Herbert and Henry – not going so well

We were so excited to get Herbert the baby guinea pig after six long weeks with only one guinea pig. Henry was definitely suffering for being alone and I was worried about him.

Herbert, Guinea pig, Pet, Baby guinea pig, Silent Sunday, My Sunday Photo

Strangely, I would never have chosen Herbert myself, as I’ve never really liked all white animals. Yet somehow this little ball of fluff was instantly loved by the whole family, even my husband and younger son who aren’t really bothered about the guinea pigs. He really is the sweetest little thing.

At first, he and Henry seemed so happy together. Yes, Henry chased him around quite a lot. But guinea pigs like to play and that’s what they do. They would also sit quietly at the bowl together, and Henry didn’t push him away from the food. Henry didn’t even seem to mind when Herbert walked in the bowl. So I felt that they had done what guinea pigs always do – bonded immediately.

Henry and Herbert, Guinea pigs, Pets

But after we’d had Herbert for about 10 days, I noticed a small cut under his eye. It wasn’t nice and I was slightly concerned, but I didn’t think too much of it. A couple of days later, he had a larger cut on his nose. Then I was worried. Henry was clearly attacking him. What could I do? I couldn’t put him back in the hutch with Henry.

Then my eldest said he’d obviously done it himself while he was washing. Had I felt how sharp his claws are? I had! They are absolutely tiny, but very sharp indeed. He didn’t have any cuts anywhere apart from his face, so I believed it. I believed it because I wanted to, and happily put Herbert back in the hutch with Henry.

The eye healed completely and the nose was starting to heal. Then I noticed another, smaller cut on his nose.

I decided to take him to the vet. I was worried that the cuts would become infected. And maybe the vet could cut his tiny claws. I always cut the guinea pigs’ claws myself, but not when they are that tiny.

Herbert, Herbert the guinea pig, Guinea pig, Pet

You can just see the cut on his nose

Sadly, the vet concluded it wasn’t him and his tiny claws. It was Henry who was attacking him.

I was devastated. They had seemed to be getting along so well. I’d been so happy that Henry had a friend at last. I felt very sorry for poor Herbert, but I felt sorry for Henry too.

The vet said it was because Henry is only an adolescent himself – he was a year old at the end of October.

She said we had to separate them and gradually reintroduce them on neutral territory for a few minutes a day. She suggested two indoor hutches would be good, so they can sit looking at each other. But we don’t even have one indoor hutch! My husband has always been adamant that the guinea pigs have to live outside, even in winter. The vet said that once the guinea pigs are sitting next to each in their neighbouring hutches, they will be ready to live together again.

Julie, a friend on social media, very kindly offered to let me have an indoor hutch. But that would have meant one guinea pig living indoors and one living outdoors. I knew we had an old outdoor hutch under shelter at the back of the garden, so I got that one out and gave it a clean. Apart from spiders and a broken door, it wasn’t in bad condition. Obviously we couldn’t put the hutches directly opposite each other, or we would be unable to get to them for feeding and cleaning. So we put the new/ old hutch at right angles to the main hutch.

I put Henry and Herbert together for a few minutes a day, and they just chase each other around. They don’t seem ready to be together just yet. Julie also suggested I swap their possessions, so that they can pick up the scent of each other. They both have a tube in their hutches, so I’ve swapped those over.

Every time I go outside, the guinea pigs are squeaking loudly to each other. I feel that they would like to be together, but obviously it isn’t safe just yet. I feel sorry for them that they are both on their own, when they are sociable animals who need company. I don’t know whether being next door to each other is enough company for sociable animals. It has even briefly crossed my mind to get at least one other guinea pig, to keep Herbert company, but of course I could end up with even more separate hutches.

I would certainly prefer them to be together, as I think ultimately they would be happier like that. (And from a practical point of view, it would be less cleaning!) It may take a few weeks for Henry to get through his adolescence, but I really hope I will have two guinea pigs who are best friends soon.

Hutches, Guinea pigs, Herbert, Henry



Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Aww! That is a shame that Herbert and Henry aren’t getting on so great.
    It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to help and I hope it does. x

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    • Oh bless them. I hope they’re able to put aside their differences and be the best of friends soon.

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      • Thanks very much, I really hope so. I don’t like to think of them being lonely, but don’t want to rush into putting them back together before they are ready. x

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    • Thanks very much, I really hope so too! They’ve been apart two weeks now and I would really like to get them back together before it gets too cold. x

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  2. Aww that is such a shame. I hope they will be best friends soon xx

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    • Thanks very much, I really hope so. I don’t like to think of them being lonely. x

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  3. Aww Im so sorry! I hope they become firm friends in time x

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    • Thanks very much, I really hope so. I don’t like to think of them being lonely. x

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  4. Hopefully they can grow to be friends! Unfortunately I learnt the hard way that guinea pigs can ‘“fight until the death” the hard way. I didn’t even know it was a thing until we made a very grim discovery one morning.

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    • Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear that. It must have been horrible. I definitely won’t rush into putting my guinea pigs back together until I know they have calmed down.

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  5. it is good that you are taking advice on the best way to deal with this. Hopefully one day they will be fine together

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    • Thanks very much, I really hope so! I feel sorry for them because they must be lonely. But I can’t risk either of them getting hurt at the moment.

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  6. Oh no! I suppose this is always a possibility when having any sort of pets, but I always thought Guinea Pigs were really sociable animals. It does sound like you are doing everything you can, but I hope it works out.

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    • Thanks very much, I hope so too! We’ve never had any problems with guinea pigs bonding before, but we’ve never tried to pair a baby up with a guinea pig as young as Henry before either. Hopefully they can go back together after a month or so.

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    • Thank you! I really thought we wouldn’t have any problems with them, as we’d always had success in the past. I’m hoping just a few weeks of separate hutches should be enough to sort them out.

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