Successful Guinea Pig Trio Bonding - Anyone had any luck?

The Mad House

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Hi everyone,

Please read everything I've done before replying. I'm looking for people who've successfully bonded trio's of Piggie's together which I know is RARE but I just don't want to give up any sort of hope yet! - I have read the guides on the pages about Bonding boars and signs to look out for that it isn't/is going well too.

So we lost my beautiful boy Patch on Saturday and I'm now left with Gus and Pickett who are bonded on one side of a big C&C cage and Cabbage (who was Patch's friend) on the other side.

All are boys; Pickett is the oldest from a rescue - he's about a year and a half (when we got him the woman told us he was 8 weeks old but we think she was lying because he was way to big to be only 8 weeks, we estimated about 4 months). Gus is about a year and a bit (we got him and Patch from Pets at Home after Mac - the last of my originals passed on). Cabbage is about 8 months (another from Pets at Home because Patch needed a companion when Gus wouldn't leave him alone, Patch was just too soft to stand up for himself).

Cabbage seems to have picked right back up today and yesterday. I think he'd sort of already come to the conclusion Patch wasn't coming back as Patch had been at the vets since Wednesday morning. Still I showed him to him before we buried him and he just sort of sniffed at him and moved on.

I got all three of them out for a big cuddle on Saturday afternoon and they just seemed content having a munch and a sniff - which I know is no indication of whether bonding will go well.

With Cabbage seeming so bright and breezy I decided this morning to try and start some bonding;

I took a big blanket into the office (a smaller space then our open plan living room/dining room/conservatory that they have the whole run of - plus it doesn't have many hidey spaces) and put a big mountain of hay in the middle of it. Then I dry shampooed them all, took them into the office and put them on the floor.

There was a fair bit of teeth chattering, some nose offs and such but all in all things seemed to be going well until my other half came in and started trying to pick them up and stroke them. They seemed a bit off with each other after this, like he'd interrupted the balance they were getting into (is this a thing?)

I read the guides fully on bonding boars so I knew not to step in too early for the teeth chattering, the lunges and that the touching of ears and following each other round was a good sign. They seemed to be doing okay until they ran into a corner and Cabbage started chattering his teeth which Gus was not a fan of. I switched my sitting position then so they couldn't get back near the corner.

Cabbage seemed okay, he was just sort of defensive - sitting out of the way and chattering his teeth a lot until he calmed down again. Pickett is so chill and takes absolutely none of Gus' so he was happy to sit next to Cabbage and just sort of talk to him (it's like he was saying - hey we don't want to hurt you, he also washed himself quite close to him which I've read is a good sign). Cabbage and Gus had a few more nose offs, some teeth chattering and some lunges were thrown but there were no bites and no blood drawn. Gus seemed to calm down after a while and then was just wandering around walking near Cabbage fine no teeth chattering. - They just seemed to flare up and calm down. There was no humping though from anyone, like at all which surprised me.

I ended up stopping after about an hour/45 minutes because I needed the loo and tempers seemed to fray a bit. - I was starting to worry too that it might be too soon for Cabbage. (I don't know if this was just me overthinking though.)

I want to try again maybe tomorrow after work (or even during work now I'm working from home and will have the whole afternoon in the office) but this time make sure I've definitely blocked off all the hidey spaces - Cabbage managed to move a shoe box and get behind the radiator which I hadn't even thought he could do.

Does anyone have any hints of tips for bonding a trio? Has anyone on here done it successfully?

Personality wise I think they're a good match - even though Cabbage is in his teenage years - Pickett and Cabbage are generally both quite chill but also don't seem to take any and Gus is just kind of a big lumbering boar that loves to cuddle but occasionally likes to throw his weight around. I'd love to be able to bond them rather than adding a fourth Piggie to the mix again but if it comes to it, that is an option - because Cabbage needs companionship and I'd feel so horrible if Pickett and Gus were out running around together and he was doing it on his own.
 

