Ranking in guinea pig groups: things to know

The hierarchy in a group of guinea pigs is important for the social and peaceful coexistence of these animals. You can find out how this relates to the hierarchy in this article.

In a group of guinea pigs, one animal is in charge and ensures harmonious coexistence – Shutterstock / Soultkd

In a group of guinea pigs, one animal is in charge and ensures harmonious coexistence – Shutterstock / Soultkd

Guinea pigs are known to be extremely peaceful, even in large groups. This also fascinates most owners of these adorable pets. But they owe the harmony among the animals to a fixed hierarchy. The highest-ranking animal always ensures peace and order in the group and the lower-ranking members orientate themselves on it. In the wild, a buck lives in harems with up to three female animals and their offspring. Therefore, when keeping pets, a group with one neuter and several females is usually recommended.

Ranking in guinea pigs

In a group with several male and female guinea pigs, an alpha male usually sets the tone. The females then subordinate themselves to the male animals, while there can sometimes be fights between the bucks. As a rule, however, all Meeris leave the management to their “boss” and thus fit in without any problems for a harmonious coexistence. It is interesting that even among the females there is a separate hierarchy. This is mostly peaceful, in some associations even without any biting.

The harem leader regularly makes his position clear by mounting other group members and always fulfills his duties. For example, he ensures peace and quiet and quickly joins in when there are arguments between the individual group members in order to clarify the fronts in his own way. He nudges the brawlers with his nose, shows his teeth or utters a warning sound. On the other hand, the “upper guinea pig” enjoys its advantages and often has the right to food or shelter.

Guinea pigs need company.  So if you want one, you usually get two – Image: Shutterstock / Miroslav Hlavko
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12/17/2013 – 5:38 p.m

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Females can also take on the leading role

However, the fact that the leadership position will be taken over by a male is not set in stone. A female can also be the leader of a group. Such dominant female guinea pigs are then also respected by lower-ranking bucks. If only female animals live together in a group, one piggy lady among them must inevitably set the tone.

In this case, too, there is a fixed hierarchy, which, however, is much more relaxed compared to mixed groups. Disputes or rank fights occur much less frequently or not at all. Surprisingly, however, the behavior of the dominant female in the leadership position is reminiscent of that of an alpha male. She also mounts the submissive group members to protect her reputation.

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