If you are looking at getting guinea pigs then you’ll likely want to know how they will get along. Will they fight each other or can they live side by side in peace and harmony? Here is everything you are going to want to know if you intend on keeping a herd of guinea pigs.
So, do guinea pigs fight with each other? Guinea pigs can fight with each other, especially when establishing dominance or if their living space is inadequate. Proper introduction, sex pairings and ensuring a spacious environment can help reduce conflicts among guinea pigs.
Keeping guinea pigs together can be a great way to keep them happy. They are social animals after all.
But it is important to recognize the possibility of fighting and what to do when and if it occurs. Besides, you want to keep your pets safe, happy, and healthy.
Perhaps the most likely cause of fighting is between males; as one tries to claim the power in the hierarchy.
Therefore, before deciding to leave guinea pigs together in a cage, it is best to introduce them to ensure they get along.
And separate them if you need to.
But more on this shortly.
Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Fight Each Other?
It is normal for guinea pigs to occasionally have disputes, however, consistent aggressive behavior is not normal nor should be allowed to continue.
When It Is Normal
- Guinea pigs naturally establish social structures and hierarchies.
- Minor disputes can occur when determining dominance, especially in new environments.
- Occasional spats are expected and help set boundaries within the group.
- Initial introductions might involve some posturing or minor disputes to establish roles.
When It Is Not Normal
- Prolonged or aggressive fighting can be harmful.
- Consistent aggressive behavior can lead to injuries and stress.
- Factors exacerbating conflicts include:
- Limited space in their habitat.
- Competition for resources like food or hiding spots.
- Presence of multiple males in a limited space.
- Continuous fighting affects the overall well-being of the animals.
- Intervention, such as separation or habitat adjustment, may be needed for consistently aggressive guinea pigs.
Reasons Why Guinea Pigs May Fight
Guinea pigs, especially males, often try to establish a social hierarchy.
In the process of determining which one is the “alpha,” they may display aggressive behaviors like rumbling, chattering their teeth, or even physical confrontation.
Inadequate Living Space
If the cage or living area is too small for multiple guinea pigs, they can feel cramped and stressed.
This lack of space can lead to increased territorial behavior and more frequent disputes.
Competition for Resources
When there’s a shortage of essential resources like food, water, or toys, guinea pigs might compete with one another to access them.
This competition can escalate into fights if not properly managed.
Introduction of New Guinea Pigs
Introducing a new guinea pig to an existing group or pairing can cause tension.
The newcomers and the original inhabitants might not get along immediately, leading to squabbles as they adjust to the new dynamic.
Differences in Personality
Just like humans, guinea pigs have individual personalities. Some might be more aggressive, while others are more passive.
Clashes can occur if their personalities don’t mesh well together.
Understanding and observing their behavior can help in determining compatible companions.
How To Handle Fights Between Guinea Pigs
Sometimes fights occur and there is little you can do upfront to stop them. Sometimes, they happen quickly and without forewarning.
If a fight does break out then the first action that you can take is to split the guinea pigs apart.
The sooner you can do this the better, and it’s always better to prevent the fight from escalating where injury can pursue.
If you do decide to try to stop a fight, consider then you will likely be placing your hands into an area where you can get bitten or scratched unintentionally by your guinea pigs.
It is, therefore, a good idea to try to split them when they break apart and you may even need to put a pair of gloves on to protect yourself.
Identify the more passive guinea pig, because they’ll be easier to hold and manage. You’ll want to take these out of the cage, and if possible put them in another cage that you may have.
Failing that you can put them in an enclosed pen while they have time to ‘calm down’.
Once they are apart you will need to take a look at both guinea pigs and ensure that neither of them has sustained any serious injuries.
If so you’ll need to consult your Vet who will have the knowledge and expertise to help support the recovery.
It’s always important to give your separated guinea pigs a distraction and to calm them; food, toys, and water are ideal here.
How long you keep them separated is a tough one to call, but ultimately they do need some time away from one another.
This can be up to a week in certain circumstances and even then they may fight when placed back into the same enclosed environment.
