Hearing guinea pigs fighting, no matter the time of day, is always heart-stopping. You want to know why and how to stop it quickly so everything in your home can return to being harmonious.
Short Answer: Why are My Guinea Pigs Fighting?
Your guinea pigs may be fighting for a variety of reasons, and determining the cause is critical for solving it. In the meantime, separate the guinea pigs as best you can so there is no further damage.
How to Break Up Fighting Guinea Pigs Safely
When you hear your guinea pigs fighting, you instinctively want to reach in and separate them. However, doing so can get you bit and in need of medical attention. If you have no other option, then that’s one thing, but a little preparedness helps.
A dustpan is actually a great option to separate your fighting guinea pigs. You probably already have one to clean up the floor around your guinea pig cages. A dustpan is big enough to separate the cages, but not so big that you can’t maneuver it in the cage. You just have to get it between them, and you have little risk of injury.
Reasons Guinea Pigs Fight
Guinea pigs often need more space than the starter guinea pig cages allow. You need 7.5 square feet of floor space in the cage for one guinea pig. Guinea pigs are typically kept in pairs or trios, which means you need 10.5 square feet and 13 square feet, respectively, at a minimum.
When guinea pigs are kept too close together, they can get on each other’s nerves, just like people. The solution is to separate the guinea pigs so that they have their own space or get a bigger cage. However, remember the bigger cage will not solve the next issue.
Sometimes, you start with guinea pigs that seem compatible. Whether it’s because they were littermates or previously paired before you got them, you think you have the perfect pair. Then, within weeks, the guinea pigs seem to be constantly fighting.
Unfortunately, the solution for compatibility is separating the guinea pigs. With separate cages, you can still house the guinea pigs next to each other, and they can socialize, but it prevents them from hurting each other.
Illness or Injury
Sometimes guinea pigs begin fighting when they’re not feeling well. They do this so that the illness or injury does not cost them their place in the dominance order, and unfortunately, it can make the situation worse.
The solution for this is regularly monitoring your guinea pigs for injuries and signs of illness. Then, when something changes, you know you need to get them veterinary attention or separate them out until they recover.
Guinea pigs are social creatures, and living together does help address their needs. However, guinea pigs can still get bored. This fact can lead to fights, especially when your guinea pig cage has an uneasy pecking order.
Providing toys and interacting with your guinea pigs is a great way to avoid boredom. Pretty much anything chewable is a great stimulator for your piggles, and they make ones that hang off the side of the cage.
Fighting guinea pigs can also be a sign of establishing and re-establishing dominance. Typically, dominance disputes don’t come to an actual fight, but sometimes neither guinea pig wants to back down.
Generally, the first thing to do is break up the fight and remove one of the guinea pigs from the space. The safest option is to place it in another cage, but you may also consider introducing the guinea pigs again if you think it was a one-time occurrence. Just be prepared to separate them out again.
Unfortunately, keeping mixed-gender herds in the same space is not advisable, even if you have the males castrated. Many males will still compete when they smell a female in heat, which can lead to fights.
Female guinea pigs become fertile regularly, and you need to be aware of that if you have any females in the house. You may see more conflicts in your male cages even if the females are across your home. There is no solution for these fights apart from separating the males.