Reecey and Hershey were introduced to each other a month ago and it has been anything but easy for me! While Reecey got along with my previous guinea pig just fine, it was an emotional roller coaster with Hershey. There were so many times where I thought they would be just fine until they would have days where all they did was bicker. I consider myself an experienced guinea pig mama but bonding Reecey and Hershey really tested me!

    During the introduction phase, I did my best to follow the typical introduction rules; neutral meeting ground, clean cage, separate after fights with health check ups afterwards, and interfere as little as possible unless blood is drawn. It became clear during the introduction phase that Reecey wanted to be in charge and Hershey just wanted to be left alone. Also, Hershey lunged at Reecey a lot which was expected since Hershey wasn't socialized well prior to adopting him; he also had a rough start so he was overcoming a lot of trauma.

    After 1 hour of meeting each other, they both finally had settled down so it was time to move onto the next phase and move them to their cage.

1 hr after introduction

    Once inside the cage though, Reecey wouldn't let up chasing Hershey. Naturally when you introduce anything new, boars will become more territorial about it, so I kept most items out of the cage until they made more progress. It took a couple more hours after being in the cage for both to calm down but just when they did, the fighting continued soon afterwards. Since I wasn't comfortable with how the introduction went, I separated them over night and decided to redo the introduction next day.

    The next day, I let them see each other again but the fighting continued to the point where both were rolling around in their cage. I decided that this was the point I'd give them a buddy bath and clean the cage completely...again. It was a pretty stressful process for me because it required me to learn new things about guinea pigs behavior that I didn't really have to do before with my previous pigs.

    If you don't know, Buddy baths can help neutralize guinea pigs scents while at the same time, helping them bond over a scary situation (aka, the water). Sometimes it works though and sometimes it doesn't, but it was worth trying anyways.


Buddy bath complete! Look at those faces!

    Once everything was clean, I put the guinea pigs back in their cage to reintroduce them. Unfortunately, the fighting continued but this time I didn't interfere unless it was to check them over for bites. Every hour that passed by, they made more progress; Reecey would let Hershey eat and Hershey stopped lunging. After 8 hours from the time the bath was given, I finally caught them lying down next to each other so it was finally time to put more items into the cage for them to enjoy. 

8 hrs after the buddy bath!

    It definitely stirred them up a bit more but I made sure they had two of everything and gave them as much space away from each other as possible; just because they're cage mates doesn't mean they always want to see each other! While they were making so much progress, I already had plans at this point to expand their cage to help them both be more comfortable around each other. 

    The next day, I spent all morning expanding their cage and modifying it to a 2x5. I knew I wanted a loft so after 3 attempts, I finally built a 1x1 loft with a ramp. Once the cage was finished, the piggies immediately took a liking to their bigger cage! I also had to teach them how to use the ramp and once they realized it led to more food, it became one of their favorite spots. Expanding the cage really helped the fights die down which was a huge relief!


Their new upgraded cage - setup 1

Their final setup w/ improved loft

    Even though the fights died down drastically, they still had their moments where they bickered. Hershey was going through his last months in his teen years which left him irritable and constantly annoying Reecey. When this happened, I separated Hershey for an hour so he could calm down and it normally did the trick. However, by the end of the month, they got into a major fight over night that left Hershey constantly hiding under the hay bag and Reecey very territorial of one side of the cage; it threw me off completely so I once again was back at work. 

    It was clear after checking Hershey over that they had gotten into a fight; Hershey had a bite mark behind his ear and a big patch of fur missing but there was no sign of blood. Since I knew Reecey wouldn't attack unless he was heavily provoked, I was under the impression that Hershey had annoyed him so much to the point where it lead to a big fight. It also seemed as if the dominance between the two shifted because Hershey would squeal really loud whenever Reecey came near him and Reecey was back to controlling the cage.
    I let them hash it out for 2 days like this but when things didn't get better, I ended up cleaning their cage and giving them both a quick bath. While I had second thoughts on it at first, it honestly helped them both make up to one another! I later then changed a few things in their cage by adding a privacy wall under the loft - this way they didn't constantly face each other as they were using this area as a way to square off at one another. I also added another hidey hut and a big long tunnel that they could use to escape from each other if needed.

New privacy wall & both pigs lying near each other

    So far, these changes seem to be working and I can only hope that my piggies only get closer from here on out. It's been one heck of a roller coaster ride with these two but I'm beginning to have hope for them. 

Until next time! - Sarah 



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