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View Full Version : I've Had My Two Boars for Nearly a Week and I'm Already Stressing



BiloxiPigPapa
03-19-15, 10:14 am
I should say, I am a bit of a worrier and I tend to jump into things with both feet. BUT, I had gerbils growing up and always thought about guinea pigs, so last weekend my wife and I took the plunge and bought Petey and Oscar.

Petey is an orange Abyssinian (sp?) and Oscar is a brown, black and white short-hair. They are both boys according to the vet I just took them to, and she said they're each about 3 months old. We got them from Petsmart... they were in the same cage there and the girl said that meant they should be from the same litter.

We brought Petey home last Friday and got Oscar the following day. That Saturday night, we introduced them to each other in their cage--a starter kit rabbit hutch from Petsmart like this one: http://www.petsmart.com/small-pet/cages-habitats-hutches/all-living-things-rabbit-starter-kit-zid36-20365/cat-36-catid-600011?var_id=36-20365&_t=pfm%3Dcategory

Now, I know that was too small for two boys, and there has been some jockeying for dominance. Lots of rumbling (mainly by Oscar) and some chasing, mounting, sniffing chin, sniffing butt, etc. I was stressed that they couldn't live together, so I built them a 2x4 C&C cage Monday night to give them more space. I put two Oxbow Timothy tunnels in there so each of them had a hidey if they needed one (I was told hideys with only one entrance can lead to bickering, and two entrances was better because it provides an escape route). There's a single wooden hay rack, two food bowls, two water bottles (Oscar looked like he was bullying Petey away from the bottle a little bit when we just had one), and a Nat Geo wooden log tunnel thing for them to run through. The coroplast box has puppy pads inside and the fleece is laid on top of them. I thought this could be a good absorbent solution. I put some paper bedding down in one corner for a bathroom area, and it gets used a bit. They seem to still poop a lot around/in their hideys though.

Here's a picture:

http://imgur.com/U2GuRtL

I built it Monday night and put them in. I have yet to wash the fleece since pre-treating it Monday (I washed it twice on gentle with the free and clear detergent, cold water). How often should I wash it? Should I wait til tomorrow? There's a couple of dark patches on parts of the fleece already where the hay has gone. I pick up their poops as religiously as I can, sometimes twice a day if I'm able.

Petey and Oscar don't seem to get into it quite as often now that they have the bigger space, but Oscar still gets bossy sometimes and rumbles or even nips at Petey if Petey is invading his personal space. I'm hoping this ends too, but who knows? I haven't seen any blood on either of them, so I don't think things are too bad. Petey is the more submissive one generally, and when I got Petey out of the cage, Oscar was running around wheeking louder like he was looking for him... so maybe there's hope!

Anyway, sorry for the long post. I want these little guys to be happy and healthy, and I'm almost losing sleep over trying to figure out the right way to do things. I haven't given them as much veggies as I should and I know that, but I did buy a bunch and I'm gonna do a much better job of making time to hand them lettuce, carrots, etc. I have a medical concern for Petey, but I'll post it in the proper thread.

Thanks for having such a great board for a nervous newbie like me!

pinky
03-19-15, 10:18 am
Sounds like you're doing a great job, BiloxiPigPapa! Welcome to the site. This is the best place to come for good information.

pinky
03-19-15, 10:20 am
Nice cage! You might want to add a tray under the hay rack to keep it off the fleece. It's really hard to get the hay off.

bpatters
03-19-15, 10:21 am
Breathe. Relax. You're doing fine.

They'll rumble, mount, squabble, whatever, for years to come. It's the normal way of things, and you should let them alone unless serious blood is drawn. Throw a couple of small stuffed animals in, and maybe they'll take out some of the amorous longings on those instead of each other. If you despair of their ever living together, look up the "Boars Behaving Badly" threads over at the Guinea Lynx forums.

Wash the fleece in hot water, with strong detergent and bleach. You can't hurt the stuff. Wash it when it needs it -- some days that'll be the same day, other times it will go for several days, depending on whether your pigs use the kitchen area as their potty.

Make a couple of small fleece pads (towel or mattress pad underneath the fleece) and put in the tunnels. It will keep the bottom of the tunnels from getting so gross.

