Guinea Pigs are social creatures that thrive in big communities, both in captivity and in the wild. Even if you decide to keep your pet in large Guinea pig cages, it still requires the company of at least one fellow cavy and your human attention as often as possible.
Guinea pigs are amongst the most popular pets in the United States and worldwide due to their small dimensions. Unlike other rodents such as gerbils or chinchillas, Guinea pigs are quite easy to look after and, overall, affordable.
However, this doesn’t mean that you will get to neglect your pet by being away for days and not offering it the attention it needs.
Before deciding whether or not a piggy is the best pet option for you and your family, here are some things you need to take into account.
Natural habitat vs domestic habitat
Guinea pigs live in herds in their natural habitat. Although they are considered exotic creatures and are preyed upon by various animals in the wild, piggies prefer companionship. They rely on their herd members to stay warm, gather food, and get alerted about incoming enemies.
Domestic breeds of Guinea pigs maintained some of the features of their free ancestors, meaning they prefer companionship as much as possible.
Although each individual has its own mood and personality, most Guinea pigs will thrive in big families, whether with other pets of the same breed or with humans. These cute rodents are friendly and quite easy to tame, as long as you’re patient and kind.
Do Guinea pigs need a roommate?
If you think you can offer all the love and attention a Guinea pig needs to thrive in your home, think again. While they will appreciate your cuddles and petting sessions, keep in mind that they are social creatures and require a partner of the same breed. In fact, in some countries, it is illegal to adopt only one Guinea pig as these animals can easily get depressed without a friend.
However, you shouldn’t be too worried about the costs of adding another pet to your house. As we previously mentioned, these small rodents are quite easy to look after and won’t require expensive investments except for a large cage and high-quality food.
There are plenty of advantages for both you and your Guinea pig if you decide to adopt another pet, which will later reflect in your animals’ behavior and personality.
First of all, Guinea pigs love eating and they can easily get overweight or obese if you don’t constantly watch their weight. Thus, the best way to keep them in shape is to have at least one partner that will force them to be more active and exercise daily. A running wheel will definitely look more fun if both your pets can enjoy it.
Secondly, you will reduce food costs. Just like humans, animals can be quite picky when it comes to their food and, even though you try to provide high-quality and organic food to your Guinea pig, it may not want to eat all of it.
Having a pair of Guinea pigs results in more chances for them to eat all of the food you are offering, as one individual may prefer some ingredients, while the other could eat the rest. As a result, you’ll actually end up saving money when buying food for two piggies instead of one.
The key is to observe their behavior and introduce them to fresh fruits and veggies regularly to see which ones they prefer. In time, you will notice your pet’s behavior improves and it becomes less afraid and friendlier. Having at least one other companion will reduce the chances of depression and isolation.
Introducing Guinea pigs to each other
However, creating a bond between your two pets won’t be as simple as just putting them inside the same cage. Often enough, individuals will require time to get used to other animals, even if they are the same breed.
There are also some rules you need to follow to prevent future problems. For instance, unless you want to name babies for the next few years, you shouldn’t place individuals of the opposite sex in the same cage. If the pigs seem to create a bond, it would be best to neuter them before they reach sexual adulthood and look for a mating partner.
The easiest way for your pet to have a companion is to adopt a same-sex partner. Females don’t usually have a problem with being in the same cage together, although males can become territorial.
However, you shouldn’t put them in separate cages the minute they seem to approach each other. On the contrary, leave them in the same cage and observe their behavior for the next hour while also paying attention to the sounds they make. Some sounds may be signs of anxiety or fear.
You should also look for the things they might get into a fight for. Toys and food are the most common but, when the cage is too small, they might also fight for more territory. Thus, you should make sure the cage is large enough to house at least two individuals, together with all their accessories – two food trays, two water bottles, different toys, and two running wheels.
You can also avoid violence by introducing a younger male, preferably during its first six months of life to an older male to establish the hierarchy between them and prevent Guinea pigs from getting into a fight.
Don’t forget that it takes time before two males can coexist but if they tend to get into fights and bite each other, it would be best to keep them in separate cages.
Understanding your Guinea pig’s behavior
These animals are extremely vocal and communicative. They are warm and friendly but you shouldn’t expect them to jump into your arms the first time they see you. As with most other animals, Guinea pigs need time to adjust to their new homes and befriend their human companions.
They communicate with other pigs with the help of their ears, their sensitive noses, and through sounds. In the absence of a companion, your pet might seem lazy, non-responsive, and even aggressive at times. However, before considering whether there is something wrong with it or not, you should understand that Guinea pigs live in groups or pairs, so they will require a partner, sooner or later.
Often enough, human owners will become obsessed with getting the attention of their rodent pets. But, the sooner you realize that they don’t have much in common with cats and dogs, the better it will be. Give your pet time and respect its privacy.
Don’t forget that they are territorial creatures, so it may take a couple of months before they will let you pet them properly. Once they are used to your smell and your gestures, Guinea pigs will become more affectionate and will seek your company. However, as we previously mentioned, they will still require another fellow Guinea pig to live a long, happy, and healthy life.
Are Guinea pigs suitable for you?
If you are looking for a warm and loving pet that doesn’t need your presence 24/7, Guinea pigs are the right ones for you. They won’t ask you to take them out for a walk and will surely appreciate some time alone.
These rodents won’t occupy too much space in your house and looking after them should be quite easy and cheap. However, don’t forget to keep them entertained and comfortable by buying large cages and plenty of accessories to sharpen their minds and cast away boredom.
Guinea pigs enjoy “lap time” and petting but don’t forget each individual has its personality. Some rodents might become your snuggling partners and even cuddle with you at night, while others will enjoy their privacy more.
These rodents are social creatures so they shouldn’t live alone. And, while they enjoy human companionship, they will still need someone of their own kind to communicate with and establish a long-term friendship. Therefore, no matter how much love you have to offer to your Guinea pig, its heart is big enough to welcome you and another Guinea pig friend.