Wiebke

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Hi everyone,

Please read everything I've done before replying. I'm looking for people who've successfully bonded trio's of Piggie's together which I know is RARE but I just don't want to give up any sort of hope yet! - I have read the guides on the pages about Bonding boars and signs to look out for that it isn't/is going well too.

So we lost my beautiful boy Patch on Saturday and I'm now left with Gus and Pickett who are bonded on one side of a big C&C cage and Cabbage (who was Patch's friend) on the other side.

All are boys; Pickett is the oldest from a rescue - he's about a year and a half (when we got him the woman told us he was 8 weeks old but we think she was lying because he was way to big to be only 8 weeks, we estimated about 4 months). Gus is about a year and a bit (we got him and Patch from Pets at Home after Mac - the last of my originals passed on). Cabbage is about 8 months (another from Pets at Home because Patch needed a companion when Gus wouldn't leave him alone, Patch was just too soft to stand up for himself).

Cabbage seems to have picked right back up today and yesterday. I think he'd sort of already come to the conclusion Patch wasn't coming back as Patch had been at the vets since Wednesday morning. Still I showed him to him before we buried him and he just sort of sniffed at him and moved on.

I got all three of them out for a big cuddle on Saturday afternoon and they just seemed content having a munch and a sniff - which I know is no indication of whether bonding will go well.

With Cabbage seeming so bright and breezy I decided this morning to try and start some bonding;

I took a big blanket into the office (a smaller space then our open plan living room/dining room/conservatory that they have the whole run of - plus it doesn't have many hidey spaces) and put a big mountain of hay in the middle of it. Then I dry shampooed them all, took them into the office and put them on the floor.

There was a fair bit of teeth chattering, some nose offs and such but all in all things seemed to be going well until my other half came in and started trying to pick them up and stroke them. They seemed a bit off with each other after this, like he'd interrupted the balance they were getting into (is this a thing?)

I read the guides fully on bonding boars so I knew not to step in too early for the teeth chattering, the lunges and that the touching of ears and following each other round was a good sign. They seemed to be doing okay until they ran into a corner and Cabbage started chattering his teeth which Gus was not a fan of. I switched my sitting position then so they couldn't get back near the corner.

Cabbage seemed okay, he was just sort of defensive - sitting out of the way and chattering his teeth a lot until he calmed down again. Pickett is so chill and takes absolutely none of Gus' so he was happy to sit next to Cabbage and just sort of talk to him (it's like he was saying - hey we don't want to hurt you, he also washed himself quite close to him which I've read is a good sign). Cabbage and Gus had a few more nose offs, some teeth chattering and some lunges were thrown but there were no bites and no blood drawn. Gus seemed to calm down after a while and then was just wandering around walking near Cabbage fine no teeth chattering. - They just seemed to flare up and calm down. There was no humping though from anyone, like at all which surprised me.

I ended up stopping after about an hour/45 minutes because I needed the loo and tempers seemed to fray a bit. - I was starting to worry too that it might be too soon for Cabbage. (I don't know if this was just me overthinking though.)

I want to try again maybe tomorrow after work (or even during work now I'm working from home and will have the whole afternoon in the office) but this time make sure I've definitely blocked off all the hidey spaces - Cabbage managed to move a shoe box and get behind the radiator which I hadn't even thought he could do.

Does anyone have any hints of tips for bonding a trio? Has anyone on here done it successfully?

Personality wise I think they're a good match - even though Cabbage is in his teenage years - Pickett and Cabbage are generally both quite chill but also don't seem to take any and Gus is just kind of a big lumbering boar that loves to cuddle but occasionally likes to throw his weight around. I'd love to be able to bond them rather than adding a fourth Piggie to the mix again but if it comes to it, that is an option - because Cabbage needs companionship and I'd feel so horrible if Pickett and Gus were out running around together and he was doing it on his own.
Hi!

