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Adopting More Than One Guinea Pig

Updated on October 31, 2012

Guinea Pigs Are Happier In Groups

If you currently have one guinea pig and are considering bringing another guinea pig (or two, or more!) home, this page will help you with the new introduction process and deciding whether you can properly handle more than one guinea pig.

If you don't currently have any guinea pigs but are considering adopting more than one together, this page is also for you!

In this lens, you will learn about your options when adopting a guinea pig in terms of deciding whether to adopt more than one. Hopefully after you've read this and the rest of the how-to guides and visited The Guinea Pig Guide website to sign up for the newsletter, you'll feel fully prepared to take on the world of guinea pig snuggles. If you like this page, please give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends.

If nothing else, you can always see some cute guinea pig artwork to inspire you to bring guinea pigs into your life! : )

Starting with an Only Child...er...Guinea Pig!

when it's best to just have one little buddy.

By nature, guinea pigs are herd animals, traveling in packs in their wild habitat in the mountains of South America. It only makes sense that they would be happy with some companions when adopted into a domestic environment.

However, sometimes having an only piggie can be for the best. Generally, it's great to have more than one guinea pig if you can accommodate them, but it's always better to have one well-fed, well taken care of guinea pig than two neglected piggies.

Some reasons you may wish to adopt only one guinea pig are:

- Limited space. While it can often take hardly any more room to house two guinea pigs as opposed to one if you keep them in the same homemade cage (CavyCages.com has some great instructions!), you may find that your guinea pigs don't get along and you need to house them separately.

- Some guinea pigs do seem to like being the only child in the household. Guinea pigs can get very attached to their human parents, so they enjoy having all the attention to themselves. As long as you can devote the attention needed in order to help supplement some of the company that they would have with another guinea pig, your piggie should be happy and healthy.

Guinea Pigs happily munching next to one another.
Guinea Pigs happily munching next to one another.

Adopting More than One Guinea Pig at a Time

cagemates are your best bet for happy cohabitants

Generally, two females will get along fine even if they haven't lived together first, though every guinea pig is different and this isn't always true. Two males can be very difficult to house together if they aren't littermates or haven't been cage mates since they were babies. Here's why:

Male guinea pigs are territorial. If two male guinea pigs grew up since babyhood together, they are likely used to each other's smell and have been accustomed to sharing the space together. If you suddenly bring a new guinea pig into another male guinea pig's realm, he will likely get very upset, feel threatened, and defend himself by fighting.

This isn't to say that two non-bonded male guinea pigs can't successfully be housed together, but it is sort of a hit or miss process. For some examples on how to try introducing two males, read the "Them's fightin' words" section below!

If you know you are in the market for multiple guinea pigs and you find a pair or a trio that you love, both you and your guinea pigs will be rewarded with lots of love.

Photo from Flickr user Cyberslayer

Official Guinea Pig Care Guides

When Guinea Pigs Fight and What to Do If Your Guinea Pigs are Fighting

how to break up a fight, attempt to reconcile, and when you should separate them for good

As mentioned in the previous section, male guinea pigs are very territorial. This doesn't mean if you stick your hand in their cage they will attack! But if you stick another male guinea pig in there, be prepared for some interesting events to take place...and by interesting, I mean hostile and kind of gross.

So! Let's say that you have one male guinea pig, and you've decided it's time to find him a friend. He's not neutered, and you want to avoid that if you can, so you decide to get him a brother so he can still have the company without making a bunch of guinea pig babies in the process. Sounds reasonable enough. But this is sort of like playing black jack - you can use some different strategies and hope for the best, but in the end, it's still a gamble. I know first-hand since this is the process I went through when adopting Max after I had Gus for a few months.

If you introduce your piggies and they fight, don't give up just yet! The following are some tactics you can try before making the ultimate decision to keep them in separate cages.

Some Fun Guinea Pig Supplies

Give your guinea pigs fun things to chew on, run on, and hide in!

Introducing Guinea Pigs to One Another

Neutral territory is really important

ALWAYS introduce two unfamiliar guinea pigs on neutral territory. This is incredibly important, particularly for males, because it will be a place where it doesn't already smell like one of them. If it's a neutral place, they won't be feeling as territorial about it and haven't 'claimed it' as theirs before the other piggie gets a chance to sniff around. This neutral place could be a brand new cage, your yard (Make sure you have contained them in one place. Do not let them out in the yard on their own!) or some supervised room on the floor. It's good to have them on a towel, and keep another towel handy in case you need to break up a fight.

