Guinea Pig Bonding / Behaviour advice

Guinea Pig Dating and Behaviour Information / Teenage boar behaviour advice

If you have a bereaved guinea pig, visit our bereaved guineapig page for advice.

1:Single or Pair ???

Do not take any notice of large national pet retailers who tell you that single guinea pigs or agressive guinea pigs need to live alone !!

Guinea Pigs are naturally gentle animals and may just need some rehabilitation or have teenage hormones,they are not naturally aggressive.

Like humans its just a matter of finding the right partner of the right age.

Guinea pigs are very social animals and love company,therefore as a reputable rescue we only rehome in pairs or a single to live with an exisiting guinea pig.

Imagine sitting in your home all day with no one to talk too,day after day......

Who does it talk to when your at work,out with your family,chatting with your friends ?

Who can it cuddle too when its feeling unwell or cold in the winter ?

pete and morgan shrink

Who does it play with when its sitting in its cage all day waiting for you too come home ?

Who can it smell and nuzzle when it wants some comfort ?

patch cutie

Makes you think doesnt it....so please always buy a pair !!!

2:Guinea Pig Dating

This came about due to the vast amount of calls concerning single Guinea Pigs who, had lost a companion or owners had learnt that their single Guinea Pig would enjoy the company of a friend.

What is the benefit of this ?

Your Guinea Pig is matched to a suitable companion, you will not have bought a Guinea Pig from another source only to find they wont take it back !!

greg and titch 

Greg age 4 when he met Titch 6 weeks.

We have brilliant results with bondings and do ensure owners are supported with after care advice.

We also appreciate things can change Guinea Pigs have their own personalitys, just get back in touch with us if you are concerned at all..

Bonding procedure

Email the rescue your situation.

If we have a companion available, a visit is arranged and you bring your Guinea Pig with you,so we can introduce the prospective couple to one another.We will of course check your set up and a home check may be required.

Allow 1 hour for your visit, if all goes well you can take your adopted Guinea Pig away with you with full instructions on post bonding care. People travel from all over the region to the rescue.

Occasionally we may ask you to leave your Guinea Pig with us for a few days,this will be discussed at the time.

You will need to comply with our adoption policy.                        

Do it yourself bonding advice - Based on our experiences !!

Boars age 5 to 15 months:

This is the peak hormonal time for boars and they will exhibit teenage behaviour. They are still sorting out who is the submissive and dominant personality.

In this age group the rescue routinely neuters all single boars under 8 months, and assesses boars up to 15 months on an individual basis.Itcan be a difficult age group to bond,which is why its always a shame when we get calls about bereaved 6 month old boars, so this is the quickest way to pair a teenage boar.

Neutering ( castration) means your boar can be paired with a sow companion, expect to pay around £ 50. Any anaesthetic carrys a risk but in the hands of an experienced small animal vet this is significantly reduced.Boars fighting can cause life threatening injuries so you have to weigh up which, is the greater risk.Makes you think.

We use The Willow Vet Clinic in Tunstall,Stoke on Trent who offer excellent care.Check with your practice if they are competent with guinea pig surgery.

A baby boar introduction is relatively easy for all ages,there will be normal dominance behaviour, mounting,rumbling but things will quickly settle.

Remember though your new baby will soon become a teenager, so refer to our teenage guide for advice if attempting to bond with another teenage boar.

Boars 18mths to 3 years

By 18 months the vast majority of boars hormones have settled down and they show clear evidence of submissive or dominant behaviour,then its just a case of dating to see who they get on with, a baby boar is also still a good option. When your baby becomes a teenager,older boars are more likely to take no notice of his antics !! and let him know who is boss without aggression.

Reputable rescues will offer Guinea Pig dating and can assess your boar and advise you accordingly. Boars age 3 years plus tend to accept a friend without dominance being a big issue.We have frequently paired 3 year olds with 2 year olds.

I always suggest to owners that when a new baby boar companion is around 5 months and in good health have him neutered,that way when his elderly friend passes away you can pair him with a sow,rather than going through the whole boar dating experience again.

Elderly Guinea Pigs age 4 plus

Are a total joy and just want to eat and cuddle up to each other !! Tend to accept a companion quite quickly of various ages.

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Boar / Sow behaviour advice

Never buy a trio / quad of baby boars !!!

"Hello i bought a trio of baby boars 3 months ago and they have started to fight,in fact i think one is being bullied !"

It all ends in tears every time breeders or large retail pet stores sell a trio of baby boars !! Its disgusting and dumps you with a big problem.

Two`s company,3 is definatly a crowd as far as most boars are concerned.

New owners, please do not be tempted by a trio of cute little babies, as soon as they hit 5 months they will all be fighting for dominance and 3 really makes this extra difficult for 3 already hormonal teenagers.

Just stick to 2 and give these 2 a chance of happiness together.

sonny and badger

Normal Dominance/Getting-To-Know-You Behaviour:
These types of behaviour can include: Bottom wiggling, raised fur or hackles, hip swaying
Purring or quiet/low rumbling whilst doing the above or sometimes without the movement
"Nose offs" - not necessarily aggressive, it's just like teens squaring off to each other and swaggering a bit
Bottom sniffing and cheek to cheek rubbing - scent glands are situated in these areas, so these will be popular!
Dragging the bottom along the ground (a bit like territory marking)
Mounting (from all angles - head, side and rear!) and chasing or chasing and mounting combined
Mild teeth chattering (fairly quiet chattering, almost like they are munching loudly on dry food or hay just with a bit more volume, but NOT the loud clatter for aggression, see below)

Warnings / Getting irritated and more serious:
If one or more pigs are snorting, (a bit like a quiet sneeze or a puff can mean extreme irritation), stressed squeaking with increased volume, head bobbing nose offs accompanied with very loud teeth chattering and slight raising up on back legs, yawning to show the teeth and/or giving narky little nips, kicking out and/or wee squirting, then I would be watching very carefully and get ready to distract them as they could be about to have a fight.

