Because they are social pets, guinea pigs should always stay with a friend or more and if you keep your guinea pig in cage all day long you will see that it gets depressed and barely does anything. When putting two of them together, their guinea pig food schedule, their gender, age, size, and personality all have an influence on how well they will get along. But to introduce one guinea pig to another requires patience. You need to check everything to make sure they match.
Find out the gender
When starting to introduce a guinea pig to another, it’s important to know the gender of each of them, as certain combinations work best. Their gender has a big effect on how they interact with each other. Sometimes pet stores make mistakes and they don’t know the actual gender of the guinea pig, so you will have to check it yourself.
Make sure to do that on a low table, so if the pet gets away, it doesn’t get injured falling. There are plenty of guides out there that precisely describe how to check the animal’s gender. Once you figured that out, you should then find out what works best.
If you want to have more than two guinea pigs, be careful and avoid having more than one male, as they tend to be territorial and cause conflicts. Neutering the male pigs reduces the risks and mostly avoids the problems caused by hormones. However, don’t rush newly neutered males and don’t put them near other pigs for up to six weeks.
What works best
A pair of females is the most likely to do well together. Also, a female and a neutered male make a good pair too. When it comes to age, it’s far easier to introduce younger pigs, as they start up having no real preferences and they grow up together, becoming friends.
Guinea pigs are a species that has a certain hierarchy when it comes to relations, so certain individuals may dominate others more. However, if you already have an older pig, you can easily get it to accept a younger one, of the same gender. Because the adult doesn’t feel threatened by the baby, it won’t try to assert its dominance.
Adult females do better together than adult males, as males often fight for territory or resources like food or water. You should always avoid keeping a female and an unneutered male together, as they will always try to make babies and pregnancy is a dangerous thing for females. One-fourth of females die when producing offspring.
If you have no choice but to keep two males together, be sure to let them have enough space. You will need to give them two of everything – a place to eat, to sleep, and play.
How to actually introduce them
At first, you should keep them in separate cages and only allow them to hear and smell one-another until they become accustomed. This should be done for the first two or three weeks, during which they can’t have any physical contact, or visual either. Also, you should take them to the vet during this time, to make sure they are healthy.
You shouldn’t put a guinea pig in the cage where another pig is already in. This will cause serious territorial issues. The new pig can be stressed because of the new environment and the one that was already in the cage can feel threatened and become territorial.
But how the guinea pigs feel is not the only concern. You should also be careful about their health and the illnesses they can transmit from one to another. If you get a new guinea pig from the store, make sure it’s healthy before you put it next to your other pet. Otherwise, you’ll get both of them sick.
When you first introduce them, do it on neutral ground. Don’t put one in the other’s cage. By avoiding this you will ensure that neither of them feels threatened. You need to find a place where neither of them has been, so they don’t feel territorial at all. Also, make that place feel safe, eliminating all sounds and dangers.
A small room will do, and you can put them together on the floor. Put different food items and toys in the center, as to keep them distracted from one another until they get accustomed. You can spread the food and toys a bit, so they don’t have the impression they have to fight over it.
If things get nasty and they start to fight, you should have some towels with you and use them to safely restrain them. Let them get to know each other for a couple of hours and if they don’t fight it means they’re ready to sit in the same cage. Prepare the cage in such a manner that none of them feels it’s their old cage, even though it might actually be. Change stuff around, move toys and bedding.
Making sure they get along well
After you made sure that each of the guinea pigs has enough space in the cage, meaning that a cage between 7.5 and 10.5 square feet is good for two of them, you can place them together and see how they interact. Some tension can be expected in the first few weeks, as both of them feel like they are in a new environment and they feel a bit threatened.
This is why you should know when to intervene between them and when not. Some guinea pigs mount or jump over one another, but that is fine unless things degenerate to fighting. The same can be said about chasing, teeth chattering or squealing, which is normal. Pigs can even nip one another from time to time and that is necessary for them to establish certain boundaries.
You should only get involved if they cause wounds to each other and bite too hard. Raised hair and feet stamping are signs that guinea pigs prepare to fight, but unless they do that, you shouldn’t get involved. The rule of thumb is to only get between them if blood is drawn.