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One Cavy or Two?

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One Cavy or Two?

Post  Admin on Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:37 am

Guinea pigs are a social, herd animal. They do better in groups. A pair of guinea pigs is a better option than just one. There are a number of issues to weigh on both sides of the one or two cavy question.

Basically, even if you have a guinea pig, be it male or female, that cannot get along with another guinea pig, that guinea pig is almost always happier being near another of it's kind, even if separated by a cage wall. There is the rare guinea pig who is happier being a loner.

Here are some of the issues to think about when deciding whether to get one or two guinea pigs.

The guinea pig pair itself
Is the pair a mature, bonded pair with a known personality? Are you 100% certain of the sex? Remember, pet stores frequently missex animals and knowingly or unknowingly sell a pregnant female or a breeding pair. The more you know about the pair you are considering adopting or buying, the less risk you have of some of the other issues in this list.

If the pair is young (under 6 months) and same-sex (siblings or otherwise), then you will be risking the fact that they MAY not get along in the future, especially as they progress through adolescence. If you get a male/female pair and the male is neutered or the female is spayed and they are currently living together, it is very rare that they will cease to get along at any point in the future. Any fights are usually temporary and they will settle right down again.

Adequate cage space

What if you need to separate your guinea pigs at any time because they stop getting along? You'll need to make sure that you can provide them both adequate cage space with a common grid wall so that they can be next to each other for company and safe interaction. Ideally, that means a pretty large cage -- a 2x6 grid cage. That cage allows a common grid wall divider down the middle to provide the minimum cage space of 2x3 grids per guinea pig.

Additional cost
Many people think that if you have two guinea pigs, you will spend twice as much in time, cleaning, and maintenance. One might experience a cost increase of maybe 25% by adding one guinea pig.

Another cost that might occur, which is vet care. You do increase the chances that you may have a medical problem down the line. And while some vet expenses can be significant, most are not. However, if you happen to buy or adopt a pregnant guinea pig, be aware that you also have an increased likelihood of required vet care.

Behavior and Health

Also, if you happen to get a very young guinea pig from a pet store, as is so typical of pet store guinea pigs, that guinea pig hasn't been taught much yet from any other guinea pigs. Some guinea pigs will not eat fresh food you may offer because they don't recognize it as food and aren't used to it.

An amusing, but standard, guinea pig behavior is their friendly but serious competition for food. Some people have had a single guinea pig who is very fussy and finicky about what kinds of food it will eat. When a friend is added, that fussy guinea pig usually can't stand to see the other guinea pig eating something that they are not, and will eat it too. In this way they help each other keep their diet varied, balanced and healthy. They play together. They chase each other. They usually snuggle together. They keep each other healthy and happy.

Bonding with You versus the The Other Guinea Pig
A common concern some people have about getting two rather than one guinea pig is that the guinea pig won't "bond with me" if he or she has a friend.

Generally speaking, this is not a concern. Guinea pigs all have their own personalities. Some are more friendly than others. Over time (and it can take quite a bit of time with guinea pigs) they will learn to trust you and recognize your scent and sounds. In this process, it doesn't make much difference if they have a friend or not. A friend does make a difference to them when you are not around.

FOR MORE INFORMATION -- http://www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm


Last edited by Admin on Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:03 am; edited 1 time in total

Admin
Admin

Number of posts : 357
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Adding a 2nd Cavy

Post  Admin on Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:45 am

You already have a guinea pig and are thinking about getting a friend for him or her. You've reviewed the issues above and decided that you can provide the proper cage space and resources needed.

What additional considerations do you need to think about?

What kind of guinea pig to get?
Male or female? Young or old? First and foremost, you want to make sure that you do NOT end up with a breeding pair or a pregnant female.

If you have a male, you'll want another male. If you have a female, you'll want another female. This is the easiest path to take, since it does not risk surgery to neuter or spay.

Have you heard that males fight? Did you know that females may fight, too? Did you know that some males and females also won't get along? Guinea pigs all have their own personality. It's a matter of matching up personalities. Many, many people have pairs or trios of boars who get along great.

