Guinea pigs can live alone, but it is best for them to live with a companion so they can have an adequate amount of social interaction and play time. However, if you do decide to get your guinea pig a companion animal, it's still necessary to handle your pets regularly.
Guinea Pigs' Social Needs
Guinea pigs are very social creatures that normally live in herds of two to five. They thrive on social interaction and do best with other guinea pigs to play with and talk to. Guinea pigs who live together can often be heard making squeaking noises, communicating their happiness and excitement.
Picking the Companion's Gender
If you have one guinea pig and are looking to expand your population, make sure you think carefully before choosing a companion animal. Female guinea pigs do well with other females, but it's not recommended to have two males in the same habitat unless they've been together from a young age. Otherwise, they are likely to fight for dominance and could cause serious injuries to each other.
It is not recommended for guinea pigs of the opposite gender to be housed together because of the significant risks posed to the female guinea pig. In fact, breeding a female guinea pig who is older than 8 months can be fatal if she has not been bred successfully before. Most pet owners are also usually unprepared to have an average of seven new pups in their home after a gestation period of 59 to 73 days.
Interacting with Your Pet Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs require regular and frequent social interaction. Talking to your guinea pigs, holding them and giving them treats is a great way to fill this need. Even if you have more than one pet guinea pig, it's still important to interact with them on a regular basis. Frequent contact and interaction will make your guinea pigs easier to handle and help them avoid being fearfully aggressive if they ever need to be handled by a veterinarian.
Housing Needs of Multiple Guinea Pigs
While many outdated sources recommend around 2 square feet per guinea pig, this is rarely enough room for a guinea pig to explore, play, eat sleep and use the bathroom with adequate space for each activity. It's now the standard to have a minimum of 7.5 square feet for an individual guinea pig. Two guinea pigs can exist together in a cage this size, but something around 10.5 square feet or larger is even better for a pair. If you have a larger herd of three or four guinea pigs, 13 square feet is ideal. This will give your entire herd plenty of room to meet all their needs.
Feeding and Watering Needs for Multiple Guinea Pigs
When you have multiple guinea pigs being housed together, it's critical that you make sure they always have fresh water and stimulating chew toys. The amount of water a guinea pig drinks can vary greatly depending on its diet, so make sure you have enough water bottles so that each guinea pig can drink up to 500ml of water a day if they wish. Check and replace the water daily so they always have a fresh, clean supply. It is not generally necessary to feed guinea pigs separately or have multiple feeding dishes, but if your critters fight over food, consider feeding them in different parts of the cage, where each guinea pig can have access to its own food.
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Based in Lexington, Ky., Christina Root has worked as a blogger, writer and freelance consultant since 2009. As a mother, animal lover, natural alternative medicine enthusiast and a student of all things, she loves learning and sharing with others.