Companionship for your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs should not live alone as they love the company of other guinea pigs. Single sex groups or pairs are ideal and littermates make the best companions. Male and female guinea pigs can live together but to avoid your guinea pigs mating, it is important to have the male neutered first.
Never keep guinea pigs and rabbits or chinchillas together. They have different food and housing needs and, sadly, could fight. Rabbits also often carry a bacteria called Bordetella Bronchiseptica which can lead to severe pneumonia in guinea pigs.
Bonding with your guinea pigs
Bringing your guinea pigs home is an exciting time, both for you and for them! You can have a great relationship with your guinea pigs, it just often takes a bit of time to get used to one another. Here are some top tips for bonding with your guinea pigs:
- Give them time to settle into their new surroundings
- Let them get used to your voice first – speak slowly and quietly around their housing
- Once they’re used to your voice, sit near them when they’re out and about during the day and let them come to you
- Slowly start to offer them treats
- Have patience! It might take some time, but it will be worth it
How to hold your guinea pigs
It’s easy to scare your guinea pigs when you approach them, so it’s best to crouch down and talk softly as you get nearer. Let your pets come to you – offer your hand to sniff, then gently place your hand across their shoulder with the thumb tucked between the front legs on one side.
You should then be able to slowly lift your guinea pigs and support their weight by putting your other hand under the bottom. You should then hold your pets on your lap or, if you’re standing, close to your chest.
Introducing new guinea pigs
Guinea pigs should not live alone, but unfortunately when a housemate passes away, they often leave the remaining piggy behind. If this does sadly happen, you can successfully introduce a new guinea pig and ensure a long lasting friendship. Whether you have adopted a guinea pig from a rescue, rehomed a piggy from a friend or bought one from a pet shop, bringing a new piggy into the mix needs to be done slowly and very carefully.
Before bringing a new guinea pig home, always remember to consider the gender of your current guinea pig, and whether they are neutered. If you have a female guinea pig at home, consider bringing home a neutered male, as this can be more successful. Also think about their personality types. A confident piggy might prefer a quieter housemate, to avoid issues with dominance.
Never put your guinea pigs together straight away. Start by putting their housing next to each other and swap their toys over so they can get used to each other’s smell. Eventually move to the same enclosure, but with a safety barrier between them. When they meet for the first time, introduce your guinea pigs on neutral ground and include lots of hidey holes, tunnels and their favourite food. Remember to always keep an eye on them for any signs of aggression!
Building a good relationship between new guinea pigs takes time. But with patience and knowing the right things to look out for, you can help build a long lasting relationship between your piggies. For more information, check out our ‘Introducing a new guinea pig friend’ blog.