Guinea pig aggression can come on suddenly -- two cavies can go from cuddly and docile to fighting for life or death in a matter of moments. It can be surprising and frightening. If you do not act quickly, the fight can result in severe injuries. Breaking up a guinea pig scrap comes with risks: An enraged guinea pig may attack you just as readily as he will attack his combatant.
Understand the Signs
Normally, guinea pigs enjoy the company of others of their kind. Occasionally, they may have issues establishing social order. Rumbling, chasing, dry-humping and even the odd nip on the rump are all common dominance behaviors. In most cases, a dominant guinea pig will get another to back down, and everything will return to normal. If neither pig backs down, however, a fight may ensue. If you notice two pigs chattering their teeth at one another,or biting hard enough to draw blood, a fight is imminent.
If guinea pigs progress beyond normal dominance behavior into actual fighting, the most important thing you can do is break it up as quickly as possible. Guinea pig teeth are long and sharp, capable of producing nasty wounds. Two guinea pigs locked in combat can do significant damage to one another; they can cause permanent injuries or disabilities. Closely monitor guinea pigs who show clear signs of aggressive behavior, especially if they begin chattering their teeth at one another.
While acting quickly is important, you should also take steps to protect yourself. Trying to separate two fighting guinea pigs with your bare hands is a sure way to get bitten -- and a guinea pig bite can be deep and painful. A berserk guinea pig is capable of causing enough damage to your bare hand to require medical attention. Cover the animals with a towel to protect your hands from bites, or use heavy gloves to separate the animals. You may also be able to use a broom, dustpan or other handy barrier to get between the guinea pigs.
Separate the Combatants
Once you have the fight broken up, you need to get the two guinea pigs as far apart as possible. Separate the combatants; if you can, put each guinea pig in a different room so they cannot see or hear one another. In many cases, removing the enemy from view will render an angry pig docile within moments. You should continue using gloves or a towel when handling them, however, because not all guinea pigs calm down quickly; an angry animal may interpret your physical contact as an attack.
Once you have the guinea pigs calmed down in separate rooms, you can try reintroducing them slowly. Pick a neutral ground, like a playpen or couch, so neither animal feels he has to defend his turf from an invader. Keep protective gear handy in case the fight resumes. Watch for aggressive behavior to stop it before it starts. In some cases, you may be able to distract combatants with vegetables or treats long enough for them to forget their beef. If two cavies simply refuse to get along, you may have to house them separately in order to keep the peace.
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Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.