Once you become a pet parent of a guinea pig, and you knew that you weren’t going to have more than one, the first thing that comes to mind is “How can I make my single guinea pig happy?”, right?
Staying single can be a huge task can be a huge task for a guinea pig. They love to be around other animals and are social creatures at heart. It can be pretty hard for most of them to be happy without interacting with other guinea pigs.
But, if you’re somehow stuck in a scenario where you only have a single guinea pig, it’s a given that you’re going to be worried about their happiness.
Well, I’ve got some tips that will help you to keep your single guinea pig happy without letting them feel alone. In this article, you’ll learn 10 terrific ways to keep your single guinea pig happy.
1. Rearrange The Habitat
If you only have the single guinea pig with you, your pet might feel alone and bored. This is where you will need to experiment a little bit by playing with the cage arrangement.
Try rearranging the habitat of your guinea pig to switch things up and keep your furry friend stimulated. (Do this weekly.)
You can think out of the box and rearrange the cage in a way that suits your single guinea pig. It might need some changes, but you will find out that things will work out for you.
Try doing the following:
- Change the location of your piggie’s kitchen area or litterbox.
- Move their toys and hideaways to new parts of the habitat.
- Add new hiding spots such as cardboard boxes or paper bags.
- Add a few new hideaways or huts.
Anything that sparks curiosity in your piggie will help keep them happy.
2. Spend More Time With Your Guinea Pig
Like I said before, guinea pigs are very social animals. If they’re not going to get their socialization needs met by another guinea pig, then…well, you’re going to have to meet that need.
Guinea pigs require a lot of attention and love to stay happy – especially if they’re alone.
If you get too busy with your work or you know…just life, then your fur baby will start feeling lonely. This is where you will need to spend more time with them and make sure they get all the love and attention they need (don’t make them feel alone in the world).
When it comes to spending more time with your guinea pig, there are different things that you can do. What’s most important is that it’s quality time that you spend with your single guinea pig. And here’s a few suggestions of what you can do.
- Cuddle them while watching TV or just sitting on the sofa. Easy for you and helps your guinea pig to feel loved.
- Wear your guinea pig in cozy sling around the house, so that you can stay cuddly with your piggie while going about doing chores. I know it may sound crazy, but this is something that can actually work out for you. If your solo guinea pig is feeling lonely, then…well, what’s better than cuddling with them throughout the day?
- Give them extra lap time on the sofa or a bed. You can also put a soft cushion or towel on your lap to make it more comfortable for both of you. This is pretty straight simple. You just need to get off your seat and give your guinea pig some attention.
- Play games with your solo cavy, little friend like tug-o-war or chase (as long as your piggie is doing the chasing, it’s perfectly safe).
- Set up time for extra brushing or grooming. The physical contact and interaction will help your guinea pig feel more comfortable and safe (and less lonely).
- Sing (softly) or read to your little friend. It feels weird at first. Trust me, I know. But, it certainly helps them feel less lonely. And it let’s your piggie get used to the sound of your voice, so it’s also another way to build up their trust in you.
What matters is the fact that you give your little friend plenty of attention. Bored guinea pigs can have really destructive or aggressive behavior that can lead to health issues down the line. So, this is something you have to be aware of.
3. Have Plenty of Toys Handy
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Most cavies are always up for having fun and doing things that will make them happy. And one of the best ways to ensure their happiness is by making sure they have plenty of toys at their disposal.
You’re not going to always be there for your single guinea pig. After all, there’s work, school, family, and other commitments (that don’t always go away) in your life.
So, make sure that your little friend will always have something to play with while you’re not home.
The good thing is, there are all kinds of toys that you can get for your guinea pigs (from pet stores and online), and most of them are very affordable, too. Here’s a few options:
- Toilet Paper Roll: stuff it with hay and forage and watch how much fun your little friend will have.
