When you try to bring together two or more guinea pigs that aren’t familiar with each other, it is quite a complicated process to break the ice between them and make them get along well. Many guinea pig owners find this confusing, which is why I decided to share my experience on the subject along with expert opinions in this post.
So how actually to make your guinea pigs get along? Let us approach this in steps.
Step 1: Making sure the compatibility of sexes.
Step 2: Precautions:
- Ensuring space according to the need.
- Scent Swapping.
- Outdoor time before caging together.
Step 3: Introduction to each other (preferably done outdoors).
Step 4: Moving In together!
We shall see in detail about each of these steps in the upcoming sections. As we move through these steps, I shall give you tips on how you can make each step work faster and more efficient.
1. Grouping Based on Compatibility of Sexes
In the case of two guinea pigs, there are two choices:
- You can have a neutered male and a female
- You can have two females
These two combinations will help them get along with each other very well.
If you have a male that is not neutered, along with a female, then get ready to have more guinea pigs from their litter.
Two males are not usually kept together even though in several cases their getting along well has been observed. In a group of more than two, do not have more than one male. Males are quite territorial, and there may be a sense of competition that arises which could cause fights.
You can read more about whether or not it’s better to get a male of female guinea pig here.
Ensure That They Have Enough Space
Give them the space that they need for them to get along better. According to the recommendations of Blue Cross, you need at cage dimensions to be a minimum of 120cmx50cmx50cm for two guinea pigs to get along well. Although, don’t be a miser in giving them more space if you can!
According to experts, guinea pigs get along well with other individuals when they recognize their scent. So, when you know that the sexes are compatible, switch their resources.
You can try to switch their bedding or their play items. Although, it is not recommended to switch food bowls because they would only recognize the scent of the food over the scent of the other individual. If they do not show any negative reactions to being around the new scent, you can proceed to the next step of the process.
Outdoor Time Before Caging Together
You may have noticed that I am referring to the task of making your guinea pigs get along, as a “process”. It really is quite a process. You can approach it with the step-by-step formula described here for best results.
Now, before moving them together into a common cage, you need to bring them to a more social and friendly mood. In order to achieve this, you can give them longer times outdoor than usual. Gardens and backyards are preferred over large open fields because of exposure to predators in the latter case.
3. Introduction to Eachother
First, if possible, try to make them communicate with each other in such a way that they cannot come in contact with. For example, next to one’s hutch you can leave another in a run, or you can have two runs adjacent to each other.
The response that they give to the scent swapping and the above communication attempt shall decide our next action. Only if it is a positive response in both cases, you can proceed to introduce them to each other. By positive response we mean their actions such as jumping, sniffing or staying longer near the common barrier.
Now you have to find a place for them to meet. The most suitable place for their first meet would be outdoors together.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Make sure to leave some wide enough hollow pipes or open boxes in the space that they meet. If at all one of the guinea pigs feel that it wants to escape from the other one, it should be able to hide in such spaces. Do not leave them in just a plain space with nothing but corners and walls!
- If you can, provide them with plenty of food items, preferably their favourite ones, in the area that they meet. At the end of the article, you can find the answer to how you can find out which your guinea pig’s favourite treat is.
- A very crucial part of the introduction is to monitor them from a distance that they can’t see you. You need to look for positive behaviour such as sharing resources or relaxing together. Do NOT leave them on their own in the area that they are introduced to each other for the first time.
- You need to be prepared for anything that may befall. So have a large enough barrier which can be inserted between them in case of violent response to each other.
Negative responses including biting each other, chasing or constant attempts to hide away from the other. When you observe these signs, immediately take them away from each other, and start all over again from square one.
If you do follow the steps in the right sequence, and you receive positive interaction between your guinea pigs, then congratulations (to them!), they are now ready to move in together.
4. “Wanna Move in Together?”- “Oh Yeah!”
The heading of this section might possibly be the dialogues between them in squeaky guinea pig language, if they positively responded to their first introduction.
There are a Few Things You Have to do Now That They are Ready to Move in Together:
- You need to remove all carriers in their new place, and add enough tubes where one guinea pig can hide from the other- if at all they start to have issues.
- With respect to the provision of water, have two different sources for the two guinea pigs.
- Closely monitor their interactions for the first few weeks, if they continue to interact positively, then congratulations, your guinea pigs now get along very well.
Isn’t chasing a good sign?
Chasing may seem romantic or friendly when two humans try it. But when two guinea pigs chase each other, it is a sign that they do not get along very well. Although, if they run beside each other you have nothing to worry about.
This is an area where many guinea pig owners commit a mistake because of the misconception that guinea pigs are playing happily when they chase each other. They are NOT!
My guinea pigs showed a neutral response. What does it mean?
When two or more guinea pigs are allowed to mingle, you can expect any one of the three possibilities.
One, they get along with each other very well. Two, they fight with each other or show their territorial nature. Three, they do nothing!
They may stay away from each other, they may not try to lie down together, they may not share resources, at the same time not show any aggression. This could mean two different things.
One, both of them could be sick. Two, their resources are not sufficient. It surely does not mean that they do not get along well with each other. If they did not get along, you can surely observe the negative response.
In this case, try to make them happier with their favourite foods or longer durations outdoor. You could also try spending more time with them together, because guinea pigs tend to show depression when they are lonely.
How to know which food my guinea pig likes?
The only way is to try different treats. Most guinea pigs like lettuce, carrots and berries. So try them one by one on a trial and error basis. Do not force your guinea pigs to eat items that they avoid when given.