When you wish to pet a guinea pig, one of the most important things to consider is whether can you have one guinea pig to own or do you need two guinea pigs.
In this article, you shall find the answer not just for that, but also for several other related questions.
You will learn how you can keep your guinea pig happy without a companion and can you have one guinea pig?
Can You Have One Guinea Pig?
Yes you CAN have only one guinea pig, but SHOULD you? Guinea pigs are social in nature. They tend to isolate themselves or show grief when their companion dies or is taken away.
In worst cases, when a partner dies, the other dies just out of loneliness without any apparent warnings.
With that said, there are some ways in which you can have a shot at keeping your guinea pig happy even without a partner. Read through to find out how!
How to Keep a Single Guinea Pig Happy
You might receive ridicule or negative reactions from some members in the guinea pig community if you only wish to care for one of these social creatures. We are not here to judge however.
We know that circumstances may leave you with no other option than to care for a single guinea pig. You can do it, but you need to be more actively involved in their enrichment. You are now their partner and not just the caregiver.
They will need:
- Extra attention
- More than 2 hours of playtime
- Balls in the cage
- Chew toys
- Healthy varieties of treats
- Climbing structures
- Hiding spaces
- Tubes and tunnels
- Obstacle courses
Try a game of chase with your guinea pig. Reward him or her often with treats when they respond to you and take part in activities. You can create a treat hunt game and explore together to find out where they are hidden.
Do Guinea Pigs Do Better Alone or in Pairs?
You are going to find the answer to this question being overwhelmingly given by experienced guinea pig caregivers that they should be kept in pairs or more. This is a social animal that lives in herds.
It is safe to say that guinea pigs do better in groups or pairs. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for a single guinea pig to be healthy, happy and enriched.
The onus is on you much more if you care for only one guinea pig. The amount of time you have available to spend with your furry pocket pet companion indicates how well they can adjust to living a captive life that is either enriched or deprived.
It is unnatural for all animals to be kept domestically when thinking back on their entire history and existence. We as humans have changed the game and flipped the script on animal behavior by getting actively involved in their lives.
We can create new environments that make it exciting for guinea pigs to enjoy a new way of living with you in a unique and healthy way.
I Adopted a Lone Guinea Pig. Is It OK to Introduce a 2nd Guinea Pig?
Yes! It is recommended and should be celebrated that you are introducing a new guinea pig to your family and home. Remember that this process cannot be rushed.
Even though guinea pigs love to form bonds, partnerships, companionship and create social groups together, they may also resist at first. A guinea pig in your home has become used to their own personal space and enjoyed how everything was set up for him or her.
Now you are going to change it up and introduce a new guinea pig to the mix and this has to be done slowly.
- A separate cage is highly recommended at first.
- Place them side by side but do not allow them to touch each other.
- They can smell and get close. 10 cm apart is an example of a suitable distance between the cages.
- If not, use a divider.
- The introduction should be done with you as a mediator in a neutral area such as the living room with you sitting cross legged with them.
- If they are constantly giving each other attention, they might be ready to move in together.
Can a Single Guinea Pig Be Happy?
Yes. Guinea pigs are much like humans in the way that they are social creatures. Humans can be happy alone if they are adjusted and accustomed to it. Some guinea pigs will be fine to be alone for long periods of time.
Others will demonstrate more extroverted tendencies and may suffer from loneliness and depression. There are plenty of guinea pigs who like spending more time in privacy. Here some helpful tips to keep a single guinea pig happy:
- Set up an enriched habitat
- Change or rearrange their space every month or so
- Spend lots of time together
- Cycle out old toys for new ones
- Create fun ways to feed your guinea pig
- Offer them a stuffed animal relative to their size
- Place the cage in a space closer to you
- Place a mirror in the cage sometimes
We find that a mirror in the cage doesn’t always work. We do so only for short spurts to intrigue our guinea pig’s curiosity. Treats can be delivered like a flying airplane into their mouth or other creative ways that you can come up with on the fly.
Is It Illegal to Own Only One Guinea Pig?
Do you live in Switzerland? This country has made the effort to prohibit owning only one guinea pig. Other countries may follow suit and you may notice more prohibition or laws in the future regarding this issue.
We have no problem with you owning a signal guinea pig in a country outside of Switzerland. Do your part to become the exception to every rule or recommendation if you are ready to take on the task of owning only one guinea pig.
Prove people wrong by giving so much love, attention and enrichment to your lone guinea pig and become their bonded partner, companion, without only thinking of yourself as an owner or caregiver.
You are more than a mommy or daddy to your guinea pig. You are partners in active play, exploration and discovery. The home is your playground and you must enjoy it together.
We don’t think that adding more laws and rules will change the way people can become exceptional guinea pig enthusiasts, supporters and members of this loving pocket pet community!
Can Male Guinea Pigs Live Alone?
Yes. Are you trying to keep only one guinea pig and you have chosen a male over a female? Males are your better option as they have shown to be more solitary than females.
Remember that generalizing based on experience and studies doesn’t mean that your male guinea pig will be comfortable alone. Guinea pigs are highly social and would love more company or companionship.