If these begin to fight again, even after prolonged time apart, you’ll need to separate them permanently with either a two-sided cage or individual cages.
How To Prevent Fighting Between Your Guinea Pigs
Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s best to establish an environment upfront where chances of fighting are reduced from the outset.
This is particularly true if you already own a guinea pig(s) and you are bringing home another more from a different herd.
Here are some recommendations to prevent fighting upfront:
Get A Sizable and Comfortable Cage
Perhaps the most important thing you can do upfront is getting an adequately sized cage. You may even need to upgrade your current cage if you believe it is too small.
Guinea Pigs often fight because they do not have enough space. If you have multiple, then you are going to need to get a cage that caters to that.
If you have a cage that is too small, you’re inviting the guinea pigs to fight with one another especially if they are both male and do not have their own respective places to go.
Having a larger cage ensures that your cavies can move and run around and find their own place to play.
Guinea pigs are constantly on the move so the more space you can provide them the better.
Sometimes even guinea pigs that get along well will need some time by themselves, so the importance of a sufficiently large cage cannot be underestimated.
I am a huge advocate of the Living World Deluxe Habitat (available on Amazon).
It has multiple sections and levels and is ideal for housing multiple guinea pigs (it was designed for several to live side by side).
It also has an entire hiding section and a platform for shelter. This gives them a place to rest.
If you have a sufficiently large cage already; you may consider adding some Hideaways.
This gives your guinea pigs another area to go to and they feel comforted by the shelter above.
Two of Everything
Having two of everything is helpful to ensure there is no need to fight over something. So two water bottles, two toys, and two food piles/bowls are recommended.
Make sure you place the food far enough away so that each guinea pig can have their own share of food.
If one chases another one away from a pile of food the other guinea pig can go to a different feeding spot.
Entertain Them With Toys
Toys are a great way to provide some entertainment and to prevent your cavies from getting bored.
While not every guinea pig is aggressive, they love to chew and a lot of them have excess energy.
Toys are a good way to provide mental stimulation and distract them from other guinea pigs.
Again it is advised to multiple toys for the reasons outlined above. The Kaytee 5 pack on Amazon
Let Them Roam Outside
Be sure to let your Guinea Pigs roam outside regularly.
This breaks up time within the cage and is another way to provide mental stimulation.
This is an ideal way to relax them and relieve any aggression that may have been building up.
The more you can let your guinea pigs roam the better, but you should aim for 30 minutes at least every other day.
Make sure you always have enough food or hay in the cage.
This may seem a bit obvious but hunger can be a cause of aggression. Besides, they will not usually eat all of the hay/food provided and will likely squeak for more.
Be sure to quickly refill the hay when it appears to be getting low because the more dominant guinea pig may chase the less dominant one away if they believe there is not enough food/hay for them both.
Refrain from Separating/Reintroducing Multiple Times
Another thing to avoid is to separate the guinea pigs too often, especially when they have recently been introduced and/or when it appears there are signs of disagreement between them.
If they chase and mount one another, make sounds or even pretend to bite each other then this is normal behavior.
Each time you start a new introduction be prepared to follow through and give them time. Try not to intervene unless the biting appears aggressive and too much.
If you stop an introduction your guinea pigs will need to start this process all over again. They won’t continue ‘where they left off before.
This can lead to unresolved aggression if they cannot establish and properly sort out the rank.
Guinea pigs can fight, and while it is more likely if you own two males and keep them in close vicinity.
The good news is there are things that you can do to limit and prevent it from happening.
If fighting does occur, the best thing that you can do is to separate your guinea pigs and giving them a cooling-off period.
You may need to get another cage, but first, reintroduce them and see how they get on. It may be that the fight was a one-off and not a long-term issue that needs addressing.
For the most part, guinea pigs do not fight nor do they do this regularly. So if you were on the fence as to whether to get some because of this, you need not worry.
Can Guinea Pigs Live Together After A Fight?
Yes, guinea pigs can live together after a fight. However, it’s essential to monitor them closely, ensure ample space, and address underlying issues that caused the conflict. Reintroduction might be needed if separated after a severe altercation.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.