Posted: November 13, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
Q: I have a trio of boars that I adopted from a friend that have been together since they were babies. They are about 2 1/2 years old now and had always gotten along until recently. Lately, they've been mounting each other and making noises throughout the night, and I don't know what to do. It appears that the largest of them keeps mounting the smallest, and then the medium-sized one gets upset and mounts the largest one, and they continue this battle for dominance almost constantly until they're worn out. I have separated the largest from the other two, and they have all calmed down, but they're almost brothers, and I really don't want to have to separate them permanently unless it becomes necessary. Please help if you can!
A: Some guinea pigs are amazing at how quickly their loyalties can change. Often males will demonstrate this behavior when a change has been made in their environment. They are reestablishing dominance. Unfortunately allowing such a situation to work out does not work.
If the two lesser male guinea pigs let the largest one be the dominant, then things will be fine; but it sounds like separating the largest male has solved the problem.
Even though they have lived together, sickness, an extended stay at the veterinarian’s, even moving or moving to a new family, disturbed the dynamics that the guinea pigs originally had — possibly to the point that they just cannot get along together ever again.
It is said that brothers, father or sons are always pairs that will get along forever, but I have had a threesome of brothers that developed a violent behavior toward each other and subsequently had to live next to each other but separate. I also had father and son guinea pigs that hated each other and had to live separately. I don't know what was said between them but not all human families remain close or together, and so it is with guinea pigs.
Lesser guinea pig family members become stressed out in a dominance battle and may suffer severe injury or be stressed to the point of death. Housing them next to each other but separate is the most humane thing to insure the safety of all.
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