Guinea pigs are usually gentle, uncomplicated little souls - quite content with a simple life of munching on hay & fresh veggies, napping in their cozy snooze spots, and popcorning about when they’re at their happiest.
They’re sociable too, thriving on companionship with other guinea pigs. After all, wild cavies live in herds of 10 or more. So for the most part, guinea pigs are lovers, not fighters. That’s why we adore them so much, right?
But trouble can find its way even in piggy paradise. If you can hear an urgent and loud squeaking coming from your piggies’ cage, then you should prepare to meet the darker, angrier side of your small furbabies. That’s no excited wheek to anticipate a tasty meal but rather a way to let everyone around know that your piggy is not happy.
If you go over to the cage to look, you might find two of your guinea pigs baring their teeth, chasing or even nipping at each other. And your adorable fluff balls aren’t playing around…
Do Guinea Pigs Fight?
Yes, guinea pigs do occasionally have a bit of a squabble.
While it may shock to see this side of your even-tempered piggy, it’s a normal part of their wild cavy instincts. So try not to be too alarmed by any argy-bargy behavior!
Some battles are unavoidable and to be expected. That said, you should be on hand to monitor the situation and break up any brewing piggy brawls. A guinea pig fight should never be allowed to go as far as causing any injury.
Are your floofs goofing around, or is something more serious afoot? As a responsible piggy pawrent, you should get to know their body language and keep an eye out to spot if your guinea pigs are playing or fighting.
Are my guinea pigs fighting or playing?
What to look out for when it comes to spirited, frolicsome piggy play? Playful piggy roommates will happily chase each other around the cage like their own shadow - this behavior is often fondly referred to as an adorable ‘piggy train’. They’ll also interact with the same toys and hideys, and make contented low-pitched purring sounds to voice their glee.
However, the differences between playing and fighting aren’t exactly black and white. In fact, a piggy’s display of dominance can easily be mistaken for aggression, despite them being completely normal behaviors that help establish social hierarchies.
When keeping piggies together, you should expect this kind of displays quite often. Normal bonding and dominance signs can appear in the form of your piggies chasing each other, lifting their heads high, chattering with their teeth, rumbling, mounting, and the most delightful of piggy behaviors: butt-sniffing.
Your piggy’s tone and body language should give you an idea of when a fight is about to break out. More specifically, watch out for:
- Biting with the intent to harm
- Drawing blood
- Using full force to lunge at another pig
- Audible, aggressive teeth chattering
- Full-blown physical altercations
Do male guinea pigs fight more than female ones?
It might sound like terrible gender stereotyping, but it’s true that testosterone-fuelled male pigs are more likely to be aggressive than mind-mannered females.
That said, females aren’t completely innocent. Sows have been known to get their claws out for the odd catfight, too!
Overall, fights can happen between pigs regardless of their gender. Let’s take an in-depth look at the 5 main reasons why guinea pigs may suddenly start a kerfuffle.
Why Are My Guinea Pigs Fighting: 5 Reasons
Guinea pigs may begin to fight out of the blue for a variety of reasons, but this will mostly boil down to 5 main issues. Some are normal and no cause for concern, others may require intervention. Whatever the situation, you should never let a fight escalate to the point where piggies are injured or blood is drawn.
The wrong guinea pig pairing
One of the key rules when pairing up guinea pigs is to know what sex they are. Knowing this from the start, and arranging your pairings accordingly, can nip any potential problems in the bud.
Unless you want guinea pig babies - which is generally inadvisable, given that guinea pig pregnancies and births need a lot of specialist care and can be dangerous for piggies - the best combinations tend to be single-sex pairings or small groups.
A single, neutered male may get along well with one or two sows, but don’t ever home one sow with two boars. The two boys will instantly compete for the girl’s attention and this is unlikely to be a peaceful competition.
With same-sex pairings or groupings, this obviously won’t be an issue. But that doesn’t mean that your duo or little group won’t have disagreements. That’s because, just like the hoomans, their different personalities might simply not be a match and lead to some quarreling. Any expert piggy pawrent will be familiar with just how individual each guinea pig’s personality can be!
