Male guinea pigs are territorial, and will mark their territory to make it clear who lives there – females not so much. They do so by spraying a substance called a phero-hydro-carbon (PHC). The PHC has an onion or garlic type smell, so you may notice a strong scent in your guinea pig’s habitat. If your male guinea pig is marking his territory, you’ll see him doing it while other guinea pigs are present. He’ll also be scenting the areas he frequents most often.
Guinea pigs use their sense of smell to find their way around and recognize other individuals in their habitat. Males will also assert dominance over other males by piggy backing (mounting) other males rumps in a non sexual way. Read until the end to find out how Guinea Pigs mark their territory and ways to prevent them making their home like a pigs ear.
Table of Contents
Marking Behavior and its Importance Among Guinea Pigs
Marking behavior is innate, instinctive behavior, which is important to all animals, including guinea pigs. When an animal marks his territory, he’s sending out a signal to other guinea pigs in the area, letting them know that this is his territory.
Males are more likely to mark their territory than females. This is because males are usually more aggressive, and feel the need to defend their territory against other males. Guinea pigs mark their territory with a strong smelling substance called PHC. The PHC contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that may protect against illness. Very little research has been done on PHC, so we don’t know how much flavonoids guinea pigs get from marking their territory. What we do know is that PHC is odorless when it’s in the guinea pig’s body, but the scent is very strong when it is ejected.
How Guinea Pigs Mark Their Territory
Dropping and kicking: Guinea pigs kick their feet at the ground and drop dung to mark their territory. When a male guinea pig wants to mark his territory, he’ll kick dung and urinate on the ground. He may also drop dung in piles, called middens. Middens are usually found in corners, near beds, or in another area of the habitat where the guinea pig is most likely to frequent. Guinea pigs will also kick at the walls of their habitat. The kicking motions may look random at times, but they’re actually done to mark their territory.
Marking with defecation: When a male guinea pig urinates, he’ll also drop dung at the same time. If he urinates but doesn’t drop dung, he’s marking his territory with scent only.
Scent marking with urine: Guinea pigs mark their territory with scent from their urine. They urinate both on the ground and on objects such as toys and the cage itself. The marking process begins in the bladder. As the guinea pig urinates, some of the liquid goes into the urethra and exits through the penis. The rest goes into the bladder and mixes with pheromones from his scent glands. Guinea pigs also have scent glands behind their ears, above the eyes, and near the base of the tail.
When a guinea pig urinates, the PHC goes into the ground, the walls of the habitat, and whatever else the guinea pig sprays with urine. The PHC has the same pheromones as scent marking, but it also has a strong smell of onions or garlic.
What Does Male Guinea Pig Urine Smell Like?
Male guinea pigs mark their territory with copious amounts of urine. Unlike other mammals, guinea pigs don’t spray their urine. Instead, they dribble it, and it collects in a puddle around the animal. Guinea pigs’ urine is yellow in color. The smell of urine is strong and very pungent.
The smell of male guinea pig urine can be described as a strong, pungent smell reminiscent to that of onions or garlic. It’s a very distinct smell, and most people are familiar with it since they’ve likely encountered it before. Although, its often described as strong its not strong enough to stop people keeping them.
How to Discourage Your Male Guinea Pig From Marking his Territory
If your male guinea pig has started marking his territory, there are a few ways you can discourage him. You can try removing the PHC from the ground and walls of his habitat. You can also try replacing his bedding, toys, and food bowl if they’re stained with urine.
If a drastic change in his habitat isn’t enough to deter your male guinea pig from marking his territory, you can try neutering him. Neutering reduces hormone levels, including the PHC and testosterone levels. This may help to reduce marking behavior in your male guinea pig. You can also try giving your male guinea pig a companion, such as a female guinea pig. Male guinea pigs are less likely to mark their territory if they’ve got a female partner around.
Fantastic Facts About Guinea Pigs
- A group of guinea pigs is called a herd, pod, company, or cavy rush.