- Cardboard Boxes: line them with hay and shredded paper and watch how much fun your little friend will have
- Tubes and tunnels: foraging, playing or just crawling into them. You can buy all kinds of tubes from stores that sell pet accessories and supplies, so there’s plenty of options available to you if you’re looking for something your piggie
- Tissue Box : simply leave a few treats inside an empty tissue box and let your piggie go to town on all that foraging goodness.
- Oxbow Toys: buy a few of them so your guinea pig can have fun exploring and foraging (this brand is one of the go-to brands of many reputable breeders and owners).
- Wooden Blocks: great for chewing, plus it’s a wonderful way to keep their teeth healthy and strong. And if you’re looking for something that will keep them occupied for hours, then get wooden blocks that are made of apple.
- Willow Bridges: these look cool and cute in the cage, plus they’re great for chewing. Your guinea pig will love climbing across (or running underneath) these bridges.
- Apple Sticks: if you’re looking to give your piggie’s teeth a good workout (while keeping your little friend occupied), then get these sticks and watch how much fun they’ll have chewing on them.
4. Feed Them Food In Unusual Ways
Enrichment is all about keeping your guinea pig stimulated. And one of the best ways to do that is by feeding them unusual foods in fun ways like:
- Food Hunt. Set up a food hunt to help them stay active and happy. Just hide some forage inside a cardboard box full of shredded paper or inside a huge pile of hay, and watch how much fun your little friend will have.
- Snuffle Mat: Foraging for goodies inside a colorful mat woven into different shapes can be a lot of fun for your single guinea pig – a perfect way to keep a cavy occupied and happy.
- Veggie Line. Use a clothes line to string a line of veggies along the side of your cavy’s cage (but not too high). Your fur baby will get some exercise reaching for the treats .
5. Schedule More Floor Time And Play Time
If you have only one guinea pig, it’s a good idea to let your furry potato out of the cage for a while for some exercise.
But, if you have a single guinea pig and you are keeping him in the cage for most of the hours of the day, you are doing him no favor at all.
This might cause your guinea pig to feel sad and lonely. (And no pet parent wants that, right?)
Do your little friend a favor.
Piggie proof an enclosed area of your home (or invest in a good playpen) and set it up with some exercise time in mind.
Set out a few toys, a hut, and a hayrack. Then, let your piggie run around and play for a few hours at a time.
Get on the floor and let your piggie crawl around or over you if you really want to have some bonding time.
7. Give Your Single Guinea Pig a Stuffed Animal or Toy
If getting a partner for your single guinea pig isn’t something you can (or will ever) do, you can give your little piggie a stuffed animal.
How much your single guinea pig enjoys the stuffed animals is really down to individual, personal preference.
Some piggies will love them and carry them all over the cage. Others won’t care for them at all, so don’t feel bad if your little friend doesn’t take to this right away.
But, stuffed animals can provide mental enrichment and fun for a cavy that’s lonesome or bored. And they make adorable photo ops, too (#justsayin’).
7. Place Cage In A High Traffic Area
This tip is as much for you as it is for your piggie. Like I said before, life can get pretty busy.
So, it’s important that you set up your guinea pig’s cage in a place where you can easily see and play with your little friend – in addition to feeding and watering them.
So, what’s a high traffic area?
Homes often have areas where they spend most of their time, like the living room or family room. So, it makes sense that these are good places for your fur baby to reside.
But, keep the following in mind while you’re deciding where to put your little friends’ enclosure.
- it shouldn’t be near direct heat like stoves and heaters
- drafts like those from open doors and windows can make cavies sick
- direct sunlight (like a window sill) can give your little friend heat stroke
- avoid placing the enclosure near loud, noisy appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine
Keep those things in mind to make sure your piggie is in a place where she can receive lots of interaction from you (and be safe).
8. Put A Mirror In The Cage
Okay, this is a weird one. But, some guinea pigs love them while others don’t care for them at all.
Guinea pigs will have a look at the mirror and it’ll be a moment of self realization for them. After that, they usually don’t care.
But, if your piggie is shy and it makes them more comfortable, try putting a mirror in their enclosure. Again, this is because some guinea pigs will love the mirror and others won’t have any interest in it at all.
