My Guinea Pigs Introductions

Here are stories about my own guinea pig introductions. How they was introduced, how they interacted with each other and also what happened when things didn't run smoothly.

Primrose and Molly
Firstly I'll talk about my first two girls Primrose and Molly. We first brought home Primrose and a little while later, Molly came to live with us. After a quarantine period, I introduced my girls on neutral territory. Both girls were happy to see each other. They were both only around 7 weeks old when I introduced them, so were very playful, running and jumping about all over the place. Both girls continued to get on together in their living area. A few months later, I noticed Molly could be moody with Primrose at a certain time in her oestrus cycle, Nothing serious happened but for around a couple of days, Molly used to give Primrose the odd nip, to remove her from a sleeping spot. This can be normal dominant behaviour amongst guinea pigs, however Primrose used to cry out, so Molly was being very dominant. I wouldn't have allowed this behaviour to continue constantly as it can be very stressful for the guinea pig who is being nipped hard. I used to check Primrose for any wounds but thankfully her skin was always fine. For most of the time, Molly was the perfect cage mate for Primrose.

Primrose and Molly

Molly and Clover
Sadly my Primrose passed away. Although Molly wasn't in good health, she didn't have an infection or any type of illness that could be passed on to another piggy. So I decided to bring home another female as I didn't want Molly living on her own. This is when my Clover arrived. I introduced them on neutral territory and both Clover and Molly became friends straight away. Clover was only 12 weeks old and Molly was quite perky when her new cage mate arrived. Only 6 weeks after loosing Primrose, Molly also sadly passed away. I'm afraid I don't have any photo's of Molly and Clover together, but thankfully I have lots of lovely home movie footage of them.

Clover and Peachy
I then brought home Peachy, a lovely cage mate for Clover. Peachy was only 6 weeks old, very small and was such a happy popcorning little girl. I introduced Clover and Peachy in the hall, which was Clover's free range area. Straight away Clover started nudging Peachy as if to say "I'm the boss you know!" However Peachy took no notice of Clover's nudges and continued to charge around. Clover, realising that she was being ignored and that Peachy wasn't a threat to her, then decided to run-around with Peachy and they became best friends very quickly. I certainly think that because Peachy wasn't interested in being boss, they became a perfect pair. Although Clover was a little dominant over Peachy, she never bullied Peachy in any way. Clover on just a few occasions liked her head to be higher than Peachys. This behaviour always reminded me of the classic musical film The King and I "Head must be lower than King" or in Clover's case, "Head must be lower than Queen" :)

Clover and Peachy with their two other friends, Sooty and Sweep

Jasmine and Sweetpea
Much later, Jasmine and Sweetpea came to live with me. Sweetpea was around 3 months old and Jasmine was a fully grown adult female at 18 months. They were already an established pair and had a close relationship. Often Sweetpea treated Jasmine as her mother and could always be found sleeping up close to Jasmine. However Jasmine used to like her own space at times and would have a moan at Sweetpea if she was invading too much of her personal space. Both girls lived separately from Clover and Peachy. At the time I didn't have an extra large cage to accommodate 4 guinea pigs.

Sweetpea and Jasmine playing a game called "Who's going to move out of the way first?"

My girls together
Although my girls lived in pairs, I decided to see if they could all have free range time together on neutral territory. After much sniffing under the chin and the bottom area, all four girls got on really well. However, one mistake I made was thinking that, well they had great time together on neutral territory earlier in the week, lets try putting them together in the hall, their usually play area. Of course with many guinea pigs this might not have been a problem, but for Clover it certainly was. Clover had claimed the hall as her territory and just wasn't happy sharing it with Jasmine. Clover ignored little Sweetpea, she didn't see Sweetpea as a threat as Sweetpea was anybody's friend, being young she was also more interested in playing and running around.

