Barbering is when a guinea pig “barbers” or chews his own hair or that of his guinea pig companions. until there’s a scruffy or bald patch where the fur’s been trimmed away. When a guinea pig barbers itself, it can take the form of a V-shape on their back because of the spots they’re able to reach when they turn around to bite at their fur.
There are a few reasons why guinea pigs barber themselves or others. A guinea pig may barber as a way to assert dominance, and as a response to the conflict between competitive piggies, often an older to a younger male. Guinea pigs may also barber each other due to boredom or stress.
Bald patches or evidence of barbering can also be responses to itching or uncomfortable skin due to an allergy, parasitic infection, fungus, or other undiagnosed skin condition. If you notice bald patches on your guinea pig and your piggie seems agitated or has inflamed skin from where they’ve been biting at themselves, a trip to a reliable guinea pig vet would be the best next step to take to make sure they’re not suffering from an underlying skin condition like mites or ringworm.
If your piggie has a clean bill of health from the vets, there are a few things you can try at home...
1-Try and reduce stress in the environment by providing plenty of places to hide.
2-Keep them busy by giving them more human contact,
3-Also watch for any recent changes in the environment that may have coincided with the barbering beginning, like having the cage in a new spot, different noises, etc. and adjust to a calmer environment if possible.
4-Give them alternative things to chew like guinea pig appropriate chew toys and empty toilet rolls filled with hay. Extra toys and things to do can be a great help by giving them something else to do; preventing boredom.
5-Get them checked for skin conditions by your guinea pig vet and depending on your vet’s recommendations, sometimes changes to their diet may be necessary.
6-Do not separate submissive piggies from dominant ones if the behaviour is driven by competition and fighting. Isolation is not ideal as guinea pigs are social, re-bonding is difficult and can lead to more problems.
7- If all else has failed try giving them more then one different types of hay each day. It has been tried and tested to work!!