Guinea pigs are highly social creatures who need the company of their own kind. But what happens if you lose a piggy and want to find your cavy chum a new companion? We’ve a step-by-step guide to help you make a smooth introduction...
Posted: 19 January 2020
A solo guinea pig is not likely to be a very happy guinea pig. These chatty cavies really need at least one other piggy for company and to allow them to express their natural behaviours. However, introducing one guinea pig to another has to be done very carefully. Put yourself in their paws – how would you feel about living with someone you don’t know?
Before you start looking at potential partners, make sure you know the sex of your guinea pig (ask your vet to check if you’re not sure). If you have a male, it’s best to get a neutered female to be his roommate. In the wild, guinea pigs would have just one mature male in a group and putting two boys together who are not from the same litter will likely result in a fight. Never consider a bunny as a new pal – these two different species can’t communicate very well and rabbits are likely to bully guinea pigs and given them serious diseases.
If you have a female guinea pig, a neutered male may be better than another female – girls can be just as territorial with each other as boys. In fact, the animal charity PDSA advises that sometimes, if you have two or more females who aren’t getting along, introducing a male piggy can help the situation.
A good place to find a new friend is from a rescue centre such as Blue Cross, RSPCA and Wood Green as the staff will be able to tell you a bit about different guinea pigs’ personalities and check they are in good health. If your piggy is a confident sort, they may prefer a quieter friend, and vice versa.
The first rule of guinea pig introductions is to never put them together straight away. Building a good relationship takes time and it’s really important that things get off on the right foot. Here’s a plan of action to follow:
Once your guinea pigs seem comfortable hanging out together either side of the barrier, pick a neutral area for their first proper meet and greet. This is essential because if one feels the other is intruding on their territory, they may get really protective and sparks could fly.
Once you’re sure your guineas have become pals and are showing all positive behaviours, they’re ready to be roomies.
Happy, positive guinea pig behaviours reveal things are working out just fine. Look out for these, outlined by PDSA:
Signs that not everything in the garden is rosy include:
If you start to see more negative behaviours, such as signs of stress or aggression, then go back a step. Sometimes, building a good relationship takes work.
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Sources: pdsa.org.uk, bluecross.org.uk