Introductions - Fighting!

User avatar

Post   » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:29 pm

I recently adopted a 1.5yr old female (Cheese) from a shelter as a friend to my existing young (~3-6month old) female (Gruber). I've searched and read all the links you guys provide for introductions and after the requisite quarantine period, tried to introduce the two on neutral territory. Things were ok initially (the usual rumbling/chattering/dance) and then the fur began to fly!

I separated the two, tried again and then stopped when it got bad again. No blood was drawn but given the strength of the bites against my leather glove I'm pretty certain one good bite would definitely have drawn blood and I didn't want that to happen.

For the next week, I placed the two in side by side cages - one in my 2x4 C&C the other in a petstore cage temporarily. I tried introductions again a week later with the same result. This time, I placed a divider in the middle of teh 2x4 and placed the two on their respective sides so they could see, smell, and at best stick their noses through the divider and smell each other etc.

They still made the dominant noises and territorial motions whenever one would get close to the divider but for the most part as far as I could tell, everything was ok (there was some nibbling through the divider but I didn't witness it).

Fast forward one more week to yesterday, and I try the introductions again on neutral territory. For a few minutes there was no fighting (likely due to the distraction of the veggies in front of them) but some dominant behavior was being displayed. All of a sudden the fighting began and after that both were so agitated that even with the separating they'd go at it again with the same ferocity (again I was wearing a leather glove and was bitten several times while breaking it up so I definitely believe this was a "i want to kill you" fight).

I haven't tried the buddy bath yet, but I'm not very confident that these girls can ever get together. The very first intro, I thought that Gruber was the instigator but after some more research on GL I think she was just trying to curl under Cheese and probabily freaked out Cheese. The subsequent introductions made it more clear that Cheese is the one being the aggressor. Whenever I put them both back in the cage, Cheese starts rumbling and runs to the divider if Gruber even approaches the area.

I will apologize now for the long post (and continue ;) ).

They both seem very miserable livingnext to each other, I haven't heard a wheek from Gruber ever since the first attempt at an introduction and she's not eating her veggies at the same pace as she used to. I can't really expand the cage too much to make room for both and I don't have room for a second C&C cage to house Cheese separately.

I may try the buddy bath soon but I may end up calling the shelter and giving Cheese back! When I went to adopt her, I saw her and her sister in separate cages living with bunnies (all the cavy's there share a cage with bunnies). I asked why they weren't together and wasn't really given a clear answer (should've pursued this more, lesson learned). Both apparently came from a neglected home so I'm very worried that Cheese just won't get along with anyone (hence the living alone) and am very concerned for Gruber's health and happiness.

Again, sorry for the long post but I wanted to run the situation by everyone to get some feedback and see if my logic is reasonable. I want to keep trying (I know it may take months) but given the ferocity of the attacks and constant show-downs through the divider I'm not sure that time will make much difference.

The only thing left I can try is a buddy bath (once I get my hands on cavy safe soap/shampoo). Side question - are there any alternatives that are safe for cavys that I may be able to get from a drugstore etc?. Thanks for your help in advance, I'm really quite upset by the situation!

User avatar

Post   » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:11 pm

How large is the cage you were trying to put them together in? This sounds like a challenge. Some pigs just won't get along until they get old and relaxed.

I take it you read over ?


Post   » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:36 pm

I also find, and you may not be ready for this, that pigs live best in three's. It seems to break-up a lot of direct one-on-one confrontation. Granted that may not be the best solution for you.....

ETA: Have always used mild baby shampoo on mine to no ill effect.

ETA a second time cause I'm reading too fast argh: Can you go back and get her sister? Did you try introducing them on a couch, a somewhat smaller area? Sorry and wish you the best of luck!

User avatar
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:40 pm

Bunny Bath is what we usually recommend. The PH is the correct balance, unlike human baby shampoo (which isn't even that great for human babies!).

Ditto on the cage size.

Are you absolutely sure that both pigs are, in fact, female? Shelters frequently missex guinea pigs. Are you certain your own pig is female?


Post   » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:48 pm

I am quite concerned that the pigs are housed with bunnies at the shelter. That is just not safe.

I agree with having 3 piggies. What can happen is that the 2 more submissive pigs align and the dominant one will "chill" out more to fit in with the group. This is what happened in my herd. My Alpha female now is much more relaxed.

User avatar

Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:38 am

Thanks for the responses. The cage I'm putting them together in (with the divider) is a 2x4 C&C - so they are getting really a 2x2 each. I have a loft built but I couldn't put it to use with the divider in there.

