You want to adopt a baby guinea pig but you’re not sure if it’s okay to put the baby guinea pig in the same cage as an older one that you already have. Before you make a decision, you have to know if they can live together.
Typically, baby guinea pigs and older ones can live together as long as they’re well-matched and compatible. Many adult guinea pigs can be quite patient with babies. On the other hand, baby guinea pigs desire communication and social interaction with experienced older guinea pigs.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about the circumstances when babies shouldn’t be paired with adults, how to introduce a baby guinea pig with an adult one, and how to predict whether or not your guinea pigs are going to get along.
Can You Put Baby Guinea Pigs With Older Ones?
Yes, you can definitely put baby guinea pigs with older ones. Overall, baby guinea pigs do well with older ones – as long as they’re matched up based on their personalities (which is the most important factor anyway). The guinea pigs need to be introduced to each other properly.
Actually, there’s a couple of scenarios when matching a baby guinea pig with an adult tends to work quite well.
- With a bereaved, adult guinea pig: There’s been many instances when a pet parent has paired a baby with a bereaved, older guinea pig – and guess what happens? The adult guinea pig suddenly has a renewed interest in life. Something about babies (or maybe just having companionship) helps an adult guinea pig feel happy again.
- With adults that have dominant personalities: Pairing an older guinea pig with a baby guinea pig will avoid personality problems. The adult cavy will usually become the boss of the younger one, so there’s no fighting and no problems with bullying (typically)
So, you can absolutely put baby guinea pigs with older ones – and it’ll be
There’s a few instances where babies and adults should be separated or just not be put together at all:
- Unneutered, mixed couples: It’ll result in a lot of unwanted piggie babies. Cavies reach sexual maturity around 3 to 4 weeks of age (it’s one of the reasons male piggies are separated from the mamas around this time). And it’s dangerous for girl cavies that young to have children.
- Very aggressive adults or babies: If the adult guinea pig is very aggressive (and I do mean VERY), the baby will be bullied. Or vice versa. Their personalizes just don’t match up. When bullying happens, the bully refuses to let the other pig eat. Then the bullied piggies needs to be separated. Not fun.
- A third addition to a matched pair: Typically, trios of guinea pigs are very tricky to introduce and don’t work well – even it’s a baby piggie that’s being introduced. I’ve heard stories of entire group falling out and every cavy having to be put in a separate cage.
If possible, I always recommend finding a guinea pig rescue to help you find the right match for your piggies – whether it a baby to an adult or any other combination. They will test multiple guinea pigs with others to see if they are a good match. They evaluate how the guinea pigs act when they do introductions and it takes out all of the guess work – which I personally love.
Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!
How Do You Bond A Baby Guinea Pig With An Older One?
You can’t just throw them together and expect them to get along.
Some older guinea pigs will literally reject the babies if you don’t make sure that they’re compatible first!
I’ve included some steps that you should follow when introducing your new baby guinea pig to another adult or older guinea pig (actually, this can be done with pigs of all ages).
This is by no means an exact science. What I’ve written here is pretty much how to do it most safely and successfully, but there may be a few instances where things don’t work out:
1. Quarantine Period?
Normally an introduction period would begin with a quarantine where your piggies are separated from each other. Quarantine is a period of adjustment for all the animals involved and let’s you observe whether or not the new piggie is ill.
But, quarantining isn’t normally recommended for babies less than four months old or adult who are bereaved and have stopped eating and drinking.
In this case, their need for companionship is more important than the need for health precautions.
- Young guinea pigs rely heavily on company and guidance. They cannot be alone because they have not yet developed the skills for it.
- Bereaved piggies are so devastated and lonely that some will literally waste away if they’re not matched with a compatible piggie.
So, you’ll need to introduce your baby and adult right away if you want to keep them both. If there are any problems with one of them (like ringworm or lice), you’ll just have to treat them both.
Because if they’re kept separated, they’re likely to get sick and die from loneliness (yes, that’s a thing with piggies).
2. Time for the Meeting
Set up neutral space for them to meet.
No, it doesn’t meant that you have to whisk your piggies away to a completely new bonding spot.
You just have to make sure that it’s a spot that’s not claimed by your current guinea pig (e.g. doesn’t smell like your fur baby)
You can use your designated cage, a bath tub, and empty bathroom. If it’s an open area, you might want to close it off with a baby gate.
Just make sure that the area is free of either of the piggie’s smells.
(And please don’t fall for the myth that all female guinea pigs will accept all babies. That’s not necessarily true).
Here are a couple of tips and things you need to know about this process:
- Be prepared with oven mitts or a dust pan to separate them if they start fighting. And by fighting, I mean a ball of flying furry. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but you need to always be prepared.
- Put some fresh hay or grass in the middle of the area and then put the piggies in the neutral area, too. This is for when pigs meet each other for the first time. It gives them a place to get comfortable with one another.
- When the pigs meet, there may be some running around, teeth-chattering, rumble-strutting and squealing. Most of squealing will probably be submissive and come from the younger piggie It’s natural for this to sometimes continue after a little while.
- Mutual grooming (a little wash up between piggies is always a good sign)
- Eating or washing quietly next to each other
- Sniffing each other nose-to-nose
- Following each other around (in a non hostile, stalker-free way)
What you’re looking for after a while are some positive behaviors that say “Yeah, let’s do this. Let’s be friends. I won’t bite the living daylights out of you.” Acceptance behaviors like:
So now you’re wondering “Aquita, what if it doesn’t work out? What are negative behaviors? What am I looking for?”
