Why do guinea pigs bite each other?
Guinea pigs are very cuddly, and for the most part, they’re known to exist with each other, regardless of gender (even when in the wild, they live in herds).
What worries most owners is when their cavies start biting each other.
In most cases, this is normal, but it may also escalate to a serious fight.
Let’s explore the reasons behind it so that you can prevent it from getting out of hand!
READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Live Outside?
WHY DO GUINEA PIGS BITE EACH OTHER?
Short answer: Biting and nibbling are simply their means of communication. They may bite each other’s hair or ears as they play.
But if the biting is accompanied by aggressiveness and involves injuring each other, your piggies may be fighting.
Some of the reasons your guinea pigs could be hostile towards each other include”
- asserting dominance
- lack of enough space to play and move around
- poor pairing
Please keep reading to find out more about why do guinea pigs bite each other, how to identify if they are fighting, and how to stop them.
Are My Guinea Pigs Playing or Fighting?
When you first introduce a pair of guinea pigs, they may seem like they’re fighting when they’re actually playing.
When guinea pigs are playing, they will chase each other around the cage, play with toys, whistle, purr, and even eat together.
If you observe some posturing, butt-dragging, butt-sniffing, teeth chattering, and stressed squeaking that results in one of the piggies backing down and becoming submissive, they are just asserting dominance.
Overall, you shouldn’t worry about that, since it’s entirely natural. Establishing guinea pig dominance doesn’t last that long.
It should take 3 days to a week. If this behavior goes on for more than two weeks, it would be best to separate them.
READ MORE: Do Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets?
How Do I Know My Guinea Pigs Are Fighting
Some indicators that your guinea pigs are fighting include;
- Aggressive bites that draw blood
- Guinea pigs often target the ears since they’re trying to show hierarchy. If you come home and find the ears bit, they most likely were fighting.
- Aggressive teeth-chattering
- When fighting, they’ll chatter their teeth or even open their mouths wide.
- Feet stamping and raising their upper bodies
- Physical fights
- These are full-blown fights where none of them shows signs of backing down.
- One of the guinea pigs appears to be hiding from the other one
- Aggressive chasing
Guinea pig fights don’t last that long usually, but they could do some significant damage to each other during the few minutes they’re fighting.
Check other signs in this video:
4 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Fight
Below are some of the reasons your guinea pigs could be fighting.
#1 Poor Pairing
Even though guinea pigs are sociable creatures, not all of them are compatible. You need to do your due diligence when pairing them together.
If you placed two males and one female in one cage, this would most likely end up in a fight as the male cavies fight over the female.
You can place a male and a female guinea pig in a cage, but make sure they are spayed or neutered. This is to prevent you from having too many guinea pigs than you can handle.
And you also don’t have to deal with a pregnant female (these can be pretty aggressive).
However, spaying and neutering tend to be quite invasive, and some people may prefer to keep their pets intact.
If that’s the case, place same-gender piggies in one cage – at least 2 to 3 male cavies or 2 to 3 female guinea pigs in one cage.
Besides sex, you need to pair guinea pigs based on their personalities. A cavy’s personality may vary according to age, breed, or gender.
You can categorize a guinea pig’s personality into either submissive or dominant.
Placing two dominant guinea pigs in one cage will always end up in fights. It’s best to pair a dominant piggy with submissive guinea pigs.
The best way to solve the dominance issue is to pair an older and a younger cavy. Adult guinea pigs tend to assert dominance and younger ones tend to be more submissive.
But you should still monitor their behavior closely. As the younger piggy grows older, he/she may challenge the older one.
When picking the guinea pigs from the rescue center or a breeder, you can observe how they interact with each other. And select those that seem to be friendly towards each other.
But if you’re introducing one to an existing herd, take some time to introduce them.
It’s best to introduce them on a “neutral ground.” So, you can place them in separate cages and bring them out for introduction.
