Questions about the bond between my boar trio

abrennan110

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Okay. So I’ve been wanting to post on here for a while now to get some feedback/insight on the situation with my three nearly 7 month old boys. I didn’t know about the dangers and stress of having a boar trio, until after I already got my three boys. They lived all together as babies before I brought them home, and I didn’t have the heart to leave one of them behind. Not that I wanted to, I didn’t. Anyway, my boys lived in harmony together since I brought them home in October, when they were about a month and a half old. In January, I moved them all into their 2x6 c&c cage together. They were in a cage that was slightly small for 3 guinea pigs up until that point, but it was my only option at the time, and I’ve been working on making their c&c cage and getting everything I needed for it/them almost the whole time up until the point of moving them into it. Then nearly two months into living in their new cage, my boys started expressing many dominance behaviors towards each other. They’ve officially hit the teenage months. I made the mistake of putting some beautiful beds in their cage with one entrance, which a couple weeks into the dominance displays caused an issue. My more submissive boy (Pancake) and my more dominant/aggressive boy (Pepper) got into a little scuffle. Up until this point, Pepper had started getting very intense with my other two boys (Pancake and Oreo). He wasn’t hurting them, but being pretty relentless harassment wise. Pepper attempted to go near/into the bed that Pancake was laying in, and because of Pepper’s recent behavior, he felt vulnerable being enclosed in the bed and pounced at Pepper as a preventative measure. I felt fully responsible, considering I knew about the two-exit hidey rule and took it seriously, but I guess part of me thought that everything has just gone so well so far, that maybe my boys would be an exception and it wouldn’t be an issue, but I was naive. Nobody got hurt from this little fight that they got into. No blood was drawn. It lasted about 5-10 seconds, and although it terrified me to death in the moment, I’m glad that they just stopped on their own without me having to (or even yet having an opportunity to) intervene. I proceeded to put all 3 boys together on the floor while I figured out what to do with the cage separation wise. I supervised them like a hawk. Pancake was pretty afraid, Oreo was confused. The last thing I EVER wanted to have to do was separate one of them from the others, or even worse, possibly one day end up having to separate all 3 of them. I pray this doesn’t happen, I’m heartbroken as it is. After about an hour of being on the floor all together, racking my mind about what just happened and how to proceed, I decided to try and put them back in together. Pepper immediately started chattering his teeth so freaking loud like I’ve never heard out of any of them before. I’ve literally never heard any of the three chatter their teeth at each other once until this. Pancake seemed even more terrified and so did Oreo, who was also harassed by Pepper up until this point, but there was never a fight between the two. After the fight and the intense chattering, I made the heartbreaking decision to split the c&c cage in half for now with Pancake and Oreo on on side and Pepper on the other. Mind you all of this chaos was sudden to me and I woke up to it at about 3:30am on this night. I wasn’t finished separating the cage and doing all that I needed to do to accommodate this situation until about 5:30am. It was so stressful and I never imagined actually going through this, especially not this soon. I was so drained and exhausted from the emotional stress that I finally proceeded to go back to sleep praying that I made the right decision in every part of what I did. Was it right to separate Pepper and not Pancake? Was the side of the cage that I chose to place Oreo on the right side? Was everything going to be okay with them? Was Pepper immediately going to get depressed? I was a mess. I know separation is a last resort for guinea pigs, so I couldn’t stop thinking about if I made the right choice. Oreo started showing much more dominance towards Pancake once it was just the two of them. I sit here and pray nothing goes south between the two. He can be a bit relentless towards Pancake also, but I didn’t think Pepper and Oreo would be the best match considering they both have dominant personalities. Pancake perked up a bit in his new living situation, and Oreo did a tiny bit too. I kept them like this for about a week, and I eventually decided that I owed it to them and to myself to try and reintroduce them atleast