Last week, our local shelter finally got in a single female so we went to introduce them. The other female -- Raven -- was about a year old as well and had been surrendered with a bonded pair who had supposedly been bullying her. The introduction seemed to be going really well: Mystery sniffed her, groomed/nibbled her ears and they munched on some hay together. Raven was a bit jumpy while Mystery was sniffing her, but they'd both groomed themselves during the initial introduction. Maybe 10 or 20 minutes into the introduction, Raven nipped at Mystery, though I'm not sure if any of the nips actually made contact. From that point on, Mystery would start to chatter if Raven approached and then Raven would nip at her again. For the most part, Mystery kept herself hunched on the opposite side of the pen. While she did approach Raven once from behind, she started to chatter again when Raven turned around. Despite this, Raven was apparently relaxed enough to groom herself. After about an hour, the shelter staff and I decided to break it off and agreed to come back the following Saturday and try again.
I'd researched beforehand and knew that introductions often looked scary (which is why my mom spent most of the intro outside) but that most of the time, females would work it out, even if it took hours or days. I reassured my mom that what we saw was perfectly normal guinea pig behavior and they just needed to sort out their hierarchy. My mom, who hates conflict of any kind, wasn't so sure. But after doing even more intensive research on bonding and dominance, I became determined to house them in a split cage for a while so they can get used to each other before introducing them again.
Except there's still this small part of me that's worried it's not going to work out, which is why I'm here. I'm under the assumption that as long as no blood is drawn, they should be fine. None of the nips drew blood and Mystery didn't squeal when Raven nipped her. There was also a surprising lack of humping and/or rumblestrutting. It's possible that Mystery hasn't been around another guinea pig since she was a baby, so I'm wondering whether she was chattering out of fear? I'm pretty confident in the split cage method, as I've been following Scotty's Animals and figured if he can somehow make it work for two hormonal teenage boars, then it should work for us too, right? I'm just worried about them getting into an actual fight when introducing them a second time and my mom putting her foot down about getting Raven before we can even try it out.
Am I just overreacting? Any thoughts/advice at all would be much appreciated.
Raven & Mystery
- And got the T-shirt
And here's the article we consider the bible on guinea pig introductions: http://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html. Introduce them at a time when you've got hours to give to it. Don't rush them at all. And when you do put the in the cage, break up the sight lines with some fleece forests or strategically draped fleece so they're not always in each other's sight. And no hideys with only one door.
- Supporting my GL Habit
Warning -- it can escalate again once you get home, but if you can make it at home the first 2-3 hours without bloodshed, it WILL start to calm down after that, even if it takes a day or two for the screaming and chasing to stop. I've had some pretty intense introductions that ended up being a good and happy bond.
Reading up on other peoples experience though it seems we have been lucky that they all got on so well straight off.