Have you ever had two guinea pigs die at the same time? It’s a heartbreaking, tragic experience.
Typically, two guinea pigs die at the same time because of a variety of environmental factors: like toxic fumes, simultaneous shock, sudden temperature changes, pest infestations, deadly viral infections and more.
In fact, it’s very rare for two (or more) guinea pigs to die from natural causes at the same time.
So if you’re grieving the loss of your furry friends, know that you’re not alone. And if you want to make sure that your fuzz spuds don’t meet the same fate, you’re encouraged to read through this, too.
In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at some of the reasons why guinea pigs die at the same time.
Keep in mind that there are many different factors that can contribute to this, so it’s not always easy to pinpoint a specific cause.
But by understanding the most common causes, you can take steps to avoid them and keep your guinea pigs healthy and happy – and alive.
1. Harmful Foods
Guinea pigs have delicate digestive system and even a small amount of certain foods can be deadly. (And I’m not just talking about chocolate and other sweets!)
Some of the most poisonous foods for guinea pigs include:
- raw potatoes and potato leaves (your piggies will be deader than dead if they eat them)
- certain types of plants or shrubs (ex. pine, hemlock)
- mushrooms (even the safe-looking variety)
- pretty much all bulb veggies (like onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, etc)
- rhubarb leaves and stalks (deadly)
If you suspect that your guinea pig has eaten something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately.
Don’t wait – every minute counts when it comes to toxic poisoning.
While it’s important to give your little a varied diet, make sure you’re not feeding them anything that could potentially kill them.
The best way to prevent your guinea pigs from eating dangerous foods is to keep their diet strictly limited to good hay, fresh produce and guinea pig food pellets.
Unfortunately, rodents like rats or mice carry deadly viruses and bacteria that can make your guinea pigs die at the same time.
The most common rodent-borne diseases that affect guinea pigs are:
- hantavirus (which is often fatal)
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus ( a condition that can cause paralysis, seizures and death)
- Salmonellosis (a bacterial infection that leads to diarrhea, dehydration and even death in guinea pigs)
These diseases can be transmitted to guinea pigs in a number of ways, including:
- direct contact with an infected rodent
- eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with rat or mice droppings, urines
If you see any evidence of rats or mice in your little friend’s environment – like droppings, chewed food or nests – take steps to get rid of them immediately.
This can include using rat/mouse traps, keeping their living space clean and free of clutter so rodents have nowhere to hide, and using rodent-proofing measures around your home.
If you have two cavies that died at the same time and you know that you have a rodent problem, then it’s possible that they died from a rodent-borne disease.
As cute as they are, rabbits can carry diseases that are deadly to guinea pigs.
The most common rabbit-borne diseases that affect guinea pigs are:
- Pasturella: a bacterial infection that can cause pneumonia and death
- Bordetella: a (frustratingly persistent and contagious) respiratory infection that can cause guinea pigs to die at the same time
If you have guinea pigs and rabbits living together, there’s a very real risk of your guineas contracting one of these deadly diseases from the rabbits.
It’s important to keep your guinea pigs and rabbits completely separate from each other to prevent any cross-infection.
Even if your rabbit seems healthy, they could still be carrying a deadly virus that can kill your guinea pig in just a few days (not tryin’ to scare you, just want you to be informed).
3. Overeating The Wrong Foods
There’s lots of different foods that guinea pigs can eat. And it’s important to feed them a wide variety of foods, so that they get all the different nutrients their little bodies need.
But, just like with people, guinea pigs can get sick from eating too much of the wrong foods.
Certain foods are high in calcium (like mustard greens), high in sugar (like bananas), or high in oxalates (like spinach) can cause health problems in guinea pigs, like liver disease, kidney stones and even death.
(Keep in mind that it’s OVERFEEDING these foods that can be dangerous, guinea pigs can definitely have some of these items as part of their regular diet in moderation).
And if you’ve been feeding all of your little friends the same things, then it’s possible that they’ve been eating too much of one type of food, which can lead to health problems that might make them die around the same time – especially if you don’t notice that they’re sick.
So it’s important that you mix up their diet with a variety of different fruits, vegetables, pellets, and hay.
That way they’ll get the right nutrients and won’t be at risk from eating too much of one thing.
4. Couldn’t Access Water Or Food
Always check to make sure that your fur babies have easy access to clean water and fresh food.
If they’re unable to reach their food or water, they might become stressed and die from dehydration or starvation.
If you have two guineas that died at the same time and you can’t find a clear reason why, it’s possible that they didn’t have access to food or water.
5. Deadly Infection
Upper respiratory infections are contagious. If one of your little friends gets an upper respiratory infection, it’s very likely that the other guinea pig will catch it and die from the infection.