once, since I felt that my cage set-up was responsible for the scuffle that occurred. I originally had one kitchen area in the cage that they all shared, although I did have more than one water bottle and food bowl. Then as I said before; the one entrance beds. I tried to bond them again in a neutral area after the week was over, and it went great. No fighting, no arguments, just peaceful eating together and lounging around. This went on for atleast 2-3 hours before I moved them back into their completely cleaned out cage with all new things, with the divider taken out. Everything seemed like it was going well in the cage too. I reassessed everything, and made sure there were 3 of everything including areas for hay, so that they didn’t have to interact with each other. I spaced everything out, and put only two entrance houses. About a week into having them back living together again, I decided to expand the cage to a 2x8. I figured having the 2+ feet of extra space would help them get along easier, and worst case scenario, if I had to separate them again, that they’d have more than just the bare minimum of space, which is the last thing I wanted. It broke my heart having them in 2x3s for that one week. The very next day after expanding to the 2x8, I was doing my nightly rounds of individually cuddling my three baby boys. It was Pancake’s turn and as I was petting him, I felt a bump on his back. I decided to spread his fur and have a look, and I see a big scab with dried blood. My first thought was, “oh my god, you got bit,” although it did at least look pretty shallow, so I wasn’t completely freaking out - I knew I could fix him up with some sterile saline and betadine, but here I was again wondering what the hell am I supposed to do now. Why is this happening? My poor baby. Pancake never bothers anybody, he’s literally the sweetest. Then I remembered how Pancake was cowering in the corner earlier after being briefly chased by Pepper when I had them all on the floor together. Another thing I’ve never seen before. I looked him over and didn’t see anything, so I didn’t think too much of it. He was still acting pretty normal outside of that somewhat brief moment. But once I saw the cut and made that connection, I immediately thought to myself that I’m going to have to separate Pepper again. Then I had another thought on how that wouldn’t be fair of me to do to him again unless I knew for a fact that this cut/bite came from him. It could’ve came from Oreo, I thought, or maybe he did it to himself, by scratching, grooming, briefly biting at his backside once in a blue moon, etc. I decided to put Pancake back into the cage while I kept an extremely close eye while I once again tried to figure out what I wanted to do. About 10 minutes later, I witness Pepper aggressively chasing Pancake to the point where Pancake is squealing, and I lightly pushed him off with the oven mitt, and proceeded to pull Pancake back out. I see a chunk of his fur on his side sticking out from the chaos, like it was all disheveled, so I decided to take another look at his back through the fur, and now I see another cut that looks exactly the same as the other, but a bit smaller, and definitely fresh this time. I didn’t know if something like this was even intentional on Pepper’s part, and I also didn’t know if cuts/possible bites like these were even considered “blood being drawn,” but I made the decision to once again separate Pepper for the sake of Pancake’s safety and happiness. Now, they’ve been separated in their side by side 2x4’s for a little less than 2 weeks now. Pepper seems to be adjusting to being alone... he popcorns sometimes, and still spends time with the other two on the floor once in a while, and chats with them through the bars. Oreo is still trying to express dominance over Pancake, and driving me a little bit nuts lol. Pancake is constantly squealing in submission when Oreo gets too close, and it keeps me up at night a lot, but anyway, I still am wondering if what I did was right. There was no real fight that caused actual blood loss, and I also can’t even say with 100% certainty that these two marks on pancake’s back were bites or intentional. I was and am just so scared of something worse happening when I’m not around now that I’ve had my fair share of warning signs. I really could use some advice or atleast opinions on my situation. Would it be worth trying to reintroduce them after the 15-month or so point? I want nothing more than for them to all live in harmony together, but not at the cost of their happiness and health. I also have thought about doing boar dating for Pepper, but I have absolutely no rescues within a reasonable distance. I’m still going to try and come up with a better solution.

