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Aggression Help! They were getting along so well, and suddenly they're turning on each other!


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Jun 20, 2012
I literally just adopted these sisters this afternoon. They are 3 months old, sisters from the same litter. They got along so well, and according to the shelter, they have never had problems with fighting. There's a lot of chattering, and then one kind of jumps on the other, and they kinda... I'm not quite sure how to describe it. I suppose a good way to say it is that one will sort of "jump" on the other, and kind of like in the cartoons, they spazz out and go around in circles around one another making terrible squeeking noises.

Wow, I really cannot seem to articulate this very well. I really can only think of it as how animals fight in cartoons. There hasn't been blood drawn, but I'm very confused as to why this is happening. As I said before, they were from the same litter and had no problems whilst living with their mum with the previous owner or when they were at the shelter.

In your opinions, do you think this is just a phase that will pass quickly, or do you think the change in surroundings has just completely upset them, and will have to be separated? I really do not want to separate them, as 1. My parents will throttle me, especially since I can only have one cage in my dorm and would have to leave one of the girls behind, and 2. I am hard pressed enough with space at home as it is, and I refuse to choose between one of them and sending one back to the shelter.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!!
How big is your cage? Sometimes pigs will fight if they aren't in a big enough cage.
It will probably take some time for them to adjust to their new surroundings, too.
It's 6 sq ft and I really cannot get or build anything bigger without some problems. Should I be worried enough about the severity of this kind of fighting to need to go and permanently separate them?
They sound as if they are just sorting out dominance, especially if it is simply mounting and teeth chattering. As long as no blood is drawn, there is no need to separate. Make sure you have two of everything (water, food, hay etc.). More space would be a good idea, and if you're in a tight spot, why not try making a second level? Also, make sure that your hideys have a two openings so they don't get pinned together in a scuffle.

You can read about relationships between piggies (And when separation may be necessary) here - Scroll down to the 'Introductions' section for dominance behaviors): Guinea Pigs Social Life
They sound as if they are just sorting out dominance, especially if it is simply mounting and teeth chattering

Is that what mounting looks like?! That makes me feel so much better, because I really was worried that that was what a "real" fight looked like!

I had to stay at home and keep them separated (again, because I thought they were FIGHTING, not just mounting) while my father ran out to buy a second sleep house. We also put in a temporary second food dish in there, until I can get out tomorrow and buy a second real food dish and second water bottle (although that seems to be the ONLY thing they aren't fighting over). Things seem to have settled down, though. I went for a walk with my mother a bit ago, and they were separated to their own huts. When I came back, they had switched houses, but when I went to check to make sure that one of them was alright since I couldn't see them, the other ran straight to the sisters house and started fighting again.

They seem ok as long as they have some space. I just feel terrible. I can't get a bigger cage at the moment, and this cage is definitely bigger than anything they've been in. Apparently they were kept in a tupperware container by the first owner, and they were in the 3 sq ft cage. Tomorrow morning my dads going to carve out a second exit in the houses (you'd think they'd sell houses already like that, yeah?).

But seriously, thank you so much!
You are very welcome. Don't actually separate them between cages, as any time they are re-introduced they go through the stress of sorting out dominance once more. Don't worry about the mounting, it's perfectly normal! One just says - hey, I'm the boss piggy! And they will do it from ANY angle! :D Even if you see a few nips taking some fur, it's okay. Full-on piggy battles are like a rolling mass of angry teeth and fur, with the intent to draw blood. It sounds like they'll work it out, just keep an eye out and check them regularly in the beginning to make sure no one is getting injured while you're not looking. Best of luck with your new babies!
Do your hideys have more than one entrance/exit?
My piggies are happily bonded, but when one blocks the other in a hidey they start mouthing eachother off. I always use hideys with more than one entrance/exit to keep the peace.
It sounds to me like they're just popcorning, which is perfectly normal and natural, and is a lot of fun to watch. Nothing you've said makes me think there's anything going on other than normal pig behavior, and nothing sounds like a fight. And at three months, with sisters who've been together since birth, you're not likely to have any sort of serious dominance working-out going on. You don't need to separate them.

You need a larger cage, but at three months of age, you've got a little while to get that sorted out. Take a look at the cages in the photo galleries, and you can get some good ideas on effective use of space.
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It sounds to me like they're just popcorning, which is perfectly normal and natural, and is a lot of to watch.

I thought this too at first! Thanks for pointing that out!

@KittyKrochet It's like a jumping, head-bucking motion where they run around and literally 'popcorn' in the air! If you see this, and some chasing, they're probably excited to be out of that small cage from before. More space seems to give them this boost of happiness (just imagine what they will do if you make it bigger...search the forum for 'zoomies'!)
I really don't think that's it. I had a guinea pig several years ago and her popcorning looked so much different. But maybe these girls are just...special? 0.o
Cupcake was actually just popcorning around. She stuck her head out, pop corned around, stuck her head in the sister's hut, popcorned around some more, then popcorned back to her hut.

Dot's staring out at her sister like she's fallen off an apple truck.

I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic!
They sound like they'll be fine. Loved the apple truck comment :D I have a boar that is basically in his 'teen' phase, and one that is just a baby. The older one, Hawkeye, rumblestruts absolutely everywhere, and the smaller, Radar, antagonizes him constantly. Radar will do what I call the 'mount-and-run', jumping on Hawkeye like he is trying to be the boss. Then Hawkeye will start rumbling, so Radar popcorns. Then Hawkeye forgets completely what he was doing and joins in the popcorns. They're so funny sometimes. Radar will even be a brat and push (keep in mind this is a little 300 gram piggie vs. a 680 gram one) Hawkeye right out of the pigloo! I have no idea why he puts up with it sometimes ;) It's like having a 16 year-old and a 5 year-old shrunken down and in a cage together.

Cupcake has probably started to settle in, and Dot may simply be the more cautious of the two. Wait and see - I'll bet the piggy hierarchy is in place and all will be well!
The sooner you get the cage enlarged the better.
They seem much better today! My dad just cut out extra exits in the houses and they were SO excited! Even Dot was sociable.
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