Ah, guinea pigs. It’s almost like a rite of passage to look after some of these adorable little balls of fur as a child. Everyone fondly remembers their pet guinea pigs they had when they were younger - so it’s only natural that we want our own children to share this experience with their own furry friends!
Because of their small size, guinea pigs are a popular pet for those who don’t have the space for a dog or larger animal. However, unlike dogs who are happy with the companionship of their human owners, guinea pigs will require at least one other small furry pal of their species to remain healthy and happy.
Why should I get more than one guinea pig?
Guinea pigs (much like chickens), are social creatures. They thrive off communicating and being around animals of their own species. If they don’t have at least one other guinea pig playmate, they will become quite lonely and withdrawn. Guinea pigs are curious folk - they love to explore, and stay active and alert. If your guinea pig is alone, they will lose motivation for all of these things - making them quite miserable and listless.
A sweet aspect of the nature of guinea pigs is that they also like to groom each other - how considerate! Therefore it’ll be harder for your guinea pig to keep themselves looking neat and tidy without a furry friend to help.
So even if you have a little space, it’s a good idea to get at least two guinea pigs. That way, they can keep each other amused - plus, they can have cavy chats all day long!
Should I choose two guinea pigs of the same sex?
When it comes to choosing your beautiful pair of guinea pigs, it’s important to keep in mind the gender of the cavies you’re going to keep together, so your animals are happy living with their roomies.
It’s recommended that you keep two of the same gender, (unless you’re getting guinea pigs that have been spayed or neutered, in which case it’s perfectly fine to keep a desexed male and female together). Guinea pigs can breed quite fast given the chance, and with there already being many abandoned guinea pigs in shelters, it’s definitely best to ensure that your little furry friends don’t produce any babies that you won’t be able to take care of. The less animals in shelters, the better! Otherwise, two females or two males are best.
If you decide to get two males, there are a few other things you need to take into consideration…
As with most animals, males can become territorial. Generally with male guinea pigs, you’ll have dominant males and submissive males. If you pick out two males, it’s kind of a lucky dip as to what kind you’ll get - you may get a dominant and submissive or two submissives...if you get two dominants, you might have a problem on your hands (more about this later!)
If you want more than two guinea pigs, you’ll need to get at least one female - three male guinea pigs is too many for one household, and some disagreements will probably ensue!
How can I tell if my two males are going to be able to live together?
When it comes to the animal’s compatibility, it really is a matter of putting them together and seeing how they react. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly whether they’ll be BFF’s, or whether they might be better off in different lodgings!
When first put together, the males will display some aggressive behaviour. This will include arching their backs, hissing and making noises that sound like their teeth are chattering. This should subside within around 10 minutes. If 20 minutes has passed and the males aren’t showing any signs of getting along, then you’re probably going to have to find them a new furry friend for the guinea pig sharehouse.
If the two males are likely to get along, none of the aggressive characteristics are likely to occur. They’ll be quite peaceful - they’ll give each other a good sniff, a purr of content and that’s about it!
A large enclosure is key
A key factor for two males getting along is ensuring they have enough space, and are kept in a large enclosure. Cramped quarters increases their feelings of frustration and tension, which can cause them to argue and fight. Just like people, really! The two male guinea pigs will need a large enough enclosure so they feel comfortable, safe and have the ability to get some alone time if they need it. Therefore something like the Piggy Parlour, Piggy Paradise or The Piggy Pen would be ideal.
Do my two guinea pigs need to be the same age?
For some animals such as cats, having two of the same age is advisable. Often the younger animal is much more sprightly and energetic than the elder, with can be annoyance to the more mature of the two. For guinea pigs, this is not the case!
It actually works quite well pairing an adult with a baby. This is because the dominant animal is easier to distinguish - age before beauty, as they say! There shouldn't be any major fighting or hissing, and the two usually sort themselves out within a short time frame.
Guinea pigs are great creatures to keep - they’re small, low maintenance and furry bundles of joy for your children to look after. Just make sure you that when you’re picking your new pets, get more than one - otherwise these little creatures won’t be their sprightly, happy selves!
Before you go to the pet shop or adoption centre, make sure you’ve got a cosy, safe, comfortable enclosure for your new arrivals - it’ll help ease the transition, and contribute to the relationship going smoothly! The Piggy Pen, Piggy Parlour and Piggy Paradise all come with enclosed run areas for the guinea pigs to get some fresh air, and lots of comfortable nooks to sleep in (and escape for some alone time). Your guinea pigs will be purring with happiness in no time!