So... tell me, did I do the right thing in every choice that I made along the way? Where do I try and go from here if anywhere?
 

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Piggies&buns

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I’m so sorry for your situation.

As you now know, boar trios are highly unlikely to work out, so separating them into a pair and a single was the right thing to do. It is what has to happen with most boar trios unfortunately, usually before they hit adulthood. Unfortunately, there is not really any point in waiting until they are out of their teens and trying again - if they don’t like each other now and can’t form a hierarchy, then things won’t change in the future.

Enlarging their cage was also the right thing to. A 2x6 isn’t big enough for a boar trio. A 2x8 is a better size but (if ive calculated properly) is a little below the recommended one square metre per boar which we recommend to attempt a boar trio. However, space is not the deciding factor on whether a trio will work though - compatibility is.

Please don’t let all three of them have floor time together. As they cannot live together, they cannot have physical contact. This means that they cannot be let out for floor time together - Pepper will need to be let out separately to Pancake and Oreo.

What you need to do now is work out whether Pancake and Oreo’s relationship is a happy one.
Is Oreo backing down when Pancake squeals in submission. Or, is his chasing and dominance relentless?
Does Pancake appear happy or does he seem withdrawn and quiet?
How is Pancake’s weight - is it stable? is Oreo allowing him to eat or does he chase him constantly?

If things do seem to be fine between them, then they can remain together in one cage with Pepper as a neighbour with interaction through the bars only. One thing I would recommend is increasing Pancake and Oreo’s cage to a 2x5 if at all possible. A 2x4 is the minimum size for a boar pair, a 2x5 is the recommended. If things are ok but have their normal teen tense times, then they will really benefit from having the extra space.

If you determine that Pancake is unhappy to be living with Oreo, then sadly you will have no choice but to separate them also. Although being able to make a pair and a single out of a boar trio is what commonly occurs, sometimes it turns out none of them can get on and having three singles becomes the outcome.

The guide below will help you determine whether Pancake and Oreo’s relationship is functioning
Bonds In Trouble
 

abrennan110

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I’m so sorry for your situation.

As you now know, boar trios are highly unlikely to work out, so separating them into a pair and a single was the right thing to do. It is what has to happen with most boar trios unfortunately, usually before they hit adulthood. Unfortunately, there is not really any point in waiting until they are out of their teens and trying again - if they don’t like each other now and can’t form a hierarchy, then things won’t change in the future.

Enlarging their cage was also the right thing to. A 2x6 isn’t big enough for a boar trio. A 2x8 is a better size but (if ive calculated properly) is a little below the recommended one square metre per boar which we recommend to attempt a boar trio. However, space is not the deciding factor on whether a trio will work though - compatibility is.

Please don’t let all three of them have floor time together. As they cannot live together, they cannot have physical contact. This means that they cannot be let out for floor time together - Pepper will need to be let out separately to Pancake and Oreo.

What you need to do now is work out whether Pancake and Oreo’s relationship is a happy one.
Is Oreo backing down when Pancake squeals in submission. Or, is his chasing and dominance relentless?
Does Pancake appear happy or does he seem withdrawn and quiet?
How is Pancake’s weight - is it stable? is Oreo allowing him to eat or does he chase him constantly?

If things do seem to be fine between them, then they can remain together in one cage with Pepper as a neighbour with interaction through the bars only. One thing I would recommend is increasing Pancake and Oreo’s cage to a 2x5 if at all possible. A 2x4 is the minimum size for a boar pair, a 2x5 is the recommended. If things are ok but have their normal teen tense times, then they will really benefit from having the extra space.

If you determine that Pancake is unhappy to be living with Oreo, then sadly you will have no choice but to separate them also. Although being able to make a pair and a single out of a boar trio is what commonly occurs, sometimes it turns out none of them can get on and having three singles becomes the outcome.

The guide below will help you determine whether Pancake and Oreo’s relationship is functioning
Bonds In Trouble
Thank you very much for responding so quickly. It’s greatly appreciated. I think Pancake still does seem pretty happy and pretty himself although Oreo can be kind of relentless when he wants to. They all seem to get much more rambunctious at night. I pray I don’t ever have to separate the two of them from each other. I also have been planning to try and expand their side of the cage. I think I might have just enough room to tack on an extra grid length wise as long as I zip tie it without using the connectors since it adds a couple inches. I know that boar trios are unlikely to work, but I just didn’t know if separating them preventatively without a full on blood drawn fight was right of me. Everyone seems to say to make sure you don’t separate unless this that and the other thing were to occur. The whole situation has just been very stressful, but luckily my boys and myself are starting to finally adjust. I wish so badly that I could find Pepper a friend, but without having any rescues in New York, it makes me terrified to try considering I don’t want to end up with yet another single guinea if things didn’t work out. Do you think the photos I originally attached look like bite marks? I don’t know personally what it looks like to know for sure.
 

