Guinea pigs are social creatures by nature. They need someone to talk to in their own language. A guinea pig living alone is like an extroverted human being locked into a room for their entire life. Being lonely causes guinea pigs to be prone to illness (*cough* expensive vet bills). Guinea pigs, herd animals, will also “be a better pet” when they have a buddy to talk to because they are more likely to come out of their hidey and interact with their human. It makes them feel safer with a friend.
In the wild, Cavia aperea live in pairs and groups. A male will usually live with one or more females. Domesticated guinea pigs can live harmoniously together in same sex groups. Because of the dangers surrounding guinea pig neuters and spays, male pairs and female pairs are most popular for pets. Do not put unneutered male and female guinea pigs together. You WILL have babies and unless you plan to take care of all of them, please do not contribute to the homeless guinea pig epidemic.
What if I give my single guinea pig a lot of attention?
Human interaction is not a substitute for a guinea pig friend. They cannot understand your language and you will be a constant reminder of a predator. Think about it this way… Imagine the scariest animal or mythological (pretend it’s real for the moment) that eats humans and then being kept as it’s plaything for the rest of your life. You might learn to tolerate it, but it won’t be a relaxing or enjoyable experience.
What if my guinea pig doesn’t like other guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs are herd animals so it’s in their nature to be with another, but they also have an introduction process. They have a social hierarchy, which means they have to decide which one will be the boss. Often this introduction will look scary to humans, but it’s actually normal behavior.
Guinea pigs, especially males, are also known to become more aggressive due to inadequate space. If your guinea pigs are starting to fight, try upgrading your cage first.
My guinea pig has always lived alone and (s)he’s happy.
How do you know (s)he’s happy? Surviving is not thriving. It is built into their DNA to be a herd animal and live with another of it’s own kind.
My guinea pig has been living alone, and I feel bad! What should I do?
The best way to find your guinea pig a compatible partner is to reach out to a guinea pig rescue near you to see if they offer guinea pig matchmaking to make sure the new guinea pig is compatible before you commit.
Research guinea pig bonding rules before introducing your guinea pig to make sure they are introduced properly. Note: There is about an 80% chance that female guinea pigs will be compatible, while male guinea pigs only have a 20% chance (LA Guinea Pig Rescue). Following introduction rules will drastically increase the chances of your guinea pigs getting along.
Watch these videos of guinea pig bonding as a great example of what a successful bonding looks like for each gender.
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