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Thread: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

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    Cavy Slave
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    Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Hello everyone,

    About a week and a half ago, I rescued a skinny pig as a companion for my other rescued skinny. We have been waiting a while for a rescue skinny to show up so we were so happy when our second rescue popped up at a solid, reputable rescue and she had been fully vetted. Anyway, in preparation for her arrival I rebuilt my entire cage with all new coroplast and added an additional loft. I also replaced all of the toys and thoroughly cleaned the water bottles and dishes. In total, my C&C cage is a 4x2 with one downstairs kitchen, a 2x1 upstairs kitchen, and a 3x1 upstairs room off the loft. When the girls first met, my girl Penelope was very interested in her but our new girl, Stella, was a bit of a bully. This was expected and I didn't interfere. Stella started a few minor scuffles but they were mutually ended very quickly. It didn't seem like they figured out who's boss, but they were doing fine together so I put them in the cage together after observing their introductions in a neutral space for about three hours. Things continued to go well but after a day they didn't even want to be near each other. Now, every day they are constantly bickering and teeth chattering at each other. Penelope has claimed upstairs and Stella downstairs. It honestly seems like they hate each other. If one comes into the other's claimed territory, they chase the other off angrily. They don't play, they can't even seem to be in the same space without being nasty to the other. Last night they wouldn't stop bickering and going into the other's space, seemingly goading the other and after several unsuccessful attempted lunges at the other, I needed to sleep so I blocked off the ramp that connects the top floor to the bottom. I know bickering for dominance is normal but this seems beyond that. I'm so frustrated. We worked so hard to find Penelope a friend from a GOOD rescue and I have no clue what to do now. Also, for reference, I haven't been interfering except for taking them out for floor time, lap time, and I did attempt a buddy bath which seemed to accomplish nothing. Does anyone have any advice? I'm at a loss. I've done so much research but I can't figure out what to do and I'm scared if this continues I'm going to have to return Stella to the rescue because I don't have space for two totally separate cages. 😔

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    In no particular order...

    -- Guinea pigs don't play with each other.

    -- They need a large area to run around in. Ramps to lofts and upstairs rooms are just invitations for one pig to block another. Is there anyway you can enlarge the downstairs area and get rid of the lofts, at least temporarily?

    -- I wouldn't take newly introduced pigs out of the cage for floor time. They need several days to adjust, maybe even a few weeks. The more they're moved around, the longer the adjustment will take.

    -- Do all hideys have at least two doors?

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    In no particular order...

    -- Guinea pigs don't play with each other.

    -- They need a large area to run around in. Ramps to lofts and upstairs rooms are just invitations for one pig to block another. Is there anyway you can enlarge the downstairs area and get rid of the lofts, at least temporarily?

    -- I wouldn't take newly introduced pigs out of the cage for floor time. They need several days to adjust, maybe even a few weeks. The more they're moved around, the longer the adjustment will take.

    -- Do all hideys have at least two doors?
    I misspoke. When I say play with each other, I mean interact with each other AT ALL outside of bickering. They are either fighting or ignoring each other. I can't expand the bottom... I thought 4x2 was a good size for two females? I will stop floor time for a while then, thank you. All of their hidey spots are similar to fleece forests, so they're totally open with no ability to block anyone inside.

    ....and while I was responding to this they got into a massive REAL fight. I got there too late and Penelope had gotten away, But Stella got her pretty good. Not sure if it's a scratch or bite but it's an open wound. No blood at least... So is this it? I've read that after bloodshed they need to be separated indefinitely. Is this true? I'm so devastated...

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    Moderator CavyMama's Avatar
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    4X2 is generally large enough for 2 females but it's meant as 4X2 on one level, rather than broken up with an upstairs/downstairs setup. They need the room to run laps.

    Also, how were introductions done? This can have a huge impact on guinea pigs tolerating each other.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Quote Originally Posted by CavyMama View Post
    4X2 is generally large enough for 2 females but it's meant as 4X2 on one level, rather than broken up with an upstairs/downstairs setup. They need the room to run laps.

    Also, how were introductions done? This can have a huge impact on guinea pigs tolerating each other.
    It's not broken up. It's a full 4x2 downstairs AND a loft kitchen (2x1) and a loft bedroom (3x1).

    Introductions we're done in a neutral space no piggy had ever been in (our bedroom). I set up a brand new wire pen with potty pads on the ground and just sat nearby and watched them interact. I let them do their thing for three hours before intervening at all. And that was just to put them in their cage. Then I continued to leave them be for the next two days.

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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Well, I spoke to the rescue owner and told her what was going on. She said I could return Stella, but I honestly don't have the heart to. She also said I could expand and separate the cage so they can see each other and interact, but cannot hurt each other. So that's what I did! The rescue owner said they still get all the same herd benefits even if they can't access each other. They have been squabbling at each other between the grids all day, but at least they can't hurt each other. Here's hoping maybe one day they will be able to tolerate each other more.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    How did you end up expanding the cage? I would guess all the fights were from the small 1x2, 1x3 areas. My piggies co exist semi peacefully. If I had any areas the were only one grid wide I think they would fight too.

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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Quote Originally Posted by wheekermommy View Post
    How did you end up expanding the cage? I would guess all the fights were from the small 1x2, 1x3 areas. My piggies co exist semi peacefully. If I had any areas the were only one grid wide I think they would fight too.
    There was actually zero issues in those areas until Stella claimed the bottom as hers and wouldn't let Penelope down there anymore. Penelope then retaliated by not allowing Stella upstairs anymore either. But before Stella did that they had no problems upstairs. It was downstairs that all the issues were happening because it seemed Stella didn't want Penelope anywhere near her. That got worse and worse until Stella finally decided Penelope wasn't allowed downstairs AT ALL.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    Ramps are just invitations for aggressive behavior. I've always taken all the ramps out of the cage when putting in a new pig. I add the ramps back after they're obviously getting along very well. If they're not, the ramps stay out.

    They might get along just fine if you put them in a large flat area with a few things draped across the cage to break up the lines of sight.

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    Re: Cagemate Woes - Need Advice for Constantly Bickering Piggies

    That may be something I try in the future. For now, they will stay separated. Penelope is still off from their nasty fight. Far more skittish than usual and I don't think it's a good idea to allow direct contact anytime soon. But it definitely may be something we try in the future.

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