Tips for Introducing a New Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig, Meet Guinea Pig – Are you thinking of adding a new guinea pig to keep your original pet company?

Guinea Pig Herd

You may be wondering how to go about introducing a new guinea pig to other guinea pigs that are already established in their environment. If you’re worried about how the older pets will react to the addition of a new one, then you’re worries are groundless, as long as you follow these guidelines!

Two Hearts, Two Cages

Before you even think about introducing your new guinea pig to your old one, you have to keep the new one in his own cage for a while in quarantine.

The purpose of the quarantine is to ensure that your new pet is not affected by any mites, lice, fungus, or other illness that could be passed to the pet you already have. It’s best to set up a cage for the new guinea pig in a separate room, so that germs and lice cannot travel from one pet to the other.

Unfortunately, it’s an unavoidable expense to set up this second cage, but it’s vitally important to the health of both pets. If your original cage is Coroplast, you may be able to create a small cage for the new pet. Later, you can use its pieces to enlarge the cage where your pet duo—or trio—will happily cohabit.

It’s always a good idea, however, to have an available spare cage, so that if one of your pets becomes ill or if the two of them fight you can move them to separate spaces.

One guinea pig requires cage space of at least 0.65 square metres (7 square feet). For each additional pet, allow an extra 0.27 square metres (2-4 square feet).

Picking a Pair

You have to put some care into choosing a cage-mate for your guinea pig. There’s no guarantee that two pets will get along just because you put them into the same living space. You also want to be careful that you avoid partnering two guinea pigs with the potential to breed. Keep in mind that as far as breeding goes, age doesn’t matter: An adult guinea pig will mate with a younger guinea pig as soon as it is sexually mature.

That being said, consider your source: If you’re buying them from a pet store or a breeder, be certain the seller knows how to sex them correctly. (And promote good guinea pig care)

Adoption should be your first port of call.

You really don’t want to get home with a pair that will mate or with a female that is already pregnant.  It’s best then, to choose a guinea pig of the same sex as the one you already have.

Perfect Matchups

In order to avoid fighting, try to achieve a contrast between them. This is where your knowledge of guinea pigs comes into play as you analyse their personalities.

You want to partner Felix with Oscar, or Lucy with Ethel.  You want an extrovert with an introvert guinea pig. Try pairing an older one with a younger one, although if you choose one that’s too young, it may challenge the older pet when it goes through its adolescence.

Let the Introductions Begin

Once you’ve chosen your new pet and you’re certain that it’s disease-free, it’s time for introductions. Do not, however, put one of the pets into the other one’s cage. Instead, let them meet one another in neutral territory. Put a child’s wading pool on the floor and lay a towel in the pool, and set each of your pets inside.

You, of course, should remain present, observing. Allow them to come across one another on their own. It can take from 15 to 30 minutes before they are really getting to know one another.

What behaviours can you expect?

Don’t be frightened if you see butt sniffing or nudging. They may mount one another—butt on butt or head on head or any which way. Butt dragging is also common as they leave their scent. You might see their hackles raise or even hear them chattering their teeth at one another.

Light nipping is okay, but if you see any sign of blood you should separate them. If the two pigs rear up on their haunches, separate them immediately. Have a towel or garden glove at the ready so that you can protect your hand when you lift them away from each other, because you don’t want to get bitten. If they are attacking one another, use a solid piece of cardboard to separate them so that you don’t get hurt.

Fresh Digs For All Parties

Once you know your new pet duo or trio will be a success, wash all cage surfaces.

Put new towelling or fleece in the cleaned cage. Scrub the feeding dishes so that the scent from the pet that used it is gone. That way, when you put the old and new pets together, it will seem as if the cage and dishes are fair territory for both or all of them.

As long as you’ve watched them carefully up to this point, you should be able to expect them to do well together.

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