take you through the whole process step by step. Unfortunately you cannot do tester meetings, you have to commit and ride the tiger as to whether they can settled down together or not. Guinea pigs don't do play time. For them every meeting is a full on interrupted bonding session, which is a very frustrating process for them.
 

LittleLily

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:agr: with @Piggies&buns and @Wiebke

My Jasmine was alone for about 3-4 months after her sister Honey died. Obviously, with COVID I was unable to get her a mate until just recently, and like your Toffee, she seemed fine alone and was active and happy. Now she's got two new sisters she needs to learn how to share. Guinea pigs who have been solitary for a long time tend to get used to you giving them 100% of your attention and love, and while I'm sure getting Marble won't decrease your love for Toffee, she might feel a little threatened by the new pig. Give her lots of affection to show her she's still got a solid place in your heart. Best of luck!
 

seaskyking

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You can’t gauge how they will get on until you actually do a proper bonding in neutral territory. How they are with each other when they are in separate cages is not an entirely accurate representation of how they will be.

If you have however put them together physically then you can’t keep separating them and reintroducing them - each time you put them together they begin their processes and when you separate and put them back in their own cage the process is interrupted - they never actually establish a relationship. You need to put them in neutral territory and let the bonding happen through to conclusion - whether that be success or failure.

You will see mounting and dominance behaviours when you put them together which is why you need to let the bonding play out and not interrupt if things are within normal dominance levels.

Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
so I've tried to bond Toffee with another piggy from a local rescue, it seems that Toffee's ovarian cyst (the vet has diagnosed it but the surgery was delayed because of the pandemic) has caused the bonding session particularly hard. It has been on for 36 hours, no blood, just rumbling, chasing, mounting. She likes to be near the new piggy but then often is the one who wants to chase and mount the other piggy while she makes some high-pitch squeaking.
I'm wondering if I should keep trying the bonding session or it's better to find her a friend after she recovers from the surgery.
 

seaskyking

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so I've tried to bond Toffee with another piggy from a local rescue, it seems that Toffee's ovarian cyst (the vet has diagnosed it but the surgery was delayed because of the pandemic) has caused the bonding session particularly hard. It has been on for 36 hours, no blood, just rumbling, chasing, mounting. She likes to be near the new piggy but then often is the one who wants to chase and mount the other piggy while she makes some high-pitch squeaking.
I'm wondering if I should keep trying the bonding session or it's better to find her a friend after she recovers from the surgery.
They were totally fine when first introduced during the dating session in the rescue, I really don't understand what happened and how long it's going to be on.
 

Piggies&buns

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so I've tried to bond Toffee with another piggy from a local rescue, it seems that Toffee's ovarian cyst (the vet has diagnosed it but the surgery was delayed because of the pandemic) has caused the bonding session particularly hard. It has been on for 36 hours, no blood, just rumbling, chasing, mounting. She likes to be near the new piggy but then often is the one who wants to chase and mount the other piggy while she makes some high-pitch squeaking.
I'm wondering if I should keep trying the bonding session or it's better to find her a friend after she recovers from the surgery.
Chasing, mounting, rumbling are normal dominance behaviours, it’s how piggies interact, bond, establish a relationship and working hierarchy. The high pitched squeaking from the other piggy is submission, she is accepting that she is bottom of the hierarchy.
The establishing of a relationship takes two weeks, so 36 hours is nothing in comparison. They also do this in a new environment so it is normal for it to start back up again when you bring them home.
Cysts do make their behaviour change, but if they are ok together, then leave them together.
 

Wiebke

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so I've tried to bond Toffee with another piggy from a local rescue, it seems that Toffee's ovarian cyst (the vet has diagnosed it but the surgery was delayed because of the pandemic) has caused the bonding session particularly hard. It has been on for 36 hours, no blood, just rumbling, chasing, mounting. She likes to be near the new piggy but then often is the one who wants to chase and mount the other piggy while she makes some high-pitch squeaking.
I'm wondering if I should keep trying the bonding session or it's better to find her a friend after she recovers from the surgery.
Hi!

Please have a read of our bonding guide, which takes you through all the stages of the complex bonding process step by step with the attendant behaviours for each phase. Establishing a fully working hierarchical group is a much more complicated than just the initial short acceptance phase; it also lasts on average about 2 weeks and not just a couple of hours. The dominance phase is never quite pleasant but it is absolutely essential for guinea pig society.

Please do not interfere; you have to sit this one out. the behaviours you are reporting are perfectly acceptable and what you are bound to see. Nothing to do with ovarian cysts!

In order to understand better what is happening and what to expect in the coming days, please take the time to read both these guides here:
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Sows: Behaviour and female health problems (including ovarian cysts)
 

seaskyking

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Chasing, mounting, rumbling are normal dominance behaviours, it’s how piggies interact, bond, establish a relationship and working hierarchy. The high pitched squeaking from the other piggy is submission, she is accepting that she is bottom of the hierarchy.
The establishing of a relationship takes two weeks, so 36 hours is nothing in comparison. They also do this in a new environment so it is normal for it to start back up again when you bring them home.
Cysts do make their behaviour change, but if they are ok together, then leave them together.
Thanks.
The confusing part for me is that Toffee is the one constantly mounting and the one who makes a lot of high-pitch squeaking.
 

Wiebke

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Thanks.
The confusing part for me is that Toffee is the one constantly mounting and the one who makes a lot of high-pitch squeaking.
The high pitched squeaking is submission as clearly described in either of the guide links I have put in my last post. Please take the time to read them and you will understand a lot better what is going on. It has taken me more than a day to write it all down with all the pictures and videos. We cannot just explain it all in detail in every post. Especially as we all do this for free in our own free time around our own guinea piges, jobs and family life. ;)

Have you you double checked the genders before before bonding? Mounting is dominance behaviour by both genders but mis-sexing is sadly far more common than you'd expect.
Here is the link to our sexing guide, again with lots of pictures to compare your piggies with: Illustrated Sexing Guide
 

seaskyking

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The high pitched squeaking is submission as clearly described in either of the guide links I have put in my last post. Please take the time to read them and you will understand a lot better what is going on. It has taken me more than a day to write it all down with all the pictures and videos. We cannot just explain it all in detail in every post. Especially as we all do this for free in our own free time around our own guinea piges, jobs and family life. ;)

Have you you double checked the genders before before bonding? Mounting is dominance behaviour by both genders but mis-sexing is sadly far more common than you'd expect.
Here is the link to our sexing guide, again with lots of pictures to compare your piggies with: Illustrated Sexing Guide
Hi Wiebke, thank you very much for all your suggestions and I do understand the meaning of high pitched squeaking. I've been researching for days before I came to ask questions here. I'm 100% sure both are girls. Toffee is diagnosed with ovarian cyst by our vet with x-ray and the other piggy is a new mom who just gave birth a month ago.

The confusing part is that Toffee is the one who seems winning the dominance dance as she constantly mounts on the new piggy but she also makes lots of the submission squeaking. That's why I suspect that Toffee may be the submissive one but appeared to be aggressive because of her ovarian cyst situation.
 
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