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Guinea Pigs/Aggressive female piggie


I'm hoping you can give me some pointers.  I'm coming into this situation as a previous owner of many guinea pigs, and I'm stumped at the situation I currently find myself in.  We just adopted 2 female, supposedly "paired" piggies about a week ago.  One, we were told, was named "Bolt" for a reason. But i picked her up, and she snuggled right down on my chest.  She was more active while she was on me, but since they had named her thusly, I just chuckled and said I'd take her anyway.  Flash forward one week.  Bolt is not like any guinea pig I have ever had before.  When you pick her up (gently, and with great patience and care, immediately cuddling her and supporting her) she starts squirming, turns around in my arms and tries to take flying leaps.  She also bites very hard.  She's also beginning to become aggressive with her cage mate, where she wasn't before.  Our cage setup is a nicely sized, brand new, 3 story C&C cage with piggie bedspreads, plenty of chew toys, tubes, large pigloo, lots of fresh veggies and food and plenty of attention.  I keep trying to work with her, but the more I try the more it seems she's having none of it.  I could use some pointers at this point.  I love Bolt, but I've got to try to settle her down, especially where her cage mate is concerned, especially.  If she's not happy being held, I can deal with that and accept it, but I'd like to continue to try. I don't want to have to separate them, and I'm confused as to why she would attack her friend.  Thanks so much in advance.  I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to make my girls BOTH happy.

Adams dip
Adams dip  
My first thought is to wonder if Bolt has been treated for mites or possibly has lice? I've found that mites will make them very agitated and is sometimes a cause for the biting. When they have mites they don't like to be touched as it seems to aggravate the itching and causes discomfort. They will also get cranky and aggressive with their cage mates.

We have no idea where the mites come from, they're just a part of a guinea pig's life. Fortunately they're easy to control. Adams dip is my first line of defense for this kind of thing. It's also easier if you have multiple pigs as you can dip all of them in the same solution. It's available at any pet store and/or feed store. For your use you probably don't need more than one small bottle and you can treat both pigs.

The bathroom sink is an ideal spot for this as you don't need much water, about three inches is enough. Mix according to the directions using warm water. Put the pig in the water, then using either your hands or a plastic cup pour the solution all over her, being careful not to get it in the eyes or ears. You want her dripping wet. And I mean soaked.

When you pick her up don't wrap her in a towel and don't try to dry her off. You want her to drip dry, literally.  Put her on a towel and let her dry that way. This is very important for the treatment to work. Treat both pigs. It's an illusion that only one would have mites or lice. That's like assuming only one of your dogs has fleas.

All pigs get mites but not all necessarily will come in contact with lice. They're so very tiny they're hard to see. They look like tiny pieces of thread. If you separate the hair on the back and look closely, sometimes you can see them move. They're so small that you may think they're dust and that your breath is making them move. Even with white hair you can see lice if you know what you're looking for.

Mites are invisible to the naked eye and are far more common in guinea pig. Not always knowing where a pig came from you can't always assume they're free of these pesty parasites. The good news that these critters are species specific and will not get on anything but the pigs.

In the meantime when you pick Bolt up I would recommend you swaddle her in a small towel with just her head sticking out. It will do two things: it will calm her down and it will give you complete control of her movements. She can't move her head around to grab a bite of you while she's swaddled.

If I am correct and this is the problem it should be easily corrected once the girls have been treated. If you have more than just the two pigs you'll need to treat everyone.

Please let me know how this works for you. Here's a picture of the Adams so you'll know what you're looking for. I've tried other brands but they don't seem to work as well as Adams, which also has a very pleasant fragrance and not like bug spray. There is a spray available as well, but the dip assures every part of the body is treated and for that reason I like it better.  

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Pat VanAllen


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.


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.

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.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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