Boar trios and quartets are the most unstable piggy constellations possible. The fail rate way over 50% (about 90% with all sub-adults) and the fail rate with quartets is in the 90%, too, unless you get to boars over 4-5 years whose testosterone has production has fizzled out. In any case, you want ideally at least 1 square metre per boar to allow them to get away, live apart and have their own territory. Space is absolutely vital.
Yes, there are the odd functioning trio where personalities just mesh; when you have one, feel blessed because you are very lucky. But please do NOT count on yourself of being the lucky one that gets away with it. In quartets, the only ones I know are a few with oodles of space or pensioner groups where companionship comes long before dominance.

If you have the option to have two pairs rather than a trio or quartet, then please opt for that - you are most likely to end up with this constellation anyway, just via a detour of a lot of upset for the boys.
Please keep in mind that the boys have to choose each other. If any of them is feeling stressed; especially the leader, the tension can easily come down between your two bonded boars and cause a permanent fall-out between them. And yes, we have seen it on here often enough by people trying to do what you do.

Here is our advice; it is based on our long term forum experience of well over a dozen years:
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
 

Siikibam

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I’d also bear I. Mind that if it doesn’t work out, you could end up with three single piggies. The two that were already bonded could (in a worst case scenario) not go back together again. Just something to consider.
 

The Mad House

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Hey

I figured this might be the case but I thought I'd give it a go and ask around before making any permanent decisions. Don't ask you don't get do you! Lol!

I don't think I'll try again with them, just to be on the safe side.

I'll start looking for Cabbage a companion and hopefully we can find a perfect match for him. I imagine it's going to be harder at the minute with everything going on in the world but he's not entirely on his own and he's not moping either. In fact he's continuing to put on weight like a growing boy should. So I think that's something we have on our side.
 

The Mad House

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I wanted to add in terms of next steps, the only rescue we have close to us is the Tameside Guinea Pig and Rabbit rescue - I'm very wary about going there again though because it's where we initially got Pickett and his brother Dougal from - Dougal died three days after we got him after some very heavy and laboured breathing. I tried to rush him to the vets but his heart gave out on the ride over. I'd taken Pickett with me and they ended up putting him on antibiotics because he had a case of the sniffles.

The woman at the rescue was kind of blaze about Dougal's death when I text her. I remember getting very angry when she said she'd replace him. - She could have been going through a hard time herself though I don't know.

I don't think they do actual bonding there anyway. Her advice always seems to be 'get a baby and they'll bond' - which also seems to be standard advice in Pets at Home too. Which isn't right because if the personalities clash we're screwed.

HOWEVER - when we got Cabbage they did allow us to take Patch in and we sat watching them for about half and hour to make sure they were okay with each other. Which they were - even if the lady in pets at home was a bit snippy with me. - So bonding in Pets at Home is another option.

I'd really like to adopt if I can but I need a rescue that is Manchester based as neither me not my partner drive. Pets at Home do have a rescue section in there but they generally tend to have pairs in there with the odd Piggie who apparently doesn't mix well with other piggies. I think they'd be reluctant to try and bond any guinea pig with one of those.

The only other rescue I know of is Tiny Paws MCR - they rarely seem to have single piggies though.
 

Siikibam

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There is the option of a piggy train for adoptions further afield. Though I’m not sure whether that could still work under current circumstances. But apart from that I don’t know your options. Have you had a look at the list of rescues on here?
 

Piggylove82

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I think most rescues have stopped adoptions now. The RSPCA certainly have and Coseley Guinea Pig Rescue stopped rehoming at the weekend 😔
 

The Mad House

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Yeah I've been looking around and they mostly seemed to have shut. I think he'll be okay until they open again. Especially as we're working from home and he does have the other two to talk to :/
 

The Mad House

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I was gutted because there was a trio of piggies on the altrincham RSPCA and I was gunna enquire if we could see if he'd pair with one of them.

Like I said I'm sure he'll be okay until we can get him properly matched up.
 
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