Guinea Pigs/Ear nibbling

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Question
Hello there,
We have two female guinea pigs.  They are approximately 5-1/2 months old and are supposed to be siblings.  They seem to get along pretty well.  Recently I have noticed one nibbling on the ear of the other.  It doesn't seem to hurt her as she most often stands still for it. However, one time she did run into the pigloo.  This ear has the fur chewed off the the lower part of the ear (the part that is not attached to its head).  There aren't any raw spots, but it is balding.  I was wondering if there is some sort of safe type of bitters or chewing deterrent I could put on this ear that would be safe for the guinea pig while making this behavior less desirable for the chewer.  I'm afraid of an injury as we did purchase a guinea pig a long time ago that had been bullied and had chewed ears.  

Thank you so much!
Maria

Answer
From your description this bald spot sounds like the same little bald spot that every guinea pig has. I used to tell the children that were getting pigs for the first time that God made that little spot bare because it's the perfect spot to kiss when you're holding your pig on your shoulder.

This sounds like the typical grooming behavior that many animals will do to one another. Horses, dogs, cats, birds, monkeys and many more will either use their fingers if they have them, or their teeth (as with dogs or horses).  It's not an aggressive behavior, but rather is a loving act of kindness. It's how they bond, much as mother's with babies will stroke their heads or arms.

If the pig being groomed didn't like it she would bite the 'hairdresser' and let her know she doesn't want it. The pig doing the grooming may be just displaying maternal behavior such as a mother pig does her babies. It's natural for them to do this and is not in any way harmful.

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Pat VanAllen

Expertise

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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