Barbering in Guinea Pigs

There are various reasons why guinea pigs may lose patches of hair, but one of the most common is known as barbering. Barbering is when a pig chews off his own or another pig’s fur. Learn more about this condition here from a Walnut veterinary professional.

Why Does Barbering Occur?

Between two separate guinea pigs, barbering is usually the result of conflict. Two males are especially likely to barber each other, as a way to show dominance or fight for mates. In addition, pigs dealing with stress—due to living in close quarters, environmental factors, or other triggers—tend to barber each other in fights.

A guinea pig that exhibits self-barbering may do so for many reasons. One possibility is that they’re not being provided enough hay. When they run out of hay to chew on, they may turn to their own fur! Medical conditions can also lead to self-barbering, so it’s important to contact your vet as soon as you notice a problem.

What Are the Signs of Barbering?

The main symptom of a barbering problem is bald patches on a guinea pig’s body. These could present themselves on the sides, back, rump, legs, or head area—essentially, anywhere on the body that a pig himself or another animal could reach.

Red bite marks, inflamed skin, or bleeding skin are other more serious signs of barbering. If you see any of these, let your vet know immediately so your pig can get treatment as soon as possible.

How is Barbering Treated and Corrected?

First, your vet will rule out an underlying medical condition that could be causing hair loss. Once the barbering diagnosis is made, living situation changes may help the problem. With two pigs living together, separating them may be the best and easiest way to correct the problem. This is especially helpful with two fighting males or two juvenile pigs. Sometimes, simply providing an adequate hiding place for the more submissive animal will help.

Removing stressors in your pig’s life will help combat a self-barbering issue. Dietary supplements, changes in diet, or changes in amount or type of hay can also help. Ask your Walnut veterinarian more about barbering and what changes may help your pig combat the problem.

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