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Scared and Now Hiding (Sick or Bad Bond?)

tayboonexx

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Hi There!

I am going to preface this with the rescue I adopted Louie from told me that this would all be fine and she has never had a trio of boars fall out... even a quartet. NOTHING. She said that they all work it out and the whole 'trios of boars never work out' thing is a myth...

SO... I have three boars. Theo and Ollie (bonded as a pair, Americans, both currently 1 year 7 months old) and Louie (added to the herd 5 months ago, Abby, currently 8 months old). Things have been peaceful (minus the normal boy noises every once in a while) for the five months that they have been together. Everyone was friends with each other and Theo and Ollie were acting entirely normal as if Louie was never added to the herd. It was going flawlessly, which I appreciated, because I was nervous about adding Louie to my bonded pair of boys. Everyone was eating, pooping, drinking... normal!

Until about four days ago. Louie, the 8 month Abby, I feel is trying to take dominance from the older boars. He has aggressively chased Ollie around the cage several times and made Ollie scream. There has been ONE instance of the tiniest bit of blood to the point where I couldn't even find the source. I did not determine whether it was just a bump on the chloroplast or from Louie biting him. It was the littlest bit of blood, so I was told not to be concerned. After the last time Louie chased Ollie around the cage rather aggressively, Ollie has been laying in the hay box and in the corner of the cage behind the hides. He has NEVER laid there in his entire existence. He just sits. He usually doesn't let me pet him right away, but now, he just sits there and doesn't even flinch. He is still eating and eats the veggies I place in front of him and comes up to the end of the cage for his morning treat. I would not be freaked out if he wasn't just laying around in these odd places, looking sad/scared, and freezing when I go to pet him...

Is he sick? Is he afraid of Louie? What can I do? I REALLY do not want to separate or give Louie back to the rescue. The last time this has happened has been two days ago now. Other than Ollie's strange behavior, everything is normal. No chasing or any aggressive behavior. There has never been any humping or other dominant behavior other than chasing.

**Edited to Add- I contacted the rescue I received Louie from, and she told me to let them work out their attitudes toward each other and do not interfere. They would be fine and to let them be.
 

Wiebke

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Hi There!

I am going to preface this with the rescue I adopted Louie from told me that this would all be fine and she has never had a trio of boars fall out... even a quartet. NOTHING. She said that they all work it out and the whole 'trios of boars never work out' thing is a myth...

SO... I have three boars. Theo and Ollie (bonded as a pair, Americans, both currently 1 year 7 months old) and Louie (added to the herd 5 months ago, Abby, currently 8 months old). Things have been peaceful (minus the normal boy noises every once in a while) for the five months that they have been together. Everyone was friends with each other and Theo and Ollie were acting entirely normal as if Louie was never added to the herd. It was going flawlessly, which I appreciated, because I was nervous about adding Louie to my bonded pair of boys. Everyone was eating, pooping, drinking... normal!

Until about four days ago. Louie, the 8 month Abby, I feel is trying to take dominance from the older boars. He has aggressively chased Ollie around the cage several times and made Ollie scream. There has been ONE instance of the tiniest bit of blood to the point where I couldn't even find the source. I did not determine whether it was just a bump on the chloroplast or from Louie biting him. It was the littlest bit of blood, so I was told not to be concerned. After the last time Louie chased Ollie around the cage rather aggressively, Ollie has been laying in the hay box and in the corner of the cage behind the hides. He has NEVER laid there in his entire existence. He just sits. He usually doesn't let me pet him right away, but now, he just sits there and doesn't even flinch. He is still eating and eats the veggies I place in front of him and comes up to the end of the cage for his morning treat. I would not be freaked out if he wasn't just laying around in these odd places, looking sad/scared, and freezing when I go to pet him...

Is he sick? Is he afraid of Louie? What can I do? I REALLY do not want to separate or give Louie back to the rescue. The last time this has happened has been two days ago now. Other than Ollie's strange behavior, everything is normal. No chasing or any aggressive behavior. There has never been any humping or other dominant behavior other than chasing.
Hi!