Mine get fed when we do. It's just easier to fix their stuff when I'm standing there fixing a meal, and it keeps me from forgetting them. Not that they'd let me do that, anyway, as they're very skilled in wheeker use.

ciaraelise
03-19-15, 11:32 am
Almost all of us had a tough start with our piggies!!

My little Chester was bought from PetSmart and he had a bad URI that I was fortunate to catch early and treat. I had piggies growing up but my parents were the ones who dealt with the finer details. When I brought Chester home I got a starter home that was less than 2x1 ft. The store workers made it seem like the Kaytee pellets and a veggie here and there would suffice for food. Completely left out hay!

You seem like you are doing right by your new babies, and this is definitely the best place to voice concerns. Every time I've had an issue the administrators and members have always had great advice :o

A few things that helped me a lot when I first got chester is getting the right pellets. I buy Oxbow but KMS is even better! I also drive a half hour into 'country' town next to my suburb to get fresh hay. Green lush hay makes a world of difference, chester wouldn't touch the yellow brittle stuff and it made him cough and sneeze so badly I thought he had caught another URI.
Speaking of URIs keep and eye on them since you got them from a petstore. Pet stores get their piggies from a warehouse breeding facility almost all of the time. The animals are kept in horrendous conditions and are often very sick once they get to the store. And if they are healthy boys before the get to the store, they aren't always given the best living conditions there either. If you babes have sniffly noses or are coughing or seem to have a 'cold' take them to an exotic vet asap. upper respiratory infections turn deadly pretty darn quick. There are a BUNCH of threads on them too!

The only thing I could possibly add to how wonderfully you are taking care of them is possibly separate the water bottles more? Sometimes the pigs will bully each other over food, water, hideys, etc. I just adopted two more pigs from a craigslist rehoming ad last night and after introductions went well I popped them in their cage and created two different 'kitchen' areas as the dominant pig kept asserting himself on his brother when they were too close and one was eating/drinking.

And like @pinky (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=15081) said, hay and wood shaving can be hard to get off the fleece. I don't have any trays for the kitchens either and I'm definitely getting annoyed with how hard it can be to swept off. The dollar store sells little cubbys for kids schooling and they work great for kitchens or potties in cages.

Good luck with your new pig family! I hope this wasn't too long or tedious to read, just thought I'd share my experience with you since I've been right where are you are!! :D

Kelsie
03-19-15, 11:44 am
Welcome to the forum. You've made them a nice cage. There is only one thing that I might suggest you add and that is a Fleece Forest. It gives them a nice place for a sense of security. My young pigs just love to run through the fleece forest while they are doing zoomies. My older pigs, who live in a different cage, just love to go into them to sleep during the day.

You are doing a great job with your new piggies. Oscar and Petey are very lucky to have joined your family.

BiloxiPigPapa
03-19-15, 01:43 pm
Almost all of us had a tough start with our piggies!!

My little Chester was bought from PetSmart and he had a bad URI that I was fortunate to catch early and treat. I had piggies growing up but my parents were the ones who dealt with the finer details. When I brought Chester home I got a starter home that was less than 2x1 ft. The store workers made it seem like the Kaytee pellets and a veggie here and there would suffice for food. Completely left out hay!

You seem like you are doing right by your new babies, and this is definitely the best place to voice concerns. Every time I've had an issue the administrators and members have always had great advice :o

A few things that helped me a lot when I first got chester is getting the right pellets. I buy Oxbow but KMS is even better! I also drive a half hour into 'country' town next to my suburb to get fresh hay. Green lush hay makes a world of difference, chester wouldn't touch the yellow brittle stuff and it made him cough and sneeze so badly I thought he had caught another URI.
Speaking of URIs keep and eye on them since you got them from a petstore. Pet stores get their piggies from a warehouse breeding facility almost all of the time. The animals are kept in horrendous conditions and are often very sick once they get to the store. And if they are healthy boys before the get to the store, they aren't always given the best living conditions there either. If you babes have sniffly noses or are coughing or seem to have a 'cold' take them to an exotic vet asap. upper respiratory infections turn deadly pretty darn quick. There are a BUNCH of threads on them too!

