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Thread: Bullying behavior

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave
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    Bullying behavior

    Greetings.

    My fiancee and I were looking at getting a small pet for our new apartment. We've both had animals all our lives (dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles, fish, birds, etc) and went to a pet store with the intention of adopting a hamster. That all fell apart when we saw a Guinea pig hiding on a pet display. We decided to adopt Cookie right then and there (and have since found out that pet stores are not the best locations to acquire Guinea pigs). We decided to purchase a cage from the store (again, not the best place as we have learned since). The cage is 28.5" by 17.5" by 16.5". We knew the Guinea pig was a herd animal, so we decided to adopt another. The next day, we went to the pet store to adopt another Guinea pig. We saw a few that they had received that day and wouldn't be able to sell until Saturday, so we waited until then. We went back and adopted Coco, and purchased some hay, a few toys, a hay holder, and a bed.

    We set both of them in the same cage that Cookie has been using for the past four days. Since then, Cookie has become very aggressive. She has nipped at us, pushed the other pig around, refuses to let the other pig near us, and will not let the new Guinea pig eat nor drink. For example, we set both pigs on the bed on a blanket. We would each pet one guinea pig. As soon as Cookie noticed Coco was receiving any attention, she ran over, nipped her, and forced herself under the hand of whoever was petting Coco. She did it when we were both petting Coco, regardless of who was petting her. We thought this might have something to do with her perceiving the entire cage as her territory (and possibly us as well, hence the aggressive behavior when Coco receives attention), so we decided to completely clean the cage and rearrange it. We removed the old pine shavings and replaced them with hay. The bed and toys have been added. We moved the food bowl to the other side of the cage and did the same with the water bottle. Cookie is still aggressive. She will force the other pig under the bed and lay on top of it. She will pull hay from the pig's mouth, chew it in front of her, and spit it out.

    We've tried bribing them. We put food in a long tray to feed both the guinea pigs. Cookie ignored the tray and pulled the food that Coco had taken and ate a bit of it, ignoring the food we kept giving her. She would force Coco away from us to the edge of the bed. Whenever we say her name, she stops what she is doing and acts as though she were doing something else entirely. Is this normal behavior for a new guinea pig? We are worried because whenever we take Cookie out of the cage, Coco will drink and eat quite a bit, but she will not eat or drink when Cookie is near. Even bringing Cookie back into the room sends her under the bed to hide. Cookie will stop this behavior if we say her name, go near the cage, or mute the TV, as if she were trying to hide her behavior. Whenever we say her name, or go to the cage, she will run from wherever she is (even jumping from the second level) to get to her bed and look away from us. The only other time we have seen this behavior was in dogs that were caught knowingly misbehaving.

    On a side note, I know the cage is too small for both guinea pigs. It is too small for just one. We plan on building a cage out of either a bookshelf or TV stand. If we are unable to do that, I was thinking of buying a 2x4 or 2x5 C&C cage. I know more space is better, but the only place to put the 2x5 would be in the guest bedroom that we rarely use. We have them in our bedroom currently, which is where we spend the majority of the time when we are in the apartment. We know guinea pigs are social animals, which is why we leave the TV on when we leave. Is it better to have the 2x4 cage with more interaction rather than the 2x5 cage which would require them to be put in another room?

  2. #2
    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Bullying behavior

    The cage is too small for one pig, much less for two. Lack of space is the main reason for aggression. And "setting" a pig in a cage with another one is a recipe for disaster.

    You should separate them, and get a decent sized cage (see the Main tab at the top of this cage for size recommendations, and remember those are minimums -- more space is always better). Read http://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html before you put them together again.

    And here is some general information about guinea pigs in general:

    -- http://www.guinealynx.info/healthycavy.html
    -- http://www.guinealynx.info/emergency.html
    -- www.cavyspirit.com
    -- the stickies at the tops of the main forums here
    -- https://www.guineapigcages.com/forum...us-Plants-List for what you can feed and how often
    -- https://www.guineapigcages.com/forum...ur-guinea-pigs!

    You don't need to leave a TV on, but they'll be better off in the room with more people interaction than in an isolated room.

  3. #3
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Bullying behavior

    As stated, we're already looking for a larger cage.

    Regardless, even on our King sized bed, Cookie will still run up to Coco and push her around and away from any source of food and water. The original introductions were done on said bed, with a blanket neither had been on before. Cookie just cowered against one of us, as did Coco. But as soon as they were placed in the cage, Cookie immediately started being mean to Coco. She continues this behavior when placed on the bed or floor. Cookie will ignore anything we give her and take whatever Coco has, be it a toy, pellets, or hay. She guards the water as if she were trapped in the desert without a refill.

    It seems this issue, while complicated by a lack of space, is not caused just by a lack of space. They have done the same thing on the counter, the table, the bed, and the floor. It doesn't matter how much food or water is available, or who is giving Cookie attention, or how much space they have; she will do whatever she can to make sure Coco receives as little attention and resources as possible.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Bullying behavior

    Do you have multiple water bottles? Multiple food bowls? Pigs who are in the learning stages of living together need one each of everything in the cage.

    I doubt seriously that Cookie is vying for attention, but she probably is the dominant pig. Just make sure that Coco gets enough to eat, taking her out and placing her in a laundry basket if necessary. You may need to weigh her daily to make sure she's gaining steadily.

    But I still wouldn't put the two of them in that small cage. I'd wait until I had a decent sized cage, redo the introductions, and leave them alone unless there's bloodshed.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Bullying behavior

    We have two food dishes for them, in addition to the hay feeder. We had a water bottle and a water dish, but we removed the dish once we saw that Coco wasn't drinking it, but it was Cookie flipping it over.

    We've decided to build a 2x4 C&C cage, with a fleece liner and a shallow container for them to do their business in. We've also decided to invest in a second water bottle, more shelters for them to hide in, and another bed so they each have their own..

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    Re: Bullying behavior

    They really only need one shelter each, but each one should have two doors. There should never be a place in the cage where one pig can trap another. Most pigs love fleece forests -- they make great hideys. See the photo galleries for examples.

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