If you are looking at getting a pair of 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? I spent some time researching the general behavior of guinea pigs when kept in larger groups and will be sharing all that I found here today.
So, do guinea pigs fight with each other? Guinea pigs generally get along well with one another, and do not tend to fight. They are naturally very social animals and live in big groups in the wild known as herds. However, every guinea pig is different and you need to be particularly careful when housing two males or more together. There can be a battle for dominance, whereby each guinea pig tries to claim the power in the hierarchy. This has been known to cause fighting in some instances. Therefore, before deciding to leave guinea pigs together in a cage, it is best to introduce them to ensure they get along.
Keeping guinea pigs together is generally 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.
Let us now take a closer look at this topic.
- 1 What Does Guinea Pig Fighting Look Like?
- 2 Why Guinea Pigs May Fight
- 3 Can Fights Be Dangerous To Guinea Pigs?
- 4 How To Handle Fights Between Guinea Pigs
- 5 How To Prevent Fighting Between Your Guinea Pigs
- 6 In Summary
What Does Guinea Pig Fighting Look Like?
First of all guinea pigs are animals and its important to recognize that they have a different behavior than to us humans. So what you might think is ‘fighting’ might actually not be a bad thing.
Guinea pigs are known to chase each other around, chatter their teeth at one another or even lightly bite one another and they can still get along just fine.
Sometimes a guinea pig may be sitting too close to another, or your Guinea Pigs may need to to establish a new order in the group. This is normal and not something you need to worry about.
If there is no blood then its not necessary to separate them long term. Sometimes guinea pigs also chase whereas others may screen loudly.
But if this only happens infrequently and it stops soon after starting, again its nothing to worry about.
However if you see that one guinea pig is being picked on (they are losing weight) or if they have blood/cuts/wounds on the neck or body, then you can be sure they are fighting and should take the appropriate steps to stop it continuing.
Why Guinea Pigs May Fight
For the most part, fighting between guinea pigs is a rare occurrence. It does not happen often nor is it something to be largely concerned about.
Many owners will never experience this from happening, nor will even be aware that it is a possibility.
It is important to note the following distinction here. Male guinea pigs are far more likely to fight each other, particularly when they are together and housed in close proximity.
Female guinea pigs on the other hand, are more passive. While they can also show signs of aggression (mainly whilst pregnant) they are far less likely to fight with others (whether that be male or female).
So, why would a guinea pig want to fight with one another?
There are actually multiple reasons for this.
Firstly, fighting can occur between males to turn the head of a female and to get their attention. Just like other species in the animal kingdom, guinea pigs are not immune to the power of natural selection and inciting a mate.
This is the main reason why it is not advised to house two male guinea pigs with one female in the same cage.
A second reason why guinea pigs may fight is around dominance and hierarchy. guinea pigs can try to establish superiority, and if this does not happen naturally, a guinea pig may take it upon themselves to try and form this manually.
So, even if you two male guinea pig without a female, fighting can still occur.
Lastly, food can be a reason for fighting. If food is scarce, guinea pigs may fight as a way to claim the remaining food that is available.
It is therefore imperative you ensure there is enough food for your guinea pigs at all times, and they have multiple bowls to feed from. You do not want your guinea pigs needing to feed from the same ones.
Can Fights Be Dangerous To Guinea Pigs?
The majority of the time, if a fight was to break out between your guinea pigs, it would not escalate to the point of danger.
Overall, fights tend to be short because one will soon back down to the more dominant one.
Instead, you’ll likely see initial signs of aggression (like teeth baring) before a short period of circling and swift movements toward one another.
However, if neither guinea pig backs down, you may get a standoff and they may even proceed to biting one another.
Here one guinea pig may even try to jump onto the other to pin them down. Bites can be severe, and lead to gashes and bruises to the receiving Guinea Pig.
This obviously can lead to infection, so you need to monitor for any open wounds due to fighting and you will need to separate them from one another.
Its also good to take your guinea pig to a vet to ensure that the wound is treated and heals in good time without infection.
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 its 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 a 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 have sustained any serious injuries.
If so you’ll need to consult your Vet whom will have the knowledge and expertise to help support the recovery.
Its 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 the 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 its best to establish an environment upfront where chances of fighting is 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 get 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 have enough space. If you have multiple, then you are going to need to get a cage that caters for 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 important 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.
The Niteangel Hideaway on Amazon is great because it comes with a load of toys too!
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.