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Two Female Sows Together For A Week

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AdamFrench

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We have just bought two female sows a week ago and they've been together since. We are inexperienced guinea owners but have read up on a lot before and since purchasing them. However, there is a lot of contradictory information around and its always something else to see behaviour rather than just read about it.

We were told they were both just over 8 weeks and had been living together along with 2 other females since birth. Tao is a bit bigger than Teri and it shows they both know that in their behaviour. When they think we are not there and they're in their house we can here loud squeaking from Teri. Tao is running around inside their house but straight across the top of Teri, as if to chase her away but she doesn't move so Tao just runs straight over her. There have been no physical injury but we can see Tao head butting and pushing Teri around. They do sometime sit together but i'm very worried this is because they are scared of us and being together is the lesser of two evils. We have a vets check up tomorrow so will definitely be asking questions.

We have been trying to set a routine and giving them playtime and floor time with us every evening. We have a second C&C cage area for the living room for when theyre with us as were still trying to build a bond with them, theyre still very scared of us. Tao DOES NOT like to be picked up (i.e. running around madly in her cage trying to not get caught) but when you pick her up she freezes still. Whereas Teri, she doesn't run around too much when getting ready to be picked up, however when I pick her up she bites me, both times she's bit me though hasn't been too long after cooking so I don't know whether this is because she thinks I'm food or whether she hates being picked up.

We've now put another house in the primary cage area and Teri is staying in that house instead on her own.

Do you think they will need to be separated?

Sorry about the essay, I'm just really worried about them
 

7squeakers.

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:D Hello and welcome to the forum! You have only had your new girls for a week, so you and their new home are still very strange to them. It varies vastly the amount of time it takes new pigs to settle down and trust their owners. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months or even years. What looks like fighting is only the girls sorting out their hierarchy. Just leave them to it unless blood is drawn, which at their age is very unlikely. They are most likely bonded so don't separate them. Don't make the mistake of thinking that moving them will stop this behaviour. They will just have to start all over again. When picking them up, try to do it more from their level. Get down into their cage if you can and approach from the side. (Predators come from above and behind) Instead of moving them into another cage to spend time with you, you go to them. What size is their living cage? Could you make it bigger and give them more space? Even pigs that get along fine like to get away from each other now and then. Hope this helps.
 

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We have just bought two female sows a week ago and they've been together since. We are inexperienced guinea owners but have read up on a lot before and since purchasing them. However, there is a lot of contradictory information around and its always something else to see behaviour rather than just read about it.

We were told they were both just over 8 weeks and had been living together along with 2 other females since birth. Tao is a bit bigger than Teri and it shows they both know that in their behaviour. When they think we are not there and they're in their house we can here loud squeaking from Teri. Tao is running around inside their house but straight across the top of Teri, as if to chase her away but she doesn't move so Tao just runs straight over her. There have been no physical injury but we can see Tao head butting and pushing Teri around. They do sometime sit together but i'm very worried this is because they are scared of us and being together is the lesser of two evils. We have a vets check up tomorrow so will definitely be asking questions.

We have been trying to set a routine and giving them playtime and floor time with us every evening. We have a second C&C cage area for the living room for when theyre with us as were still trying to build a bond with them, theyre still very scared of us. Tao DOES NOT like to be picked up (i.e. running around madly in her cage trying to not get caught) but when you pick her up she freezes still. Whereas Teri, she doesn't run around too much when getting ready to be picked up, however when I pick her up she bites me, both times she's bit me though hasn't been too long after cooking so I don't know whether this is because she thinks I'm food or whether she hates being picked up.

We've now put another house in the primary cage area and Teri is staying in that house instead on her own.

Do you think they will need to be separated?

Sorry about the essay, I'm just really worried about them
Hi and welcome!

Your two girls are going through the dominance phase as they establish a new hierarchy in new surroundings. The behaviour is very typical and normal for that period; it is well within the bounds of the acceptable and nothing to worry about.

Please make sure that your two girls have got two hideys (ideally with two exits each while the dominance behaviour lasts) and a bowl each. Also rather feed pellets and veg in two bowls spaced at least a body lenght apart in small portions several times a day, so the dominant piggy can't hog it all. Chucking the underpiggy out of hideys and off bowls is typical dominance behaviour, as is nipping, chasing and submission screaming - neither of which involve pain or outright brutally.

Nipping is a very carefully judged expression of power and submission screaming a very effective preventative against a full-out power struggle. Things should calm down slowly over the next few weeks but will flare up for a day or two when your girls come into season.