The only thing I could possibly add to how wonderfully you are taking care of them is possibly separate the water bottles more? Sometimes the pigs will bully each other over food, water, hideys, etc. I just adopted two more pigs from a craigslist rehoming ad last night and after introductions went well I popped them in their cage and created two different 'kitchen' areas as the dominant pig kept asserting himself on his brother when they were too close and one was eating/drinking.

And like @pinky (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=15081) said, hay and wood shaving can be hard to get off the fleece. I don't have any trays for the kitchens either and I'm definitely getting annoyed with how hard it can be to swept off. The dollar store sells little cubbys for kids schooling and they work great for kitchens or potties in cages.

Good luck with your new pig family! I hope this wasn't too long or tedious to read, just thought I'd share my experience with you since I've been right where are you are!! :D

Funny you should say that. When we got Petey from Petsmart, I asked the girl helping us how old she thought they were. She said, "I think a year." The vet we took them to the day before yesterday seemed shocked by that and said she breeds guineas herself and didn't think Oscar and Petey were much older than 3 months!

She did confirm both are boys, though. My other main worry was the sales girl not knowing for sure if they both really were males.

But the vet said if Oscar continues bullying Petey from time to time, we might consider neutering him because "he's a well endowed little boy" and doing so might help curtail some of the aggression. Petey will occasionally try to mount Oscar still, but Oscar seems to be the mostly dominant one.

And yeah, my biggest annoyance has been the fact that the hay is getting rubbed into a dark spot on the fleece by piggie trampling and maybe some pee. I might need to look into some trays to go under the hay rack. Should I buy a separate hay rack as well?

Thanks so much for the replies, folks!

ciaraelise
03-19-15, 02:10 pm
Oh man, pet stores man. Hahaha I definitely learned my lesson with pet stores. I'm glad you took them to the vet though!! That was very smart of you!!



But the vet said if Oscar continues bullying Petey from time to time, we might consider neutering him because "he's a well endowed little boy" and doing so might help curtail some of the aggression.

. . .


Should I buy a separate hay rack as well?


But it's weird the vet said to possibly neuter. Guinea pigs' personalities are not alters after being fixed- that goes for boys and girls. The boys I brought home yesterday are still working out there differences too. But as far as I can tell it's been a super mild meeting and cage experience with them. I definitely recommend reading this http://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html and http://www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm#Introductions and search around this site too! http://www.guinealynx.info/index.html

Obviously your introductions are done but the behavior can last for a while. be sure to not interfere with them. It's hard for me to not jump in and 'help' them work it out. and I'm sure it's going to be even worst when I introduce the new boys to my precious little chester boy (he holds such a special place in my heart).

Piggies don't do so well going under so if you do decided to fix one or both, be certain to do lots and lots of research on not just the actual procedure but on all of the vets in your area and pick the very best and most qualified one. It's not a bad decision to neuter but it won't effect his personality and being a very dominant pig. My submissive pig is very well endowed and the dominant pig is much smaller 'down there' I actually had a little trouble sexing him myself because i couldn't see his testies.

I'd back check the validity of you vet with exotic animals. Small animal vets see dogs and cat instead of large animals like horses and cattle. Guinea pigs are seen by exotic animal vets :)

And if the aggression doesn't subside I'd recommend expanding the cage another grid. while preparing for my trio of boys I have read tons of stories about boars living together. Many of the testimonials described one pig as very aggressive and borderline bully or having two dominant pigs constantly fighting. There has been tons of success with doing a one grid expansion.

The only other thing that i can think of that would be helpful to you is that boy piggies go through a pretty rough puberty stage. My Chester is going through puberty now and I can definitely tell even though he is by himself in the cage. I plan on introducing him to the new boys after quarantine but if they go poorly and it doesn't work first time around my plan b will be waiting until Chester is done with puberty. There are tons of threads on that too so if you think if could be related to the age and immaturity of your piggies i'd go read up on that too!!!


personally I'd get another hey rack, just for safe measure. I took the hay rack out of Chesters cage because I thought he didn't like it(turns out he just didn't like the hay I bought him :confused:) but i used a bent grid and it work really really well and it's larger than the store bought ones. When I have all three piggies together I plan on having three separate kitchens. Three bowls, three hay racks/stacks, three (or four because I have four already) water bottles. It's usually safe to assume each pig needs his own things. again there are posts dedicated to that so I don't want to beat a dead horse :)

PeanutnCookie
03-19-15, 02:33 pm
Most of the time, pet stores are WAY off on just about everything. The babies can be taken from mom at about a month, so if you get one from a petstore, they probably won't be much older than that. I got (one of) mine from a pet store, but the guess was closer to the actual age. He guessed 4 months and my (other) four month old (different pig) is about as big as the first pig was.

