You’ve read up on the social nature of guinea pigs, how to choose a match, and how to get ready for the big day. It is time for the first meeting. Let’s do this carefully, so we have the very best chance of them getting along great from the very beginning. Introducing guinea pigs requires some patience, and you’ll have to stay calm. It can also help to understand cavy body language, so you can interpret what you are seeing. OK, here we go.
photo credit: rantpets.com
First step: take a deep breath and get all zen.
Place both piggies in the meeting room at the same time. Nobody gets a head start on claiming the space or leaving any smells!
Take another deep breath.
photo credit: Jackie’s Guinea Pigs
Sometimes, they bond immediately. They act like twins separated at birth. Sometimes they are a little less clingy but peacefully co-exist. Sometimes they need to define some rules first. You might see some rumblestrutting, chasing, wide yawns, nudging, circling, nose lifting, butt dragging, snorting, even humping and hair pulling! Somebody may scream, someone may bite. As long as there is no actual bloodshed, let them work through all this. They are figuring out their relationship, and it is all perfectly natural behavior. If we get in the way, we can make this whole thing take longer or even damage the possibility of friendship.
photo credit: sayomg.com
Let them get all this out of their systems for an hour or more, in this nice big neutral space. The more exercise they get, the better – when they get home to the smaller space, they will both be tired and less likely to escalate again.
Oops – not going well? Try giving both piggies a bath. Choose a nice natural unscented shampoo, and protect their eyes and ears. Everybody clean and toweled dry? Try the intros again, with fresh fleecies and toys.
Are we seeing the constant theme here? SMELL IS OF HUGE IMPORTANCE.
Got some nice tired piggies that are winding down? OK, move them to their home space. Again, put them in a spotless smell-free space, and put them in at the same time. Keep an eye on them for the next few hours, being extra watchful of smaller spaces and ramps.
photo credit: guineapigmedicines.com
Guinea pigs can take a few weeks to settle in to their new relationship. You may see flare-ups, and you might even come home to find they’ve trashed their space in some temper tantrum. Running the vacuum often (bonding because NOISE!), giving them extra floor time to keep their energy spent, and changing up locations of food and sleeping spots can help.
Congratulations on introducing guinea pigs! You just added IMMENSE quality of life for your piggies. Well done.