You will find more information on dominance behaviours in these links here:
Illustrated Bonding Behaviours And Dynamics
Sow Behaviour
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs

We have got lots more information for new owners on understanding guinea pig behaviour and how to best make friends with them via this link here: " Starter Kit" Of Information Threads For New Owners

Since we have members from all over the world, we find it very helpful if you please added your country, state/province or UK county to your details, so we can always tailor any advice to what is available and doable where you are straight away instead of keeping thing general. Click on your username on the top bar, then go to personal details and scroll down to location. Thank you!
 

AdamFrench

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:D Hello and welcome to the forum! You have only had your new girls for a week, so you and their new home are still very strange to them. It varies vastly the amount of time it takes new pigs to settle down and trust their owners. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months or even years. What looks like fighting is only the girls sorting out their hierarchy. Just leave them to it unless blood is drawn, which at their age is very unlikely. They are most likely bonded so don't separate them. Don't make the mistake of thinking that moving them will stop this behaviour. They will just have to start all over again. When picking them up, try to do it more from their level. Get down into their cage if you can and approach from the side. (Predators come from above and behind) Instead of moving them into another cage to spend time with you, you go to them. What size is their living cage? Could you make it bigger and give them more space? Even pigs that get along fine like to get away from each other now and then. Hope this helps.
Thanks for your comments, we've been stressing out worrying. We've read up about this dominance phase but seeing it pulls on the heart strings a lot more than reading about it. The full cage area is approx 1.5m2 on the ground floor with an upper level of 0.75m2. Floor time they are around the living room which is large enough for many many guinea pigs. I'm going to start sitting with them a lot longer before picking them up and like you say I'll try getting in and picking them up from the side.

Thanks Again,
 

AdamFrench

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Hi and welcome!

Your two girls are going through the dominance phase as they establish a new hierarchy in new surroundings. The behaviour is very typical and normal for that period; it is well within the bounds of the acceptable and nothing to worry about.

Please make sure that your two girls have got two hideys (ideally with two exits each while the dominance behaviour lasts) and a bowl each. Also rather feed pellets and veg in two bowls spaced at least a body lenght apart in small portions several times a day, so the dominant piggy can't hog it all. Chucking the underpiggy out of hideys and off bowls is typical dominance behaviour, as is nipping, chasing and submission screaming - neither of which involve pain or outright brutally.

Nipping is a very carefully judged expression of power and submission screaming a very effective preventative against a full-out power struggle. Things should calm down slowly over the next few weeks but will flare up for a day or two when your girls come into season.

You will find more information on dominance behaviours in these links here:
Illustrated Bonding Behaviours And Dynamics
Sow Behaviour
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs

We have got lots more information for new owners on understanding guinea pig behaviour and how to best make friends with them via this link here: " Starter Kit" Of Information Threads For New Owners

Since we have members from all over the world, we find it very helpful if you please added your country, state/province or UK county to your details, so we can always tailor any advice to what is available and doable where you are straight away instead of keeping thing general. Click on your username on the top bar, then go to personal details and scroll down to location. Thank you!
Thank you so very much, this information is helping to put our mind at ease. Also, i'd like to thank you for the extra information you have provided.
 

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This all sounds like very normal dominance behavior, and it's also worth remembering that being a bonded pair doesn't mean that guinea pigs need to be joined at the hip (a lot of happy pairs will not snuggle up all the time, for instance. I have a long-term pair of sows who will snuggle up to sleep at night, but only at night- in the day, one pig goes in the pigloo and the other pig comes running out.) Guinea pigs need to have a hierarchy, and behaviors that define and reinforce the hierarchy (i.e. the leader getting to toss the under-pig out of the prime sleeping spots) may look 'mean' to human eyes, but are understood and necessary to guinea pigs. I agree with having two hideys and two food bowls if possible, in order to give everyone a safe spot and easy access to food. Actually, we still have two food bowls because one of my pigs likes to drag the bowl into the pigloo and hoard it all in there!

As for pigs being scared of being picked up, this is also very normal. They are prey animals and being picked up cuts very close to their natural instincts- nothing in nature scoops you up because it wants to cuddle with you! Guinea pigs are cautious by nature and a week is a short time to settle in guinea pig time! It may be easier at this point to pick them up in a tube or a hidey of some kind. I would keep on handling them for short times daily. In time they will get used to you and realize you are not a threat, but it will take some patience!

