How to Buy a Guinea Pig (or Two!)

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Hopefully you’ve done all your research on caring for guinea pigs, you’ve bought or built an adequately sized cage, and now you’re ready to buy a guinea pig. This is fun!

Where Do I Buy a Guinea Pig?

Almost all pet stores sell guinea pigs because they are such popular pets with both children and grown-ups. Or you can look on Craig’s list or a similar classified ad site to find private parties who have bred their guinea pigs and are now ready to sell the pups. Yes, that’s what baby guinea pigs are called – pups!

One, Two, Three, Four…?

The first, and very important question that you have to ask your self is this: do I buy just one guinea pig, or do I buy a pair? A lot of people may think that buying and raising two guinea pigs is twice the work or twice the cost of raising one guinea pig. While this may be partly true it may actually be less trouble than you think.

Don’t go into a guinea pig raising project if you think you will eventually dread the task of caring for, feeding, and cleaning up after your pet. Go into it because you and your kids love animals, and you love taking care of animals. That being said, of course a single guinea pig might be a little easier to care for and is probably enough to keep you entertained and satisfied, you should put some serious thought into purchasing two guinea pigs or more. I’ll explain why…

You see, guinea pigs extremely social creatures, in the wild they are actually “herd animals”, they live in large communities and they love the company of other guinea pigs. The truth of the matter is that they can get lonely if left by themselves, and their health will suffer actually if left alone.

Guinea pigs need social inter-activity, and if you buy just one guinea pig he is going to get lonely very quickly and require more of your attention more often. Sometimes they actually cry out for attention. But if your guinea pig has a playmate to keep busy and interact with you won’t have to spend quite as much time with them.

Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl…

What sex of guinea pig should you buy? If you’re going to get just one guinea pig then it doesn’t matter too much which sex you choose to buy. Generally the male guinea pig is more active and has more energy that they need to burn off which requires more exercise. The female guinea pig is less active and more docile, and may be better for young children that might want to hold or handle the guinea pig often (guinea pigs love to be held and petted!).

Go on, Get Two!

Have you decided to buy two guinea pigs? Good, you’ll be glad you did. Now another question: Do I buy two males, two females, or one of each? That question can be answered in part by whether or not you intend to breed guinea pig pups. If you want to breed and sell guinea pigs then the answer is pretty obvious – one of each!

A male and a female sharing the same cage will always get along best. In this scenario the male guinea pig will accept the dominate role and consider the female as his, and the female will acknowledge the males dominant role. They will get along quite well. But if left to do what comes naturally you will soon have a cage full of guinea pigs! If you don’t want a cage full of guinea pig pups you can have the male neutered or the female spayed, just as you would a dog or a cat. Neutering the male is the less invasive surgery.

If you buy two male guinea pigs make sure that they are from the same cage and the same litter. This will lessen the likelihood of the males fighting one another for dominance. They will fight, however, if the cage is too small and they don’t have enough cage space to establish their own territories. But if you give them plenty of room they will probably be happy and get along.

If you buy two female guinea pigs they will usually get along very well together. Considering the female’s docile nature, only very rarely will female guinea pigs get into a violent fight with one another although they may squabble sometimes over the food and water.

If you have two male guinea pigs, it is never a good idea to add a female guinea pig to the cage. This will always result in a fight between the males for the female, in other words a fight for dominance. If left in the same cage, the loser of this fight will eventually starve to death because the winner, who has established dominance, will not allow the loser to share the food and water any longer. It would be best to remove the loser and put him in another cage.

Summary

In summary, if you want to raise really happy and healthy guinea pigs then you should buy a pair of them. They will be much better off with a companion and will be less prone to illness brought on by loneliness, and will live a long and contented life.