If they are both the same sex, i wouldn't fix/neuter them because it actually can go bad pretty easily. It is harder to give surgery to smaller animals, and it is harder for them to come back from it. (recover)

All pigs will chase and mount. it is their way of showing who is boss, so you only need to worry if there is blood.

Like others have said, I would put a kitchen area so it is easier to clean up poop. In my c&c cage, I have a loft that I use as a kitchen, and there is a water bottle and hay up there, but I have the pellets in the bottom. Most of the poop is in the top, and I just clean it out every other day. I put a towel instead of fleece in the top because it is easier to clean out.

AnnikasMommy
03-19-15, 02:34 pm
Ha ha ha got to love pet stores... :) Anyway, welcome to the forum. I too am a newbie to all this and this site is awesome! They are always really great about answering any questions and concerns. Enjoy and don't stress. :)

bpatters
03-19-15, 02:37 pm
Neutering will not help with aggression or mounting, at least for a long time. Some people have thought that their older pigs might have been helped a little, but it's not enough to put the pig through the risk of surgery. And your vet isn't a competent guinea pig vet unless she knows that. I'd look for another.

spy9doc
03-19-15, 02:54 pm
Here we go again.....people, you are not considering basic biology! Testosterone is the hormone that fuels aggression. When you remove the source of testosterone (as in a neuter), the aggression will be reduced. This applies whether it is cavies or human men. No, neutering will not alter a cavy's personality.....it just reduces aggression.......and the ability to procreate. If you doubt this, ask any cavy savvy vet. Don't depend on what you read online.

It is certainly not unreasonable for a vet to suggest that having one or both neutered. I originally had two young boars (this time around) and one of them was so overwhelming aggressive and dominant that I had him neutered. It turned out to be a good move.

Yes, they will still mount each other and need to work out dominance issues if they are in puberty. If you should decide to go the surgery route, then absolutely be sure that your vet is experienced with piggy neuters. Don't just accept that they do neuters.......ask how many cavy netuers they have done. I'm fortunate to have more than one very experienced cavy vet in my area and both my boys did very well after the surgery. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

BiloxiPigPapa
03-19-15, 02:56 pm
I'm leaning toward not neutering right now. And if we did consider it, it would be longer than another couple of weeks like she first mentioned. She did mention there's definitely risks involved in putting them under and operating because they're so small, so it's something we'd really have to think about because there's a risk.

Otherwise, she seemed pretty competent. And the other vet that's there is technically their exotics person but he was out sick. It made me feel good that there were two vets there who seemingly are familiar with guinea pigs. Other than that, the closest exotics person is about 2 hours west of me near New Orleans.

PeanutnCookie
03-19-15, 03:08 pm
spy9doc I don't know if you were talking to me or not, but I didn't say that it wouldn't help. It is dangerous though, and there can be side effects and infections that could happen if the neuter itself went well. (one of) The main problem(s) is the anesthesia might actually kill the guinea pig. Of course, a lot of pigs make it, like yours, but the whole process might only cause unnecessary stress for both guinea pigs. There are pros and cons for neutering and not neutering, and we are just making sure that the person knows both before going through with this.

spy9doc
03-19-15, 05:15 pm
@spy9doc (http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/member.php?u=19714) I don't know if you were talking to me or not,

Nope, not directed specifically at you. It's just that we have had this same discussion many times here on the Forum and it keeps coming up. I don't claim to be the authority on cavies, but when people seemingly ignore the basic laws of biology, then I have to speak up.

I agree that there are always risks with any surgery......that's why we insist that people seek out a very experienced Vet.

