Guinea pigs are social animals that are really friendly. They enjoy living in herds due to their sociable nature.
This may make you think that they are always going well together and getting along. The truth is that they are just like humans.
Sometimes they have fights and misunderstandings. It may be tricky for some guinea pig owners to tell if the pets are playing or fighting.
We’ll be looking into that so as to be able to tell the difference.
Are my guinea pigs playing or fighting?
Guinea pigs are playing if they seem friendly towards each other and they are fighting if they seem aggressive. Their playing may sometimes be confused with guinea fights. You can differentiate the two by observing what is actually happening between the pets.
Guinea pig play involves spending time together where the guinea pigs appear happy. They will chase each other around, play with their toys, eat near each other and communicate with different sounds.
On the other hand, guinea pig fights are more aggressive. They are trying to establish dominance between them so they will be rising their necks high to see who is taller, chattering their teeth with mouths open wide, dragging their bums or even lunging at each other for actual fighting.
How to know if guinea pigs are just playing
Guinea pigs love spending time together. They’ll communicate non-stop in various sounds like squeaks.
They’ll play together by chasing each other around the cage, running through tunnels, and even playing with toys. This is easy to recognize because they’ll appear happy and content overall.
They’ll also huddle together to sleep or to just enjoy each other’s company. These are all good signs that your guinea pigs are content and peaceful.
Signs of establishing dominance
Guinea pigs will always try to figure who is who in the cage. They will try to outdo each other in things until one finally gives up willingly or reluctantly that the other is boss and they are the submissive.
There are various things that will happen in the cage to show you that this is what is going on:
- Chasing one another around.
- Sniffing each other’s butts.
- Dragging their own butts to mark their territories by leaving their scents.
- Mounting each other.
- Raising of necks high to see whose neck is taller.
- Chattering their teeth with mouths open wide.
Things that would bring about fighting in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs may fight occasionally which is normal as long as it’s not that serious. Things that would bring this about are;
The way you have paired your guinea pigs will determine how often they fight and if they’ll keep fighting. Pairing opposite sex guinea pigs doesn’t lead to fights as they easily cohabitate.
You should ensure that both are neutered though to avoid pregnancies. On the other hand, two females do not fight as often while two males will constantly fight and disagree.
As we have seen, guinea pigs live in hierarchical order. There has to be the boss in the cage and the submissive.
Pairing them according to their personalities is very essential to ensure that they blend smoothly and cohabitate in harmony. Get yourself a naturally dominant one and a naturally submissive one.
Guinea pigs will mark their territories to avoid getting into each other’s spaces. If they have a tiny cage where they can’t even turn properly that will result in fights for the little space that’s there.
Always make sure that the cage is big enough for two if they are two. Create tunnels and mazes for them and divide things up so that everyone has their own space e.g. have separate hideouts.
Bored guinea pigs are easily irritable. If they don’t have something to do they will definitely begin getting into each other’s nerves.
To avoid this, keep them occupied. Give them things to do like creating tunnels for them to run through, giving them Aspen wood for chewing on, providing toys to play with, or hiding treats for them to find.
You can also take them outdoors for little adventures. This will be fun and it is a great exercise that will relax and make them happy. This in turn makes it hard to fight.
Sick or Injured
If a guinea pig is sick or injured, two things may occur. If it’s sick, other cage mates will view it as weak and try to challenge it.
If a guinea pig is injured on the other hand it may become grumpy to its cage mates. Both scenarios may bring about fights.
How to know if guinea pigs are fighting
So how will you know if your guinea pigs are actually fighting and it’s not a sign of dominance? Fighting will be easy to recognize because generally, it won’t involve any light nippings.
- Angry teeth chattering.
- Serious bites that spill blood.
- Pouncing on each other furiously.
- Real fighting with scratching and all.
What to do in case of serious fights
If your guinea pigs begin fighting aggressively, you can panic and get scared but that’s just not the right time for those emotions. You should act fast to save a life, literally.
If you don’t so something, guinea pigs have been known to shed blood to the extent of killing each other. So take some thick gloves or oven mittens and a blanket.
The gloves will prevent any scratches from getting to you. Throw the blanket over the guinea pigs to confuse them then pick them up.
Separate them in places where they cannot see or hear each other. Let them calm down first before you can put them back together.
Fights will vary greatly from guinea pig play. One is light and fun while the other is aggressive and ugly to even watch.
Guinea pigs trying to establish dominance is normal so you should avoid getting between it at all costs. Let them sort it out themselves naturally.
Give two things for everything from toys to hideouts to minimize fights. Ensure they are not stressed by noises which could lead to more aggressive reactions towards each other.
If they can’t seem to get along for a very long time, you can separate them to keep them peaceful and happy. You could either split up the cage and put a wire in between.
Alternatively, you could put them in two separate cages. Them being close but not close enough to fight will give them some distant-companionship which is not bad for them.