Why guinea pigs need companions …
August 21, 2023
Guinea pigs are social animals, so here at the practice we firmly believe they are best kept in pairs or small groups to allow the social interactions that are an important part of their natural behaviour. Not only will companionship improve their mental wellbeing, but they will also be less likely to suffer any physical issues that may be linked to isolation. Find out more in our article below …
Guinea pigs rely on social interaction to thrive. Anyone who has kept multiple guinea pigs will know how vocal and chatty they can be! They will often groom each other, play, keep each other company and chat away to one another, all of which will help them feel happy, safe, and secure in their home with you. As a minimum, we recommend having a pair of guinea pigs to enable them to do all of these things. Litter mates will often co-exist happily, either in same sex groups or a neutered male/ males with one or more females to prevent a whole gang of guinea pigs arriving! Older guinea pigs can also live together very happily if sensitively introduced.
Keeping a solitary guinea pig may hinder the development of normal social behaviours. Living with a companion helps the guinea pigs to develop these all important skills and can prevent aggressive behaviours, along with behaviours such as over-grooming and self-harm, which may occur if a guinea pig is under-stimulated.
Living with a companion or two will help your guinea pig to work on their communication skills. They use body language, scent marking and a range of vocalisations (such as squeaks and grunts) to communicate with other guinea pigs. Often, they will start to squeak at their owners as well, especially they see you coming with some tasty treats!
Keeping them active
Living with companions also helps guinea pigs stay active. Like all animals, they need regular exercise, and a companion can encourage play, stimulation, and exploration. This will help to keep them mentally stimulated as well as physically fit, reducing the likelihood of obesity and associated health issues.
Our team are more than happy to advise if you are considering adopting a pair or group of guinea pigs, or need advice about how to introduce a new guinea pig to an existing pet.
Remember to share this article with other guinea pig owners so that all guinea pig lovers can appreciate the important of companionship for their cavies.