I've read the cavyspirit site and it seems the last option is the buddy bath. Is the success rate of this relatively good?

As for the locations of the introductions, the first two times was in a large C&C pen on the floor w/ veggies. This last time I tried the couch approach and after finding each other (quickly) the trouble began.

As for the suggestion of adding a 3rd oh my! I'm already freaked out that this has a real risk of resulting in my returning Cheese, I don't really know that I could risk another. I was considering trying to "swap" Cheese for her sister (who was more afraid and skiddish when I held her at the shelter). My fear is having to return a second one if it doesn't work out again.

As for the gender question - honestly I can't confirm either's gender. The petstore I bought from said all their cavy's were female and I'm taking the shelter's word with Cheese.

User avatar

Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:55 am

I found that with my boys they were happier having their own space. They never get along, but they seem to love being near each other. They are always next to the divider, rumble strutting, chewing on the bars, throwing poo on the other side, and trying to steal each others teddy bears. Sometimes it is best to keep them separated. They still get enjoyment with another pig in the same vicinity as them. They can be like 2 year olds when it comes to sharing sometimes.

User avatar

Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:04 am

Yeah that is what they basically do, just try to intimidate each other through the bars. The issue is that 2x2 cage isn't enough for each of them and I can't really expand my cage to a 2x6 due to space constraints. My biggest concern is that Gruber is unhappy (no wheeks in, well, weeks!). I'm sure if each half was bigger it might make her feel less freaked out.

I think I may try the buddy bath as a last resort and if that doesn't work I'm afraid I may have to just call the shelter and bring her back. I'm still considering maybe getting her sister who wasn't as assertive, but again, I'm quite afraid of going through the introduction process all over again! It's quite traumatic when the fights break out and I feel how hard cheese is biting against my glove.

User avatar

Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:50 pm

Just re-reading the cavyspirit introductions page for the 191th time and am a bit nervous about trying the buddy bath. Just wondering if people had bad experiences with introductions that worked out well after a bath?

I'm trying to figure out other ways of maybe building my cage up (instead of out) to keep Cheese (I obviously really really really don't want to bring her back to the shelter if I can avoid it). Biggest concern is making one level dark and harder to clean/get to one of them without taking the top level off.

User avatar

Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:01 pm

I've had great luck with the buddy bath. I successfully introduced to boars, each approximately 4 years old, who (to my knowledge) had been lifetime bachelors. They still get along swimmingly. Just be sure to follow all their directions, especially scrubbing out the cage to get rid of smells and rearranging 'furniture.'

Some people are a little put off by the description that a buddy bath helps by "traumatizing" and then bonding guinea pigs. I want to reassure you this isn't quite the case. When I give a buddy bath, I first put down a towel in my bathtub and wet it down with warm water. Then I put the pigs in the tub and quickly bathe each one using pre-filled pitchers of warm water and shampoo before towel drying and placing them together in a pen with some snacks. While they may be slightly off kilter by the bath, I certainly don't believe they are traumatized. The main purpose is to make both pigs smell the same.


Post   » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:48 pm

Are you totally against getting her sister? I don't mean to be invasive, but your new pig might be missing her and feeling totally scared. Actually I am surprised they allowed you to adopt them seperately, my local SPCA usually only lets pigs go out in pairs.

I hope your original pig is doing well. With the really difficult pigs I have had (Wiggins, hello!) I have found that groups of three really really help to difuse a lot of face-face confrontation.

Good luck!

User avatar

Post   » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:25 am

Thanks for the good tips rshevin! I think I will end up giving the buddy bath a shot (hopefully this week). I hope that it helps.

I also confirmed that they are both in fact female (thanks to the helpeful pictures on GL), though I don't think Gruber liked how I had to hold her to take a look! Of course as soon as I put her back in the cage, Cheese decides to assert herself at the divider.

Pigtopia - Cheese and her sis weren't living together. I asked the person there why and wasn't really given a great excuse and I should've probably probed a little more on that. I'm considering doing a swap of cheese for her sister (another loner cavy at the shelter) to see if her personality better matches Grubers. I'm somewhat still afraid by that proposal just in case that goes badly as well. I don't think I'm up for adopting Cheese's sister in ADDITION to the existing two - i dont' have capacity for a cage large enough for 3 let alone 3 who might not get along.

User avatar

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:07 am

What a rollercoaster! So I gave the girls a buddy bath tonight (I was quite nervous). Everything was ok until I put them on the towel to start the drying. All of a sudden, Cheese began to attack Gruber again. I was pretty upset and thought it was hopeless but put them both down in the 3x3 pen I built with lots of snacks while I cleaned out the cage (expecting to need the divider again).

