Have you noticed one of your guinea pigs nibbling on or chewing the fur of another?
This is called barbering. But it’s not quite like a barber cutting your hair.
If this hair chewing behavior goes on too long, the guinea pig being “barbered” can start developing bald patches where the hair is being pulled out. In fact this can happen quite quickly if the chewing is vigorous enough.
There are two main reasons a guinea pig will start doing this to another, and they are in your control to prevent:
One is stress. It’s of the upmost importance that guinea pigs are kept in a stress free environment where they have no fear of anything. If you can’t provide a stress free home, please re-home your guinea pigs to those who can. Stress can be caused by a large range of factors: by the presence of predators like dogs and cats (they should never be allowed anywhere near your guinea pigs), a loud home (such as children screaming), other loud noises in the environment (if the neighbors are building a new house, do move your guinea pigs somewhere where their exposure to the noise can be minimized), poor health and many more factors.
Guinea pigs need hiding places they can retreat to when they want to. Without these hiding spots, guinea pigs become stressed.
Health problems like skin irritation and infection should be checked by your vet.
Bored guinea pigs may also start barbering one another. Guinea pigs should never be allowed to get so bored that this behavior develops. They need lots of room, and plenty to do as well as good food supply.
If you’re sure that your guinea pig is not stressed, they have adequate hiding places, they have a good diet, and there’s no health problems, but the barbering continues then you can consider seeing an animal behaviorist. But the first port of call should be your guinea pig expert vet to rule out any conditions or environmental factors that may be causing this to happen.