Guinea pigs can live by themselves in a cage, but they are social animals and prefer to have a cage mate.
A solitary guinea pig will not be very active without a playmate and may even become lonely.
You may consider adding a young companion to help your older guinea pig thrive.
But is it possible for a young guinea pig to live with an older one?
As a general rule, a young guinea pig can live with an older one as long as the two are compatible with each other. Most adult guinea pigs are very patient with babies, and the younger animals will benefit by learning from the more experienced adults.
Not all guinea pigs will get along right away, especially if they are not properly introduced.
The introduction is critical and must be done slowly to ensure a happy pairing.
Read on to learn how to introduce a young guinea pig to an older one and when separating them may be necessary.
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How To Introduce a Young Guinea Pig to an Older One
It is crucial to have a proper introduction between a young guinea pig and an older one to determine if the animals get along well enough to live in the same cage.
Skipping the introduction and putting the cavies together in the same cage right away is a recipe for disaster.
You will have a tougher time getting them to live together peacefully.
An older guinea pig may reject the addition to the herd if they are not compatible.
There is no guarantee that your baby guinea pig will get along with your older one, but a proper meeting certainly helps things.
The gender of your guinea pigs is also essential if neither animal has been spayed or neutered, as you do not want to be surprised with more babies.
Related reading: Can guinea pigs change gender?
Female guinea pigs may become pregnant once they are around two months old, so spaying and neutering are crucial.
The Quarantine Period
Before you bring your new guinea pig into your home, it is recommended to have the animal thoroughly examined by a veterinarian.
The younger guinea pig may be carrying a transmissible disease, which could infect your current guinea pig.
This is dangerous because an older cavy may have more difficulty clearing an illness than a younger animal with a more robust immune system.
If the baby guinea pig is less than four months old, talk to your veterinarian about whether quarantine is necessary.
As long as the baby is healthy, quarantine is not usually recommended.
Baby guinea pigs tend to be very scared of their new surroundings, and they may become stressed enough to stop eating.
Placing the baby guinea pig in the cage with the older one will make it feel more secure.
Since the older one is automatically the dominant guinea pig, fighting with the baby is unlikely.
For guinea pigs older than four months, a quarantine period of at least a couple of weeks is recommended.
During this time, you will keep the guinea pigs in separate rooms.
When you introduce your guinea pigs to each other for the first time, it needs to be done on neutral territory.
For the initial introduction, keep the guinea pigs in their separate cages and place them next to each other.
The separate cage is essential because it reduces the chance of either animal becoming territorial.
Separate cages also allow each guinea pig to become familiar with the other’s scent while staying secure in their own spaces.
Observe the Interaction Between the Guinea Pigs
After the introduction, the period is over, and the cavies have become familiar with each other, they are ready for some supervised playtime.
A bathtub or other closed area will ensure the cavies cannot run and hide from each other.
You may want to have another person present for the first few interactions if the animals begin to fight and need to be quickly separated.
If the older guinea pig is much larger than the younger one, it may initially react with aggressive or territorial behavior.
Keep some treats handy to reward the guinea pigs when they are nice to each other.
Let the cavies sniff each other and monitor their behavior for any signs of aggression.
You will likely observe teeth chattering or rumble strutting when the cavies are getting to know each other.
Start with short play sessions and if the guinea pigs seem to be getting along well, gradually increase the amount of time they spend together.
Once the cavies consistently have positive interactions, it is safe to place them in the same cage.
Ensure there is adequate cage space for each guinea pig to have their area, and provide separate food dishes and water bottles to eliminate competition between them.
When To Separate Guinea Pigs
If you notice aggression or bullying after your guinea pigs move in, you will need to separate them to keep the behavior from escalating.
Separation may be done by putting each cavy in their cage and placing them near each other.
You may also opt to install a divider in their existing cage to keep them apart.
Keeping the cavies separate but close to each other allows them to become acquainted at a safer distance.
Once the guinea pigs have calmed down, you will need to gradually reintroduce them to each other.
If several weeks have passed and the cavies are still not getting along, they may need to stay separated permanently.
Even if cages or a divider separates the guinea pigs, they will still benefit from being near each other and are less likely to get lonely.
Do Baby Guinea Pigs Need Adults?
Baby guinea pigs need to be around adults because it is how they learn to communicate, eat, and drink.
A baby guinea pig will usually follow an adult and mimic their behaviors.
The baby guinea pig learns things like how to drink from a water bottle, which foods are safe, and how to communicate through different sounds and body movements.
A baby guinea pig raised without any adults will have difficulty learning how to do things on its own.
It will be up to you to teach the young cavies everything they need to know, which may be a frustrating process for both you and your pets.
It is crucial to avoid separating the babies from the adult guinea pigs before they have had a chance to learn from them.
Will Guinea Pigs of Different Ages Get Along?
With the proper introductions, guinea pigs of any age will usually get along.
Of course, a lot depends on the animals’ personalities and their compatibility, but a lengthy introduction helps things go well.
Guinea pig herds will naturally establish a hierarchy, with the older ones typically dominating over the younger cavies.
To prevent any aggressive guinea pig behavior, ensure the cage is large enough for the cavies to run around and play without constantly running into each other.
Provide separate food bowls and water bottles for each guinea pig so they do not feel insecure about their food supply.
Offer an unlimited amount of hay, and keep the cage clean by removing soiled bedding daily and replacing it.
Place some toys in the enclosure for entertainment and provide some hiding places for the animals to feel more secure.
Monitor your guinea pigs for any changes in behavior, including their eating and sleeping habits, to ensure your pets live a happy and healthy life.
If you want three or more guinea pigs, make sure you know what you’re in for by reading our article.
Do Male Guinea Pigs Kill Baby Guinea Pigs?
Although it is rare, an adult male guinea pig may kill a baby cavy, especially if it is not his own.
Male cavies are usually removed from the enclosure temporarily after the babies are born.
Read some more surprising guinea pig cannibalism facts in our post at the link.
Neutered males are less likely to be aggressive toward babies, but it is still best to separate them for everyone’s safety.
Once the baby guinea pigs are older, they will need to be spayed or neutered before allowing the male back into the same cage.
Female cavies are sexually mature after they are around two months old, but they may be able to become pregnant earlier than this in some cases.
It is best to spay and neuter your guinea pigs if you plan to house more than one in a cage to avoid any surprise litters.
Cavies are typically housed in same-sex groups, such as a pair of males or a pair of females unless they are related.
This prevents pregnancy and ensures the guinea pigs are more likely to get along.
Signs Your Guinea Pigs Are Getting Along
Once you have successfully placed your guinea pigs together in the same cage, monitor their behavior to ensure everyone gets along.
Cavies are very expressive and chatty, so there will be a few signs when these social animals are happy and getting along.
You may notice your guinea pigs acting playfully or squeaking more often.
The pair will also start getting closer as they get more comfortable.
You will likely see them eating next to each other, sleeping close together, or grooming each other regularly.
Signs your cavies are not getting along are obvious as well.
If you notice behaviors like teeth chattering, hiding, chasing, or aggressive fighting, your guinea pigs may simply not be compatible together.
Even cavies who previously got along may suddenly start fighting or becoming aggressive.
This sudden behavior change may be brought on by illness or when the younger cavy reaches sexual maturity.
Guinea pig relationships are unpredictable, and it is sometimes difficult to know if they will become friends in the future.
You may need to separate the guinea pigs and restart the gradual introduction period and bonding process again.