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Behavior Sow suddenly scared of her pair

htavares

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Hi, I adopted two more Guinea pigs in October. They were a rehome and had previously lived together. Their names are Penny and Millie. They are both females. After a three week quarantine period, I tried to bond them with my other two female piggies. This was unsuccessful as Millie ended up in a rolling fight with my first Guinea pig Willow. There was blood and she pulled out a lot of her fur. I decided to keep them separate as two pairs. Recently Millie and Penny have been showing dominance behavior again. Now penny is scared of Millie. If Millie goes near her, she will make a submissive yell and run away. Millie chases Penny and corners her while rumble strutting and teeth chattering. This has kept her from eating any food this afternoon. She will be eating hay, and if Millie goes near her she will yell and run to hide. She will even hide in the corner of the cage and not move for a long time. I am unsure what to do! No blood has been drawn, but I found tufts of pennys fur on the ground when spot cleaning. They are in a 2 by 8 c and c cage. I also gave them each a vitamin C tablet a few minutes ago. Millie ate hers, and then went to Penny and took the rest her vitamin C treat. I am unsure what to do. I hope to hear back from someone soon!:)
 
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ItsaZoo

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Sounds like a situation I had last year when I adopted two "bonded" sisters.

Depending on their age, they may be hitting their teens, which is anywhere from a few months to a year old. Also, after doing some research, I learned that guinea pigs can temporarily bond during stressful situations, like being rehomed. It's a survival tactic to stick together. Once they feel secure and settled, it becomes apparent they don't actually like each other and aren't really bonded. That's when their true feelings come out and the fighting starts.

The two I had got into a rolling, fur-pulling brawl that escalated to blood being drawn. I had to throw a towel on them several times, and put a grid in the cage to separate them. The aggressor continued to try and fight through the grid while her sister screamed and hid under blankets. She was so traumatized she wouldn't eat and actually had urine streaks on her stomach because she was afraid to move. I don't know how long she was living like this. When she finally realized she was safe, she came out, stretched and relaxed in the open for the first time.

Your cage is large enough that you could put a grid down the middle to keep Penny safe from Millie. If they are bonded, they will want to be close to each other for protection. They may sleep next to each other on each side of the grid. But if they go to opposite sides of the cage to sleep, I would consider keeping them separated.

I know guinea pigs, by nature, are social animals. But in a natural setting if one of them becomes aggressive, the others aren't confined by a cage with no means of escape. Just my opinion.
 

bpatters

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Depending on her age, the problem may be hormonal. Sows with ovarian cysts may start showing pretty extreme dominance behavior, but that doesn't usually happen until they're about three years or older.

Also, how large is the cage? A cage that's too small or that has too much cage furniture can cause an awful lot of squabbles.
 

htavares

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When I adopted them, they said they were around three years old. The vet told me that she thinks that’s true, and they’re about 2.5-3 years. Penny was able to eat some pellets this morning next to Millie and was fine. But now Millie is chasing her again, and chasing her out of houses when she’s just resting. Even if Millie is not chasing her, and will just walk near her, Penny is terrified and will run.

Millie has always shown more dominance since I got her, and has always done it to penny. She always jumps and nudges her face and butt. But Penny has never been afraid before in the past, and has stood her ground. so I am unsure of why she is suddenly terrified. Since fur was on the ground, I am assuming Millie kept nipping at her. The cage is a 2 by 8 c and c cage, so I do think they have enough space. I am worried that if I separate them now, that this will ruin any chance of recovering the bond. But do you think the bond might already be ruined? I definitely would rather separate them if Penny is terrified and not able to eat as much.

Also, my other Guinea pigs in the cage next to them seem to be arguing all night and day now. Do you think this is because Penny and Millie have been arguing?
 

htavares

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Depending on her age, the problem may be hormonal. Sows with ovarian cysts may start showing pretty extreme dominance behavior, but that doesn't usually happen until they're about three years or older.

Also, how large is the cage? A cage that's too small or that has too much cage furniture can cause an awful lot of squabbles.
If Millie isn’t showing any symptoms of having ovarian cysts, besides being more dominan, do you think I should still get her checked out at the vet?
 

htavares

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Do u think if Penny is terrified of Millie now, she’ll ever overcome it? Or do u think it’s an end to the bond completely? It’s such a hard situation, and I am so conflicted on what to do:(
 

bpatters

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The dominance itself can be a sign of ovarian cysts. If this is relatively new behavior for her, I'd have her checked to see if that's the problem.
 

htavares

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She has always displayed dominance behaviors like this, and Penny always tolerated it. She is not being more aggressive today, but Penny is still terrified of her. She has chased her once today, but that is it. Now if she walks near Penny, Penny will run and hide. If I were to separate them to see if Penny perks up and can eat, how long should I separate for?

I was hoping to separate, and maybe reintroduce in a neutral space to see if Penny was still nervous around her. Do you think this is an okay idea?

This isn’t any change in behavior from Millie, and she typically acts like this when going through heat. So I am not too concerned about ovarian cysts. But I will definitely set up an appointment just in case, I just might not be able to get in soon because my exotic vet is very booked. Also, thank u so much for responding and trying to help me!
 

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