Those behaviors range to the subtle to the down right obvious.
- If one or both guinea pigs rejects any contact with the other one. Like running away or snapping at the other one.
- If there’s a fight or a blood spilled, you can safely say that the relationship isn’t going to work out.
Pigs can love or hate each other the first time they meet. You just need to be prepared to act no matter what happens during the introduction.
Since you’re introducing an adult to a baby, it’s likely that the hierarchy will be established pretty quickly.
With adults, dominant guinea pigs have a tougher time matching with each other – neither want to back down. That’s how they end up as neighbors instead of cage mates.
Many baby piggies will defer to the adult (because the adult is bigger) and become the submissive piggie.
It can be pretty tricky bonding teenage piggies with others. During this time, they go through a rebellious stage. And they challenge the adults by acting all rude and obnoxious (and basically pains in the butt).
3. Let’s Settle In
After a few hours, if all goes well, you can get your piggies settled into their cage. It’s important that your cage is big enough.
Many cavy relationships have imploded because their pet parent didn’t prepare a large enough space.
Use the table below to make sure your area is acceptable for your little friends:
|# of Guinea Pigs||Size Of Cage||Notes|
|1 piggie||10.5 square feet||If possible, bond your fur baby with a friend|
|2 piggies||10.5 square feet||Two is often the “magic number”|
|3 piggies||13 square feet||Bonding a trio of boards isn’t recommended|
|4 piggies||16 square feet||3 sows or 1 neutered boar with 2 sows|
If you have a big enough space, then now you just prep it by:
- cleaning it out thoroughly with a vinegar and water mixture (get rid of your piggie’s scent)
- wash all the fabrics huts and fleece blankets (if you use them)
- rearrange everything in the cage
- make sure all huts in the enclosure have at least two entrances (so the baby can escape if necessary)
- having two of everything (food bowls, water bottles, toys, etc) to prevent squabbling
There’s no such thing as a “worry free” introduction.
Not all placement is guaranteed to work out for the best, no matter how hard you try or what precautions you take. But, it sure is nice when it does, isn’t it?
Do Baby Guinea Pigs Need Adult Guinea Pigs?
Yes, baby guinea pigs need adult guinea pigs. That’s how they learn how to, well…be guinea pigs. They learn how to communicate, the proper way to do things (like drink from a water bottle), what’s dangerous, and what’s safe.
When cavies live in a herd, at around 4 to 5 weeks old, baby guinea pigs will choose an adult as a “mentor” of sorts.
The youngsters will follow the same cavies around, mimicking what the adults do. If they see an older piggy eat things that are edible and not poisonous, they’ll eat those things as well.
If there aren’t any “mentors” to follow around, it’s up to you as the pet parent to try to teach them these things.
(It’s kind of sad that pet stores typically sell young piggies around this age range. They’re taken from the families before they’ve had a chance to really “learn” how to be a piggie from an expert – an adult.)
Which, I guarantee, is not nearly as easy as letting the mentor show them. It’s a lot of work, and it can be frustrating for both you and your piggies!
But, if you put two baby guinea pigs together without an older one, some things will never get learned – which would be unfortunate
So that is why it’s important to keep baby guinea pigs with older ones when possible – or to even have a mixed age group, if it makes sense.
Can Guinea Pigs Of Different Ages Live Together?
Yes, guinea pigs of different ages can live together. You just have to fall back two main thing: compatibility of personalities and proper introductions. You need to have both in order to increase the odds of the match going well.
As long as the piggies like each other and have established a hierarchy, piggies of different ages will get along quite well. It just gets a little more complex, the more furry friends you have.
You just need to make sure that you’re providing an environment that will keep all of them well and happy (and peaceful). For example:
- Make sure the enclosure is big enough for your herd
- Have plenty of food and water for everyone (and avoid giving them foods like peanut butter, chocolate, and other things that’ll make them sick and cranky)
- Provide entertainment for mental and physical stimulation
- Perform weekly health checks
- Help them with grooming as necessary (that includes baths – only as needed, nail clippings etc.)
Different guinea pigs can live together, but the match needs to be made and all three of the following conditions should be met. First, they need to get along with each other. Second, they need to have their own hierarchy. Third, their environment needs to be suited for them. If all three of these things are met then it’s likely that they will get along. If even one thing is missing then there might be trouble.
Will Male Guinea Pigs Kill Their Babies?
This is actually quite rare. If he suspects that the babies are not his own (whether or not this is actually the case), some males kill them.
For this reason (and to let the mama cavy get some rest) most males are removed from the main enclosure after the babies are born.
Once the babies are older, he can be reintroduced to the group – as long as everyone is appropriated neutered.
Guinea pigs are social animals that need companionship. They’re happiest when they live with other cavies, but it’s important to make sure the group is well-matched and compatible.
If you have a baby guinea pig, he or she will want to interact with other older animals. The infants can get along well with adults who are well matched and compatible.
On the other hand, the younger ones long for communication and socializing with more experienced older cavies
I hope this article has helped you make an informed decision about whether or not a younger or older one would be better suited for your family!
If you plan on pairing up an adult piggie with one of these youngsters, let me know–I’m eager for updates!