Guinea pigs are social and adorable pets that are typically calm in most situations. But no matter what type of species we are dealing with, there is bound to be tension one way or another. Whether it be humans, cats, rats, or birds, we all experience fights now and then. So the real question is, why do guinea pigs fight?
1. Establishing Dominance
Typically in a herd of guinea pigs, there will be a dominant piggie and you can tell who it is by the way they fight. The last one to stand their ground is usually the more dominant. Fighting over dominance is common in guinea pig herds and are fine as long as one guinea pig backs down and acts submissively towards the other. The real problem is when neither piggie backs down and things reach a more aggressive nature. This is when you have to intervene and stop the fight.
2. Physical Pain/Illness
Guinea pigs are usually very peaceful pets that work well together if paired correctly. If one of your guinea pigs starts acting up out of the blue, they may be feeling discomfort somewhere in their body. Similar to any other human or pet, feeling sick or being in pain can lead to an aggressive and cranky nature. Be sure to examine your piggie and bring them to a vet just to be safe. Always remember to properly feed and clean their cage often to avoid having any one of your guinea pigs fall ill.
Pairing guinea pigs together correctly is a key role to keeping things balanced in your guinea pig kingdom. Keeping males and females separated would be advised. Mixing both genders of guinea pigs together could lead to mating fights. Another way to pair a guinea pig is by introducing them to a much younger one. This way the guinea pigs establish dominance much faster. Here's an blog post on 6 Tips to Introducing New Guinea Pigs.
4. Small Cage
When multiple piggies are set into a small, cramped space, they will obviously start having issues! With a little space to roam, there is nowhere for one to get away from the other. If they are stuck together for too long, they will start becoming annoyed at each other and start a fight. Cages should also provide plenty of space for all guinea pigs to hide in. If you only have one hidey, at least put down a pocket liner for the other to rest in. This way they can have some privacy from each other.
When you aren’t stimulating your guinea pig with toys, vegetables, or something to do, they become bored and uneasy. This means there will be a higher chance of them starting a fight with other piggies. To avoid this, make sure they have something to do. It can be something as simple as munching on hay or letting them out for floor time, just make sure there is plenty of fun to go around. You can replicate some of the fun activities we made such as our DIY Cottage Hidey and Orange Bear Snack.
In the end, not all fights need intervention. Most fights occur when there is no actual issue present and most likely will end sooner than you expect. Just keep watch for when fights become more serious and be prepared to stop it.