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Guinea Pig Behavior: Ear Biting

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Guinea pigs, for the most part, are companionable critters who relish being around other cavies. They're typically gregarious, as far as rodents go, but that doesn't mean aggression between them doesn't occur. Not all guinea pigs make suitable cage mates. When guinea pigs fight each other, they frequently target the ears. Guinea pigs also bite ears to determine heirarchy.

Indications of Fierceness

If a guinea pig feels aggressively toward his cage mate, he might express that by biting his opponent's ear. Tugging of the fur is another common hint of truculence in the guinea pig world. If you suspect your guinea pigs are harassing each other, examine them closely for things such as ripped ears. Wounds and crusting on their faces, ears and rears also signify aggressive acts have occurred. If you pick up on any signals that things might be anything less than peaceful in your guinea pigs' enclosure, split them up without delay. When guinea pigs live solo, they need even more interplay with people. Cavies get lonely easily.

Ear-Biting and Social Status

Pure aggression in fighting is not the only reason guinea pigs might get their ears bitten by others. Hierarchy may play a role. A senior guinea pig with high social ranking might bite the ears of a cavy who is lower on the totem pole, for example. Some guinea pigs bite ears when they first meet to determine who is dominant and in power. Fur-biting is another possible indicator of battles for dominance in guinea pigs.

Veterinary Care and Guinea Pig Bites

While guinea pig battles are few and far between, they can still be hazardous. If one of your cavies bites the ears -- or any other body part -- of one of his cage mates, notify your veterinarian immediately. These rodents are equipped with sharp incisors that can break the skin and lead to infection. Infections, in turn, can bring upon uncomfortable bumps known as abscesses. Minimize the potential hurt that bites can cause by alerting your vet to them.

Guinea Pig Friendships

Generally, guinea pigs share peaceful rapports with fellow cavies. If you want guinea pigs to get along, put time into choosing cage mates. Adult males can be extremely fierce to each other, partaking in battles that can be fatal. They occasionally can live together harmoniously, but usually only if they're siblings who have been together since birth. Neutering brothers also often helps, as hormones frequently drive their aggression. Groups and pairs of unspayed female cavies can often be serene together, although exceptions are always possible. Opposite-sex pairings can be good, but only if one of the pair is fixed. If you neglect to fix at least one of the pair, mating and breeding become a simple matter of time.