Get a friend or family member to help you with this. You are going to need to have yourself holding one guinea pig on one side, and a friend holding the other on the opposite side, and you can sit on the floor and put your feet together to make a contained area if you so desire. Constant supervision in this process is imperative.

Normal Guinea Pig Introduction Behavior

What to expect to see when your pigs come nose to nose for the first time.

Gently place your guinea pigs on the neutral territory and allow them to sniff their way to each other. Have your other towel in your hand in case something happens. They will eventually find each other and perform a series of instinctual guinea pig rituals to size up their competition. Don't be alarmed! Unless there is loud squeaking, fur flying, aggressive biting or they're tangled up and look like they're causing each other some serious pain, they are not fighting!

As a test of dominance and establishing a bit of a pecking order, male guinea pigs will follow several peculiar behaviors:

head raising. They will raise their heads up and compete to see who can point their nose up the highest. This is their way of saying "I'm the best and the biggest and strongest. Look what I can do!"

rumblestrutting. This is a term that's been coined to describe the little "dance" guinea pigs do when faced with another guinea pig. They will make a funny little rumbling noise, ruffle up their fur, and waddle their hind feet back and forth kind of like a sumo wrestler! It's very funny to watch when they wiggle their bum back and forth. This doesn't necessarily mean they're going to fight, but it does often mean they're going to do this next activity.

mounting. Do not be alarmed when your two male guinea pigs attempt to mate with each other. This is another form of establishing who's in charge, and they will likely do this several times over the course of their first meeting. This part gets a bit smelly because they emit a very strong scent to mark their territory which has now become each other, so be prepared for that! As smelly as it can be, do not try to stop them or separate them when they do this, because this is a natural process the guinea pigs go through and they are not hurting each other. It's important for them to go through these rituals to really size each other up and figure out what's going on.

teeth chattering. This is a more hostile sign. Guinea pigs will chatter their teeth at each other when they feel threatened or angry. This doesn't always mean that they will lunge at one another and begin fighting, but it's good to keep an eye on them and be ready to break up any altercations if you hear this going on. This is not to be confused with calm tooth clicking/grinding that guinea pigs sometimes do to file their teeth when they're just relaxing.

These things will go on for awhile. It's best to keep your new guinea pigs separated for awhile before putting them together in a cage. Even if they seem to get along after their first encounter, you are going to want to repeat this process several times for a few minutes longer each session until you feel that they have consistently been comfortable and calm around each other.

How to Stop a Guinea Pig Fight

How to safely intervene when the fur is flying.

If your guinea pigs are clearly hostile toward each other and you're sure they're not performing the rituals mentioned above, you are going to need to act quickly and separate them before either one gets seriously hurt. Guinea pigs' teeth are incredibly sharp, so even one bite can do some very serious damage.

To prevent you from getting accidentally bitten in the process, don't shove your bare hand in between two quarreling guinea pigs. They may be so entangled and upset that they don't realize it's you and just bite without thinking. This is why you have another towel on hand. It's good to have a couple oven mitts as well to protect your hands.

Throw the towel over the fighting guinea pigs so that they can't see each other, and, using your protected hands, separate them from over the towel and gently pull them out from underneath when they're not latched onto each other anymore. It's best to not wear clothes that you are too concerned about in case you get a bit smelly or covered in fur. Hug your guinea pig closely and pet him and talk to him quietly to help him calm down. It's best to put them back in their respective cages and try again another day when they've had a chance to calm themselves.

Bathing Guinea Pigs to Help Them Bond

Bonding through the tougher times.

It may sound a little strange, but one of the ways you can try to bring your pigs together if they don't get along is to bathe them together. Not only will this help to dilute their scents and create a neutral territory for them both to contribute to, but the fear of the experience can actually help them to bond. It sounds cruel, but a bath will not hurt your piggies and they won't carry a grudge about the experience forever! After they're all dry and smelling like raspberries, they'll go back to their normal eating/sleeping routine and love you just as much as before.

