Integrating two pairs

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FR0GT0AD

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:07 am


First time poster, I've been looking for advice on this for a while but can't really seem to find suggestions that would work with my particular piggies.

I obtained a sow that was approximately 6 weeks old with a very easy going temperament, but knew that I would need to get her a cagemate soon. I rescued her from a pet store and I certainly feel like that is the correct wording here. Two weeks later, I found a second lone guinea pig who was approximately ten weeks old and brought her home.

Little Abigail was very happy to meet Delilah and the two became immediate best friends with no behavioural issues whatsoever. They were literally bonded after about ten minutes.

However, it became obvious very quickly that while the two got along famously, Delilah had a few behavioural issues to work out and they were rubbing off on Abigail. Delilah is very high strung, and I began noticing that literally everything scared her and Delilah is not a graceful pig. She's a bull in a China shop, she'll run straight through toys and hideys knocking them over and scaring the hell out of Abigail as well.

In a nutshell, I discussed with my girlfriend the possibility of including a third sow into our herd that was very hand tame and calm and would hopefully bring balance back to the force.

Well, we spent a few days looking and about two weeks later I came home to find not one but two brand new six week old baby sows in a quarantine cage. I guess my girlfriend simply couldn't help herself. Le sigh.

So after giving them quarantine, I decided I would integrate them into the main cage.

The meet and greet went okay I suppose. It became obvious quite quickly that Delilah had decided she was the queen of this little herd. It was my first encounter with rumble strutting and dominant behaviour so it was quite unpleasant to discover that Delilah was relentless in chasing one of the two new babies around the cage, who we named Bridget. However, after about 5 hours there was no blood drawn and they had all settled into a food coma.

I figured it was time to integrate them all into my 2X9 C&C cage. I gave them each their own food dish and water bottles and there are more two entrance hideys than there are piggies.

Problem is, Delilah has decided that they all belong to her. Abigail and the other new girl, Cecilia, are permitted to do whatever they like with no trouble but for some reason Delilah has decided she hates Bridget, who is literally a third of her size, and won't permit her to come close to not only the herd but especially Cecilia, who she had been beginning to bond with during quarantine.

She also rarely will allow Bridget to eat or drink. So far, they've been in the same cage for three days and it's beginning to worry me. Bridget is very small and needs to eat, the only time she gets to is when I remove Delilah from the cage for lap time.

The moment Delilah is out, Bridget, Abigail and Cecilia all go for a big meal of Timothy hay together and then play together and popcorn like crazy. Bridget goes from being alone and huddled in the only small tube that Delilah can't fit into to being actually happy.

So I don't really know what to do. Do I separate Bridget for her own benefit? Do I separate Delilah permanently to let Bridget be happy? I have separated Delilah right now just for the overnight to give Bridget some bloody peace. I don't want to break up Cecilia and Bridget, and I also don't want to break up Abigail and Delilah.

I also don't really want to build Cecilia and Bridget their own full sized cage because Abigail seems to like both of them a lot, and I also don't really have the space to build another 2X9 cage.

I've heard that a buddy bath with Bridget and Delilah might help, but I have no other suggestions. I've also been told that you shouldn't bathe piggies before six months, so I REALLY don't know. If anybody has some advice I'd love to hear it.

FR0GT0AD

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:29 am


I should also add that:

1) Bridget isn't really fighting back. Occasionally she will go and try to share whatever Delilah is eating but not try to steal it or anything. And Bridget is showing submissive behaviour.

2) Separating Delilah for an hour or two does seem to calm her down and then when the gate is lifted and she can rejoin her herd, she behaves for at least a little while and doesn't pick on Bridget for at least a few hours. This makes me worry that this is less of a dominance thing and more of a behavioural disorder.

I mean I suppose I can give Delilah regular "timeouts" her whole life and problem solved, but it's definitely not an ideal solution.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:52 am


You can bathe the pigs before they're six months old. I have no idea why anyone would think you couldn't. And a teeny drop of vanilla above Delilah's nose after the bath will make them all smell alike. That might help.

Do weigh Bridget daily to make sure she's getting enough to eat and is gaining properly.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:07 am


I would consider cutting fringes on one or more pieces of fleece and stringing it across the cage to give them something to run through and a visual break from seeing everyone else. This is sometimes called a "fleece forest" (though most fleece forests on google seem to be very limited in area).

Does anyone have pictures of this we could add to the guide?

FR0GT0AD

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:20 pm


I do have a fleece forest, actually, but it's on one side of the cage underneath the hayloft I built. It's a full 2X1 fleece forest. I'm unsure of how I could move it though, given how the cage is designed.

The vanilla trick sounds interesting. Should I bathe all 4 piggies together, or just Bridget and Delilah?

User avatar
Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:10 pm


How about make another fleece forest to cut the cage in half?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:11 pm


If I were going to bathe them, I'd do them all together at the same time.

FR0GT0AD

Post   » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:14 am


Hey everybody,

So I ended up giving them a buddy bath this morning wiith a dab of vanilla and now they're the four best friends that anyone could have. They all hate ME now, lol, but at the very least Delilah has let Bridget into the herd and also letting her eat.

Thanks everybody for your help. The herd is happy again!

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:36 am


Don't celebrate too soon! That vanilla will wear off, and you may be back to the status quo.

FR0GT0AD

Post   » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:20 pm


I did see a little bit of chasing today, also a little nipping. But no bites, and I haven't seen any of the common signs like teeth chattering that I should be worried about.

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