Both Clover and Jasmine were adult sows at 18 months old. Jasmine at first wasn't looking for a confrontation, but Clover began constantly chattering her teeth at Jasmine and looked and sounded very agitated. Hearing and seeing Clovers reaction to Jasmine, Peachy became afraid and ran to the furthest corner. Peachy has always disliked hostile confrontations. Sweetpea didn't seem to notice the commotion and continued to run-around happily. At firt Jasmine ignored Clover, but it wasn't long before Jasmine also started showing signs of dominance. Both girls were teeth chattering, circling each other and Clover's hair around her neck started standing up to make herself look bigger. I rushed to get a towel from the kitchen. Having read about this handy tip, although in hindsight I should have got it ready before hand, but I was fairly new to introducing guinea pigs, especially new to angry, agitated guinea pigs. On my return from the kitchen, Clover suddenly flew at Jasmine, I quickly placed the towel over Clover and lifted her up, placing her back in her own cage. I quickly inspected Jasmine and realised she had a small scratch on her nose, but the damage wasn't too serious. Jasmine calmed down quite quickly, however Clover was still acting agitated in her cage. I gave her a piece of cucumber, a few strokes and gently talked to her and she soon calmed down. I had never seen Clover in such a state, normally she was such a gentle, placid little lady. After, I tried putting them together again on neutral territory, they were just fine together. Further down the page you'll read about Clover's other battle in the hall with one of my boy guinea pigs, Jake.

L to R, Jasmine, Clover, Sweetpea and Peachy enjoying each others company

My boys together
Just a few short months of Jasmine and Sweetpea arriving, my boys Jake and Squeekie came to live with me. At their previous home, both boys had lived together outside in a wooden hutch. Often hutches have a sleeping compartment and while visiting, I noticed that Jake hardly ever allowed Squeekie in there. He was simply left out in the cold. If Jake was eating, Squeekie ran into the sleeping area, but as soon as Jake had finished eating, Jake ran in, Squeekie ran out. As the boys grew older, Jake began asserting his authority even more. Eventually Squeekie was always having to be on his guard and in the last couple of months prior to neutering, he was becoming quite stressed. I didn't want Squeekie to spend the rest of his life being in a state of panic every time Jake went near him as bullying can be just as damaging as a full blown fight. I just kept imagining how both boys would be, so happy living with my girls. On one occasion Jake attacked Squeekie, resulting in Squeekie having a sore nose. It was the first time Jake had ever drawn blood, so with a heavy heart, I decided to separate them. Both boys were always fine together outside the cage, so it definitely was a territorial dispute on Jake's part. Their cages were next to each other, plus they still had their free range time together, so it was more of a semi-split.

Squeekie was a very relaxed guinea pig living away from Jake. In a way, the separation helped with the very final decision to have them neutered. I personally didn't want them living on their own permanently. Because I already had females, I just knew they would be both very happy living with the girls. A boar would normally live with several females in the wild, so it also seemed a very natural choice. However, that doesn't mean to say two boars can't get along together, some boars have a very close relationship with each other, it often just depends on their personalities, finding a right match and also providing them with a very large cage. At the time, my home was unable to accommodate a larger cage. Read my page about neutering and my boys Neutering operations

Jake and Squeekie, always happier together outside their cage

Introducing my boys to my girls
Three weeks after Jake and Squeekie's neutering operations, the boys finally met the girls. The normal recommended time is to wait at least 3 to 4 weeks and no earlier. It was initially hard for me to decide which pair of girls, Squeekie and Jake should live with. I knew all my guinea pigs personalities very well and decided to base my decision on that knowledge. Because Clover can be quite dominant with a guinea pig that isn't a cage mate, I decided Squeekie's more submissive personality would work better with Clover and Peachy. So Squeekie went to live with Clover and Peachy and Jake went to live with Jasmine and Sweetpea.

Peachy, Squeekie and Clover

Jake, Jasmine and Sweetpea

When I introduced Jake to Jasmine and Sweetpea on neutral territory, things went very well, as you can expect, lots of rumbles and mounts on the first day. Both Jasmine and Sweetpea although very irritated by all the attention from Jake, they showed no real aggression apart from Sweetpea giving him the odd nip. I was quite surprised how assertive Sweetpea was with Jake, I thought it would be more likely be Jasmine putting Jake in his place. Things also went very well when I introduced Jake to the girls cage. All three piggies soon settled down, just a few rumbles from Jake and all 3 piggies were happy.

