Can Guinea Pigs Live on Their Own? Pairing and Loneliness

Guinea Pigs Cuddling

You might be wondering if your guinea pig can live on its own or if it needs a partner. Your guinea pig is susceptible to the same things that you and I are, such as loneliness, so providing companionship will help keep your pig happy.

Do guinea pigs need to be in pairs? Guinea pigs should be kept in pairs or groups so that they have social interactions and aren’t lonely. Keeping them alone can make them feel depressed and isolated.

Guinea pigs live in herds in the wild and enjoy being kept with other guinea pigs. Certain groupings are more successful than other groupings, such as a neutered male with one or multiple females.

If one of your guinea pigs passes away, you may be faced with getting your remaining one a new friend or having it remain alone. There are things you can do to make the transition easier, such as interacting with your guinea pig more.

Do Guinea Pigs Need To Be In Pairs?

Guinea pigs should be kept in groups of at least two pigs. They can live on their own, but they are more likely to face depression and loneliness when living by themselves.

With multiple guinea pigs, they have another animal to communicate with and bond with, as opposed to living a life of solitude. Some places, like Switzerland, actually make it illegal to purchase or adopt only one guinea pig, requiring multiple to be owned at one time.

In some situations, you might be faced with owning just one guinea pig, such as when one passes away. If you can rectify the situation and get your guinea pig a new friend, you should, introducing them slowly so that they aren’t thrown into conflict with each other.

My Guinea Pig’s Partner Has Died. Should I Get Another One?

If your guinea pig’s partner passes away, you should get another one for your remaining pig to have as a new friend. Alone, your guinea pig is more likely to be depressed, which can make it more susceptible to illnesses.

There are things you can do to help your guinea pig grieve and move on from the loss of its friend, such as scenting a stuffed animal with the scent of the guinea pig who passed away. Your remaining guinea pig can snuggle up to that toy.

You may want to let your guinea pig see the body of its companion, which can help it move on. As it is grieving, you can also move your guinea pig to a busier part of the house, where you can interact with it more and provide more attention.

When it is time to get another guinea pig, you want to introduce the pigs to each other slowly. Let them see each other and scent each other before throwing them together, and make sure the cage is large enough that they have room to get away from each other.

One of the handiest things when introducing two new guinea pigs to each other is a mesh or wire separator, so each pig has their own side of the cage but can safely interact with the other guinea pig.

Be Careful of The Wrong Guinea Pig Combinations

Certain groupings of guinea pigs are better than others, where the likelihood of them getting along and bonding is much greater. Two females together can be a successful combination with some, but if they are both dominant, they can have conflicts.

The most common and successful combination is a male with one or more females, but at least the male should be neutered. This grouping is what you would generally find out in the wild, and this grouping should not have more than one male in it.

If your male and female are not neutered, they will almost definitely mate and reproduce. If you have more than one female in your grouping, the guinea pigs will adapt better if one of your guinea pigs passes away.

Two males tends to be a successful combination when the guinea pigs are brothers. Ideally, they should be neutered as there will be less chance of them fighting with each other, especially if they smell a female guinea pig.

In some circumstances, you can have two unrelated male guinea pigs live harmoniously together, especially if one is older than the other one and both are neutered. There is a high chance that the older one may bully the younger one, so you must watch them carefully.

One combination that you want to avoid is having more than two males in a grouping. They are more likely to have aggressive interactions as they reach puberty, especially if they scent a female guinea pig.

Can Guinea Pigs Live With Rabbits?

While there are plenty of pictures on the internet of guinea pigs and rabbits together, guinea pigs should not be housed with rabbits. These two species communicate very differently, and conflicts can arise between the two.

Rabbits have powerful hind legs, and if the guinea pig and rabbit don’t get along, the rabbit could kick and severely injure your guinea pig. Rabbits have been known to bully guinea pigs, which would be a problem if they were living together.

Rabbits and guinea pigs also have different dietary needs, so you may have issues feeding your rabbit and guinea pig separately.

Rabbits often also carry a bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria is commonly associated with upper respiratory infections in guinea pigs, which is a risk you would run if you house a rabbit and a guinea pig together.

Do Guinea Pigs Get Lonely?

Guinea pigs can get very lonely when they are kept by themselves. They are social animals and tend to live in herds out in the wild.

When guinea pigs are kept by themselves, they can become depressed and withdrawn. You may see them hunker down alone and not move much in their cage or stay quiet rather than vocalize when they are alone.