Bonding can take a few hours to a few weeks. Just be patient. Once you’re sure they can stand each other, it’s time for them to move in together.
When guinea pigs are injured or in pain, they tend to be cranky and aggressive towards their cage mates.
You can try to look for any visible injuries, but it’s best to invite a qualified veterinarian to diagnose any underlying problems.
To prevent your guinea pig from injuries or other health issues causing pain, you should start by keeping the guinea pig cage clean.
Remove the poop regularly, change the guinea pig bedding often, and always remove any leftover/uneaten food. Leftover food could develop bacteria which isn’t good for your cavy’s digestive health.
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#3 Not Enough Room
When the cage is too small for your cavies, they may fight for the small available space.
The ideal cage size for two guinea pigs ranges from 7.5 square feet to 10.5 square feet – the larger the guinea pig cages, the better.
Three guinea pigs can also fit in a 10.5 square feet cage, but it’s best to get a larger one, at least 13 square feet.
It’s also advisable to make sure there are hideouts within the cage. As mentioned earlier, guinea pigs need their space from time to time.
You can create the hideouts with cardboard or boxes available at home or purchase some from the store.
Anyone can become cranky and display aggression when they’re bored, including guinea pigs.
They may start biting their cage mates or even the pet owner if he or she “gets in their way.”
If your cavies are bored, it means that they don’t have enough toys to play with.
You can solve this by including a wide variety of toys so that they never run out of physically stimulating objects.
Guinea pigs love things they can chew. Include chewable stuff such as a toilet paper box or a sock filled with hay or wood sticks.
If you want them to run around, you can build vertical structures and build tunnels where they can chase each other.
It’s also a good idea to take your pets outdoors. The fresh air, fresh grass, sunbathing, and moving around outdoors will help them feel more relaxed.
How To Break Up Fights Between Guinea Pigs
Once you’re certain that your cavies are fighting and not playing, you need to break up the fight to prevent serious injuries.
Be careful when dealing with this situation since guinea pigs have sharp teeth.
And when they’re locked in a fight, they’ll bite anything that comes close to them. And trust me, a guinea pig bite can be quite painful.
Take your cavy to the vet ASAP when you notice any injuries. They can bite deep into the skin, causing wounds that could get easily infected.
Wear protective gloves and throw in a towel or some food to distract them. Once you have their attention, grab one piggy at a time and place them in separate rooms.
When they can’t smell each other, see each other, or hear each other, it will be easier to calm them down.
The next day, try to reintroduce them to each other and observe how they react.
How To Stop Your Guinea Pigs From Fighting
Make sure the guinea pig cages have enough food, enough toys, and enough toys.
If you have two or three guinea pigs in the cage, make sure each piggy has a water bowl, her own toys, a place to sleep.
If you’re still afraid that they fight, especially when you’re not around, you can separate the cage with cardboard or any other materials.
This way, they can see each other and smell each other, but they can’t reach the other side of the barrier.
Why do guinea pigs bite each other FAQs
Can guinea pigs kill each other?
Yes they can. If one cavy is considerably larger than the other, they could strike and accidentally kill the smaller one. Injuries sustained during the fight could also eventually lead to death if not treated soon.
How long does guinea pig dominance behavior last
As mentioned earlier, guinea pig dominance behavior can last a couple of weeks. It may carry on for long if one of the piggies refuses to back down. In such a case, just place the cavies in separate cages and hope to get a more submissive companion.
Guinea pigs may bite gently when playing around in their cages.
But if these bites are aggressive and accompanied by chasing and full-blown physical fights, then something is wrong, and you should separate them temporarily or permanently.
To prevent them from fighting, pair piggies based on their personalities, gender and make sure they have enough room, toys, water, and food in their cages.
Why do guinea pigs bite each other? do you have other ideas? share with us below!
Barry Stingmore is a British content writer living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats and has a passion for writing about animals big and small.
Barry loves finding answers to your animal-related questions, the more research involved the better! You can rely on him to find the facts.