Swissgreys

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Where on his body is the scab?
You said his back.
Is it between his shoulder blades or more towards his bottom?
 

abrennan110

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Another thing I forgot to add is yes, I am keeping an eye on the weight of all 3 of them, especially Pancake. For a bit there he was losing a few grams here and there, but then he finally perked back up and his weight went back up to higher than it even was before. I’m still keeping an eye to make sure everything is okay. Also, they all seem to still love floor time together, especially Pepper, and it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the bond between Pancake and Oreo. You think that this is something that still shouldn’t happen considering? They still have a little bit of contact through the bars in their cage, as it’s just a divider of grids and there’s no coroplast or cover or anything over it.
 

abrennan110

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Where on his body is the scab?
You said his back.
Is it between his shoulder blades or more towards his bottom?
Yes, the two scabs were parallel to each other actually on his lower back, I’d say maybe right between his hips/a little above his hind legs.
 

Wiebke

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Hi!

It is impossible for us to tell whether it is a small burst cyst or a bite wound from the picture but please keep an eye on it in case it gets infected/abscessed and see a vet promptly in that case for an antibiotic.

A deep bite wound usually looks like two needle pricks close together since piggies have two incisors.

If your boys are still happy to share run time, the problem cannot be too bad; as two boars that have been fighting will usually react with some serious teeth chattering and other signs of stress/hostility after a fight/fall-out. The level of instant tension is unmistakeable in the wake of a full-on intentional fighting bite.

However, if the trio is somewhat unbalanced and your boy is much happier having his own patch and quality time with his shared friend, then that is not at all problem as long as they can still fully interact through the bars to keep up their bond and stimulate each other but without the stress of having to share space. Trios (and in boars, also quartetas) are the most prone to problems as you either get two boars getting on better or one boar caught in between to that do not like each other all that much. As long as you are giving your boys a say in whether they are happier in their new arrangement, then you are doing well and don't have to feel guilty. Piggies are very much their own personalities and don't work out necessarily as you want or expect them to. ;)
 

abrennan110

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Thank you for this, it made me feel a lot better. Do you think it would be worth trying to put them back together at any point considering there was no “full-on intentional fighting bite” ? I hate feeling like I could’ve separated them for no good enough reason. I feel it was very unfair of me to Pepper, but in the heat of the moment both times, it felt it was the right thing to do.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for this, it made me feel a lot better. Do you think it would be worth trying to put them back together at any point considering there was no “full-on intentional fighting bite” ? I hate feeling like I could’ve separated them for no good enough reason. I feel it was very unfair of me to Pepper, but in the heat of the moment both times, it felt it was the right thing to do.

I would continue with shared run time and take it from there; you will have to do any rebonding on neutral ground in the run anyway.

PLEASE read the advice in the green links in this thread before you do anything. They will give you the tools you need to assess and reassess the situation at every stage; it can be that your boys decide they are happier apart when the chips are down. That is why our information links are so important; at a remote, we can only judge through the filter of your own perception, which is very often no good enough.

Please also accept that we cannot diagnose just from a picture (nor are we qualified to replace a vet); we can on make guesses.
 

abrennan110

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Thank you. I’ve read most of the threads I can find on here about boars and bonding, but I will continue to do so! Do you think if I were to ever try to put them back together that I should wait until the teenage months are over?
 

abrennan110

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I just wanted to post an update on this thread about how the situation is going nowadays. Pancake and Pepper are usually always civil during floor time. About a month ago, Oreo and Pepper started chattering at each other really loudly during floor time all of a sudden. A little less than two weeks ago when they were on the floor when I was cleaning the cage, Oreo and Pepper got into a little bit of a fight. The situation is similar to when Pepper got into his fight with Pancake. I think Oreo felt slightly cornered and that’s why it happened. Nobody is really hurt, but Pepper does have two similar marks on his side like I showed that Pancake on his back. I didn’t notice them right away.. it was about a week ago that I noticed. So now my hope of being able to reunite my three boys at the end of the year/dominance phase is even more lessened than before. I don’t have any rescues anywhere near me to try and do any boar dating. Does anyone know or have any suggestions as to what the next best suggestion would be for finding a friend for Pepper? He’s definitely my most aggressive piggy, but I’m starting to feel like the longer he’s in his cage alone the less happy about it he’s becoming. I wanted to try and find him a spayed girlfriend, but considering I have him in the same cage as the other two boys, just with the divider, I figured that probably would just cause more chaos. Help.
 