The whole 'fear' aspect is like they've gone through a tough time together, and even if they didn't like each other going in, the fact that they both had to go through it together can help them to not feel quite so bad about each other afterward.

This doesn't always work, but it is definitely a tactic that can work. Just be sure you don't do it too often since guinea pigs' skin is sensitive and can get dry and flaky easily.

When bathing your piggies, run some warm (but not hot) water to an inch or two in your bathtub. Just enough to come up to their tummies or so. Purchase some gentle, small animal shampoo with as mild a scent as possible, and be prepared to get wet! Once you have the water ready, gently place your piggies in and pet them and talk to them throughout so they don't feel abandoned. They may kick a bit and they'll let you know that they're not having it! Just gently swirl some water onto them with your hand and work the shampoo in. Be sure that you rinse it thoroughly and don't use any shampoo near their eyes or face/ears. Just their body and particularly their rump area should be fine.

If they look cold, draw a bit more warm water into the tub, and when they're fully rinsed, take them out and wrap them in a warm towel, gently patting their fur and fluffing them until they're dry. This can take awhile, and you could try a hair dryer on the lowest, coolest setting far away from their ears and face, but the noise is likely to not go over too well. But you love your piggies so a bit of extra snuggle time shouldn't be a problem!

You can then see how they react on a neutral surface and see if things are any better between them.

More Lenses on Guinea Pig Care 101

I hope that you've found this guide useful so far! Please feel free to read my other lenses about guinea pig care, or, if you don't feel like reading through every single one, you can find an abridged version touching on some more important parts of each section in the summary lens.

Thank you again for reading and be sure to spread the word about proper guinea pig care by telling people you know about this lens who may be interested in adopting a guinea pig.

Guinea Pig Supplies on eBay

Want to try the bath technique? Check out some small animal supplies on eBay!

I hope you've found this guide helpful! Please leave any comments or questions you have here, whether you have some suggestions for the page, or maybe you just want to say hello. Thanks!

Reader Comments and Questions - Let me know what you think!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      So, if i were to buy 2 male guinea pigs from petsmart or petco, would they need to be re-introduced or no?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: hi i have two male pigs and have adopted another younger male we have been introducing them on netural ground and all seems well just a bit of body shaking and humping by one of them.I think I have done the worng thing by putting them together in the 1 hutch for the day. My husband had to take the new one out and now my other two are really hurting each other bad lots of scary teeth chartering and latching on to each other. I had to separate them please help I don't know what to do .

    • profile image

      huvalbd 4 years ago

      Our guinea pigs are girls. Introductions of female piggies are not too smelly but can still be rather dramatic. Your advice about how to handle that echoes the experts we consulted, and our experience.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have two guinea pigs (male and female) and i don't know if they like each other how do i know?? they hump each other but also chatter there teeth at each other

    • ladyyummy profile image

      ladyyummy 4 years ago

      So cute :) I have a guinea pig named Panda (male) ... He is in heaven now :/ I miss him lots.

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      spiffydoo 5 years ago

      Wow, you know your piggies, thanks for the good advice!

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Excellent article! We once had 4 guinea pigs, most adopted from the local shelter. With careful socialization, they are wonderful, gentle pets. I love their conversation and they are good listeners, too.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 5 years ago from USA

      Good advice. We have several - right now, in our extended family, there are about 11 or 12. One of our mamas passed away about a day after her babies were born, so we had to give them some diluted KMR formula. They started munching on pellets and drinking water in about 36 hours after birth, and are now just fine - about a month later.

      We have had so many guinea pigs over the years, I cannot count them! Great, loving, adorable pets, they are, too...

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @Onemargaret LM: oh i know mine poops like crazy hey does yours make a chewbaca sound cause mine does and mine is named mr.jinx i want to get an albino one and name him cosmo

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 5 years ago

      I love guinea pigs but caring for more than one is way too much for me. They eat and poop too much.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Funny. Thats exactly the same case case with me. my guinea oig is about one and now we have bought a new four week old piggy and the older keeps biting her! i read somewhere that guinea pigs take about 2 weeks to get along so ive decided to keep them in separate hutches that are next to each other and daily, until they get along, put them together indoors and watch them... any one else got an idea??

