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Bonding Introductions/Future advice


Cavy Slave
Feb 8, 2019
Hi, my name is Ethan, and I live with my girlfriend Sam and our two beautiful piggies Quincy and James! I'm new to the forum and relatively new to owning guineas, but Sam and I love it and them so much!!

Unfortunately, to this day, I've found myself regretting some of the decisions we made early on, and I wonder that if we had done things properly, whether Quincy and James would have a better relationship. Some of the mistakes we made at the beginning really make me feel guilty that we could have done better by our guineas. Besides introducing our family, I also want to give a history since we've gotten them so that you guys could offer us some future advice.

First, I have some fessing up to do. As Sam and I are both spontaneous people, about 6 months ago, we one day randomly decided to purchase a guinea. With hardly any research, we headed to Petco, bought a Midwest cage and all the other items we needed, set them up, and then headed back and got Quincy. I immediately started to do more research every day, and it quickly became apparent that a solo guinea was a big no-no. So a few days later, we headed back to Petco, bought all new items so the new one would have his own stuff, and bought James.

This is the point where I really wish we had done more research and done introductions the proper way that I've read about since. Stupidly, we just stuck James in the cage and let them meet immediately in their shared home. For reference, Quincy is a big guy, and James is a much smaller and we think younger guinea. Unfortunately, we don't know their exact ages, so it is really only a guess. On the bright side, there has never been an actual fight, but I have never felt confident that Quincy and James even like each other, let alone are friends.

To give a brief recap of the time since then, at first, what we expected to happen occurred. Quincy seemed to be the dominant one, but soon after James settled in, he was always trying to mount Quincy and they would chatter and chase each other around. We also made another novice mistake in not having hideys with two exits. Eventually one day, they came the closest they ever did to a fight, and both seemed very agitated. Sam and I decided to separate them temporarily, as we had now become more familiar with how we were supposed to help the two of them. However, with each day, we couldn't stand how little space each of them had, and they would each be chewing a little at the bars. We had them meet in neutral ground and everything seemed back to normal, so we decided to put them back together. Since then, it has been about 3 months, and as I said, both Quincy and James don't seem to be friends, and mostly spend their time away from each other.

Also since that time, Sam and I have really dedicated ourselves to saving money so that we could get them the home they deserve. We read that the Midwest cage itself wasn't actually 8 square feet, and we really just wanted them to have way more space than that anyway. Since we are both very busy and because everything is so great on the guinea pig cages store, we made a dream list of items and worked towards saving what we needed. As of two weeks ago, we reached our goal!!! Just a few days ago, and with what I realize was a huge amount of overkill, we got the 2x6 jumbo cage with the 2x2 loft with double ramps. It is really amazing and like a mansion for Quincy and James. I also cannot overstate how happy we are with the quality of everything we got. Both Quincy and James seem to love the new place and they have already started to use the ramps!

I'm really sorry for the length of this post, and what I'm sure is mostly unnecessary information. I just wanted to give a complete picture of the history, the mistakes we made, and hopefully to make it clear that despite what was an uninformed start, that we are really committed and love our boys!

Mostly, it makes me sad that Quincy and James don't have a better relationship. I'd love any advice anyone could give as to how we could help them to bond more. Needless to say, we are pretty short on money now, but now that we have so much space, I've thought about maybe getting more boys one day. I've read enough to know that having 3 sounds like a bad idea, but I have wondered that since Quincy and James don't seem to have a great relationship, maybe introducing just one guinea might help them to make new relationships and be more social. We also still have the Midwest cage so we could do proper introductions and do everything right this time.

Along those lines, I've also wondered whether it would help to separate Quincy and James temporarily, so that we can hopefully do a sort of 'soft reset' on their relationship. Could this help, and would it even make a difference after they've spent so much in the same home?

Sam and I really, really appreciate you reading all of this and any advice you might be able to give. I know we made mistakes throughout this process, so hopefully we won't get too much grief from anyone. We already feel very guilty that we didn't begin this process with the same dedication we have now. Please ask me any questions that you may have, and we're glad to be a part of the community. Thanks again!

Ethan, Sam, Quincy, and James

I'm not sure what kind of relationship you want them to have. Far more cagemates just exist together in the cage rather than "bonding" (I HATE that word when misapplied to guinea pigs). I've never had two pigs that snuggled except in the carrier on the way to the vet, never slept together, but also never fought. That's normal guinea pig behavior.

Sounds to me like you've gotten yourself and them on the right track after a rocky start. Just relax and enjoy them.
Thanks for your reply! I certainly don't expect them to be all buddy buddy. I know that what you described is typical behavior. Sorry I focused too much on the bonding and friendship aspect. I guess I should have been more clear that there is still a decent amount of chattering that happens, and I've even seen James show his teeth a few times. Mostly, I get the impression that James is afraid of Quincy. One of the other reasons we separated them that first time was because we were worried about bullying on Quincy's part and that James wasn't getting enough food. It's hard to separate whether it's just typical dominance or veering into bullying and fear from James. Thanks again for your response.
My first two pigs were introduced in much the same way your fellas were. We were also in the same boat and learned SO much from the forum here. Pooper and Sly were never the best of buddies, but grew to tolerate each other and even played together the odd time. Photos of the two of them lying near each other were rare, so I took one each time I caught them together. Each had a buddy in the other, and that was enough for them.

Now, the two pigs I have a litter mates, and polar opposites from Pooper and Sly. These boys are so stuck on each other I really do fear for the well being of one, if something were to happen to the other. They snuggle together, play follow the leader and grumble and climb on each others backs and just love to play with each other. They couldn't be more different pigs than their predecessors.

I guess the moral of my story is this: Every pig is different, and so shall their relationships be. There is little to nothing you can do to change their personalities, so just go with the flow and enjoy them for who they are.
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