I would definitely try washing your hands well if you smell like food! Is this an aggressive bite or more of a nibble? Some pigs tend to be nibblers and it obviously isn't intended to hurt (one of my pigs really likes to lick and nibble hands for some reason, but it clearly isn't aggressive and I think it's affectionate on her part.) Other pigs will bite out of fear or for no particular reason (Hadley, in her younger days, randomly bit a couple of people- just walked up and bit them! Fortunately it didn't really become a habit. I think she felt like they were in her space- they were sitting next to her and I on the couch, which I think she perceived as 'her' couch and myself as 'her' human.)

Hope this helps a bit, and hang in there! It can seem like you are never going to be friends at first, but seeing that relationship blossom in time is really rewarding. Both of my current pigs started off very fearful/skittish and both are now really sweet, affectionate pets, so it just takes time!
 

AdamFrench

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Thanks for your input this really is helping. It's like she hunts for the finger tips when she in hands. It's like a sniff/nibble across the hands then she gets to the tips and BITES.. She drew blood day before yesterday and that was the first time, since then she does it every time
 

7squeakers.

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:D Are you sure that the one that bites is all right? Guinea pigs don't normally bite that hard, even when your fingers smell of carrot! It may be that something is causing her pain when you pick her up, and she is biting in defence.
 

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She has a gunky eye and a yellow discharge around the nose (looks like human eye sleep). It looks like conjunctivitis, but she continuously bites the hands, even if she's not in the hands if your hands are in front of her she'll nibble and bite. I'm baffled by this. Just hope she's OK going back to the vets.
 

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Thanks for your input this really is helping. It's like she hunts for the finger tips when she in hands. It's like a sniff/nibble across the hands then she gets to the tips and BITES.. She drew blood day before yesterday and that was the first time, since then she does it every time
Here are our tips for all sorts biting issues: Biting
 

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She has a gunky eye and a yellow discharge around the nose (looks like human eye sleep). It looks like conjunctivitis, but she continuously bites the hands, even if she's not in the hands if your hands are in front of her she'll nibble and bite. I'm baffled by this. Just hope she's OK going back to the vets.
It sounds like she might be ill.
I am still quite new at this, so can't offer any expert advice, but if she isn't feeling well this could contribute to her feeling more grumpy than normal (I know I am no ray of sunshine when i am under the weather!).
Hopefully the vet trip will help diagnose any underlying health problems.
 

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She has a gunky eye and a yellow discharge around the nose (looks like human eye sleep). It looks like conjunctivitis, but she continuously bites the hands, even if she's not in the hands if your hands are in front of her she'll nibble and bite. I'm baffled by this. Just hope she's OK going back to the vets.
Please have her seen by a vet promptly. Those are the symptoms for a respiratory infection (URI)! It can kill or do permanent damage if not treated promptly with an antibiotic.

As eyes and nose are gunky, please also ask your vet for bisolvon powder to help clear the airways as quickly as possible. A diuretic may additionally help.

Ease her breathing until she can be seen by placing a bowl of steaming water near the cage, but not so that hot steam can hurt the sensitive organs. Make sure that you also get some probiotic to support the guts when the antibiotics hit them. Keeping the appetite up as much as possible is important.
Switch from the regular weekly weigh-in to a daily one, ideally weighin at the same time in the feeding cycle for a comparable weight. The need to breathe comes before the need to drink and only thirdly the need to eat. Start topping up with syringe feed and water if your girl is losing over 30g from one day to the next.
Our illustrated step-by-step syringe feeding guide has also information on probiotics etc. Complete Syringe Feeding Guide

Here is our recommended UK vets locator from the top bar; it may be worth to have check wheher you have got one within reasonable reach: Guinea Pig Vet Locator
 

AdamFrench

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Please have her seen by a vet promptly. Those are the symptoms for a respiratory infection (URI)! It can kill or do permanent damage if not treated promptly with an antibiotic.

As eyes and nose are gunky, please also ask your vet for bisolvon powder to help clear the airways as quickly as possible. A diuretic may additionally help.

Ease her breathing until she can be seen by placing a bowl of steaming water near the cage, but not so that hot steam can hurt the sensitive organs. Make sure that you also get some probiotic to support the guts when the antibiotics hit them. Keeping the appetite up as much as possible is important.
Switch from the regular weekly weigh-in to a daily one, ideally weighin at the same time in the feeding cycle for a comparable weight. The need to breathe comes before the need to drink and only thirdly the need to eat. Start topping up with syringe feed and water if your girl is losing over 30g from one day to the next.
Our illustrated step-by-step syringe feeding guide has also information on probiotics etc. Complete Syringe Feeding Guide

Here is our recommended UK vets locator from the top bar; it may be worth to have check wheher you have got one within reasonable reach: Guinea Pig Vet Locator
She saw the vet this morning they have given her drops for the eye (Fucithalmic), along with 3 injections for pain, infection and appetite (Marbocyl, Metacam, Vomend). I'm getting very worried, she's nibbling hay but sitting still, the bigger girl is cuddling up to her as if to he empathetic.

