I am often asked by people new to piggies: “How many Guinea Pigs should I get?“. The answer is slightly more complicated than you may imagine.
Do you want boars or sows?
- Boars are male Guinea pigs and sows are female Guinea pigs.
- Both make excellent pets.
- You shouldn’t keep boars and sows together unless at least one is neutered. Otherwise they WILL produce babies, lots and lots of babies (and there are already lots of babies (and adults) needing homes).
- Boars are slightly more likely than sows to fall out and fight with each other, especially in times of hormonal fluctuations like adolescence or if there are sows kept nearby.
- Sows do sometimes fall out and fight but this is considerably more unusual. But not unheard of.
How many sow Guinea pigs should I get?
- Two sows will usually live together quite peacefully without too much trouble.
- Two sisters from the same litter are perfect as they have known each other all their lives. Similarly a mum and daughter is usually a good pairing. Two unrelated sows will also usually make a good pairing as long as Introduction Rules are followed (see below).
- A trio (3) is very much doable too but having a quad (4) seems to work out best and prevents nobody feeling left out of snuggly couple cuddles.
How many boar Guinea pigs should I get?
- Despite having a reputation for fighting; boar Guinea pigs do usually appreciate and benefit from company.
- The overwhelmingly most successful boar pairing is that of a father and son or a similarly unrelated older boar + younger boar pairing. This is because the two piggies are simply not going through the same hormonal fluxes at the same time therefore leaving them less likely to fight.
- A pair of brothers from the same litter can work but they should be closely monitored for signs of bullying and fighting.
- Unrelated boar pigs of a similar age appear to rarely work well. Slincypig and Tabby have only met through wire and it is clear they HATE each other. I would consider it madness to introduce these two boars.
- Slincypig and his recently departed father Ned however did very much benefit from living beside each other.
- A long time before Squidgypigs existed (when I was a teenager) my family once had a group of four brothers that lived together all their lives. I suspect this was successful due to the large space they were kept in; a sizeable shed.
What do I do when things do not work out?
- Sometimes no matter how well you plan an introduction or cage your piggies fallouts will happen.
- If fighting has occurred I suggest you should separate the pair immediately.
- You could try reintroducing at a later date (again using the Introduction Rules) but unfortunately such behaviour has a habit of repeating itself in future introductions.
- Controversially I’m going to state that sometimes I believe a Guinea pig is better off on it’s own.
- Tabby is such a case. We rescued Tabby because he was a persistent and savage fighter with his own brothers (one of a trio). Since coming to Squidgypigs he has similarly shown aggressive behaviour to both Slincypig who is of a similar age and also to our now departed elderly boar Ned. He does however live a happy life and very much enjoys being handled by humans.
- He currently lives in the same room as the other Squidgypigs but not close enough to show aggression. I think this brings him comfort without being threatened or feeling the need to fight. This is sometimes the best/only option.
- Introduction should be done when you have time to monitor the piggies for a few hours.
- Introductions should be done in a large neutral space (one that doesn’t smell of any pig.
- A large pile of hay or a Treat Fruit or Veg can provide a good bonding experience.
- If fighting occurs piggies should be seperated immediately.
- There is likely to be a lot of humping. This is to assert dominance, please allow them to continue.
- If after a couple of hours piggies appear to be getting along well you can place them in a neutral cage.
- You should ensure that this cage has two of everything. Two water bottles, two food bowls, two beds etc.
- You should continue to monitor the piggies in their cage for the next few hours and be prepared to introvene if things get unfriendly.
Please Note: A good Guinea Pig rescue will usually have all combinations of above already bonded and ready to live out their lives together.
What about herds?
- I would consider a herd to be a group of Guinea Pigs larger than four members.
- We currently have a herd of 12 sows.
- I will write a separate post about herds in the future.
How many piggies do you have living together? Did they grow up together or did you introduce them? Let me know below.