What’s hard is that cavies often hide their illness until it’s too late, so you might not even know that they’re sick (which is really, really scary).
That’s why it’s important to weigh your little friends weekly and to have regular health checks. Otherwise, they could easily die from an undetected infection or other health issue.
6. Scared or Shocked
It’s pretty sad. But, many, many guinea pigs have died from shock. And it’s very possible to have two guinea pigs die from shock at the same time.
What shocks guinea pigs?
Lots of different things.
But, the most common usually involve another animal or predator.
If your piggies live in a hutch outside, it’s possible for them to get shocked to death by an animal trying to break in (raccoons, opossums, dogs, cats, and even birds of prey can all kill guinea pigs).
If you have an indoor guinea pig cage, it’s possible for them to die from shock if another pet (a dog or a cat) comes into the room and scares them.
Or if – God forbid – another pet ends up getting to your piggies and makes physical contact.
7. Fumes or Lack of Fresh Air
It’s important to understand that smells that don’t seem like much to us as humans are amplified to the 1,000th power to guinea pigs.
Their sense of smell and respiratory systems are so incredibly sensitive that they can die from fumes or a lack of fresh air.
If you have two guinea pigs that died at the same time and you think it might be due to something in the air of their immediate environment, take a closer look at what’s going on around them.
And ask yourself a few questions:
- Are there any fumes from smoke? Like maybe from a fireplace?
- If your piggies live in a hutch, what wood was used to build it? Certain woods aren’t safe for piggies like: air-dried pine, cedar, and eucalyptus. And mdf glue in the hutch might cause a smell that could kill your guineas.
- Is there a gas stove nearby? Could they be smelling the gas fumes?
- Are there any chemicals near their cage or hutch that might be harming them (like pesticides, paint fumes, etc)?
- What about their bedding? If you’re using air-dried pine as bedding or any other aromatic wood shavings then the strong smell may have been too much for their respiratory system to handle.
These are just things to consider if you’re trying to figure out why two guinea pigs can pass away together.
8. Sudden Temperature Change
Guinea pigs usually can’t tolerate sudden changes in temperature.
If the temperature outside is drastically different than what they’re used to, it can cause them to get a cold or even die from the shock of the temperature change.
And it doesn’t take long for one, two, or even all of your little friends to die from it.
There’s two main things you want to watch out for
- Hypothermia (a condition where the body’s temperature falls below the required normal) can set in very quickly and lead to death.
- Heatstroke ( a condition where the body’s temperature rises to a dangerously high level) can also happen quickly and kill guinea pigs.
The best temperature range for guinea pigs is from 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C). If the temperature falls below 60°F (16°C), they are at risk for hypothermia. If the temperature rises above 78°F (26°C), then you’re looking at heat stroke.
If you live in an area where the temperatures get too hot or cold, it’s better to keep your little friends inside.
I remember hearing a woman talk about how she had taken her guinea pigs outside for a some fresh air one summer. But, it was hotter than Hades outside and within a few hours three of her five guineas had died. (I mean, how awful is that?)
If you’re seeing a trend of your guinea pigs dying at the same time, and you can’t seem to figure out why, take a look at the temperature.
Is it too hot? Too cold? Uncomfortable for them in some way?
It might be something to consider.
9. Snake Bite Or Spider Bite
Certain locations, depending on your climate, have a lot of snakes and other pests – and there can be some nasty, poisonous ones, too.
And if your little friends are in the same space, it’s possible that the pest could bite one (or both) of your cavies. Afterwards, it’s possible that they die around the same time.
If you’re in an area where there are venomous snakes, then it’s possible for them to get bitten and die from the snake venom.
Although guinea pigs are considered prey to a lot of snakes, your cavies’ enclosure is also pretty likely to attract them.
The same goes for spiders – if your guineas live in an area with poisonous spiders, they could get bitten and die.
If you live in an area with snakes or spiders, it’s important to be aware of the danger they pose to your guinea pigs and take appropriate precautions.
- like keeping them indoors or putting a lid on their hutch just in case a snake happens to slither by
- treating your house for insects and pests regularly
Just like with the sudden temperature change, it’s hard for guinea pigs to adapt to changes in their surroundings and they can easily die as a result.
These are all things to think about if you’re wondering why two guinea pigs died at the same time.
Things To Remember About Why Guinea Pigs Die At The Same Time
It’s never easy losing a pet.
Actually losing two or more piggies at the same time is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
But, if you’re trying to figure out why your guinea pigs died, it’s important to look at all the possibilities – even the ones that might be hard to face.
But hopefully, by being aware of some of the things that might cause death, we can help our guineas live long and healthy lives.
Have you ever experienced two of your little friends dying at the same time? How did you handle it? Do you know the cause?
Let me know in the comments below.