Guinea pigs are social little animals. In their natural habitat they live together in herds. It is recommended that you have more than one guinea pig as pets. Having a companion makes them feel more relaxed and secure.
Guinea pigs are prey in the wild and for this reason they need to live in groups for security. They can alert each other when a predator is spotted, so that they can take cover and hide.
Why do guinea pigs need a cage mate?
We want to provide an environment for our guinea pigs where they can feel safe, secure and happy.
To do this we want their environment and interaction to be as close to their natural environment as possible. This is why they need a friend, a companion of their own kind to communicate and play with.
Guinea pigs as pets can be great companions to us, but just as they can’t replace human interaction for us, we can’t replace a guinea pig companion for them. At the end of the day they will still go back to a lonely, empty cage.
Guinea pigs should live with other compatible guinea pigs
Guinea pigs should be introduced to other guinea pig friends at a young age. It’s easier to bond and develop the social skills they need to function well in a herd.
It’s best to have 2 or more guinea pigs in a herd.
Recommended combinations of guinea pigs
- Two or more sows
- Two boars
- A neutered boar with one or more sows
Combinations of guinea pigs to avoid
- Three or more boars
- A grown boar with a very young boar (it may result in fighting, because as the little one matures, he might want to compete for dominance)
- A rabbit and a guinea pig
Can guinea pigs and rabbits be kept together?
Guinea pigs and rabbits should not be kept together. Some rabbits may carry a specific bacteria that often cause respiratory issues in guinea pigs.
Rabbits can also bully guinea pigs and can seriously injure them with their powerful kick.
How to introduce guinea pigs to each other
It is important to introduce guinea pigs to each other in a neutral space like:
After the cage has been thoroughly cleaned and you’ve placed fresh food, hay and water.
Or outside on the grass in a playpen
Place your piggies in the neutral environment at the same time, so they can investigate their surroundings and approach each other.
Watch them for at least an hour for signs of bonding or aggression.
Signs that your guinea pigs are bonding
- They are following each other
- Eating close to each other
- Males will sometimes make a rumbling sound
- Popcorning (suddenly jumping in the air)
Signs that your guinea pigs are aggressive
- Chattering of teeth
- Attacking or fighting
- Opening their mouths at each other
- Signs of blood or injury
Luckily most younger guinea pigs will act like long lost friends when meeting for the first time.
Tip when introducing guinea pigs
Even though guinea pigs are little herd animals, they all need their space sometimes.
Make sure you provide enough hideys for when they want a little space.
I have hideys made from fleece material and then also a box which I normally cut with two doorways, so they can’t corner each other and it’s easy to escape out the other door.