Whatever your rescue lady's own experiences are, fighting and falling out boar trios with teenagers are one of the most common behaviour issues we are contacted about. Adding a third piggy to bonded pair can be problematic in any combination.
Key to any successful piggy bond is character compatibility.
With boars there is the added complication of the teenage hormone spikes which can destabilise a bond; with especially adult or older sows past ideal birthing age it is often fear-aggression if they are not coming out on top or are simply no longer willing to share their territory with other piggies.

Please take the time to carefully read these two guides here so you can evaluate whether Ollie is feeling bullied and is happier away from Louie or not. Our method of a short trial separation (with any re-intro on neutral ground) is the best way of getting his honest opinion on whether the trio works for him or not, short of interviewing him directly (which is unfortunately not possible).
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
Moody guinea pigs: Depression, Bullying, Aggression, Stress, Fear and Antisocial Behaviour

Please use our piggy whispering tips to work past Ollie's scare and reassure him that he is welcome and loved part of your on (human) group. Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

Bullied/frightened boars can often have a happy second life as a neutered/de-sexed boar living with sows - provided they accept him at the start.
 

tayboonexx

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Hi!

Whatever your rescue lady's own experiences are, fighting and falling out boar trios with teenagers are one of the most common behaviour issues we are contacted about. Adding a third piggy to bonded pair can be problematic in any combination.
Key to any successful piggy bond is character compatibility.
With boars there is the added complication of the teenage hormone spikes which can destabilise a bond; with especially adult or older sows past ideal birthing age it is often fear-aggression if they are not coming out on top or are simply no longer willing to share their territory with other piggies.

Please take the time to carefully read these two guides here so you can evaluate whether Ollie is feeling bullied and is happier away from Louie or not. Our method of a short trial separation (with any re-intro on neutral ground) is the best way of getting his honest opinion on whether the trio works for him or not, short of interviewing him directly (which is unfortunately not possible).
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
Moody guinea pigs: Depression, Bullying, Aggression, Stress, Fear and Antisocial Behaviour

Please use our piggy whispering tips to work past Ollie's scare and reassure him that he is welcome and loved part of your on (human) group. Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

Bullied/frightened boars can often have a happy second life as a neutered/de-sexed boar living with sows - provided they accept him at the start.
I was advised to remove the houses in the cage. They live in a 5x2 cage with three houses and a hay bin, so there isn't much room to run around (even though they find their ways by blowing through the houses, flipping them over, bouncing them on their noses, etc). They are now all three in the hay box enjoying a snack. I'm going to clean their cage and place them in a five foot by five foot empty closet with towels down for them to run around. I am HOPING this is just an excess of energy.
 

Piggies&buns

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I'm afraid a 5x2 is nowhere near big enough to attempt a trio of boars. They need a lot more permanent space than that - at least a square metre each. A 5x2 is only big enough for two boars. However even with a larger space, given character is the key factor of a successful bond and it is almost impossible to get the correct balance with a trio of boars , it is still not likely to work out.
 

tayboonexx

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I'm afraid a 5x2 is nowhere near big enough to attempt a trio of boars. They need a lot more permanent space than that - at least a square metre each. A 5x2 is only big enough for two boars. However even with a larger space, given character is the key factor of a successful bond and it is almost impossible to get the correct balance with a trio of boars , it is still not likely to work out.
I was afraid someone would say that. The rescue told me that was plenty of space. I am going to work out expanding to a 5x3 cage hopefully today to stop this madness. That is the biggest I can manage at the moment. At my other house, they have two midwest cages attached to each other side by side which made their cage 4 feet by 4 feet with the middle divider and a passage way through the middle and they seemed a lot happier there.
 

Piggies&buns

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They definitely need more room, but please don’t underestimate the failure rate of trios - 90% of trios do not make it together. This is unlikely to be excess energy or lack of space. Even with a larger cage, all it will mean is that they have more space to get away from each other but that is very different to living in harmony and the stresses of incompatibility will still be there
 

Wiebke

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I was afraid someone would say that. The rescue told me that was plenty of space. I am going to work out expanding to a 5x3 cage hopefully today to stop this madness. That is the biggest I can manage at the moment. At my other house, they have two midwest cages attached to each other side by side which made their cage 4 feet by 4 feet with the middle divider and a passage way through the middle and they seemed a lot happier there.
Before you make any major changes to the cage size or layout, please ask Ollie whether he is happy or not in the trio.
If he isn't, then none of your subsequent measures is going to change that - if he is frightened to death of Louie, then he will remain so. Full stop.

