Guinea pigs are among the cutest animals you can imagine. These little rodents make great pets, also because of their social behavior. To have social behavior, you need social contacts. So is it better to keep guinea pigs in pairs? Or maybe even as a group?
Guinea pigs must be kept at least in pairs. They do not do well alone. It is even considered animal cruelty in some countries and punished to keep a guinea pig alone. It is even better to keep them as a group of up to 10 animals, as this corresponds to their natural social behavior.
So we need to get at least two guinea pigs if we want to keep them as pets. As we go on, we take care of whether it is better to have only two guinea pigs or a whole group.
And we’ll look at what the perfect group size is for guinea pigs, whether you can keep more than one male guinea pig, and how the sexes basically get along.
We’ll also look at what other pets can live alone if you don’t want to keep multiple guinea pigs. So continue reading, there is a lot to know about this topic.
Should I Get a Pair or a Group of Guinea Pigs?
In the wild, guinea pigs live in groups. It corresponds to their natural behavior and social nature. Therefore, even as pets, it is important not to keep them alone, but at least in pairs.
However, it is even better if guinea pigs are kept as a group. This is even more in line with their natural behavior and will make your guinea pigs happier and more content.
Guinea pigs work out a hierarchy within their group. This is also part of their natural behavior and is consistent with their way of life. When you have a group of guinea pigs as pets, they will also find a hierarchy. If you take that possibility from them, they will not be able to behave in a manner appropriate to their species.
That is why it is so important to always keep at least two guinea pigs. They are not made to live alone. It is in their nature to interact with conspecifics and behave socially.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity, you should prefer a group of guinea pigs. When you keep guinea pigs in pairs, they can already interact socially. But only as a group they can live out their natural behavior.
The size of the group is not so important. There are limits to the size of the group, but other factors are more important in terms of group size. We will discuss this topic below.
It is also important that you arrange the group of guinea pigs appropriately. It is especially important that your guinea pigs match in terms of gender. Further down we will look at the rules of what genders you can keep together and how.
What Is the Perfect Group Size for Guinea Pigs?
There is no such thing as absolutely perfect group size. But there is maximum group size. This is based on the way guinea pigs live in the wild.
You should not keep more than 10 guinea pigs in one cage. This is usually the maximum group size for guinea pigs in their natural environment.
It also does not harm guinea pigs to live in a smaller group of, say, 4 or 6. Much more important than the number of animals in the group is something completely different.
Guinea pigs need their space, of course. The larger a group is, the more space they need. This means that the cage in which the group is kept must be correspondingly large.
So more important than the group size is the size of the cage. The basic rule here is that there is no such thing as too much space. However, there is such a thing as too little.
If you do not have a cage yet, you should consider this when buying.
If you already have a cage and want to add more guinea pigs to your group, find out beforehand if your cage has enough space. It is better to buy a larger cage if you are in doubt about the size.
When you only had a pair of guinea pigs so far and want to expand the pair into a larger group, the cage size will likely not be sufficient. You should keep this in mind when making your decision.
How Many Male Guinea Pigs Can I Have in a Cage?
It is a very important question how many male guinea pigs you can keep in one cage. With many animals, it is the case that territorial disputes or even violence can happen if several males are kept together.
It is no different with guinea pigs. But it is a little more complicated.
It is not a problem to keep a neutered male together with female guinea pigs. However, keeping several unneutered males together with females in one cage is not a good idea. This can lead to war between the males.
If you want to keep several males together, you must keep the following in mind:
- The males should be introduced at a young age.
- They need enough space in the cage.
- There should be no females living in the cage with them or near the cage.
If you follow these rules, several males can live together in one cage.
What Gender Combinations of Guinea Pigs Can You Keep Together?
We have seen above that it is usually not recommended to keep several males together in one cage. Especially if females are also part of the group.
However, there are certain group compositions that are very often used for guinea pigs. Let’s take a closer look at these typical group combinations.
Group of sows: Only female guinea pigs are kept together in one cage. This combination works very well because there are no territorial fights between them.
Group of sows with a neutered boar: A neutered boar loses most of its territorial characteristics. He behaves more calmly and can be kept well as part of a group of sows. This also prevents unwanted offspring.
If you really want to breed offspring, an unneutered boar can also live with a sow or a group of sows. However, guinea pigs can reproduce quite a lot, so you should think twice. If you really want to try this, it may be best to keep the guinea pigs in pairs.
You need to know where you can accommodate the offspring. Whether it is with you or whether you give the offspring to friends or family, you must have a solution for this beforehand.
Are There Pets That Prefer to Live Alone?
If you have read this far, you now know that guinea pigs cannot be kept alone. Perhaps this information has disappointed you because you only have room for one pet. Or you do not have time to take care of several pets.
Whatever the reason, in that case, guinea pigs are not right for you. However, there are other pets that are more suitable for you.
The most obvious alternative to guinea pigs as a pet is hamsters. Hamsters love to live alone. In fact, with them, it is better if they are kept alone.
Another pet that is known for being a loner is the cat. Cats are excellent to keep alone. Of course, it is something completely different to have a cat as a pet. If you are leaning more towards a small pet or even specifically a rodent, my recommendation is to try a hamster.
Guinea pigs are not one of the pets that can be kept alone. This simply does not fit their natural way of life. Guinea pigs must live at least in pairs. Even better is to keep a group of about 4 to 6 guinea pigs.
If for some reason you do not want to keep more than one pet, I recommend keeping a hamster as an alternative. Hamsters do very well on their own.
However, if you decide to keep a group of guinea pigs, you will have a lot of fun with these cute and social animals.