Guinea Pigs Fighting: Reasons, Prevention Guide & More

Guinea Pigs Fighting_ Reasons, Prevention Guide & More

As an owner seeing your beloved guinea pigs fight is really devastating. No one wants to see animals hurt each other. But don’t worry, the great news is that if you know the reasons why guinea pigs might start a fight, you can totally prevent that from happening in the first place.

Do guinea pigs fight? Guinea pigs can occasionally start a fight with each other. The most common reason why they fight is to establish dominance (hierarchy). Some of the other reasons are the size of the cage (not enough space for both of them), boredom, breeding, and aggression caused by a health problem or injury.

What you also need to know that sometimes guinea pigs are not fighting but playing around. This is hard to differentiate but we will do our best to explain it in the later sections of the article.

We have also covered the steps that you can take to prevent them from fighting in the future and how can you help your precious guinea pig if it has been injured in a fight. There are really so many important things when it comes to guinea pigs and why they fight. Now let’s start with the reasons why guinea pigs fight. Let’s begin!

Why Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting? Main Reasons

Why Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting Main Reasons

Knowing the main reasons why do guinea pigs fight is incredibly important when it comes to prevention. Thankfully, practically all of the time, it is relatively easy to determine the root cause of their fight.


Establishing Dominance

Your guinea pigs might look fluffy and cute, but even these small rodents have a dominant guinea pig who wants to ‘rule’ the world (the cage, in our case).

These types of fights are natural and if one of the guinea pigs chooses to back down, then everything is going to be in order. However, if both of the guinea pigs want to be dominant and neither of them gives up, you will have to step in and separate them.


The Cage Is Too Small

What happens if a human has to share one single small room with someone else? Well, the chances are high that the people will end up having a conflict or signs of aggression. This is basically what happens to guinea pigs if they don’t have enough personal space.

Guinea pigs will simply get annoyed with each other. Please remember that 10.5 square feet is a preferred guinea pig cage size for two guinea pigs. Moreover, they need to have more than one hiding place, so that the guinea pigs can use them at the same time. They really like to hide and you need to encourage this behavior.

Related: What Guinea Pig Cage Size Is the Best? (Proper Accommodation)


Wrong Pairing

Correct pairing is incredibly important. For example, you might not want to keep a male and a female together. Two male guinea pigs might end up having fights for “dominance”.

Some experts also recommend introducing a younger guinea pig to your “old” friend as there might be no problems with establishing dominance. There are quite a few different scenarios when it comes to pairing them and you should take every single one into consideration before adopting a pair of guinea pigs. These are some of the possible scenarios:


  • A single, castrated male among multiple females closely mimics guinea pig herds in the wild. This setting encourages guinea pigs to express their most natural behaviors, which can be quite interesting for a person to watch.

  • Two sows, especially if they’ve lived together since infanthood, usually remain friendly for the rest of their lives.

  • One older male will establish his dominance over a younger male companion and this is also a good combination.


  • A castrated male with a sow (female).

Health Issues and Pain

You were very proud of your guinea pigs because they seemed like the perfect family. Then suddenly, one guinea pig starts attacking the others. It could be the guinea pig that is acting aggressively is feeling some kind of physical discomfort. Make sure to take your pet to the vet as the it might be ill or injured in some way.


Unhappiness or Boredom

If your guinea pigs have something to do, they won’t have a lot of time to think about fighting. They will be playing with toys, nibbling on hay, and so on. However, if you fail to stimulate your cavies with vegetables and exciting toys, then the guinea pigs might get unhappy and bored. In some cases, they might consider fighting to be a fun idea.


My Guinea Pigs Keep Fighting: Should You Be Worried?

My Guinea Pigs Keep Fighting Should You Be Worried

The truth is that you shouldn’t rush to the cage as soon as the guinea pigs start fighting. Firstly, they might be playing. Secondly, even if they are fighting, in most cases guinea pigs are able to sort the things out on their own.

If you are sure that none of the reasons mentioned above apply to your specific situation, then there is no need to worry. But do remember to keep an eye on your beloved pets whenever they are fighting. If they start getting too aggressive and make each other bleed (cause injuries), then you should most definitely step in and separate the two.

