Guinea pigs are great family pets and make a perfect starter animal for children trying to learn how to care for them to take on bigger responsibilities. Adding a second guinea pig can help prevent your pet from feeling lonely, and it can also help it get more exercise, which can lead to a longer, happier life than it might have had on its own. However, many people may be unsure of the best way to introduce a second animal to the environment and have many questions about safety. If you are thinking about adding a second guinea pig to your habitat, keep reading while we provide you with a step-by-step plan for getting two guinea pigs to cohabitate peacefully in the same cage.
Best Guinea Pig Match
The first thing you will need to consider when you are thinking of adding a second guinea pig to your cage is what sex the new pet will be. We recommend getting the same sex as the guinea pig you have. Guinea pigs reproduce quickly and can have up to seven babies in each litter, so while it might sound like fun, it can get out of hand, and you will have more babies than you can manage. You can get your guinea pig spayed or neutered, but it can be quite expensive, and you’ll need to separate the two for several weeks as it heals.
Having one guinea pig that is considerably older than the other will help the two get along better. The older pet will naturally become the dominant one without any quarrel or fight.
It’s hard to tell the personalities of a guinea pig without allowing it to stay in the cage for a few weeks, but two dominant males or females will have a difficult time living together. Two submissive, or one submissive and one dominant, are required for the two animals to live together.
Preparing for Company
Determine the Sex
As we mentioned earlier, sex is an important part of deciding which pet is compatible with yours, so the first thing you should do is determine sex. The genitalia of a male guinea pig appears circular with a slight bulge. The female genitalia will be a flat y-shaped opening.
Before you purchase a second guinea pig, we recommend making sure the cage you have is large enough to house them. The enclosure for two guinea pigs should be at least 10.5 square feet.
Introducing the Guinea Pigs
When you first purchase the second guinea pig, you will need to quarantine it so the two animals can get used to each other’s scents. Some cages allow you to place a divider that splits the cage in two. Otherwise, you will need to purchase an inexpensive temporary cage that you can keep close.
The closer they are to each other, the better they will pick up each other’s scent and become familiar with it. You can also try trading toys, bedding, and even food back and forth to put the scent right into their environment. Watch how they both react when they detect they are not alone to see if there is potential for hostilities.
2. The Meet-Up
Once a few days of quarantine go by, your pets are ready for the meet-up. In most cases, the pets will get along instantly, and it will be like they always lived together. In the rare case that you have two dominant personalities that won’t get along, there are still some things you can try before you have to try to return the new pet.
If the two guinea pigs do not seem to get along quickly, you can try the Discovery game. You play this game outside the cage, so you will need a secure room and a partner. Use a few freshly laundered towels to create a pathway. Release one pig at one end while your friend releases the other at the other end. Try to keep them on the towels but give them 15–30 minutes to discover each other. Once they discover one another, they will likely begin a ritual to establish dominance. It would be best if you allowed this ritual to play out unless they start fighting each other. Once the dominant pig is established, the two animals will usually get along from that point on.
If the battle between the two guinea pigs gets too rough, you can throw a towel over them to break it up. Quarantine them for a few more days and try again.
If your guinea pigs continue to be aggressive toward one another, you can try the Discovery game, but when they get into a fight, place them in a warm bath and let them play around in the water for a few minutes. The excitement of the water will often make them forget what they are fighting about, and they will both spend a few minutes having fun. Take them out of the water, dry them off, and place them on the same towel again. In many cases, this action will help ease the tension, and the two animals will begin to get along.
When to Give In
If you try the Discovery game several times without success, you may need to consider trying a different guinea pig as a companion for your pet. Trying to press the issue further will only cause stress for you and the guinea pigs. You will need to watch that they don’t fight constantly, and they will never be happy with an intruder in their space.
It’s not all that difficult to introduce guinea pigs to each other unless they are both dominant personalities that aren’t willing to submit. In that case, you will need to try a different guinea pig that might be fine being the submissive one. Guinea pigs often get along well and usually are excited to meet each other after a short quarantine. We’ve only needed the towels a few times and the warm bath only once.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers you needed. If we have helped you get a friend for your pet, please share this guide to introducing guinea pigs to each other on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Olena Kurashova, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.