Siikibam

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He will be fine with interaction through the divider for now. I think if you’re to bond him with a sow then it’s more likely you’ll need to get him neutered. It’s not often you find a spayed sow. If you did bond him with a sow, you could stack the cages with your boar/down pair underneath. But, as with boars, it comes down to compatibility.

Have a look at the link below for rescues. I think if you want to try and bond him, perhaps speak to some and see if they’d be willing to take back any piggies that don’t get along with him. Otherwise it’s a case of having a plan b in case you get a piggy on spec and it doesn’t work out.
Guinea Lynx :: US Guinea Pig Rescue and Shelter Organizations
 

abrennan110

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He will be fine with interaction through the divider for now. I think if you’re to bond him with a sow then it’s more likely you’ll need to get him neutered. It’s not often you find a spayed sow. If you did bond him with a sow, you could stack the cages with your boar/down pair underneath. But, as with boars, it comes down to compatibility.

Have a look at the link below for rescues. I think if you want to try and bond him, perhaps speak to some and see if they’d be willing to take back any piggies that don’t get along with him. Otherwise it’s a case of having a plan b in case you get a piggy on spec and it doesn’t work out.
Guinea Lynx :: US Guinea Pig Rescue and Shelter Organizations
Thank you very much for your help. I will check that out. I feel like I got attached to my boys so instantly, that I would never be able to bring a new piggy home and then take them back to a shelter or something 😭 my heart would never let me. The stressssss. I think I’m still gonna wait til the dominance phase is over either way. Maybe a miracle will happen and I’ll be able to make it work between them. Either way, an attempt to bond/rebond him with anyone would have to be easier after that point I would think.
 

Siikibam

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I wouldn’t try a rebonding of the trio later on as you don’t want to cause issues with the pair. Worst case you could end up with three boys who like a bachelor life. They’re in their teens until 14 months and this time can make it difficult (but not impossible) to bond them. Either way it’s still down to compatibility. And you may find he’s not aggressive. You have to remember that they get hormone spikes so can be driven by that. And dominance won’t stop dead just because they’re out of their teens. The behaviour can continue into old age. So you just have to find a pairing where one is submissive and the other dominant. It’s also hard to find that balance for boars. They’re generally either one or the other.
 

abrennan110

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I wouldn’t try a rebonding of the trio later on as you don’t want to cause issues with the pair. Worst case you could end up with three boys who like a bachelor life. They’re in their teens until 14 months and this time can make it difficult (but not impossible) to bond them. Either way it’s still down to compatibility. And you may find he’s not aggressive. You have to remember that they get hormone spikes so can be driven by that. And dominance won’t stop dead just because they’re out of their teens. The behaviour can continue into old age. So you just have to find a pairing where one is submissive and the other dominant. It’s also hard to find that balance for boars. They’re generally either one or the other.

Thank you again. I know what you’re saying. The thing is though Pancake is pretty submissive and Pepper got into a fight with him first which is what caused the original separation. He just maybe is not AS submissive as Pepper or Oreo would both like, but he’s definitely not dominant. What age do you think would be the best mark to try and rebond them or look for a new friend for Pepper with the best possible odds? They’re almost 10 months old right now. It would be great if he turned out not to be aggressive, and just hormonal, but I love him to death either way.
 

Piggies&buns

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Bonds break when they aren’t compatible, so I really would not recommend trying the three of them together again. Boar trios rarely work. Putting him back in with them when they’ve already failed once, would have the potential to cause three single piggies as it can break the bond between the functioning pair.