Honestly? I’d say it’s worth a shot if your little friend is showing signs of loneliness like not wanting to interact with you, not eating, sitting in one spot of the cage and not moving, etc.
9. Play Background Sounds
There’s no scientific research from this (at least none that I’ve found). But, there’s a decent amount of “social proof” from different piggie parents that this works for their little fur babies.
Keep in mind that cavies would normally be chatting away (all day AND all night) to their piggie friends, so some gentle background sounds (instead of absolute silence) might help give your solo piggie a “feeling” of companionship – especially during the day when the house is empty or at night when everyone is asleep.
So, what kind of sounds should you play?
Personally, I’d stick with something soft and soothing. Try different sounds, like soft classical music or a running water. And in no time, they’ll tell you what they prefer with their response.
Also, make sure you watch the volume of the background sounds. You might want it loud enough that your fur baby can hear it, but not so loud that it’s going to startle them.
10. Get A Huge Cage
Last but not least, a huge cage is a must have to keeping a single guinea pig comfortable and happy (actually a huge cage is important whether they’re on their own or with a group of cavies).
You’ll want to put as much room as possible in the cage, and more than likely they’ll need a house and plenty of toys and things to climb and play on.
If you can’t afford a huge cage for your little fur baby right away, make sure you really focus on Tip #5 – Schedule More Floor Time.
Cavies are active creatures with lots of energy, so they need space to express that.
Keeping your little friend in a tiny cage will lead to boredom, which could cause them to become agitated, depressed and even destructive.
Here’s the cage size you should shoot for:
|# of Guinea Pigs||Size Of Cage|
|1 piggie||10.5 square feet|
|2 piggies||10.5 square feet|
|3 piggies||13 square feet|
|4 piggies||16 square feet|
This is especially the case if your little one was used to living with other cavies before they were on their own. They’ll miss having another cavy to play with – even if it wasn’t a good friend, but just someone to interact with once in awhile.
So, try to give them as much space as possible to keep them happy and healthy. And if you can’t get them a huge cage….
Extra floor time (lots of it) is the next best thing.
How Do You Cheer Up a Guinea Pig?
It’s actually pretty simple to cheer up a guinea pig – even a solitary guinea pig. And it’s really a matter of trying out a few different things to see what your cavy likes.
Some go-to methods of cheering up a guinea pig is feeding them their favorite foods, making sure that they have a compatible friend to share their space, having, enough enrichment activities and toys to play with, getting them extra floor time, and taking them on walks outside.
You never know what your little one might enjoy!
How Can I Tell If My Guinea Pig Is Sad?
There’s certain behavior that your little friend might exhibit when they’re sad. This is especially the case for a guinea pig who’s been on their own for a long time without another cavy to chat with.
In this situation, your pet might be lethargic when being picked up and held (and sometimes for some, not at all). They may also be more skittish and less likely to want to play with you.
You might also see a loss of appetite, a lack of attention for their enrichment activities, an overall dull coat appearance, and maybe even damage on the cage from being upset or bored.
What Do Guinea Pigs Enjoy?
Guinea pigs enjoy burrowing in hay, gnawing on things, eating their favorite treats, playing with friend and doing zoomies around their cage. Most guinea pigs are very active, social animals that enjoy interaction with each other and their owners (once they’ve had a chance to get used to you).
Guinea pigs like having places to hide and explore, so they appreciate lots of hay in their cage, plenty of toys (boxes are great), and various levels to climb on. They also enjoy some supervised playtime with you each day.
So, there you have it. These ten tips are designed to help your piggie feel safe, secure, and loved – no matter if they’re on their own or with a group of cavies.
Typically, guinea pigs do better in pairs. But, if you’re going to (or have no choice and need) keep your guinea pig single, then this article help to make that you’re giving your fuzz spud a happy life, the best life possible for a solitary guinea pig.
Thank you for taking your time to read this article. I hope it was informative and helpful.