Just to relate a conversation I had with my respected Vet who said, "yes, neutering will reduce a boar's aggression toward other guinea pigs, but not toward humans". I thought that was fascinating!

bpatters
03-19-15, 05:41 pm
Spy9doc, while I agree with you about the biology of the whole business, there is a ton of anecdotal evidence among reputable GP owners and rescuers that neutering boars does very little, if anything, to reduce their mounting and dominance behavior. I think that's because, unlike with dogs, for example, the behavior is both sex AND dominance, and while it may diminish somewhat, it's not nearly as drastic as with other species. It may reduce the aggression on the part of the offending pig, but the other pig is not likely to understand the difference, and there will be nearly as many squabbles as before if the submissive pig doesn't like what's going on.

So I think the truth is somewhere in between. You don't get the benefits from neutering that you do in other species, but there is some reduction in unwanted behavior.

That's just my $.02, of course, but it seems to cover all the bases as I see them.

AnnikasMommy
03-19-15, 08:56 pm
I personally since you properly had them sexed would not neuter. From what my vet said it's not like with canines where they are at risk for ovarian cancer or stuff like that. They are so tiny and the risk to me is too great. Jmho

spy9doc
03-20-15, 07:24 am
So I think the truth is somewhere in between. You don't get the benefits from neutering that you do in other species, but there is some reduction in unwanted behavior.

Very thoughtful reply.......thank you!

From my perspective, there are very few absolutes in medicine and I'm inclined to speak up when people present an argument or opinion as an absolute truth. I've done a good deal of dissection in my career and I'm always amazed when I find organs that are not in the "right" place, or extra or missing body parts. But, there are certain aspects of basic biology that DO hold true.....most of the time.....but there are few absolutes.

One aspect of the whole neutering debate is whether or not it makes a difference if the boar is neutered very young or as an older pig? If he is neutered quite young, then does he really have little memory of using his penis for anything other than a waterspout? I suspect that he grows up with no desire and any mounting behavior will be motivated by dominance. What do you think?

My Chester was neutered quite young and is absolutely mystified when Maya goes into heat and relentlessly pursues him around the cage and often mounts him. When she first came to live with us, her first heat cycle was something to behold. They were both exhausted after several hours of this behavior. Because she was new to him, he was inclined to interpret it as a play for dominance, but seemed to soon realize that it was different. He now turns around as if to laugh at her and will sometimes seem to tease her. She doesn't seem to have predictable cycles and this frequent behavior encourages the old boy to run around the cage and engage in play. It's actually quite cute to watch.

BiloxiPigPapa
03-20-15, 10:33 am
Thanks for the interesting input! Like I said, I'm not really leaning toward neutering because I don't consider Oscar's occasional nips at Petey as anything TOO aggressive. Petey seems to be the "Hey! Hey! What's up? Wanna go over here? Come with me!" type and Oscar just doesn't have the patience for it sometimes. My wife and I find it kind of ironic we decided to name him Oscar before we found out he can be a bit of a grouch. The vet also told us that sometimes neutering might not solve the issues because if the dominance issues or aggression continue for a while, it can become a learned behavior that might not be affected by removal of hormones.

Last night was a nice breakthrough, though: got home and busted out a 46" play pen I got from Petsmart. Put some fleece on the carpet inside the pen and put both piggies inside for some free run time. Put a few new toys in there, specifically a long, blue plastic bendy tunnel and a willow hidey tunnel thing. Oscar couldn't get enough of the blue tunnel. He was sprinting around in circles, popcorning and bolting through the tunnel and back out again. It was amazing. Petey might be coming down with something, so he wasn't quite as energetic, but he did seem to enjoy the tunnel as well. Both got to have some lettuce and strawberries--I'm slowly getting better at the veggies thing--and Petey really loved chewing on the willow tunnel.

When I had Petey out of the cage first, it seemed like Oscar was sniffing around looking for him. He began wheeking loudly, and it really seemed like he was calling out for him. That felt encouraging.

ThePigAlchemist
03-20-15, 10:51 am
Dominance behavior is part of having pigs. My two bug each other every once in a while, and they'll nip at each other or have brief face-offs before backing down. It's not always fun to watch, but it's natural behavior and if they're not hurting each other, it's not a problem.

PeanutnCookie
03-20-15, 11:07 am
A lot of people seem to be noticing that their pigs wheek for each other when one gets taken out. That's great! :) Unfortunately, my pigs couldn't care less if the other is gone. They are such weirdos. :p