So you want a guinea pig, but then you are confused about whether you should get one, a pair, or more? Many pet shops have single guinea pigs, and they are more than happy to sell you an individual pet but can a solitary guinea pig live happily?
If you come to visit a breeder or a rescue, then they will incline you to have at least two of them, if not more.
So now you must be confused about whether you should get a guinea pig or more? And if you happen to get a guinea pig for any reason, will you be able to keep it happy? Can guinea pigs live alone? Let’s find out the truth.
As a general rule, guinea pigs can live alone, but experts recommend keeping them in a group of 2 or more. Being social animals, they need someone of their own kind to interact and play with. In the absence of the same, they may get depressed and suffer from health issues as well.
Although you must remember that it may differ according to the personality of the guinea pig you own.
Now many people will have a different opinion on the same. While some would say that it is cruel to have a single guinea pig, others say they had one for years, and it worked out all good. What should you do?
Can you have just one guinea pig?
It is ok to have one guinea pig, but it is best to go with a pair or more. Guinea pig shows abnormal behavior if left alone. If you have enough time to dedicate to your guinea pig, interact and play with them, then you shall do just fine with a single guinea pig. Else it is best to get a pair.
From what I have experienced is it totally depends upon the personality and temperament of the guinea pig.
While some guinea pigs like to live solitarily while others need company, I recommend that you go with more than one guinea pig.
You will not have enough time and energy to dedicate to your pet which can make your guinea pig feel lonely.
Do guinea pigs get lonely?
Yes, sometimes guinea pigs may experience loneliness. Guinea pigs are social animals, and they thrive in a group of 3-5 or even more. Having a single guinea pig is okay but not the best decision always.
If you have a boar or even sow who has been living solitary for a while and doesn’t enjoy having a cage mate, they might be happy living alone provided you give them all essential needs right from food, water, toys, etc. and interaction daily.
Some guinea pigs are aggressive and will not get along with other cage-mates, so we might have to keep them alone in such cases.
You can learn more about dominant behavior in guinea pigs from our article.
Although in most cases guinea pig does well in groups only.
Especially if you happen to have sows, then you must keep them in a pair or a larger group.
Signs your guinea pig is lonely
Guinea pigs are social animals, and they can get lonely if kept single for a long time.
Although some guinea pigs enjoy living alone, others don’t.
If you happen to have a single guinea pig, then you must watch out for these signs of loneliness in your guinea pig:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargic, hiding in the hideouts all the time.
- Sleeping a lot
- Biting the cage bars
- Trying to escape through the cage
- Developing an aggressive behavior
If you see any signs of loneliness in your guinea pig, then taking your guinea pig to the rescue and finding a perfect partner for your guinea pig is really important.
How To Keep A Single Guinea Pig Happy?
If you feel like owning a single guinea pig or already have one, then I would suggest you continue reading so that you can understand your guinea pig’s needs and keep them happy even if you keep them single.
Although the best way to keep a guinea pig happy is to keep them in a pair or a group.
But it is not always possible for all. In fact, some guinea pigs are so aggressive that they don’t get along with others at all.
So, today I shall share some of the tips on keeping a single guinea pig happy if you happen to own one.
Providing A Healthy Living Space
The basic requirement for keeping a single guinea pig happy is a functional living space.
Being caged animals, they will spend a lot of time in their cage, so having a large enough enclosure for them to eat, play, and hide is essential.
Apart from the basic needs like food and water, the cage should also contain lots of toys, hidings, etc.
A solitary guinea pig needs a lot of stimulation due to the significant amount of time they need to spend alone in there.
Having a lot of toys makes sure that they don’t get bored in there.
Chew toys are an excellent choice for mental stimulation in guinea pigs. These help keep the guinea pigs busy for hours, but they are also good for their dental health.
Natural Apple twigs work great for chewing purposes and are safe for our guinea pigs too.
Hidings are another critical aspect that you need to look into in your guinea pigs cage. Having some good hideouts helps keep guinea pigs stimulated and gives them a sense of security in their cage.
Being a prey animal, guinea pigs like to burrow or hide in something when they feel terrified. So having some good hideouts is vital for them.
Apart from these, there are many options out there that you can include in your guinea pigs cage. Tunnels, hammocks, fleece forest, wooden toys are also some great addition to the list.
Also, make sure you don’t give them all of the toys at once.
Provide them with 2-3 toys and rotate them every few weeks to bring a change and keep them entertained.
Having the same toy for a long period of time can make them bored with the same pretty easily.
Just make sure whatever you decide to add in their cage is safe for your guinea pigs.
Conversing With Your Guinea Pigs
Conversing with your guinea pig is also an important aspect that you need to consider.
Guinea pigs are social animals, and they crave for some interaction daily.
Even though you cannot understand what your guinea pig is saying, we can surely learn to decipher their sounds and body language to understand them better.
This is something that most guinea pig owners overlook, but it plays a vital role if you have a single guinea pig.
A solitary guinea pig wants company, so situate the cage in a room where they can see you. Remember, they are sociable animals and that you are now their companion, so be sure to speak or pet the guinea pig each time you pass by.Pippa Elliott, a licensed veterinarian
Also, placing the cage in the part of a home you spend most of your time in is crucial.
This way, your guinea pig will be able to interact with you and listen to your voice all the time, which will keep them active and entertained.
Calling out their names time and again will help them understand and respond to you accordingly.
It would be best if you used some positive reinforcement while talking with your guinea pigs.
If they respond to your talks, give them some positive reinforcement in the form of treats.
A small slice of berries, grapes, carrots etc.. would be a great choice to start with.
Sometimes even one-sided conversation with your guinea pig is good for them as they feel relaxed when hearing your voice.
You can sing them a song, talk to them about any event happening in your life, or share some random talks with them.
Whatever you do, make sure you take some time out to interact with your guinea pigs daily.
Providing Them A Lot Of Floor Time
Providing your guinea pigs with a lot of floor time is essential.
Guinea pigs confined to a cage can get bored and stressed pretty quickly, especially when there are no cage mates.
Providing them with some time out of their cage in a room that is made guinea pig proof is crucial.
Taking them out of the cage helps in bringing a change in the environment which refreshes their mood.
Just make sure the room is made guinea pig proof with some familiar hiding spaces, No open circuits or wire to chew on, and no way to escape from the room.
Guinea pigs can get notorious and hide all around your house if they find an escape from the room.
Interacting with your guinea pigs when they are out of their cage will make them happy. They are also curious about nature and will love to explore your room.
You can sit there talking to them and playing with them so that they feel calm in the new environment.
You should at least provide 2 hours of floor time daily to your guinea pigs. It is even better if you can divide the time into two halves or even four throughout the day.
Although it might not be possible for everyone so diving it into two halves works excellent as well.
If you happen to live with family or other roommates, you can also ask them to interact with your guinea pigs when you are away.
Doing so also works out great. Just make sure the person is not a stranger, as your guinea pig might initially get terrified.
Is it ok to have one guinea pig?
No, I would not suggest you go for a single guinea pig.
However, if you find an aggressive or solitary guinea pig in a pet store or a rescue, then going ahead with them would be fine.
Always remember, sows like to be in a company while boars prefer more of solitary lifestyle.
Although social interaction is essential for both of them and having a cage-mate or more would do good in the long term.
Also, make sure you go for a single guinea pig only when you have more than half a day to dedicate to your pig.
That shall ensure they get enough socialization and interaction and remain happy.