We can all understand the desire to have a guinea pig nearby, right? There is definitely nothing your guinea pig wants than another guinea pig. If you haven’t read our post on the social nature of cavies, take a peek and learn why this is so important for our little friends. Introducing guinea pigs does take a little bit of understanding of how the think and act, and there are a few safety measures to take before bringing the new family member home.
First on the list: make sure you know what sex your piggies are. People are often surprised! You may have thought you had a girl piggy, only to take a closer look and find out a name change might be necessary. It happens all the time. Once you know what to look for, sexing a guinea pig isn’t hard at all. Here is a great explanation with lots of pictures and diagrams.
Now that we are sure of our guinea pig’s sex, we can start looking for the right match. Boars (male piggies) and other boars can get along great, same with sows (girl piggies) and sows…but we do have to be careful with boar/boar or boar/sow combinations until we are SURE proper spaying and neutering has been done. Un-neutered boars are more aggressive, and will have a harder time getting along. Sows can get pregnant any time after about 10 weeks old, so you don’t have much wiggle room if they have boar friends. You don’t want a litter of guinea pigs. You really don’t.
Before you even bring another guinea pig in your home, know that you will need to keep the new family member in quarantine for three weeks. There are diseases that a new piggy could give your longer-term friend. You’ll want to wash your hands and make sure towels and bowls and such are cleaned thoroughly before use.
During quarantine, you want to watch for the typical issues: lice, mites, ringworm, eye or nose discharge, wheezing or loud breathing, good urination flow and color, properly formed feces, good energy level, limping or other injuries, and, for females, any signs of pregnancy.
So how can we best play matchmaker? How do we know who will be a good fit?
photo credit: rantpets
We can’t really do blind dates for the piggies, since there are infectious diseases that we need to protect them against. And it is hard to know what your piggy may want in a bond-mate. If your piggy is particularly dominant, another very dominant cavy is not the way to go. Some mild-mannered guinea pigs seem to appreciate another easy-going friend, but some seem to go for a piggy with somewhat stronger opinions. Some boars live really well together (especially if neutered early and given plenty of time for hormones to leave system), some don’t. The happiness level has more to do with personality rather than sex.
Even if your guinea pigs can’t live together in one space unattended, they will be happier with a piggy in a pen right next door, and may be able to get along fine in neutral territory during supervised play.
Let’s get ready to add a new guinea pig to the family!