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Guinea Pigs/Housing 2 male guinea pigs

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Question
We got a male guinea pig little over a month ago, and did'nt asked how old, but did'nt look very old, any way looking on the internet they sugest having 2,and that you could have 2 males, so we got another one just the other day, brought him (CoCoa) home and put CoCoa and Squeeks on the floor, Squeeks went to CoCoa started smelling him and seemed to get along. I put them in the cage I have for Squeeks, and it seems that Squeeks chases CoCoa around, and does'nt let him eat out of the bowl. I went to our vet supply store and got a larger cage for them, and was wondering if that would stop Squeeks from chasing and not letting CoCoa eat if it was a teritorial thing going on, and if so should I put the new guinea pig in the cage first, and let him run around, and get settled in before I put in the bigger one

Answer
Housing two boars together can be a very tricky task. If they're raised together since they were tiny they will sometimes live happily without any issues. If you have one that is already been by himself, and if he is starting to reach sexual maturity (which happens about three or four months old it's not so easy.

They start reaching sexual maturity at about four months of age, but some have an earlier start on the hormones. Because these are herding animals they do not tolerate another boar who might challenge the breeding rights of the herd.

This is true of all herding animals whether it's horses,hippos, cattle, sheep, lions, etc.  There is always only one alpha male. As young males are born into the herd they are allowed to stay only until they begin reaching maturity and making passes at the females. That's when the fight begins. The alpha male will fight for his territory and will not stop until one of them is either dead or retreats in defeat.

Once the battle has been fought the winning male reserves the right to take over the role as the alpha and none of the females are allowed to breed with anyone but the 'king.'  If the older male loses he is banished forever from the herd. If the young challenger loses the battle then he is banished.

If there are no females around then sometimes you can get two boars to reside without trouble. But very often as one of them gets older the hormones drive them to do what Nature has hard wired them to do: Be the only king on the hill.

If you start hearing one of them growling, posturing with the hair standing up on their back and swaying back and forth a serious fight is imminent.  So you need to be diligent in watching to see if they're going to be willing to live together peacefully.

Maintaining control of the feed bowl is one way of showing who is boss. If that's all that you see and there's no evidence of serious fighting you may be able to keep them together. Try putting another bowl on the opposite side of the cage. It may be that in time Squeeks might relent and allow Cocoa to stay, but there are no guarantees.

Although they do like company there are many pigs who spend their lives with just their people as company. Boars especially are okay being alone. If you want Squeeks to have someone to converse with you can always put their cages close together so they can touch noses and 'talk' to one another without being able to fight.

A guinea pig bite can and will easily get infected. I wouldn't risk the health of either one of them just for the sake of company.  

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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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