Your guinea pigs have continued to aggressively fight even after you have given them some alone time? Then it looks like the two guinea pigs are simply not compatible and won’t be able to live together. There isn’t much that you can do about it. Two separate cages might be your only option. If this situation happens it is relatively rare.

Also, keep an eye on any signs of bullying. One of the cavies might be dominant and a bit too aggressive but in a passive manner. For example, the guinea pig might keep the other cavy from drinking or eating. That is a dangerous situation as well, so you might need to separate the two and allow the other guinea pig food and water.


Does Gender Affect How Much Guinea Pigs Will Fight?

Does Gender Affect How Much Guinea Pigs Will Fight

Gender certainly does matter a lot when it comes to fighting issues in guinea pigs. Experts recommend getting two guinea pigs of the same sex in order to avoid any quarrels. However, do bear in mind that even if you managed to pick the “perfect” pair that does not mean that your beloved pets will never end up fighting.


Why Do Male Guinea Pigs Fight?

Of course, any of the above-mentioned reasons could be the cause. One of them might not be feeling well, the cage is too small and so on. In a lot of cases, two males end up fighting to figure out who is going to be the dominant cavy. If one of the guinea pigs decides to back up, then there shouldn’t be any serious issues.

One of the reasons why a male guinea pig might be fighting with a female is because of mating issues. Usually, it is not recommended to have two guinea pigs of the opposite sex. Even if your main aim is to breed them, the two should be kept separately during the rest of the time. We know it might seem cruel and unethical but if you want to avoid any issues, this is the best way.


Why Do Girl Guinea Pigs Fight?

Sows can also have fights in order to determine who is the “boss”. So, it is not a problem that is exclusive to males. The hormonal imbalance might also become a reason for the sow’s aggressive behavior. Such a condition can cause the female to develop ovarian cysts. These tumors cause a lot of pain and as a consequence aggression towards other guinea pigs. Of course, the poor thing has to be taken to the vet immediately.

During the mating season, the female might be aggressive towards the male as well. Moreover, sows should not be bothered during the pregnancy period as it might lead to a conflict.


How to Stop Guinea Pigs from Fighting: Instructions

Whenever the guinea pigs try to establish dominance it may look like a fight but it is absolutely a normal process, so give them some time to fix things, however, do keep an eye on them. If you feel like the “ritual” is getting out of control, then follow the instructions that you will find in the following sections.


Two Male Guinea Pigs Fighting


Step 1: Indentify the Reason Why They Fight

The first thing you would want to do is try and identify the reason why the two might be fighting. Take a close look at our list at the beginning of the article. Are you sure that the cage is big enough? Are the cavies feeling healthy? Do they have enough toys?


Step 2: Separating the Male Guinea Pigs

If everything seems okay, then it looks like the two males simply don’t have the matching characters. The best thing that you can do then is separate the guys. To ensure that you don’t get bitten during the fight, wear thick gloves, or use a towel. You might want to try and put cardboard between the two guinea pigs to make sure that nobody attacks you.

Separating them is always the best idea, but you don’t have to use two cages to do that. If your main cage is big enough, then you can separate it into two parts, so that every guinea pig gets some time alone. After spending the night separately, you should then reintroduce the guinea pigs back to each other.


Step 3: Reintroduce Guinea Pigs After the Fight

If the guinea pigs begin to communicate from their separate cages, then the owner should prepare a neutral area for them to meet in. This is a place that neither of them has been to. It should have boxes and tubes for hiding, as well as food and hay for distraction and positivity.

It’s important to notice how the piggies react to one another, either they’ll start playing together and share space and resources, or they’ll hide and become stressed and aggressive, in which case they should be separated immediately. The session should end positively. Guinea pigs need several of these sessions before they can start again living together.

Food and two separate water bottles are essential for the piggies. The owner should continue monitoring their behavior until it’s sure that they’re calm and content with each other.


Step 4: Cleaning in Order to Reduce Their Scent

Another great thing that you can do is clean the cage more often. Cleaning will help partially get rid of their scent and that will sometimes ease the tensions between the two male guinea pigs.