Why Does Your Guinea Pig Piggyback Others?
What Is Piggybacking?
Piggybacking, also known as back riding, is the behavior of one guinea pig mounting another and sitting on its back. In many cases, the piggybacking guinea pig will wrap its front legs around the other pig’s neck, while the pig being piggybacked will remain stationary. This type of behavior is more common among younger guinea pigs, but aging pigs may also develop a habit of piggybacking. Not of a sexual nature, this act is assert dominance over other guinea pigs, and is a natural part of relationship building.
How to Stop Your Guinea Pig from Piggybacking
If you notice your guinea pigs are piggybacking each other, you may be able to stop the behavior. First, determine why pigs are piggybacking. If they are scared or unsure of themselves, you can help boost their confidence by giving them a place to hide and plenty of food and water. If one of your pigs is being bullied, you can try separating the pigs until the bully feels more confident.
Guinea pigs are social animals, but bullying can happen in any social species. If your piggybacking guinea pigs are stressed, you can try to reduce that stress. This may entail changing their diet and watering schedule, moving them to a quieter place, or getting them a more enriching environment.
There are a few things you can do to stop your guinea pigs from piggybacking. If you are raising a group of guinea pigs together, you should separate them into smaller enclosures as soon as they are eating solid foods. You should also give them a place to hide in their enclosure. This can be anything from an overturned box to a specially made hide. You should also make sure your guinea pigs have enough space.
Each pig should have at least 1 square foot to move around in. In addition, you should reduce any excessive noise in the room where your pigs are kept. Finally, you can enrich your pigs’ environment by giving them toys, treats, and interesting things to explore.
Keep a Guinea Pig’s Hutch Clean
Guinea pigs don’t need or want space to roam, so keeping their cage as tidy as possible will help with the messes. Second, provide plenty of hay and grass. Hay is a natural way to soak up urine as well as a source of nutrition for guinea pigs. Third, you can also consider using odor-reducing tactics. Certain items, like newspaper and vinegar, can be used to soak up the mess.
Make Their Area Off-Limits
When your guinea pig is marking their territory, it’s best to keep their area off-limits so you don’t make the problem worse. That means no walking on their bedding, no sitting on their furniture, and no stepping inside their cage. While this may be inconvenient, it’s necessary to minimize the odor and mess in your home. You can let your guinea pig roam around the house when they’re not marking their territory. When they start to smell, let them back in their cage or make their area off-limits again.
Provide Plenty of Hay and Grass
Hay is a natural way to soak up urine as well as a source of nutrition for guinea pigs. Plus, it also gives your guinea pig a place to sleep and hide if they are feeling stressed. Hays are inexpensive and are a good way to divert your guinea pigs’ attention from your furniture. It’s best to avoid alfalfa hay, since it contains too much calcium, which can cause bladder stones. Instead, choose timothy hay, which has just the right amount of calcium for guinea pigs.
In Conclusion – How Guinea Pigs Mark Their Territory
The good news is that most of the time guinea pigs are simply asserting themselves. This is a natural behavior when they sense that they are in a new environment. Guinea pigs mark their territory by urinating on their bedding, on their cage bars, or even on your clothing or furniture. You may also notice your guinea pig chewing on their cage bars or their bedding. This is another way that they mark their territory.
Newspaper is a commonly used item for absorbing urine. However, it can get smelly if left in a cage for too long. Try switching out the paper every few days to keep it fresh.
Add Scent-Resistant Materials
Some items will naturally repel the odor of guinea pig urine. However, if you have many guinea pigs or have tried everything else, there are commercial products available to help. These products are designed to withstand high levels of urine and are safe to use around pets and children.
- You may like: 10 Best Gift Ideas for Guinea Pig Owners
- Read: 5 Ways to Safely Exercise Your Guinea Pig
- Try browsing pet products
- Read about pens: Best Open Bottom Exercise Pens for Guinea Pigs
- Do Guinea Pigs communicate? How Guinea Pigs Communicate With Each Other