Introducing Two Boars - Didn't Turn Out How We'd Hoped


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:00 am

Hi, hoping for some advice from anyone who's had a similar experience.

Background - BamBam's an approx 10month old boar who lost his cagemate and best mate nearly 2 months ago. He dealt with the loss brilliantly & I saw no signs of depression. Not wanting him to have to spend the rest of his days alone, we adopted Dougal (also a boar), who we were told is around 2yrs old. He stayed in quarantine upstairs for 3wks, both have had a MOT at the vets, and he's spent the last 2 weeks in a cage side by side to BamBam's so they can smell/hear each other.

D day was yesterday - I'd researched as much as I could & it was time to go for it. Took over 2hrs to make my living room in to a massive piggy pen, so they had plenty of space & 2 of everything. 3...2...1... Both pigs in... Munch munch on lettuce...Hello how are you? Let's smell each other's butts...Eat more lettuce...

My heart was in my throat but first signs were promising, nothing more that a few rumbles & sniffs. Then, for the next 1 and 1/2 hours Dougal (the older one) was obsessed - humping BamBam in every position possible - I felt sorry for BamBam but knew this was 'natural' so hung back. I was an inch away from seperating them because Dougal wasn't giving BamBsam ANY peace at all, not to eat or anything. When Dougal 'relieved himself' (and I had my first experience of Boar glue, which I later had to cut out of Dougal's hair), he chilled - left BamBam alone and went to lie down and relax.

At this point I'd have thought BamBam would have ran to eat hay, but no, after being violated for nearly 2hours he trotted over to Dougal, asked 'can I sit here'? Dougal said 'yep' and so he did! I've pictures to prove it!

The next hour was great, and I really thought we had a breakthrough - they were sharing the food, walking, talking, checking on each other, rumbling now and again but getting on fine.

Then it started again... Dougal humping BamBam non-stop & not giving him any peace, only this time BamBam decided he wasn't going to lie still and take it, and started trying to do the same to Dougal, who responded by chattering his teeth... I couldn't go to bed knowing they weren't 'at peace' with each other, and so 7 hours after putting them together they went back to their respective cages, mainly because through all this BamBam had been doing his 'I'm really worried & I don't like this' whining sound which normally is only for when I'm cutting nails.

When returned BamBam crashed out on his fleece, it was clear he was really glad to be home. Dougal on the other hand spent the next half hour chewing the bars of his cage trying to get to BamBam. I moved his cage away from BamBam's slightly and Dougal settled down & went to sleep.

I'm soooooo disappointed, gutted actually. The purpose of getting another was for BamBam's benefit - companionship, and it turned out to be quite an ordeal for him which I feel really guilty about now that it didn't turn out ok in the end.

I really thought they'd settled down after the first 'round', which was hard enough to watch, and now I just don't know what to do. Do I give up on the whole idea & leave them in separate cages? do I try again? do I risk making BamBam miserable just to try & get them to get on? I'm very confused.

If anyone has read this & can think of what I may have done wrong, or can offer any advice as to how I can help them be friends, I'd be very, very grateful.

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Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:25 am

Sounds like normal boar behavior. It can take days for them to work through their dominance issues. My girls have been together for 3 years and they still bicker and chase each other.

Separating them will make it harder for them to work through their issues next time. You need to put them together and leave them together. The rule of thumb is not to separate them unless there is major bloodshed. It actually sounds like they were getting along quite well. It looks bad but its really pretty normal.


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:33 am

It sounds pretty normal to me but I have sows. I would suggest putting them back together on neutral territory for a couple of hours. If this is the only behavior happening, then put them in the cage together (after cleaning it). I have found that the worst behaviors, after introductions, happen when they are placed in the cage together. I always plan to have them in the cage for at least hours before I have to leave the house or go to bed. If there is no bloodshed, just keep an eye on them but leave them together. Good luck.


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:35 am

I introduced my two boys last week. There was a lot of humping in the new cage, no boar glue yet though. It is really hard with the teeth chattering, to just leave them to it, but they'll get there.

My boys love each other most of the time, but they are still bickering now, after a week. The fact that your boys sounded like they were getting on, lying down toegther, sounds like they will manage to work it out. Was Bambam the submissive in the original pairing?

It helped for me that the cage is right by my bed, so if there was anything bd going on, I would have heard it.

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Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:39 am

It sounds pretty normal. Try not separating them again, because then you will have to start from square 1. I would suggest redoing the neutral territory since they've been in separate cages overnight, and while they are in there, clean out their cage completely. Scrub everything down to get rid of smells and rearrange everything. This will make them much less defensive since it will seem like new territory.
Good luck! You seem like a great piggy mom with many worries! Intros can be very worrying, but don't worry, almost all matches have worked out beautifully in the end!