I watched them for a bit while they chowed down and there really was no action. After a while, Cheese started trying to attack Gruber and the first few times I would try to startle them but did not separate physically. A little bit later Cheese again, tried to attack gruber but since the pen was fairly large, Gruber could run away resulting in just a bout of chasing with some nips. I didn't do anything because it wasn't as serious as before (having a large pen where Gruber could run away was much better than the couch/smaller pen I tried before).

After a while, literally as Cheese is chasing Gruber trying to attack her, I said to myself "I'm done", and basically decided I was going to return Cheese to the shelter. I'd tried introductions 4 times, buddy bath etc. and it wasn't working. Cheese was clearly the aggressor, Gruber was submissive the whole time etc. All of a sudden, Cheese caught Gruber and mounted her! (I know this is somwhat normal but I was expecting blood).

So I left the two for a few more hours in the pen, and other than some more chasing/humping by Cheese there were no attacks. Greatly encouraged, I set up teh cage (with new loft) and a bunch of new additions (like Weaver's bed/cozy) and put them in.

Everything was fine, until I heard squeels while in the other room. It seems that Cheese is just a big bully, everywhere Gruber went Cheese would go and annoy her and steal her spot. I have a pigloo, a hidey house (pigloo was Grubers, house was Cheeses). I have one cozy and one bed. Despite there being ample hiding/hanging out room, Cheese would insist on bothering Gruber and taking her spot. Sometimes she wouldn't even take the spot, she would come up to Gruber, freak her out, then lie down next to her!

Currently, they are both in their own houses, though Cheese sometimes will come over and kick Gruber out of her pigloo and make gruber squeal quite loudly (though I dont' think she's getting nipped or anything). If I try to pick up or approach Gruber right after some of these incidents, she will squeal in the same way.

I feel terrible, I was extatic that the buddy bath worked (thanks to all the good tips!), but now I think Gruber is even in worse condition! Poor thing is constantly harassed and totally freaked out. I haven't separated and will see how it plays overnight, hopefully while I"m at work tomorrow nothing will happen.

I know some people have suggested getting rid of pigloos for other hidey areas but the thing is Cheese just harasses Gruber regardless of where they are. Will give it a day or two and see how it goes. Just wanted to give an updated and see if anyone had any more pointers?

User avatar
I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:13 am

Some pairs can be very fussy for a week, and then things seem to settle down.

If there's no blood I'd be tempted to keep them together. There may be a lot of noise and chasing, but quite often things do settle down within a few days.

It can be nerve-wracking, though!

User avatar

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:28 am

I agree... Some pigs just need time I think. I have four boys They fight and mount and chase and steal pigloos.... I figure boys will be boys.... Better than living a life in solitude.

I hope you are able to keep both of the pigs, best of luck!

Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:54 am

I hope Gruber and Cheese will settle down soon, too.

You may want to weigh them daily during this adjustment period, to ensure that they are both eating.


Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:40 am

I think even the most bonded guinea pigs have spats now and then.

My two adopted girls were found abandoned together and were VERY bonded. They always were checking on where the other one was.

However, every now and again I would hear some squabbling noises from the cage. I don't know if they were arguing over space, a piece of food, or just because they were together 24/7 and one couldn't take hearing the other one tell the same joke for the millionth time. I remember I would just raise my voice and say, "Don't make me come over there" and immediately the squabbling would cease.

User avatar

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:09 am

I think you and your pigs are doing well.

User avatar

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:09 am

The three boys I picked up last Fri. are just now starting to leave each other alone. Poor Samuel gets the worst of it all. But, they are now starting to do much better. We still have the occassional chasing, chattering, & mounting but nothing like before. If there is no blood shed, I would leave them be and let them work out who gets to be boss. I think it is more stressful for us humans than it is for the piggies. Good luck.

User avatar

Post   » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:39 am

I agree that its more stressful for us than them! I just feel bad because Gruber is just completely freaked out and never left alone. I ended up taking out both pigloo and hidey house last night just to see if that helps but Cheese just continues to harass Gruber.

I don't intend to separate them and will give it some time (and weight daily to make sure Cheese is letting Gruber eat!). I'm just happy they are living in the same cage and not trying to kill each other but am totally stressed that the baby is miserable. I think Cheese is in fact nipping sometimes to get Gruber out of the cozy etc and trying to mount her but otherwise no real bites.

Thanks again for the reassurance! Will keep you updated and will post pics soon.

Post Reply
30 posts