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March 17, 2021

Which Small Pet is Right for You: Guinea Pigs

Have you ever wondered if a guinea pig may be a good pet for your household but you aren't quite sure? Here is a great summary of piggy temperament as well as how to help them thrive socially.

Piggy Personas

Inquisitive and inherently gentle, guinea pigs make delightfully entertaining companions for folks of all ages. Known for “popcorning” and “zoomies,” their day-to-day antics are sure to bring a smile to your face. Though they aren’t likely to be awarded any advanced academic accolades, guinea pigs can learn an impressive repertoire of simple tricks with the right motivation. Time and consistency are key to teaching your friend a new skill (not to mention treats. Lots and lots of treats).

Community-Minded

Like their fellow small herbivore counterparts, guinea pigs are incredibly social and thrive when living in pairs or groups. As it is nearly impossible to spend every waking moment with your piggy pal, providing them with a friend of the same species will fulfill their need for constant companionship. A solitary guinea pig can become quite lonely and stressed, which, in turn, can negatively impact their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Pairing Piggies

Just because two guinea pigs match the gender pairings outlined below doesn’t mean they’re going to get along right out of the gate. When pairing guinea pigs, it is important to keep their unique personality traits in mind and try to find them a partner who will complement their quirks. As is the case with rabbits, introducing altered guinea pigs is often easier. Even though it will not always be love at first sight, two pigs can often build a very strong relationship if gender pairings and personalities are considered and introductions are taken slowly.

The following gender pairings are ideal:

  • Siblings: raising a pair of same-sex siblings can take the guesswork out of the bonding process. Mothers and daughters can also be great friends.
  • Male/female: a neutered male is free to live with females, whether the females have been altered or not. Some piggy parents will have larger herds consisting of one male and multiple females. An intact male should not be kept with intact females, as unanticipated pregnancies can result in serious complications, especially in older females.
  • Two unrelated females: girls tend to be easier to introduce to one another. In fact, many piggy parents keep relatively large all-female herds. There will be occasional tiffs, especially as a hierarchy is established, but as long as they are provided with an enclosure large enough to accommodate the size of the herd, disagreements are generally short-lived.
  • Two unrelated males: boys can be a bit tougher to introduce to one another, so it is often best to keep them in pairs rather than groups.

Nourishing the Bond

While it is true guinea pigs generally prefer having a friend (or two) of the same species to hang out with, these highly social animals also form strong bonds with their humans.

As prey species, it may take a bit of patience and gentle persistence (not to mention a few yummy treats) before you earn your piggy’s trust, but the reward is certainly worth the effort. Guinea pigs recognize and respond to trusted humans, and are often interactive and affectionate, though in their own unique ways. Once you’ve found favor in the eyes of your guinea pig, you will find those little bodies often harbor big personalities.