Like I mentioned in my previous post, guinea pigs have a pretty brutal bonding process that depends on the personalities of all of the guinea pigs involved. I recently found a wonderful, informative YouTube channel called Scotty’s Animals that discusses many different aspects of owning a guinea pig, including an actual video where he shows the process for bonding females. Essentially, the pigs need to figure out who will be the dominate pig and who will be the submissive pig. The best way to pair them is based off of personalities or, if you don’t know their personality, by age/size. In my case, Mocha is a small, young, skittish girl while Linda is a large, assertive female. Guinea pigs during this bonding process will actually fight it out to figure out this hierarchy.
For my girls, this “fighting” has been fairly mild. Because Mocha is terrified of everything (including her own shadow), Mocha will squeal at everything. Linda would take it upon herself to try and sniff Mocha which would result in Mocha screaming and running in fear, which then made Linda panic and chase her. Linda will sometimes “nose punch” Mocha in order to get her to do what she wants, which doesn’t take much effort since Mocha is skittish. Linda will still trap Mocha into corners, where Mocha squeals helplessly. All of this was what they had to do naturally and it’s hard to watch.
I constantly wanted to grab Mocha and haul her into my arms where she could feel safe but I had to try and separate myself from the situation because it’s necessary for the bonding process. My fiance and I would stay up until 5am just watching them and making sure it didn’t go too far, which it thankfully never did. When they were on opposite sides of the cage, we would pick them up and rub their bodies to make sure there were no bite marks. Thankfully, there was never any biting or missing fur.
Within 24 hours, there was a large shift in how they acted with one another and as independent pigs. Mocha was more willing to eat without her blanket covering the cage while Linda started to accept Mocha eating near her. Linda even now still has a tendency to sniff Mocha’s butt and Mocha still has a tendency to cry about it but they can actually sleep in the same spot together without a fight. I even woke up one morning to the two of them snuggled in the corner of the cage asleep.
In regards to female bonding, this was never something I had experienced with my guinea pigs from my childhood. My first pig, Fluffy, was the largest guinea pig we had. Our second female, Princess, was half her size so there was no fighting required to figure out who was the dominate one. When Princess had her three babies, they were obviously grandfathered into the pack with no issues. So when I got Linda, it was extremely shocking and scary for me to see them fight like this. I originally didn’t know if it was just because Mocha is a Cuy or because Linda has had many months of fighting the two boys she was put with but apparently, after research, this is normal. This is definitely something any new guinea pig owner should keep in mind, especially since guinea pigs are social animals.
A rule of thumb is that you should never have a guinea pig that’s alone. I had never planned for Mocha to be alone for long but finding a second guinea pig during a pandemic was impossible if my friend hadn’t given me Linda. Typically, it’s best to have at least 3 females but I need to build a larger cage if I want to do that.
Unfortunately, the girls are now separated. They never really bonded but rather learned how to exist with one another. Linda has aggression when it comes to food due to her previous home and can’t seem to overcome that aggression even though she now knows she has access to all of the food she could ever want. Mocha is very timid and wasn’t eating because of Linda. The girls have separate cages now but can safely sniff each other through the bars. Mocha also had a case of ringworm which forced me to separate them and when I tried to reconnect them once the ringworm began to heal, Linda actually went to bite Mocha. Linda will be alone forever because of her aggression but I have hopes for Mocha and our newest guy, Sugar Bear.