Please be aware that any changes to the environment will bring a renewed bout of dominance behaviour as your boys have to re-establish their group in the new territory. If you have read the guides I have linked to in my last post (PLEASE do!), then you would know that Louie has currently entered one of the trickier stages of teenage - unfortunately it is one that is going to last for several weeks.

You can find the full list of do's and don't's with boars in this guide here (Chapter 3): Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
 

tayboonexx

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Before you make any major changes to the cage size or layout, please ask Ollie whether he is happy or not in the trio.
If he isn't, then none of your subsequent measures is going to change that - if he is frightened to death of Louie, then he will remain so. Full stop.

Please be aware that any changes to the environment will bring a renewed bout of dominance behaviour as your boys have to re-establish their group in the new territory. If you have read the guides I have linked to in my last post (PLEASE do!), then you would know that Louie has currently entered one of the trickier stages of teenage - unfortunately it is one that is going to last for several weeks.

You can find the full list of do's and don't's with boars in this guide here (Chapter 3): Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips
I am stringing together my left over C&C grids to make a divider to do the trial separation. I am going to do that today before committing to a new cage. I read the articles. I know that Louie is in the teenage tricky stage. I am just trying to find the best solution for everyone. I am in no interest in making them live together if this is not working out. I do not feel that he is frightened terribly because they were all three just in the hay box together happily snacking away. These are my first pigs and I am still learning every day. I was advised one way and am now learning that this wasn't supposed to he happening. I would have never added a third boar if I would have been advised against it. I suppose that is my fault by not researching further, but I was advised by a trusted rescue owner and operator that this would indeed work out and that I had no reason to worry.

This all started four days ago. Before that, everyone was perfectly fine and living great lives. I am trying to find the root of the problem and solve it with advice from all different angles.

I will be doing the trial separation once I clean their cage. I will place Theo and Louie in the larger side and Ollie by himself in the smaller side. Both with access to food, hay, and water and see how it goes. Or, should I place Ollie and Theo (the two original bonded pair) in the larger side and Louie by himself since he is causing the chaos? I did not see specifics within the article with regards to that, so I am wondering the best way forward for the trail separation.

ETA- I know that Ollie and Theo will be happy together on one side. I feel that if I have to separate, Louie will be the one to go to another cage set up, which is why I am asking.
 

Wiebke

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I am stringing together my left over C&C grids to make a divider to do the trial separation. I am going to do that today before committing to a new cage. I read the articles. I know that Louie is in the teenage tricky stage. I am just trying to find the best solution for everyone. I am in no interest in making them live together if this is not working out. I do not feel that he is frightened terribly because they were all three just in the hay box together happily snacking away. These are my first pigs and I am still learning every day. I was advised one way and am now learning that this wasn't supposed to he happening. I would have never added a third boar if I would have been advised against it. I suppose that is my fault by not researching further, but I was advised by a trusted rescue owner and operator that this would indeed work out and that I had no reason to worry.

This all started four days ago. Before that, everyone was perfectly fine and living great lives. I am trying to find the root of the problem and solve it with advice from all different angles.

I will be doing the trial separation once I clean their cage. I will place Theo and Louie in the larger side and Ollie by himself in the smaller side. Both with access to food, hay, and water and see how it goes. Or, should I place Ollie and Theo (the two original bonded pair) in the larger side and Louie by himself since he is causing the chaos? I did not see specifics within the article with regards to that, so I am wondering the best way forward for the trail separation.
It is good to see the Ollie is joining the others, so it was very likely more of a short-term freak-out when prey animal instincts have taken over and the bond is not broken.

