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Thread: Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

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    Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

    So I had 2 1.5 year old piggies, one (Lottie) very very suddenly passed away on the 5th of July. The other (Dot, the dominant of the two) I ended up taking for an emergency visit two days after Lottie passed for some similar symptoms we had missed with Lottie, and Dot was put on some anti-biotics. I planned to get her a new friend a week after she was done with her meds as our vet said Lottie's sickness was most likely induced by stress, so I didn't want to stress Dot out any more. Well, she quickly developed depression from suddenly being alone and dropped 50g in two days, so we adopted Oreo, a little 1 year old piggy who had been living on her own for at least 6 weeks (I do not know her situation beyond this, as the woman I adopted her from only had her for 6 weeks.)

    I put Oreo in a 2x3 C&C cage next to my main 2x6 cage that Dot was in, and they shared a long wall. The MINUTE Dot saw Oreo she got excited and chomped at the bars a bit before FINALLY eating all her veggies. I got Oreo a vet appointment for a week later to confirm she was female and was healthy (she had a little sneeze but the vet assured me it's because she has a shorter nose, but gave me anti-biotics just in case she developed something from being rehomed.)

    They've done great being neighbors, and twice now when I've cleaned their cages and had to put them in a divided temporary cage they have been fine. In the temporary cage there is no 6" liner wall so they have full access to viewing each other, and Oreo liked to push the divider to try and get in. Dot rumbled a little, but I expected this because she rumbled at Lottie quite a bit and was the dominant one.

    Today I tried for the first time putting them in the same space. I bought 2 new wide hay tunnels and then them in a neutral area in a 4x4 C&C cage with some fleece, the tunnels, two piles of hay, and two piles of veggies. I tried to keep everything spread out so they didn't have to be right next to each other.

    Everything STARTED fine for about 5 minutes, then they were a ferocious ball of fur and I used oven mitts to quickly separate them and looked for wounds. I didn't see any, and I feel like I SHOULDN'T have separated them because it was literally silent from both of them during that. But after that I put them back together and Dot chased Oreo a little, ripped some hind fur out, still no sounds of pain, but AFTER that, Oreo buried her face in a pile of hay and started wheeking really loud. It sounded like she does when I open the fridge, except her head was under the hay.

    For about an hour and a half after that Oreo was just TERRIFIED of Dot, and Dot wasn't doing anything I hadn't seen her do with Lottie: Lots of chasing, pulling small bits of hair out of her, and teeth chattering. Oreo just laid down and wheeked a lot, or ran away screaming. I'm really really afraid of stressing them out unnecessarily or causing one of them to get sick from the stress, and I don't know if I should try again. I'm also worried if I put them in separate cages to sleep, will that ruin any dominance they've worked on? There has been no wounds, no blood drawn, just a lot of tufts of fur and chasing. SOME little scuffles, but after the first big one that hasn't really happened. But I have one very terrified little piggy.

    Should I keep trying in a few days to give them time to calm down? Am I doing something wrong? Am I giving them too much space in the neutral area?

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    Re: Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

    I would give them a few days to settle down. No blood was drawn and that is good.

    I would recommend reading and following this guideline TO THE LETTER in order to have the best chance at a successful introduction.

    https://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html

    I have done a few introductions, and used this guide successfully each time. There are no guarantees, but doing it this way is your best bet.

    Edited by bpatters: That excellent article has been preserved and updated over at GuineaLynx. See http://www.guinealynx.info/introductions.html
    Last edited by bpatters; 07-25-21 at 05:15 pm.

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    Re: Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

    Thank you for that resource! So I followed that to the letter today, I washed the fleece in a vinegar solution twice, and while they were in the neutral area I cleaned down the main cage with a vinegar solution.

    While they were in the neutral area, things seemed to go a little better with no hideys or tunnels, but when Oreo (submissive) stopped fleeing Dot (dominant), Dot started just ripping out Oreo's fur. Usually for about 10-15 seconds before Oreo would run away. But other than that they seemed to be doing okay. Both kind of lost interest in each other for the most part and ate hay and veggies before laying down on opposite sides of the area. I left them in there (supervised) for about 4 hours and other than the hair pulling it seemed fine.

    So I put them both in the main cage, Dot chased Oreo around for a bit until Oreo hid in the hay tray and has really only left that when Dot chases her out and pulls her hair. After about 4 hours in the cage together with only maybe 3-4 chases, I pulled Oreo out to check for any wounds (I left them at one point to shower) and noticed Oreo has all these long, thin scratches on her hind end. I don't know if they're old, some aren't bleeding, but some definitely are a little pink and raw looking. Is this from the hair pulling or is Dot getting too close with her teeth maybe? How do I get Dot to settle down and stop pulling her fur? Is this something that will stop over the next few days?

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    Re: Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

    As long as there is no bloodshed, leave them together. They have to sort out who is the boss and that will take some time. It sounds to me like a typical introduction. Once they've sorted things out they will settle down.

    Sometimes introductions go so easily it's amazing. I have been blessed with those. Others go a little more harshly and require more time. Either way it's normal.

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    Re: Not sure if this is a failed bonding or if I should keep trying?

    Also, some pigs are just barbers. Not much to be done about them.

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