Guinea Pig Sows Fighting

The instructions are pretty much the same for female guinea pigs as well. Make sure that nothing is bothering the two and that the cage is big enough for both of them. Separate the females but don’t forget to protect your hands. Take your time and reintroduce the sows to each other.

Remember that just like male guinea pigs, females might be trying to establish dominance as well. That is a natural process that you should not ruin otherwise even more problems could arise.

If your cavies have enough toys, hideaways, space, and are not injured, then you should definitely take the aggressor to the vet. There might be health problems that you are not able to see. However, do bear in mind that some guinea pigs are simply not compatible as these animals have strong, distinct personalities.


Guinea Pigs Fighting Over Food

Of course, as a wonderful owner, you would have to make sure that your guinea pigs always have enough food and water. In case you have more than one guinea pig, it might be a good idea to have separate food bowls and water bottles. Two different bowls for each of them and so on.

This is good in case the guinea pigs decide to have a snack simultaneously. If you provide bowls and water bottles for both of them they will not annoy each other. The pets should also have enough fresh hay at all times. If you see that one of the guinea pigs is not letting the other one eat or drink, then the two might not be compatible. However, you can try to use a cage divider and remove it after some time has passed.


Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting or Playing? | Important Differences

Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting or Playing Important Differences

We have already mentioned above that establishing dominance might seem like a fight to us but in reality, it is absolutely natural for guinea pigs. Also, another interaction that we might confuse with fighting is, surprisingly, playing.

To understand the differences between fighting a playing, you would have to learn a bit about guinea pig’s body language and sounds. When the cavy is being aggressive, you will totally be able to see that by its body language. When the guinea pig is happy and content, it will purr and whistle but there are also many other signals that can interpret their happy behavior.

Generally, sniffing, humping, and light chasing is considered playing. But if the guinea pigs start biting one another, lunging with hostile intent or if you spot even a drop of blood, then the two are fighting and you have to step in.

If your guinea pigs are really friends, you might see them running around the cage together or playing with toys right next to each other. After that, the cavies might start playing with each other, and, in such a case, you will understand that it’s not a fight.


Do Guinea Pigs Fight to Death?

Unfortunately, if you fail to separate the two guinea pigs, one of them might end up dying in the worst-case scenario. One of the main reasons why a guinea pig might die after a fight is the injuries and wounds that are received during the “battle”.

If you didn’t step in at the right time, the guinea pig might bleed to death or may end up in a life-threatening condition. Of course, some fights can have a happy ending. But you wouldn’t want to take the risk, right? Also, the stress from a fight can cause them serious health problems.


Do Guinea Pigs Fight with Other Animals?

Do Guinea Pigs Fight with Other Animals

In the wild, guinea pigs are prey animals and many different predators consider them to be food such as wolves, coyotes, owls, and plenty of others. A natural reaction of a guinea pig whenever it is scared of something is to freeze. So, the chances are high that the guinea pig will not fight with other animals.

Have in mind that if you already have a cat or a dog (or you want to adopt one), then getting a guinea pig is not the best idea. Whenever other animals are around, the poor little thing gets stressed out. Moreover, bigger animals can easily hurt guinea pigs. If you managed to find a room that the cat or dog don’t have the access to, then it is better to place the guinea pig cage there.

Of course, you can’t predict every single response of an animal. The guinea pig can in some cases end up biting another animal, but such cases are extremely rare and certainly are an exception.


How to Help a Wounded Guinea Pig After the Fight


Step 1: Inspect Their Body for Wounds

The first thing you should do after the fight is to thoroughly check the body of your guinea pigs. Some wounds might be very small, but that does not mean that they can’t become dangerous to their health. Pay extra attention to the top of the guinea pig’s back as that is the place that they cannot clean on their own. If the wound is not kept clean it might get infected.


Step 2: Treating the Wounds

Once you have discovered the wounds, carefully wash the wounded spot, and use an antibiotic ointment. You can use a cotton pad to gently apply any antiseptic. Separate the guinea pigs and keep an eye on the wound to ensure that there is no infection.