I'm losing my mind right now.
 

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She saw the vet this morning they have given her drops for the eye (Fucithalmic), along with 3 injections for pain, infection and appetite (Marbocyl, Metacam, Vomend). I'm getting very worried, she's nibbling hay but sitting still, the bigger girl is cuddling up to her as if to he empathetic.

I'm losing my mind right now.
Weigh her daily, so you know when you may need to step in with syringe feeding. At the moment, all you can do is wait for the meds to kick in. She's got some pretty strong ones. so hopefully, she is going to pick up. I guess she needs to be seen again soon or have you got oral meds?

The antibiotic needs about a day to start working.
 

AdamFrench

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Weigh her daily, so you know when you may need to step in with syringe feeding. At the moment, all you can do is wait for the meds to kick in. She's got some pretty strong ones. so hopefully, she is going to pick up. I guess she needs to be seen again soon or have you got oral meds?

The antibiotic needs about a day to start working.
They haven't given us any medication courses other than the one for her eye. They said keep an eye and bring her back if she doesnt get better but we've got to go to the animal hospital if she gets worse. This is horrible!
 

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They haven't given us any medication courses other than the one for her eye. They said keep an eye and bring her back if she doesnt get better but we've got to go to the animal hospital if she gets worse. This is horrible!
She needs a proper course of antibiotics; just one injection isn't going to do the trick with curing a bacterial respiratory infection. Or have they found an eye ulcer that they think they need to treat with the fucithalmic?
Please take her again tomorrow. Have you had a look at our vet locator for piggy savvy vets within your reach?
Guinea Pig Vet Locator

You are welcome to open an ongoing support thread in our Health/Illness section.
Here is more information on URI: Guinea Lynx :: URI
 

AdamFrench

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She needs a proper course of antibiotics; just one injection isn't going to do the trick with curing a bacterial respiratory infection. Or have they found an eye ulcer that they think they need to treat with the fucithalmic?
Please take her again tomorrow. Have you had a look at our vet locator for piggy savvy vets within your reach?
Guinea Pig Vet Locator

You are welcome to open an ongoing support thread in our Health/Illness section.
Here is more information on URI: Guinea Lynx :: URI
She has every symptom of URI that you have sent across. It looks like conjunctivitis in her eye but her nose is scabby also which ties in with URI. She was store bought. They have not given us any antibiotics for a respiratory infection, just for the eye.
 

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She has every symptom of URI that you have sent across. It looks like conjunctivitis in her eye but her nose is scabby also which ties in with URI. She was store bought. They have not given us any antibiotics for a respiratory infection, just for the eye.
Did the vet you saw check the breathing at all?

You can claim back the vet cost from the shop. Young piggies have not yet got a fully developed immune system; that is couple with exposure to a lot of stressed and very upset young piggies whose little lives are being upturned a few times in short succession.

However, I would strongly recommend that you open a thread in our illness section. If you can't find a vet close enough to you, then perhaps one of our other members that is relatively local to you have a suggestion as to you could see.
 

AdamFrench

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Weigh her daily, so you know when you may need to step in with syringe feeding. At the moment, all you can do is wait for the meds to kick in. She's got some pretty strong ones. so hopefully, she is going to pick up. I guess she needs to be seen again soon or have you got oral meds?

The antibiotic needs about a day to start working.
They given us Marbocyl which is a 6 day oral syringe antibiotic, she said this would fight the infection (her eye) internally. Would this also fight any URI's?

The vet seemed quite to suggest the medication she has given is sufficient for anything she shows now. However if she's not looking up within 24 hours take her back. I'm just worried what could happen within 24 hours if something is not being treated
 

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They given us Marbocyl which is a 6 day oral syringe antibiotic, she said this would fight the infection (her eye) internally. Would this also fight any URI's?

The vet seemed quite to suggest the medication she has given is sufficient for anything she shows now. However if she's not looking up within 24 hours take her back. I'm just worried what could happen within 24 hours if something is not being treated
OK, so you HAVE got a week's course of marbocyl, which is a fairly strong antibiotic. That should take care of the URI. If symptoms have not fully subsided at the end of it, you may want to have her seen again, as well as if she is not any better in two days or if she suddenly deteriorating.

Please get some probiotic (the pet@home one will do the trick) to help bolster the guts. give a pinch daily with her favourite veg.
 
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