When Squeekie was introduced to Clover and Peachy, he acted in much the same way as Jake. Everything also went ok when I introduced Squeekie to the girls cage, no aggression from Clover. However, surprisingly Squeekie's advances didn't settle down on the following day. The problem being, Squeekie kept on being very persistent with his advances, day after day. Both Clover and Peachy were becoming very stressed in the first week, I found it all quite upsetting that Clover and Peachy were very stressed out, being together since they were very young, they've always lived a very quiet life. Piggies can make a lot of noise when they are under pressure, even when they aren't hurt, but its usually only a temporary thing, but when its constantly happening it really does get to you, it certainly did with me. It wasn't Squeekies fault, he just adored the girls.

On a couple of occasions I removed Squeekie so the girls could have a break. Thankfully after 9 days of Squeekie living with the girls I noticed an improvement in Squeekies behaviour, he was still rumbling but not trying to mount them as much. He rarely succeeded in mounting them properly because the girls managed to buckaroo him off. I think what really helped is that both Clover and Peachy started becoming more assertive with him and they eventually realised that by giving him a quick nip if he over stepped the line, Squeekie would back off. I am pleased that I stuck with it, although the girls complaints did get to me, no real aggression was being shown and now Squeekie rarely tries to mount, not even to females that aren't his cage mates, unlike Jake :) Squeekie mainly rumbles and has earned him the nickname Mr.Rumbles.

Update on my boys
After my boys neutering operations, I did allow Squeekie and Jake to be together on the odd occasion. Remember that they were always fine together at free range time, Jake was just territorial in the cage. Thankfully both boys were happy in each others company. Jake still had the urge to mount, but it was never done in an aggressive way, Jake always became excited in the presence of a guinea pig that wasn't his cage mate, female or male.

My 6 guinea pigs together
On a few occasions I had also allowed my 6 guinea pigs to free range together on neutral territory. I wouldn't recommend you mix 2 boars with sows unless you know your guinea pigs very well, even then, be prepared for the unexpected. All my 6 piggies were happy together, although as usual, Jake makes a bit of nuisance of himself by showing off, often unsuccessfully mounting. He was often greeted with a few gentle nips, a lot of complaints and he used to back off.

My 6 guinea pigs together

Clover and Jake's quarrel
On one occasion I did allow Jake in the hall with Clover, Peachy and Squeekie. Because they had happily played together on several occasions, I really thought they would be alright in the hall. Everything between the two boys was fine as usual, but Clover was not impressed at all with Jake. Again, probably for the same reason the argument had started with Jasmine. Clover had spent her free range time in the hall for hours each day and I think she really did see the hall as an extension to her cage. Jake could see that Clover was agitated, not just a little annoyed with his advances, Clover became very angry with Jake.

Clover started teeth chattering and rocking side to side, a sure sign that she was getting ready for a fight. Maybe if Jake had ignored her reaction, then things might have settled down. However, Jake started doing the same as Clover, his rumbles had vanished, only to be replaced with teeth chattering and rocking. Clover quickly flew at Jake. I placed a towel over Clover and carefully placed her back in her cage. When they were calm, I checked them both out for injuries, thankfully they were both ok. A while later they were introduced on neutral territory. Both Clover and Jake had forgotten their differences and of course Jake became his usual 'romantic' self and not a fighter. It just shows that their own territory can mean such a lot to some guinea pigs and they will defend it, even a female against a large male.

Sweetpea and Squeekie
Sadly, Clover and Jasmine passed away in 2006 and Sweetpea and Squeekie lost their remaining cage mates Peachy and Jake in the summer of 2007. Both Sweetpea and Squeekie had shared their free-range time together so they were both already familiar with each other. Thankfully, both Sweetpea and Squeekie accepted each other and became very close friends straight away. You only have to see their videos together to see how close they are. The only time Squeekie nudges Sweetpea out of the way is when I put a handful of Timothy hay in the cage. Squeekie seems to think the hay is only for him and often sits on it. This problem was easily solved by giving both piggies a handful each in different areas of their cage.

Sweetpea and Squeekie, awwww :)

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