Guinea pigs fighting! Guinea Pigs are social animals that love both human and fellow piggie interactions. This doesn’t mean that you won’t see your guinea pigs fighting. It’s actually perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Our helpful guide will help you learn why they fight, what to do if they do and also how to stop it.
All animals fight with each other at some point or another so being prepared is the key!
Find Out More:
- What Happens When They Fight
- Why Do Guinea Pigs Fight?
- Is It Just Male Guinea Pigs That Fight?
- How To Break Up A Guinea Pig Fight
- Firm Friends or Furious Foes?
What Happens When They Fight
Being able to recognise a guinea pig fight is an essential owner skill. Most fights begin with the piggies circling each other, or incessantly following each other around.
Next comes them showing their teeth to each other. Some teeth chattering may also occur (learn about guinea pig sounds here) Often, one of the guinea pigs will back down and submit. That should then be the end of the aggression and both piggie will most likely retreat away from each other. All should be well in the cage afterwards.
If neither of the guinea pigs backs down then trouble is brewing! Charging forward or mounting each other (even in same-sex piggie) are physical signs of the fight breaking out.
Another opportunity now arises for one of the guinea pigs to submit/give it which will end the fight. If this doesn’t happen then biting and lunges with loud noises will break out. Your guinea pigs are full-on fighting now. Be wanted they may draw blood from each other. Ideally, the fight should be defused before it reaches this point.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Fight?
There are actually a variety of reasons that could be the cause of your guinea pigs fighting. Although guinea pigs are gentle and docile creatures they can fight their beloved cage mate for a multitude of reasons:
1. Incorrect Gender Ratio
Never ever house two male guinea pigs with one female. This is a very explosive situation. If two male guinea pigs are fighting for the affection of one female then it’s going to turn nasty – very quickly. Always ensure you have correctly sexed your guinea pigs (or your vet has)
Aside from the huge amount of aggression that will be caused by this gender cage setup, unwanted pregnancies are also another major cause of concern.
Guinea pigs actually operate their cage under a hierarchy. In order for one to become the leader, the others have to submit. This is usually decided by show teeth showing and mounting. The other cage mates submit and the leader is chosen. If there is still a piggie who won’t submit then the battle for dominance escalates and go advance to full-on fighting.
After the cage hierarchy has been established, it should be easy to tell who now rules the cage or hutch!
The battle for the cage hierarchy is completely normal however it shouldn’t be allowed to escalate to a fight.
2. Injury or Illness
If a cage fight breaks out between guinea pigs that have been living together for a while, it’s unlikely to be a battle for dominance. This could be an indicator of a poorly or injured guinea pig.
A sick or injured guinea pig is likely to lash out the same way us humans do! Carefully remove the antagoniser out of the cage and give them a complete health check. Also, keep a close eye on their food and liquid intake. Checking for any change in their toilet habits and stool consistency can also be useful to determine if you have a poorly piggie.
Ensure their cage or hutch is clean and they are provided with fresh hay, and clean water daily. Food is an essential part of keeping your guinea pig healthy. Always give them fresh vegetables and fruit in limited quantities. Ensure their dried pellets are specially formulated for guinea pigs.
If you are unable to find signs of injury or illness, take your guinea pig to the vet to be extra certain.
3. Conflicting Personalities
Following on from the battle for dominance, this hierarchy system works due to their being submissive and dominant guinea pigs in the cage. All guinea pigs fall into either the submissive or dominant personality category.
Unfortunately on occasion, two dominant piggies find themselves cage mates. This can be an impossible situation since neither guinea pig ever submits to the other.
This situation can be avoided if you buy guinea pigs that are currently housed together. In pets shops, in particular, they tend to pair a submissive and dominant guinea pig together. This usually means that when you get them home, they will have the odd hierarchy struggle but nothing major.
If you already have two dominant guinea pigs sharing a cage that are constantly fighting, they will require separating. It’s clear they will never get along!
4. Their Home Is Too Small
Although there are a wide variety of cages and hutches to choose from, not all guinea pig housing is the correct size. Quite frequently cages and hutches being marketed for guinea pigs are far too small.
The RSPCA states the minimum size cage for 2 adult guinea pigs is 120cm x 60cm x 45cm.
A bored guinea pig can be very ill and it can even cause death. There are plenty of entertainment options for your guinea pigs cage. Tunnels are great for running through or even stopping halfway to have a nap! Plastic, cardboard or even edible all made excellent boredom breakers for your piggies!
Chewing is also another favourite guinea pig past time! Old toilet roll tubes, wooden chews and even branches provide excellent entertainment whilst also being wonderful for wearing down their ever-growing teeth,
Is It Just Male Guinea Pigs That Fight?
Most people assume that only male guinea pigs fight. Whilst males are more aggressive than females, this is not the case. Female guinea pigs still require the cage hierarchy to be established. All the above reasons why guinea pigs fight applies to both male and female guinea pigs.
How To Break Up A Guinea Pig Fight
If your guinea pigs are establishing dominance for the cage hierarchy, only intervene if absolutely necessary. Don’t allow the hierarchy challenge to get too far though.
The easiest and safest way to defuse a guinea pig fight is to get a clean cloth, towel or blanket. Place it carefully over one or both piggies. This instantly cools off the guinea pigs since they are now pondering what is going on. This instinct takes over the fighting one and calms the piggies down.
The guinea pigs will need to be separated and kept apart for several hours. Not only is this good for them, but it will also allow you to check each piggie over to ensure they are not hurt or injured.
After they have spent some time apart, they will need reintroducing to each other carefully. Watch over them carefully to ensure no further battles erupt. Unfortunately, if fights continue, these two piggies will require permanently separating from each other.
Firm Friends or Furious Foes?
Whilst it isn’t pleasant to see guinea pigs fight, it is a normal part of their wild instincts. Keep in mind that although guinea pig battles for dominance of cage hierarchy are normal, they should never be allowed to escalate to the point of guinea pig injury.