Companions

Guinea pigs are by nature a colony animal and you should therefore endeavour to pair up your guinea pig with a compatible match. Anecdotally, some guinea pigs are what can only be described as “upset” at losing their friend: in some cases not eating, facing the corner of the hutch and appearing to be depressed (reminder – illness nearly always comes across as ‘depression’ so be careful). However, matching up guinea pigs is not always as simple as it sounds.

Introduction facilities at April Lodge

If you are unsure about pairing up your guinea pigs, we run a service to introduce new companions. Normally you only get one opportunity to pair up guinea pigs and we have a high success rate.

We normally have several single guinea pigs here, one of which might make a suitable companion for your lone guinea pig. However, this is not always possible as we tend to pair up our own guinea pigs first. Please contact us as we may be able to help.

Introduction procedure

To adopt one of our guinea pigs as a companion, and to use our introduction service, please read through the adoption details below. Following a successful home visit, you are invited you to bring your guinea pig along for the required ‘pre-introduction health check’.

You can leave your guinea pig with us for approximately 2-4 days in which time we hope to find him a suitable companion. The cost of boarding a guinea pig which is with us for an introduction, is by donation, plus the adoption fee (if we find a suitable match).  We cannot guarantee a successful introduction or the continuation of a successful union once you return home.  We will always take the companion back and offer you the adoption fee back if there is a problem.

The cost of boarding your guinea pig for the introduction service is by donation. Please email aprillodgeguinea@aol.com for further details.

Mylo&Woody

As tempting as it is, buying the first friendly baby guinea pig you find is not always the best solution; here is our advice and guidance on pairing up your guinea pigs.

Males

Pairing up boys can be very difficult as they are naturally territorial and will try and assert their dominance over another male. This often results in fighting and can result in quite serious injuries. If your guinea pigs are boars and are fighting, you should separate them immediately.

If your male guinea pigs are fighting, do NOT put your hand in the cage as this can result in a serious injury to you. Instead you can cover each individual guinea pig gently with a towel to separate them.

Obviously pairing them with a female is not a solution, as a male guinea pig will almost always mate with a female and impregnate her. Even worse, after giving birth, the male will immediately mate with and impregnate her again, along with any female babies in the litter when they reach 3 to 4 weeks old. This inbreeding can lead to serious consequences for future babies, including physical disabilities, brain damage, blindness, dental problems (leaving them unable to eat) and many other diseases.

Castrating male guinea pigs does not guarantee that they will cease fighting. Neutering is primarily for pairing a boar with a female without the arrival of a litter (the average size of a little is four). If you opt for castration, he should be in optimum health. We do not castrate any of our guinea pigs until at least 8 months old and under 3 years.  Please book up for your pre -castration health check, by small donation to the charity.

A castrated male and female guinea pig will normally live quite happily together. You may notice the female guinea pig is quite clearly “the boss” meaning they should live happily together without incident.

Females

Females will normally live happily together without conflict. There is normally no need to neuter a female and you should try and avoid this invasive surgery. However, there are some rescue centres who neuter all their males and females as a matter of course to prevent further breeding following re-home.

Females may get territorial if one of them is pregnant or if they are particularly hormonal and broody. If a female is pregnant it is in her interest to be housed separately towards the end of the pregnancy until a few days after the birth.

Top tips for pairing male companions

  1. If the proposed companion is a baby, we don’t want him to smell of his mother. He can be gently given a bath first
  2. A healthy baby guinea pig should be at least 3 weeks old prior to introduction. You should not consider pairing up a baby who is not in optimum health
  3. Thoroughly clean your guinea pig’s hutch so it doesn’t smell of him. Guinea pigs do get quite territorial
  4. Space, space and more space is a huge advantage!
  5. Wire divisions for both hutch and run are what we use for introductions. Swapping them into each others’ used bedding acclimatises them to each other
  6. Tunnels, shelves and hidey-holes can help for when the big day comes. Take the divider out of the run first. It may be too soon for them to share a hutch at this point
  7. When they are sharing a run comfortably, you may remove the divider from the hutch. Keep a close watch on them for the next 48 hours
  8. Two boys trying to mate? This is inevitable at first and not necessarily a problem. Fighting? This is always deemed as an incompatible introduction
  9. If your guinea pig is old, maybe he can spend his twilight years in an indoor cage, indoors with you. After all, YOU could be his companion, giving him lots of attention, chatter and cuddles
  10. One of our top tips for keeping pairs of guinea pigs happy, is to allow them daily access to a large, indoor or outdoor run (depending on weather conditions). In return, they will probably be too exhausted to be hostile to each other!