One question that most all soon to be guinea pig owners ask is whether or not they should get a male or a female guinea pig. I decided to research which sex that’s best to get, and here’s what I learned:
Is it better to get a male or female guinea pig? If you’re getting a single guinea pig you can pick either a male or female depending on your personal preference as they both make great pets. Sex doesn’t matter much as long as the pig is friendly and healthy. If on the other hand you’re getting a pair of guinea pigs at once, then getting two immature females seems to be the best option.
In this post I’ll explain more in-depth why the best sex to choose depends on whether you’re getting a single pig or multiple pigs, and I’ll also explain how you should think if you want to get more guinea pigs in the future.
It’s also a good idea for you, as a soon to be guinea pig owner, to read our Guinea Pig Complete Care Guide for Beginners that covers everything from basic guinea pig facts to chosing the right cage and grooming tips.
Why it’s Better to Get Two Immature Females if You’re Going for a Pair
First of all, getting a single guinea pig is not optimal to it’s health because humans can’t fully replace a guinea pig’s friend. For this reason it’s good to get a pair of guinea pigs.
So, in case you decide to have two guinea pigs, then it’s best to get two immature females. The reason for this is that two immature females comes along very well, as opposed to two males where fights are common. The worse thing you can do if you want a peaceful guinea pig owning experience is keeping two males and a female together as this normally leads to a lot of bust-ups.
Another thing to take into consideration is that if you buy a male and a female, then you might need to have the male neutered or else be ready to handle innumerable litters of baby guinea pigs in your home. Besides, when a female frequently gives birth, it shortens its lifespan. Female guinea pigs go through a 14-18 day cycle where they can mate and become pregnant. Females can reproduce when they are only 6 weeks old while males become sexually active when they are 10 weeks old. A female guinea pig can give birth to 2-3 babies.
How to Neuter a Guinea Pig
Both male and female guinea pigs can be neutered but you should take your pet to an experienced neutering vet. The cost of neutering a guinea pig can cost about $66 per pig. But again, most experts don’t recommend neutering as it can be stressful and even risky to your pet. The best solution is to keep them in a combination that doesn’t require neutering.
How Can You Differentiate a Male From a Female?
Before discovering how you can differentiate a male from a female guinea pig, one thing that’s good to know is that a male guinea pig is referred to as a boar while a female one is a sow. Boars are known to grow up to larger sizes compared to sows. Knowing the terms boars and sows can be good since it’s usually the terms that veterinarians and breeders use.
It can be hard to differentiate an immature male guinea pig from an immature female. To determine the gender of a guinea pig, you need to take a close examination of their reproductive organs. Guinea pigs that haven’t been handled before might be afraid and will always try to hide. Features such as hair color or length won’t tell you the difference. They also both have nipples but sows have larger nipples than boars. The genitals of guinea pigs are Y-shaped but that of a male tend to have a vertical shaft of a letter i. The genitals of a female guinea pig appear somehow swollen and bumpy. You can also take your guinea pig to an experienced veterinarian for help in case you find it hard to identify their gender.
The other way to note the gender of a guinea pig is their weight. Sows are lighter in weight compared to boars. Most sows have an average weight of 700-1200 grams while boars weigh somewhere between 800-1600 grams. However, there are heavier females and generally lightweight males.
The other interesting thing about sows is that they tend to pee on other guinea pigs if they are annoyed or if they are sitting too close to them. Therefore, things can get quite messy especially if you rear more than two guinea pigs. Boars, on the other hand, don’t usually display this kind of behavior.
What if You Have Other Guinea Pigs?
In case you already have other guinea pigs at home and want to get more, then it is also good to get guinea pigs of the same gender. An all-female group of guinea pigs can make the best combination. Females are not like males and don’t fight from time to time. They also like getting along with other pigs and even become very friendly to the owner.
Although it can be a good choice to also have an all-male combination, boars are prone to fights especially when new ones are introduced. A group of males that have stayed together for some time tends to live like brothers. Nobody will want to watch those nasty fights and squabbles among their pets. Having a combination of guinea pigs that are friendly to one another can be pretty good.
In other cases, most captive males will tend to urinate on the floor of their cage to make their territories. It normally happens every time after the cage is cleaned. In the wild, guinea pigs love living in a combination of one male and a few females. Sometimes, captive male guinea pigs can display some dislike to their owner.
If you have male guinea pigs, then you should provide them with as much space as possible. This is because they are very playful and aggressive. Boars are also very territorial although some sows can be just as aggressive as boars. When determining the guinea pig gender rear, always consider the personality and temperament of your guinea pig. Although males can show some signs of dislike, most people report that boars are calm, trusting and easy to rear and tame considering their behavior.
Want to learn more about how to make your guiena pigs get along? Read this post next.
Breeding Guinea Pigs
If you are after breeding guinea pigs, then it is good to do so when the female is still young. Breeding an old female guinea pig (between 7-12 months) for the first time can be quite stressful. This is because their pelvic bones will have fused making it hard for them to deliver. A cesarean section might be needed for such pigs. After 60-70 days, a female guinea pig will have reached maturity and ready for pregnancy. Females reach their sexual maturity faster than males.
Read our post dedicated to guinea pig pregnancy to find out exactly how to care for a pregnant guinea pig.
Regardless of the guinea pig gender you choose, it is good to understand how to care for them. One way of caring for guinea pigs is by getting them a good cage. These pets don’t like it when other pets or people hover around them. A cage, pen or container they can get into and out of sight is quite essential for them. They may not be interested in toys but they love running through pipes, tubes and exploring cardboards and boxes. You can even hide small foods in their cage to make them active and alert.
A hutch for two guinea pigs should measure more than 60 cm by 1.2 meter long. An outdoor run space that is accessible is also good. This is where they run to anytime they want to graze. You can even allow them to run around indoors but under supervision. Cats and dogs are big predators of guinea pigs and should be locked out.
How do I know a guinea pig is healthy?
Check their eyes, nose, ears, and even the rear end to ensure there are no crusts, inflammation or discharge. The other signs that show a guinea pig is healthy are their level of activity and alertness. Additionally, a guinea pig that is quite fearful and skittish is a healthy pig. The one that is too calm can give you a red flag.
Is it better to buy or adopt a guinea pig?
You can either buy or adopt a guinea pig but ensure that your new pet is healthy. If you buy, then do so from a reputable source. Mainstream pet shops are the safest places to buy healthy guinea pigs. Buying from a breeder is sometimes risky. Remember a healthy guinea pig can live quite longer than an unhealthy one.
Are guinea pigs good pets for children?
Yes, guinea pigs can make the best pets for both adults and children. They are very active during the day and you can enjoy watching them play. They can communicate by making vocal sounds with different meanings. They are very gentle but you should take good care of them. They can live for up to seven years when properly cared for.