Serious aggression/fighting:
If the above events do not calm down fairly quickly, this can escalate into the pigs lunging or pouncing at each other, loud rumbling, obviously vicious bites rather than nips, a concentrated mixture of most of the above warnings (snorting, obvious rearing up on their haunches as if rearing up to fight, raised hackles, loud rumbling, yawning and loud teeth clacking - this noise is unmistakeable), and will likely result in pigs causing serious damage to each other - the pigs will have to be separated immediately.

Never put in your bare hands to separate, always have a towel handy to throw over them as those pigs will not realise or care that your hands are getting in front of their teeth and can result in really nasty bites.

So what may cause this type of behaviour?

Stroppy age? Mostly boar issue
Are they at the stroppy hormonal teen stage (anything between on average 3 months to 18 months)? If so, they may just be testing for dominance. This can go on for a while and will need monitoring, but usually settles down eventually.

Sows come into season every 16 days,no period though.This can cause frisky behaviour !! and mounting,it will pass.
Time of year perhaps?
Spring can invoke all kinds of ancient instinctive behaviour when the weather starts to warm up, the hormones start to get going and the boys are looking to strut their stuff. This can often result in increased normal dominance behaviour and lots of rumblestrutting and mounting to prove to all around that they are men and they are feeling good! Also, the heat of the summer can sometimes get to them, resulting in bad tempers and frustration as they are hot and uncomfortable, and may start squabbling with their cagemate. Another reason to keep your guineas as cool as possible during the hot months!

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What else can trigger them to fall out?
Other things that may set them off are being near sows, change of environment, illness, bullying or simply the teenage hormones kicking in. If you suspect an illness may be causing behavioural problems, please make a vet visit.

Sows come into heat every 16 days and you can notice behaviour as discussed in normal dominance behaviour.They do not have periods,just can seem a bit premenstrual !!

Illness - If you suspect your Guinea Pig is unwell see your vet.

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Teenage boars and all those hormones

Teenage hormones can start to affect boars from 3months to 18months

The vast majority of boar pairs stay together through teenage tantrums

The rescue usually neuters all single boars under 15mths.Its the kindest way to ensure a life long companion and avoid further boar bonding problems when a friend has passed away.All single boars have behaviour assessment on arrival,to help us make the right decision for them.

oliver and dodger Oliver and Dodger x successful bonding

Lets start with the journey the vast majority of "large" retail pet store Guinea Pigs make,before they arrive in your home !!

Mostly sourced from large scale breeding farms at around 8 weeks, packed into transport vehicles(mixed sex babies),transported to stores where they are sexed and placed in large group pens.They remain there for up to the age of 12 weeks,if unsold they are returned and the process starts again.Lets face it its not the nicest of experiences for them, its probably quite frightening.

Potential owners then come along choose a pair at random and take away.

Do you get the picture ??

You get your lovely new pair home, your all excited and ready to cuddle and your boars are really not interested straight away,they will need time to get to know each other as well as their new owners !

You need to give them space and at least 2 to 3 weeks to settle in and sort out hierarchy.

I get so many calls off upset owners distressed over the behaviour of 3 - 4 month old  boars and its such a shame you were not given the advice you REALLY needed in store.

Having had this start in life do you now understand why they need time to settle and sort out who is boss ??

Boars are amazing i love them, the vast majority will get through the normal teenage phase with just odd fall outs,so please dont despair just share their journey and support them as they grow.

If you notice changes in teenage boar usual behaviour.

Mites and illness can cause grumpy behaviour so ensure your Guinea Pig is healthy before worrying about behaviour problems.
Loads of space, as much as you can spare.

Two of everything - including  food bowls, water bottles.

Food in separate areas of the cage at feeding time.

Remove hiding places and houses, cage can look boring but you are removing items they could be territorial about.Thats the key issue.

Try not to move them around too much, moving from cage to pen and cuddles can evoke squabbles.If they are going through an upset then keep movement and cuddles to a minimum.

After cleaning,touch nose and rump with vick...yes vick that way all they smell is that, it helps when introducing back to a clean cage...which they will want to be territorial about !!

Bathing can often help, but make sure you use the same shampoo for both pigs!

If you have sows, try and keep them a distance from the boars if you think it may be this that is causing the problem - if the sows are in a completely different area, try and handle the boars first before the girls as the smell of sows on hands, clothes, items or faces can set them off too.

Hay is often a good distractor as well.

If they are still squabbling and looking like they are really getting on each other's nerves, try a trial separation with a mesh divider - quite often an hours "time out" can really help them calm down, but try not to leave it too long before you try them together again.

Of course, sometimes they may just not be able to get along and simply don't like each other !

Sadly, there is little that can be done about this, and if they look constantly stressed even if they are not seriously fighting you will need to consider separation and alternative companions.