Keeping guinea pigs is a lot of fun because they are such adorable little characters and it's now known they are much happier when they share their environment with a cage mate which ideally should be another piggy. If you are thinking about rescuing a guinea pig, it's important that you find out as much about them as possible and if you can offer two of these lovely creatures a new and loving home at the same time then all the better because you’ll have much happier pets!
If on the other hand you are hoping to get a pet from a breeder, then it's important their young piggies are well handled because this means they'll be more confident characters all round. The good news is they will be correctly sexed whether you adopt them from a rescue centre or buy them from a breeder which reduces the risk of putting males and females together in the same environment which could result in unwanted babies.
Getting two guinea pigs from different places would mean they would need to be kept apart for a while to make sure they are not carrying any diseases. Ideally, this quarantine period should be a minimum of 2 weeks so if either of the piggies are ill it allows enough time for you to spot any symptoms. It's a good idea to place their cages in different rooms during the quarantine period and to always wash your hands before and after handling your pets to reduce the risk of transmitting anything nasty from one piggy to the other.
Guinea pigs live in great numbers in the wild, but there's usually one dominant male who rules a herd. These adorable creatures find safety in numbers, kept as pets they love being with their own kind and as long as there is enough room they live very happily together much as they do in the wild. With this said, piggies still need to establish a hierarchy and once this is determined they become best of friends often for life.
If a guinea pig is introduced to another piggy after having lived on their own for a while and they get on well with the newcomer, it can have quite a dramatic and positive effect on their personalities. A happy cavy will be more active which means there's less risk of them putting on too much weight which often happens when they don't get enough exercise to burn off their calorie intake.
A hierarchy would need to be established even between 2 cavies, but once this is determined, piggies form strong bonds with each other which they show by grooming one another and chatting away with some of them cuddling up together when they sleep. Having a pal also means they tend to be less nervous, they are more confident little creatures all round with the best part being that you get to see a side of them that you would never have seen if they were kept on their own. Watching two guinea pigs interacting with each other is a lot of fun.
Not all guinea pigs are bossy nor are they ultra territorial preferring the quiet life and the company of a “friend”. This is great news because if you do end up with a dominant character and they realise their companion doesn't care, the chances are they will get on, but you do have to keep an eye on things to make sure the more subservient cavy is not being bullied. However, if both piggies have dominant characters there could be a problem and this applies to both females and males when they live in same-sex pairs.
The thing to bear in mind is that most arguments are triggered by a dispute over “territory”. As such, when 2 cavies meet for the first time it should ideally be on neutral ground away from their usual environments. However, just because they get on when they are on neutral ground does not necessarily mean they won't fight when they are back in their own environments.
Male piggies are known as boars and are usually happier living in pairs rather than three or more. However, cavies need to have their own space so the larger their environment is, the happier they will be living together. Some males are more dominant by nature and want to be the “alpha boar” and as long as their companion is less inclined to want to be boss, they will generally get on well together.
If there are any females close by even if they are in a different environment, males can become a little more aggressive with each other which is why it's best to keep females in another room. The earlier males are introduced to each other the better and if they are from the same litter, it's ideal. However, if you do end up with 2 males that don't get on, neutering them will not change how they behave towards each other. In short, it's not worth doing.
Much the same applies to female guinea pigs living together with some being more dominant than others. You may find they become friends very quickly and they remain friends for life forming really strong bonds with each other. With another pair of females it may take a bit longer and there could be trouble if both are dominant by nature. The important thing is for them to live in an environment where each of them has lots of space so they can get away from each other when they want to.
Neutered males can live with a few females but you can only have one male because if your try to introduce another boar into the environment, they will fight over the females even if they are neutered. The thing to bear in mind is that males are sexually mature as early as 3 to 4 weeks old and neutering a boar should not be something that you should really consider doing unless you are a breeder. The reason being that it does involve a few risks which means it's a decision that should never be taken lightly.