Barbering is the chewing or plucking of guinea pig’s hair by their friends. There are many different reasons for barbering and before viewing a guinea pig that barbers as ‘bad’ the reasons why this might be happening should be looked into.

In neglect cases often the lack of hay is a reason for barbering, by providing more hay the barbering should cease- unless there is also a behavioural reason for it. Guinea pigs do not behave ‘badly’, they behave instinctively.

Hair loss over the shoulders (particularly of longer haired pigs) can sometimes be attributed to their housing, for example igloos and tunnels.

If your guinea pig is barbering themself then skin problems should be eliminated before declaring that it is ‘just self barbering’.

Often it is expressive behaviour that can be related to a situation that has occured recently. For example on introduction to a new group. The cause of the barbering is unimportant once health concerns (particularly skin problems and any sort of pain) have been eliminated. Attention to the surrounding guinea pigs (particularly those being barbered) needs to be monitored, any victims that are so distressed by it that they stop eating should be removed and put into another pen with other guinea pigs.

Watch your subject to find out when barbering is occuring, and if there is a pattern to the behaviour. How are the other guinea pigs reacting to being barbered? Are they retaliating, suffering or unconcerned? How do you know? This behaviour is sometimes complex and all situations will arise because of different reasons, where the issue is behavioural and unacceptable, with the right ‘treatment’ (ie patience and monitoring) the barbering can be reduced.

Other guinea pigs will barber a little and it will not be an issue.

Barbering that has happened in less than a week. It is not just longhaired guinea pigs that are barbered.

Looking like the symptoms when mites present. Note the particularly large patch near the shoulder.

Extensive barbering to the head and chewed hair over the ears.

Just two weeks of barbering. Some guinea pigs do not retaliate when they are being barbered while others do. This guinea pig and the ‘barber’ often share a house together with no problems.

Pictures courtesy of Reading Guinea Pig Rescue.

January 18, 2009   Posted in: Gallery

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