    • profile image

      hjack103 5 years ago

      I have one male guinea pig and I'm about to get another male.I'm afraid what they're going to do because this was my first guinea pig.I should follow the procedures above and it will probly work out..right?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @hjack103: Thats right!! Just make sure you wash the cage out with soap and water. And try the bath tip if it does not work.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      ive had an older female guinea pig and i read online that there better together in pairs so i got a young female guinea pig that's about 4 weeks old . my older one went over to the younger one and i let them because their getting to know each other . but my older one started biting the younger ones ears and hair . i don't know what i should do . please reply asap .

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 5 years ago

      @hjack103: Hi there!

      It's unfortunately impossible to completely be sure that your piggies will get along beforehand, unless you're able to arrange a meeting before you have to decide. The procedures outlined above should increase the chances of your piggies getting along all in all. Just like people, every piggie is different and has their own personality. Some are more dominant and like to be the king of the castle. Others love the company of other pigs and bond easily. My piggies unfortunately haven't gotten along, but I know people who do have bonded piggies and it's so cute to see them snuggling up together.

      If you have a male, he may get along best with a female, but you'll just need to make sure that either the female is neutered or your male is neutered so you don't end up with little 'piglets'! :) Best of luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi there , i have two male piggys that live in different cages , i am wanting to get two females ,one to go in each cage so i can breed . is it the same for introducing two male as it is a male and a female ? or will a male and female just get along ?

    • Michelle77 LM profile image

      Michelle77 LM 6 years ago

      I have a guinea just like the one in the pic. at the top (the black & white one) ...he is an only guinea and i think he likes it that way...he's got quite the little attitude when he wants! Nice lens and info. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i had two male guinea pigs which have lived together for a year i put each guinea pig with a female to breed now i can't put my male guinea pigs back together as they fight and have drawn blood any suggestions please

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 6 years ago

      @Murphypig: Isn't it cute?? I love the way they wiggle their little bums back and forth like they're doing a sumo wrestler dance, hahah. And their fur poofs out. As long as it doesn't end in fighting, it is super cute.

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      Murphypig 6 years ago

      great lens. I think it's great fun watching 2 pigs being introduces. love their little dance :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Also may I add that unlike dogs, you can handle the newborn babies immediately after they are born, but they cannot be separated from their mothers yet until about three to six weeks after. During that time, the mother will still be feeding her babies with her own milk and wean them. But even if they have to be weaned, it is amazing to know that they can immediately eat hard food minutes after they are born. http://www.expertguineapigcare.com/guinea-pig-babi...

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I found this very helpful because I have a male pig, and a female rabbit and was thinking about adopting another male pig. I will definitely prepare if I end up getting another male pig.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i found this site very useful, i was told when i purchased my 2 piggies that they shouldn't have any fruit and i was never told not to give them seeds not even in the handbook, i will be getting some red peppers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i have a guinea pig and she seems shy im looking how i found out anything in mind?

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I got my guinea pigs for Christmas. They were "cagemates", I guess you'd call it, from the beginning. I didn't introduce them on a neutral territory, but they get along fine. They're females though, I think they tend to get along better than males. My friend has two males that get along fine, but they're half-brothers....

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      guinea pigs r sssoooooooo cute! i have 1 now and i want another for her so she isn't lonely when i'm not around. i was worried what would happen but now that i know what could happen and how to prepare for it i'm a lot more open about the idea....... if only my parents felt the same way

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      That really helped thanks. I have two guinea pigs, one 6 months old and one only 12 weeks and they get along absaloute perfectly although sometimes there is just a tiny little squabble over food or hay or something silly hehe. I love the way they interact with each other, they're the perfect pets. I would recommend them defintly. Lovely animals. :)

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      i had guinea pigs as a little kid and your right they are hard work for a kindergartener! we had to get rid of them all and i cryed so hard but now i want one or two again my parents said yes and i am sooooo excited thank you for all of this information it has been soo helpful my babies will be so happy thanks to this guide you guys are the best!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      guinea piggys are so cute and fun BUT, guinea pigs are tough i am just a preteen and my parents say that i have to do ALL the work feed twice a day ( she mostly sleeps, poos, and pees on it ewww!! )guinea pigs must be cleaned which can be painful, they must be clipped which meens cutts and bruises, last but not least they must be played with and it always is consitered a waste of time