You may have a shy little one who hides at the sound of human feet approaching, or a bold soul who’ll dart up to the side of the cage to pull a piece of cucumber offered through the bars. Perhaps you have a relaxed, laidback pig or a more lively, inquisitive adventurer…
You can imagine how the two might clash over a few things!
Guinea pig dominance squabbles
With guinea pigs, there is an extra point to consider: dominance.
Some piggies tend to be more dominant while others are happily submissive. This is natural - in the wild, herds of guinea pigs always have dominant ‘leaders’ along with more laid-back submissives who’ll follow their lead.
With just two or three piggies in a cage together, there still needs to be a natural herd hierarchy. When guinea pigs are first housed together in one cage, this is the top priority in their agenda of things to work out.
Until one guinea pig assumes the subordinate position and the dominant guinea pig is crowned (imagine if there was an actual guinea pig coronation, wouldn’t that be something to see!) there will be friction. If you have more than one guinea pig stubbornly hanging on to claim that top spot, there will be unrest in the cage until it’s sorted.
As a rule, male guinea pigs tend to be more dominant and, therefore, will fight between themselves for longer than female piggies will. It’s important to be able to recognize whether the ‘fights’ you’re seeing among your guinea pigs are actual squabbles or whether they’re merely vying for dominance.
Some signs of a guinea pig trying to assert themselves as leader of the ‘herd’ include shuffling their bums around the cage to mark territory with their scent, chattering their teeth, or snorting and chasing other piggies - especially if one has grabbed a prime spot on a bed, under a cozy hidey or smack bang in a delicious looking clump of hay. This is all normal behavior, so try not to worry.
When your fluffy friends are in the midst of establishing their hierarchy, it can be stressful to watch but try to reassure yourself that once one guinea pig has accepted the submissive role (clue: this will be the one who quickly scurries off when being shooed away from the prime spot on a bed, under a hidey or in the hay!), things should be relatively settled and calm.
However, things may be getting more hairy if you see your pigs baring their teeth and standing on their hind legs in a rather menacing fashion. They may chatter their teeth more loudly and even fling themselves at each other. They may even bite and draw blood!
If that happens, you’ll need to step in to rescue your piggies from getting hurt. More on this later.
Your guinea pigs are ill or hurt
Let’s be honest, nobody is at their cheerful, charming best when they’re feeling poorly. So why should guinea pigs be any different?
Generally speaking; as prey animals, guinea pigs are pretty adept at masking illness or injury to avoid making themselves even more vulnerable to predators.
That said, if you notice that one of your piggies is unusually grumpy or aggressive towards their housemates, ask yourself if there’s a chance that they may have developed a health issue - especially if their aggressiveness seems to have come from nowhere.
You may want to give your piggy a gentle check to watch out for any obvious wounds or infections such as bumblefoot or ulcers. But it’s always best to consult your local cavy-savvy vet just to make sure you can rule out any niggling health concerns that could be causing your pig to lash out.
Your guinea pig cage is too small
Guinea pigs need plenty of room to explore, forage, and stretch their legs. Unlike hamsters and mice, they don’t like climbing and don’t have the best depth perception either so one large expanse of floor space is preferable to a multi-tiered cage.
They’re also sociable creatures who generally love spending time and bonding with their fellow piggies. But just like hoomans, they also need their own space for peace and a snooze. For this reason, it’s crucial to provide a hidey or bed for each of your guinea pigs, alongside one food bowl and water per piggy to avoid any potential competition and squabbles.
However, if your piggies’ cage is too small, there’s no getting around the fact that there simply won’t be enough space for them to have that all-important ‘me time’ they need to be happy and healthy - and, crucially, to not annoy their cage mates!
Your guinea pigs are bored
Yes, guinea pigs can get bored and tetchy just like us!
If they don’t have enough toys or places to hide and play in their cage, then your piggies may well end up bickering with each other out of sheer boredom.
Try to liven things up by offering them fun new toys to play with and explore. Take them out of their cage for cuddles with you and to stretch their legs - either in an outdoor run or around your house, providing it’s all safe and piggy-proof, of course.