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We miss our sweet Oreo

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:45 am

Ditto on what everybody else said. I had a pair that would still whine at each other and hump periodically, years after they were placed together. You just have to resign yourself to the fact that the introduction period might be extended and there might (probably will) be some behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable. But unless there's bloodshed, leave it be. Otherwise, they'll never figure it out on their own. It sounds as if you have the makings for a good pairing. You're just going to have to be patient and drop back a bit while Bambam and Dougal work this out.

Guinea Pig Market

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:55 am

It sounds like normal Boar behavior to me as well, they just have to work through it which can take days to weeks. As long as there is no blood shed they should be fine.

When I have had stubborn boys that didn't want to get along I would put their two respective cages right up against one another so that they boys could smell each other and be close without being able to harm each other. If this makes you more comfortable, try that for a week or two so that they get used to each other and then try introductions on neutral territory again.


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:41 am

Thank you everyone for your kind words that are very reassuring. Those words were going round in my head for the whole 7 hours, 'this is normal behaviour, this is normal behaviour, leave them to it', but after such a long time I admit they broke my will.

I suppose the feeling I have about not actually wanting it to get to bloodshed stage before seperating is also pretty normal - keeping pigs has done absolutely nothing for my nerves! (that and the fact that I'm allergic and get 'piggy rash' if they snuggle to my face/neck means that I must really be a bit of a slave to still love them soooo much he he :)

liland - I think you may have hit the nail on the head with your question - in the original pairing Pebbles was ill for most of his short life so BamBam was naturally the boss I think, and took care of his mate. Whilst during the 'first round' BamBam gave in to Dougal's age and size and submitted whilst being humped continuously for 2hours, when it came to round 2 he'd decided he didn't really want to put up with that again - I think if Dougal had let him be they'd have been fine together, but he was just relentless and fixated on him. Every time BamBam rumbled at Dougal, Dougal would jump on his head, and hump him for what seemed like a very long time, in an 'I've already told you once, I'm
the boss' kind of way. I could actually hear BamBam's breathing become laboured a couple of times (maybe cos he was being humped on the head & Dougal's bodyweight was pressing on his chest) and I did seperate them when this happened, perhaps another reason why I wasn't comfortable leaving them together last night.

My partner was at work all day, but when he came home he saw the 'chilled out' phase where they were sharing, talking etc. and thought it had been a success. Then when round 2 started he said he didn't like what he was seeing at all and sees no reason why they can't be kings of their own castles, side by side, but seperated by grids so neither feels threatened or undermined.

I know everything I've read here says that they're better being paired, but I struggle to answer my partner's question on this point - if they're both happy, what advantage is there to having them in one cage rather than two side by side? Perhaps you who know a lot more than I could help me answer this one?

Today, BamBam's been going about his own business like he doesn't have a care in the world. He's happy. Dougal, has spent most of the day hiding, and when he has come out he has been more vocal than usual (he's normally quite a quiet pig) talking to BamBam through the cage - BamBam hasn't answered him yet so I doubt all is forgiven after yesterday.

I do want to give it another go, but only if both pigs will end up being happier for it - I guess nobody has a crystal ball for me to know that, but I do feel that I need to give each one individually the most contented life, in whatever set up that may be, rather than trying to push the issue of pairing them up, unless there are really major benefits of doing so. If anyone knows if there is, please let me know.

Thanks once again for all your posts :)

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Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:18 am

The encouraging prospect is the new, more aggressive pig is two years old - likely out of adolescence. So you have a better chance of them getting along.

You might provide some multiple run through, around, hide in boxes/tubes for a reintroduction. Oh, and hide food here and there too.


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:00 am

If you do try again, an important thing that I've found after reading posts on here, is to change the cage around a lot. I move things around the cage, and swap toys and tunnels etc out every day for something different. Of course it's nice to do too for established pigs for more fun in their lives, but it really has helped keep my boys from irritating each other too much! I'm also not using any houses or cozies, only tunnels, as they have more than one exit.

My Chiral was always a very happy loving boy, but he's become much more pig-like in his behavior since we bonded him with a baby. I think he really enjoys it, they're always talking, and he has someone to snuggle with when he wants, not just when I'm there for him. Although he hasnt yet received any grooming from Tesla, he does give a lot of grooming, and Tesla follows him around like a devoted puppy.

After some arguments over food bowls (despite having two), I removed them completely and am scatter feeding for now.

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Thanks for the Memories

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:32 am

I would make the intended joint cage as big as you can, put lots of hideys and water bottles, food dishes, etc. in there and make sure that it's been scrubbed so it's neutral.