If a male is more aggressive to the others in a group, he can be separated and live alone in a nearby cage. You can always try to reintegrate them back to the group. Finally, a male guinea pig or two males together will prevent accidental babies or exhibit even more calmer behaviors if they are neutered.
Guinea pigs live in herds in the wild so keeping one male alone for a long period of time may become detrimental to his mental, emotional and physical health.
Let him show you with his actions and response to playtime, meals or interaction with you. If he retreats or sulks, get him a friend if you can.
Does it Apply to Both Male and Female Guinea Pigs?
One less-spoken fact is that female guinea pigs are the ones that need to be grown in a group of 2 to 4. Male guinea pigs do just okay being alone.
Yet, you have to remember that getting a companion for your male guinea pig can increase his life expectancy by a factor of 10! Let’s face it, nobody wants their pet to die earlier.
Especially in this case where you not only get to enjoy your pet longer but also get double the happiness of owning just one!
Does Getting a Wheel to Run on Keep a Guinea Pig Happy in Solitude?
Well, this is one ridiculous rumor in the crazy world. It is like asking you to run around a wheel all by yourself rather than hanging out with friends.
Although, it is worse in case of a guinea pig. This is because guinea pigs are much more social than humans are!
Being social does not mean being active – as is the case of a guinea pig. They are not very active animals, sometimes getting them a wheel may even break their tiny feet because they are not built for such a purpose.
Their activity is still impressive. For instance, getting them to run around in a field or some time out of the cage inside your home and other such activities help to keep them happier.
Can a Little Time Outdoors Make a Single Guinea Pig Happy?
That depends. Some individuals are happy on the open road, while others do nothing but grieve the loss of their partner irrespective of where they are.
Also, keep an eye on your pet when they are outdoors if your area has hawks flying around. Otherwise what you thought would make your pet happy, would make it a hawk’s evening snack!
I am Getting a Secone One, Should I Choose a Male or Female?
The answer to this question depends on which sex you already own. If what you got is a male, getting the second one to be a female is better. This is because males tend to dominate each other when together.
They are very territorial. If you have a female and you need a companion for it, then another female is the best choice. Gal Pals get along better!
If you do have space and other resources for more guinea pigs, choose to pet at least four. That way, you will get to witness incredible happiness in them which will give you comfort like no other tangible asset in the world can!
To learn more about whether you should get a male or female guinea pig, read this post next.
Why do Guinea Pigs Need a Companion?
These days we put our own convenience before the happiness of our pet. Some people (whom I would best call as devils), are not worried if their pet doesn’t have enough space, food or company, as long as it does not cause trouble to them.
We have to understand that they are living creatures too and have their own needs. This question is as crazy as asking why a human needs to marry or why we need to have friends.
As said earlier, guinea pigs are social animals, and by social I don’t mean using Facebook or Instagram (although it would be damn cute if they did).
By social, I mean that they like to run around (although not so fast), they like to play around with their cage mates or have games like chasing a ping pong ball.
Imagine it this way, a group of giraffes adopts you. They’re totally not like you. They let you play around with their kids. They give you all the food you need.
They do give you what they think you need. But they cannot understand what you really want. You keep asking them in French or Spanish or English or Chinese, they wouldn’t understand.
But now if they adopt a second human, how would that be? Now just replace the giraffes with humans and you (the human) with the guinea pigs.
Can Any Two (or More) Guinea Pigs Get Along With Each Other?
When you decide to buy more than one guinea pig, this is another important thing to consider. You cannot randomly choose any guinea pigs from different corners of the world. It is just like how you get along with some people better than what you do with others.
I would suggest thinking it through well before getting your pet.
It would be so much better if you buy two guinea pigs right away from the same store. This is like how it is better to move to another country with your friend than making new friends after moving there alone.
When the guinea pigs are kept in the same cage in a store or a shelter or a rescue foundation, you would not have any trouble of getting them along with each other.
If you are getting a second one already having one, you need to be careful because if they do not get along well, you are in for great trouble.
Want to learn more about how to make your guinea pigs get along? Read this post next.
What is the Mental Effect on a Guinea Pig When Left Alone?
When a guinea pig is raised alone, we mentioned it gets lonely and dormant. But why is this?
Well, it is because they get scared.
When you are alone with gorillas, wouldn’t you be scared? If you have Bear Grylls along with you, you would feel much better. This is an analogy to having a guinea pig alone with you!
Where to buy a guinea pig? I would answer this question in just one sentence. Being an animal lover, I’d say “Adopt, don’t shop”. Animals in pet shops have enough care. But the ones which have been rescued need a home. Giving a home to a living being in need is the best of good deeds you can do.
Why is owning only one guinea pig illegal in Switzerland? Switzerland is one of the most animal-friendly countries on earth. They recognize the need to cater to animal needs so much that they have laws that ban anything that harms animals. One such example is the law that bans Swiss residents to own a single guinea pig.
It may sound ridiculous, but it is high time that we recognize the need for such laws considering the number of guinea pigs that die out of loneliness. Why should right-to-live be confined to humans?