How to Stop Guinea Pigs from Fighting
If you do have a clash of piggy personalities, then try our advice below to stop your guinea pigs from fighting. Depending on the situation, you may just need to separate them temporarily. This gives them both a chance to cool off before making friends again later. However, if you have two cavies that really don’t see eye to eye and continue to butt heads, housing them in different cages might be a better permanent solution.
It should go without saying that, where possible, it’s always best to prevent fights rather than wait until you have to intervene.
Separate your guinea pigs safely
In the midst of a guinea pig fight, you might need to step in to prevent them from seriously hurting each other. Sadly, a large guinea pig could do a lot of damage to a smaller, younger, or weaker piggy.
First things first, it’s important to protect yourself when you do this. As you may already have found out, guinea pigs have very sharp teeth and their nibbles can really hurt!
Wear protective gloves - gardening or oven mitts do the job nicely - to ensure that you aren’t bitten accidentally when you’re trying to separate your fighting piggies.
Once you’ve separated your warring piggies, you should keep them apart for several hours or so. Not only is this good for them as it allows them to calm down, but it also means you’ll have the opportunity to check each pig over in case they are hurt or injured.
After they’ve spent some time cooling off, your piggies will need reintroducing to each other. Needless to say - this should be approached with caution! It’s worth keeping a watchful eye on them to ensure no further battles erupt.
Hopefully, this does the trick. If not, then it may be the case that despite your best efforts, your piggies will just not give up the fight and so they’ll need to be permanently separated from each other for their own safety and happiness.
Divide your C&C cage
Dividing your piggies becomes a must if they ever go as far as biting each other, as they’re highly unlikely to ever get along again.
However, since guinea pigs are sociable creatures at heart, they would still benefit from being able to smell and see each other, and C&C grid cages enable you to do just that.
As these types of cages are modular, you can quickly and easily rework the grid formation using the grids to split one cage into two - separating spaces, coroplast bases, and fleece liners with a common wall.
That means that your piggies will be close enough for comfort, but won’t be able to get at each other for further skirmishes. Here are some quick and easy C&C cages grid formation tips to separate fighting guinea pigs:
- Build a large 8x2 C&C cage and split it down the middle so that each piggy has a 4x2 C&C cage
- Build a wide 6x4 C&C cage and split into two 6x2 or two 3x4 cages
- Build a double 4x2 C&C cage with a guinea pig housed on each level
Make sure your guinea pigs have enough space, food, and toys
As we’ve mentioned, prevention really is the best cure when it comes to guinea pig fights. For the most part, happy and healthy piggies that are having their needs met should get along just fine - at least, most of the time!
Firstly, you should ensure that their cage is large enough to provide them with ample space. Your little fluffballs won’t appreciate feeling like they’re on top of each other, and may understandably get narky because of it.
Cavies love company - whether hooman or furry - but they do need some alone time every now and then too. Make sure they have some cozy corners in which they can catch a few moment’s peace and quiet.
Many guinea pig fights will emerge over space and toys, so a good solution is to make sure you have two of everything - toys, hides, water bottles, tunnels, etc. While there are no guarantees, this should help prevent fights. Each pig can then rest easy in the knowledge that they have their own things to enjoy.
It will also help to give your guinea pigs plenty of exercise outside of their cage, whether in a cavy-safe part of your home or in an outdoor run.
Guinea Pigs Fighting FAK’s - Frequently Asked Kavee’s
Do guinea pigs and hamsters fight?
Yes, it’s natural behavior for guinea pigs and hamsters to fight. This is because a guinea pig will often try to assert their dominance. Overall, these distant cousins just struggle to get along due to their very different personalities and as such, should never be housed together.
Do guinea pigs fight to the death?
This situation is rare, but not entirely impossible. When an older, boisterous cavy is paired with a young pup, they could seriously injure the younger one in a fight or even kill it. Always introduce guinea pigs cautiously and give them a cage that’s big enough to house the two of them and provide them with a generous supply of food.
Do female guinea pigs fight?
Whilst females don’t tend to fight as much as male guinea pigs, the short answer is that yes - sows do clash on occasion. This is because they still need to establish the cage hierarchy. Guinea pigs may fight for many reasons, some regardless of gender.