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Guinea Pigs/Three boars warring

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Question
I have three boars,all about one year old. They lived happily for three months and then one was being bitten and would hide obviously frightened. He was getting bitten so we removed him on advise from the vet. The remaining two were fine for six months and then a role reversal of dominance happened. The normally docile submissive pig was biting the leader and he ws terrified
I have a huge hutch and run so they had the space,lots of boxes two water and food bowls. Followed all the advise. Have tried bathing them and putting them back but only managed temporary reunions, after that one is bitten and they scream round in circles till I feel I must separate them. They are now all separate but see each other through the bars. Any advise?  Nik

Answer
This is something I hear over and over again. It seems most prevalent when there are more than two boars together although it does happen even with just one pair. What is going on is a hormonal rage that has finally emerged and will not go away. It's instinct that is telling them to do this

Herding animals (and that includes cavies) typically have only one male as the head of household. He maintains the breeding rights and will fight to the death to protect them. When young males are born into the herd they're allowed to remain as long as they don't challenge the king. This included any and all species: horses, wolves, lions, cattle, zebras, hippos, elephants, gorillas, monkeys and any other animal you can name that lives as a group.

When a youngster starts reaching sexual maturity his hormones begin to rage. He will challenge the leader and a battle to the death will start. If the older male wins the younger male is banished forever from the pack. If the older male cannot defeat the youngster he will leave and ultimately die.

This behavior is hard wired into their genes. The injured pig will get an infection from the bites and wounds. This is what is happening in your 'pack'.  The only answer is to separate all of them and keep them that way.

I use my senior boars as nannies to the baby boars that are first weaned. They will live happily until the youngster realizes he is developing the urge to breed.  The exception is if the old boar is past breeding age and has become docile enough to be no threat to the younger pig.

There are exceptions of course, but typically those male hormones just won't keep quiet and the result is an ongoing major war.  My best advice is not to tempt fate. Keep them apart from now on. You've already done what you could to see if you could keep them from hurting one another.  Now it's time to take only step left and that's to allow them to live alone without the threat of injury.

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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