Posted: January 21, 2015, 10:25 p.m. EST
© Courtesy Daeltun Cauthen
Sometimes guinea pigs have "spats," but if hair pulling or posturing occurs, they might need to be separated to stop a serious fight from occurring.
Q: I have two guinea pigs. They are a year and a half old and have been living together the whole time. They used to teeth chatter at each other from time to time but lately it is happening at least once a day. It never ends with a fight, and they continue to play together soon after. Is this normal? They don't fight for food or water.
A: The housing of two guinea pigs together is not unlike two friends or siblings who have decided to move in together, there is always a time of adjustment for everyone involved including the new owner.
If they are meeting for the first time they need to adjust to each other’s idiosyncrasies, or work out the hierarchy in the house. Also there will be times when not everyone is getting along together. I call these spats. These spats can involve chattering teeth and perhaps a run at each other, but things go back to normal in short order and harmony returns to the cage.
Female guinea pigs sometimes blow puffs of air at each other and then chatter teeth. This can be a way to say, "Hey, pay attention. I am not happy right now.” Females can also squirt each other with pee. Often this is done when one female attempts to examine another female’s behind too closely. The "examiner” is often greeted by a quick squirt in the eye. This usually happens when a guinea pig is feeling particularly peeved off at a cagemate’s unwanted attention. Girls have great control over their abilities to fire off in another’s eye and the accuracy is amazing.
Guinea pig cohabitation often runs into small issues just like their human counterparts, but it doesn’t always end with someone having to move out. It may mean the girls or boys are making additional adjustments and life should return back to normal.
If the anger escalates with things like head butting and hair pulling (head butting and coming back with hair in their mouth), this is a sign that the next hit will be with full teeth into flesh. This is true of both sexes. Rolling around in any manner should be broken up, and each guinea pig placed in a space of safety to let things cool down. They can be placed back together but they should be watched closely. If they begin the same posturing, then this means they will not be able to remain together. They can no longer live together and will have to be housed in separate cages. Side by side cages that don’t permit touching will do.
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