Try to match up a dominant with a subordinate guinea pig. It helps to have a feel for their personalities. What if you have no idea about the personalities? An older with a younger guinea pig is a good option (larger to smaller one). They usually establish a natural hierarchy with the younger one being subservient to the older one. You just need to be careful that you don't have a very feisty younger guinea pig with a very laid back older guinea pig. In that case, the younger one may challenge the older one's position as the boss guinea pig.

Please note: Males living with males (and no females) do NOT need to be neutered! It will NOT change their behavior.

When you pair up a young guinea pig with any other guinea pig (young or old), there is a chance that as he or she goes through their adolescent period, they will challenge the other guinea pig for top guinea pig position. This can lead to some fighting. Most of the time they figure it out for themselves. Occasionally, the fighting is extreme and they must be permanently separated. Again, remember this can happen with ANY guinea pig pair, male/male or female/female.

Where to get the guinea pig?
Rescue, shelter, private person, breeder, or pet store? The best option is to go to someone who has a very good understanding of the personalities of their guinea pigs. Someone who is used to pairing up guinea pigs. This is usually a rescue.

What to do when you get the new guinea pig home?
Quarantine first!

What if it doesn't work out, they don't get along?
You need to be prepared for this possibility or don't attempt it. What if the introductions don't work out? You've given it many weeks of effort, but the two guinea pigs won't get along without serious fighting. You'll need to provide them a cage space where they can see each other, but not get to each other. Ideally, this is a very large cage with a common grid wall.

What if we made a mistake with the SEX?
For some reason you now have a fertile male/female pair? Now what? This can be a BIG PROBLEM depending on your circumstances!

First and foremost, if you find yourself in this situation, separate the guinea pigs IMMEDIATELY! Separate them even if you think the female is already pregnant. Why? First, she may NOT be pregnant yet. Second, females have a two-horned uterus and while rare can get pregnant in the second uterus while carrying a litter in the other (the condition is called superfetation). Third, if she is very definitely pregnant, you probably don't know when she will deliver. The female goes into heat in a big way after delivering. There is a very high likelihood that she will conceive again if the male is present.

Now the question becomes what to do. Do you keep the male and female separate in a large cage with a common wall? Or do you get the male neutered so they can be together? This is another big decision.

Do NOT attempt to allow them to be together, supervised or not. Some people think they can time the estrus cycle of the female and remove the male only during fertile times. Some people think it is okay to supervise "play time" and push the boar away from the female when he tries to mount her. DON'T DO IT! Those who play with fire will get burned and have been burned -- at the expense of the animals.

FOR MORE INFORMATION -- http://www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm

Admin
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Adding a 3rd Cavy

Post  Admin on Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:48 am

You already have two females?
You can add another female or a neutered male. If one female is very dominant, you'll want to try to find a less dominant female.

You already have two males?
You can add another male. A younger male is usually a good idea if the pair is adult. If the pair is still young, adding an older male usually works and a young one could work but perhaps not as well as an adult.

You already have one female and one neutered male?
You can add another female.

The bottom line is ONE BOAR PER GROUP OF FEMALES.

According to Social and Behavioral Requirements of Experimental Animals, "Guinea pigs live in groups of five to ten individuals in the wild (Sutherland and Festing, 1987) and thrive under group housing, although it is unlikely that two or more sexually mature males will live together without incident unless they have been together since birth." Remember the comment here is about mature males living together with females present. "In their natural environment, guinea pigs exhibit a strong herd or family orientation, and this should be maintained in the laboratory setting, if at all possible. The one boar per harem arrangement is the recommended procedure in breeding colonies. Guinea pigs should not be housed singly . . ."

When adding another guinea pig to a group, ALL social dynamics within the group will likely change. The social order will be disrupted and need to be resorted out from scratch.

Also, any time you remove a guinea pig from a group for any length of time, say a few days to a week, they usually go back through the entire social ordering process again. In other words, it's like doing introductions all over again.

FOR MORE INFORMATION -- http://www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm

Admin
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One Pig or Two?

Post  Admin on Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:23 am

"Guinea pigs are extremely social, herd animals and thrive in the company of another pig. If you are going to be away for a large part of the day, consider getting a pair of guinea pigs of the same sex. You will end up with a brighter and happier animal."

FOR MORE INFORMATION --- http://www.guinealynx.info/companionship.html

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