Step 3: Visit the Vet (Optional)

Please pay a visit to the vet immediately when there is a lot of blood and if the skin has been severely damaged. Even if your guinea pig has received a small wound, you should still visit the vet as soon as you can if you don’t know how to properly disinfect it or have the necessary first aid kit for guinea pigs.


How Do Guinea Pigs Fight With Each Other | Information

How Do Guinea Pigs Fight With Each Other Information

Guinea pigs are fleeing prey animals: therefore, it’s rare to encounter an aggressive piggy. They depend on self-defense mechanisms such as hiding, freezing, running, and screaming. Only in dire face-to-face situations do they resort to fighting.

How do guinea pigs fight? In some cases, the fight may escalate to dangerous levels, and that’s the time to separate the guinea pigs:


  • Attacking the Opponent’s Face – When a piggy head-butts its companion’s mouth, the next hit will involve teeth.

  • Hair Pulling – A guinea pig may pull out its opponent’s fur in a fight.

  • Blood Drawing Biting and Nipping – Happens because a guinea pig is angry, scared, annoyed, defensive, or maybe sick.

  • Launching | Attacking  An excessive measure of aggression when neither cavy is ready to give up.

If left to fight, guinea pigs could seriously hurt each other, and later have no chance of reconciliation. The following issues are expected and there is no need to intervene when they occur:


  • Pushing and Chasing – One guinea pig runs after another piggy to show that it’s stronger, faster, etc.

  • Mounting – Not inherently sexual, but rather to literally determine the top dominant guinea pig.

  • Yawning to Show off Teeth – Teeth chatter (hissing) is a rare signal that means stay away, and only happens under extreme circumstances.

  • Standing up and Raising the Head – Guinea pigs measure up by competing who’s taller, and therefore stronger.

  • Rumble-Strutting – The guinea pig swings its behind and rumbles to show dominance.

  • Spraying – Marking territory by peeing on it.

Guinea Pigs Fighting_1

Summary

Unfortunately, even such cute and sociable animals like guinea pigs can get into a fight. Now you know the exact reasons why that might happen, so you can do your best to prevent any fights or aggressive behavior. You now also know the differences between playing, fighting, and establishing dominance. So, you might want to leave your precious animals alone if they are not actually harming each other.

Experts recommend getting two guinea pigs of the same sex, in order to avoid the majority of problems. However, even then your cavies might end up attacking one another. Always remember to monitor the behavior of your guinea pigs and consult the vet in case there is something abnormal about it. For more content on guinea pigs keep following or site. Best of luck!


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Stefanski, V., Hendrichs, H., Social confrontation in male guinea pigs: behavior, experience, and complement activity, Physiology & behavior, 1996.

Sachser, N., Lick, C., Social experience, behavior, and stress in guinea pigs, Physiology & behavior, 1991.

Sachser, N., Lick, C., Stanzel, K., The environment, hormones, and aggressive behaviour: a 5-year-study in guinea pigs, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 1994.

Berryman, J. C., Guinea-pig vocalizations: their structure, causation and function, Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 1976.

Bradley, T. A., Normal behavior and the clinical implications of abnormal behavior in guinea pigs, The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice, 2001.

Levinson, D. M., Reeves, D. L., Buchanan, D. R., Reductions in aggression and dominance status in guinea pigs following bilateral lesions in the basolateral amygdala or lateral septum, Physiology & behavior, 1980.

Beauchamp, G. K., The perineal scent gland and social dominance in the male guinea pig, Physiology & behavior, 1974.

Drickamer, L. C., Martan, J., Odor discrimination and dominance in male domestic guinea pigs, Behavioural processes, 1992.

Zychlinski, J., Experiences with cage combinations for guinea pigs, Zeitschrift für Versuchstierkunde, 1989.

Buffoni, F., Banchelli, G., Cambi, S., et al., Skin wound healing: some biochemical parameters in guinea-pig, The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 1993.

Jacobs, W. W., Male-female associations in the domestic guinea pig, Animal learning & behavior, 1976.

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.