Even after years of living together, my trios would sometimes get into boarly behavior, especially after a cage cleaning. I wouldn't worry too much unless someone is hurt or someone is not able to eat (put the bottles/food so that no one pig can guard them all).

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Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:49 pm

I think the only mistake you made was separating them, honestly.

If no one is loosing weight or blood, they are fine. Don't feel bad or think that one of them is unhappy!

They are unhappy until they have their herd all sorted out to their satisfaction.

Did you read the Boars Behaving Badly thread? The first part of that details exactly how to set up an intro to succede.

You might want to try next when you have 48hrs to hang around the house so you dont have to worry about leaving them alone together.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:54 pm

I agree that it sounds normal. I would only be worried as others have said if blood is drawn, or if they aren't eating. The intro's we've done with only one exception included humping and rumbling, sometimes excessive humping but things all mellowed out. When I tried to introduce Magellan to James and Alistair, there was no bloodshed, but they refused to eat when in the same cage together and they just wouldn't eat, not even their favorite greens and I tried everything I'd heard including a buddy bath; I tried twice before realizing it wasn't going to work. The intro you described sounds relatively tame all things considered.

I assume you've read the Boars Behaving Badly threads? They're a wonderful source of information on intro's and normal (as well as not so normal) boar behavior. I also recommend the Cavy Spirit social life page if you haven't read it yet.


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:55 pm

Thank you so much to each and every one of you who took the time to post here and offer useful advice, support, encouragement and reassurance to me, this site is amazing.

Feyling - I think you're right, but yesterday BamBam truly had had enough. I think the overnight stay apart made Dougal re-evaluate whether he wanted company or not, because I tried again this afternoon after all the support from here and the second intro has been completely different.

Whilst he's still been asserting his authority when BamBam tries rumbling, he's not been continuously humping him non-stop to the point where BamBam can't breathe.

BamBam is still being whiny about the situation but he's not as stressed out as he was yesterday, I'm assuming the whining will die down as the days pass by?

Today we have: Rumbles, chatters, occasional humping (from behind this time, not on the face which is most degrading!), bum sniffing, and an occasional warning 'nip' (which doesn't land anywhere, but let's the other know enough's enough, e.g. when Dougal thought he'd go get some hay from BamBam's hay rack).

They're both back in the main cage, and when they've filled they're bellies and stopped messing around are making a point of finding each other to snuggle up next to for a snooze - I seem to have answered my own question as to why it was so good to have them together rather than side by side cages - the snuggles!

I will update in a few days, hopefully all will remain peaceful except for the occasional squabble whilst they sort themselves out, but I will rest easy tonight knowing they're both reasonably content but primarily safe, and happy that I didn't give up after yesterday's ordeal.

I will take all the advice given here and read back on it when required, thank you all once again :)

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Supporter in '10

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:57 pm

Very cool! This is so nice to hear!

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Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:45 pm

Yay! Well done. I imagine pigs can be happy living as neighbours, and the occasional few prefer it, but it's always nice to have someone to annoy and romp with and whose food you can steal.

I'm not trying to be the bringer of doom here, but it is likely that BamBam's boarly hormones will kick in occasionally and trigger another humping/chattering outbreak while they decide yet again who the boss is. Don't worry about it.

Now, I think we needs piccies of the happy duo!


Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:01 pm

That sounds great!

My boys are still sorting things out, a week on, but they are really loving each other, and there's been no humping in days.

I hope your pigs continue to do well with each other :)

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Supporter in '09 - '10

Post   » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:06 pm

(that and the fact that I'm allergic and get 'piggy rash' if they snuggle to my face/neck means that I must really be a bit of a slave to still love them soooo much he he :)

I know piggies and hay can cause rashes just on their own, but have you treated for potential mites?

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Supporter in '10

Post   » Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:10 pm

What great news.

I had a fairly traumatic experience trying to introduce my new boy Jasper to two extremely sassy sows. I can understand why you were a bit freaked out. It eventually turned out fine but it did take nerves of steel!

Feylin's Boars Behaving Badly thread is very useful, especially the bit about making sure there is nowhere in the cage where one pig can get trapped by another. Make sure there is two of everything (food bowls, water bottles etc) so no one can get territorial and prevent the other from eating, drinking or hiding!

Here's hoping they stay friends.

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Perpetual Pig Slave

Post   » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:33 pm

ditto on what Halva said.

I don't have much experience with hard intros, but what little conflict I did have was caused by being trapped in a pigloo. They only have one way in and one way out.

Most of the rumbling and screaming was stopped when I replaced the pigloos with footstools. Those have 4 entrances/exits so the evictee could run away and not feel like they had to fight their way out.

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