Guinea pigs are more likely to get lonely when they have been kept with another guinea pig and that other guinea pig passes away. Taking steps to help them overcome their grief are important, such as keeping them in a busy area of the house to give them more interactions with the humans dwelling there.

Rather than trying to guess whether or not your guinea pig is lonely, you should predict that it is if he or she is living by itself. Getting your guinea pig a new friend and allowing them to slowly interact with each other is the best solution to keeping it happy and healthy.

How Much Space Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Guinea pigs need enough space when they are in their cage that more than one can live comfortably in the cage. This means they have space to withdraw and be by themselves, rather than in each other’s pockets, so to speak.

Guinea pigs are large rodents, and they generally need larger cages than the ones commonly sold for them which may better house hamsters or gerbils. Guinea pigs need more floor space than their smaller rodent cousins, as they don’t climb or burrow like a hamster does.

You can utilize cages with low ramps or platforms to add a little variety to your guinea pigs’ accommodations. According to the Humane Society of the United States, one guinea pig needs a minimum of 7.5 square feet of cage, with about a 30 inch by 36 inch size.

Because guinea pigs should live at least in pairs, if not larger groupings, they need a larger cage. A 10.5 square foot cage is ideal for two guinea pigs, with a size of about 30 inches by 50 inches, with larger cages needed for larger groupings of guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs should also have access to run around or roam. This area is ideally enclosed to keep them safe from animals that may see them as prey.

Larger enclosures provide a variety of benefits to your guinea pigs, the first of which is allowing your pigs to successfully and happily coexist together. They get to do more of their natural activities and they can more readily express their personalities.

Larger enclosures encourage activities and stimulation, which helps minimize the possibility of your pigs developing health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and bumblefoot. Your pig is also likely to be happier with the ability to roam around the extra room.

With a larger cage, you need to worry less about exercising your guinea pigs because they will have the room to do it themselves, especially in the mornings, when you might be getting ready for work.

When you have a larger enclosure for your guinea pig, they tend to keep the area they’re living in neater, as they have more room to separate eliminations from their other activities. As long as you clean the cage regularly, there will be less build-up.

The housing for your guinea pigs should have a smooth bottom, which is less likely to injure their feet than having a wire bottom. An example cage is a plastic bottomed cage for your indoor guinea pigs, and you should use paper-based bedding rather than cedar or pine shavings.

Your guinea pigs should also have a run, where they can get more exercise. The typical size for a run is approximately 4 feet by 4 feet by 1 foot high, or 1.2 metres by 1.2 metres by 30 centimetres. It’s best to have this open from the top so you can easily get your guinea pigs in and out.

The design of a guinea pig run is often a metal or wooden frame, with wire between the struts. This design tends to be lightweight, allowing you to readily move it around outside, while still keeping your guinea pigs safe and contained.

You need to make sure your guinea pigs’ enclosure and run need to be tall enough for them to hop up and down, which is known as popcorning. Without enough space above their heads, they won’t be able to do this common activity.

How Often Should I Play with My Guinea Pigs?

You should play with your guinea pig daily, taking them out of their cage and providing extra activities, such as playtime on the carpet or outside in a run. Your guinea pig should have areas to hide behind if they get startled and things to interact with.

You might find that your guinea pig enjoys tunnels, so you could set several tunnels up in its run for your pig to run through and explore. You can hide treats around the cage as enrichment as well, so they have to seek out the treats to eat.

Your guinea pigs should be set up in an area where they are able to interact with the family readily, although small children should be supervised carefully when interacting with guinea pigs. As such, outdoor hutches can provide some outside time for your guinea pig but should not be the only place they live, removed from the family.

Related Questions:

Do guinea pigs die of loneliness? A guinea pig is not likely to die from loneliness, but being lonely can lead to depression, which can make them susceptible to health issues that could cause them to pass away.

Do you need to interact with your guinea pig regularly if you have it has a companion? No matter how many guinea pigs you have, you should interact with them daily. It helps with bonding and enrichment. It allows you to check on their health, noticing weight changes or a runny nose.

Can you keep your guinea pigs in your bedroom? You can keep your guinea pigs in any room that isn’t too chaotic or noisy for them. The room should be heated but not be too warm, and they should have a retreat from overstimulation.

Charlotte Silcock

Charlotte lives in the United Kingdom and has worked in animal shelters looking after small animals. She owns a hamster as well as a dog and a cat and hopes to spread her knowledge about rodents to help other pet owners.

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