While bonding teen boars can be harder due to the hormones (some UK rescues won’t attempt bonding boars under 18 months of age and would instead prefer to neuter and bond with a sow instead), bonding comes down to compatibility not age. So finding him a character compatible friend is what counts.
If you were to neuter and bond him with a sow then you would need to be careful having a sow in the presence of the functioning boar pair.
 

abrennan110

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Bonds break when they aren’t compatible, so I really would not recommend trying the three of them together again. Boar trios rarely work. Putting him back in with them when they’ve already failed once, would have the potential to cause three single piggies as it can break the bond between the functioning pair.

While bonding teen boars can be harder due to the hormones (some UK rescues won’t attempt bonding boars under 18 months of age and would instead prefer to neuter and bond with a sow instead), bonding comes down to compatibility not age. So finding him a character compatible friend is what counts.
If you were to neuter and bond him with a sow then you would need to be careful having a sow in the presence of the functioning boar pair.

I really don’t want to get him neutered, but I would also love to have him paired with a sow. I understand it’s not easy to find a spayed sow though, although I am keeping an eye out. I do also worry about it affecting the other two boys and how I would make that all work. I’m just so scared to bring home a new boy, even if I did do boar dating first, and have it end up not working out. I’d already be attached to the new piggy, and I would never have the heart to be able to take them back to the rescue/shelter or rehome them. I also understand that it’s not easy to make a boar trio work although I didn’t know this in the beginning when I brought my three boys home. Blood has never been shed, but there has been two fights with just a couple small scabs left behind. They all had successful floor time together up until the past two weeks even though the separation happened in late February/early March.
 

Siikibam

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You have to be aware that each floor time when they don’t live together is a bonding session for them. And it can be stressful, hence the recommendation not to do it. If I were you, I’d look at the other options that don’t include trying to remind the trio when they’re past their teens. They decided (for whatever reason) they don’t want to live together and sadly you can’t change their minds for them. If you don’t want him neutered then he can live alongside the pair for now while you try to find him a suitable friend to live with. I wouldn’t rule out boar dating as you’re not likely to find spayed sows.
 

Black piggies

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I really don’t want to get him neutered, but I would also love to have him paired with a sow. I understand it’s not easy to find a spayed sow though, although I am keeping an eye out. I do also worry about it affecting the other two boys and how I would make that all work. I’m just so scared to bring home a new boy, even if I did do boar dating first, and have it end up not working out. I’d already be attached to the new piggy, and I would never have the heart to be able to take them back to the rescue/shelter or rehome them. I also understand that it’s not easy to make a boar trio work although I didn’t know this in the beginning when I brought my three boys home. Blood has never been shed, but there has been two fights with just a couple small scabs left behind. They all had successful floor time together up until the past two weeks even though the separation happened in late February/early March.
I guess there isn't a rescue nearby that could take your single boar and try to bond him with another boar? So you don't get attached to a new boar when it may not work out.
Do you have any specific concerns about neutering? I've had a boar neutered and it went very well, as it usually does.
The broken skin on your piggy's back could have turned into a life threatening abscess, I'd take those bite marks seriously.
 

abrennan110

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You have to be aware that each floor time when they don’t live together is a bonding session for them. And it can be stressful, hence the recommendation not to do it. If I were you, I’d look at the other options that don’t include trying to remind the trio when they’re past their teens. They decided (for whatever reason) they don’t want to live together and sadly you can’t change their minds for them. If you don’t want him neutered then he can live alongside the pair for now while you try to find him a suitable friend to live with. I wouldn’t rule out boar dating as you’re not likely to find spayed sows.

I haven’t ruled out boar dating at all. I also was told by @Wiebke to continue the shared run time unless anything else changed, which I suppose now it has because of the fight. Up until that, they’ve all had floor time together with no issues at all going all the way back to late Feb/early March when this first happened. Several times per week. Of course now I can’t really do it anymore anyway, because Pepper and Oreo start chattering at each other like crazy. This wasn’t a problem with him and Pancake after their fight. Maybe the first time I tried floor time with them after the fight, and then that was it. It’s not that I’m anti-neutering, I just don’t want to take the chance of anything happening to my baby boy. The risks scare me. I’ll just keep looking for rescues. Thanks.
 
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