Some guinea pigs (often born to very stressed mothers) have their prey animal instincts on high as their life-long default setting and will experience the full blast as soon as something it upsetting them or they are in a stressful situation.
Unfortunately there is only so much you can do about that... I have currently several of them and have had them in the past. :(
 

Piggies&buns

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It is often the case that they live together seemingly ok for a while and then suddenly things change. The root of the problem is likely character compatibility issues - you cannot solve that , the piggies are who they are and all you can do now is find a permanent solution to the living arrangements

You would ideally put the two who get on best together - so I would say put Louie on his own. Ollie and Theo will hopefully be ok together going forward.
When Louie is on his own, do be aware that he is likely to be vocal and upset by the separation, but it isn’t his reaction you need to monitor.
 

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It is often the case that they live together seemingly ok for a while and then suddenly things change. The root of the problem is likely character compatibility issues - you cannot solve that , the piggies are who they are and all you can do now is find a permanent solution to the living arrangements

You would ideally put the two who get on best together - so I would say put Louie on his own. Ollie and Theo will hopefully be ok together going forward.
When Louie is on his own, do be aware that he is likely to be vocal and upset by the separation, but it isn’t his reaction you need to monitor.
Ollie needs to be on his own, so he can clearly show whether he wants to be with his mates or is noticeably happier without them. If he wants to be with them, then please put him back. If not, you can stage a re-intro on neutral ground tomorrow or the day after (to allow the hormone spike to settle down more) and see how that goes. If tensions are back pretty straight away, it is not going to work out in the longer term.
 

tayboonexx

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It is good to see the Ollie is joining the others, so it was very likely more of a short-term freak-out when prey animal instincts have taken over and the bond is not broken.

Some guinea pigs (often born to very stressed mothers) have their prey animal instincts on high as their life-long default setting and will experience the full blast as soon as something it upsetting them or they are in a stressful situation.
Unfortunately there is only so much you can do about that... I have currently several of them and have had them in the past. :(
He ONLY runs when Louie comes at him. He will happily socialize if Louie leaves him alone. He's giving me heart attacks! I am giving them some floor time in a large space to enjoy their lunch and hang out.
 

tayboonexx

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I appreciate everyones advice! I am going to do the separation and see how it goes!
 

tayboonexx

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Ollie needs to be on his own, so he can clearly show whether he wants to be with his mates or is noticeably happier without them. If he wants to be with them, then please put him back. If not, you can stage a re-intro on neutral ground tomorrow or the day after (to allow the hormone spike to settle down more) and see how that goes. If tensions are back pretty straight away, it is not going to work out in the longer term.
Update.... Ollie is showing no interest in going back but is not perking up. Just is staying in his house hanging out. Theo is trying to get through the bars to be with his friend, Louie has made no difference either. I am going to give it tomorrow as well before I make any further decisions. I called a local vet to see what they had available on Monday just in case Ollie still seems off to consider a health issue.
 

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Update.... Ollie is showing no interest in going back but is not perking up. Just is staying in his house hanging out. Theo is trying to get through the bars to be with his friend, Louie has made no difference either. I am going to give it tomorrow as well before I make any further decisions. I called a local vet to see what they had available on Monday just in case Ollie still seems off to consider a health issue.
All the best! It is often not easy to work through these issues as I know from my own experiences. anybody who tells you that piggies are easy doesn't know them! They are every bit as complex people as we are... just condensed and with a furry coat!
 

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Did you put Ollie with Theo or on his own? I’m sorry you were misinformed.
 

tayboonexx

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Did you put Ollie with Theo or on his own? I’m sorry you were misinformed.
I ended up putting Ollie by himself, and he ended up breaking through the barrier to get with his friends. I then tried it by putting Louie in a pet carrier (which was larger than the separated part of the cage) as a time out cage and allowed each cage to face each other so they could all see one another. Everyone was VERY interested in reuniting, and every time I tried, Louie would continue his bullying behavior. Each time he aggressively chased and went after another pig, I put him back in his time out cage. I am struggling with what to do. Everyone wheeks and stands up at the cages to try to get back with one another, and then once I do, he becomes aggressive again. I am unsure what to do.
 

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I think the best thing to do is to separate Louie and have Ollie and Theo together. You should re-introduce them on neutral ground and clean out their cage thoroughly. You can then have Louie in a cage next to them so he can still have that interaction but through a barrier. You’ll have to make sure he can’t escape and get in with them though - a secure life should do the job.

Another alternative is to find him a friend of his own.
 
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