Guinea Pigs are inarguably some of the cutest critters around and are a very social animal species, so why not have more than one?
Two or three (or more!) piggies can live together quite happily in a large enough enclosure.
There are special considerations for having guinea pigs live in a group, such as their sex, age, size, and personality.
Three guinea pigs can do very well together as long as they are the same sex or neutered and their housing is large enough. Two sows and one neutered boar will do very well together. The three guinea pigs should also be of similar ages, so they have the same activity level and size.
When your piggies first meet, they may need to assert dominance.
This animal behavior is normal and will subside once the alpha guinea pig is established.
The greatest concern is that your pets have adequate cage space, but there are more factors to consider.
How Many Guinea Pigs Are Too Many In the Same Cage?
Multiple guinea pigs need lots of room, so attempting to fit too many guinea pigs in an enclosure is unhealthy.
They need a lot of floor space to roam; these are active animals and need plenty of space for running and playing.
Guinea pigs do not jump or climb, so although small animal cages have plenty of vertical space, it doesn’t do as much good as other animals.
For 3 piggies, the Animal Humane Society recommends 10.5′ square feet (minimum), but at least 13′ square feet (30″ x 62″ inches) is better.
Four guinea pigs need at least 13′ square feet, but at least 30″ x 76″ inches (almost 16′ square feet) is better.
Providing adequate space in your guinea pig housing ensures your pets will be less likely to fight and be healthier overall.
|Number of Guinea Pigs||Square feet recommended|
|2||7.5’ – 10.5’+|
|3||10.5’ – 13’+|
|4||13’ – +|
Can A Male and Female Guinea Pig Be In the Same Cage?
Male and female guinea pigs can live together as long as the males are neutered, so there isn’t uncontrolled breeding and aggression.
Guinea pigs can breed from 2 months of age; it is important to keep unneutered males and females separate so this does not happen.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the average gestation for guinea pigs is 9 weeks, and they have 2 to 4 pups, so they can overpopulate quickly.
Birthing pups is also risky for a guinea pig sow after a certain age.
Further reading: How long can guinea pigs breed before they’re too old?
Pairing two sows with a neutered boar will minimize any aggressive behaviors once dominance is established.
More than two males would compete and possibly be aggressive, especially if not neutered, although it depends on personality and compatibility.
The best combinations of guinea pigs for a peaceful co-existence are 2 or 4 females with a neutered male (or two, at maximum).
If your males are not neutered, they will have to live in separate cages.
Can I Put 3 Male Guinea Pigs Together?
It is inadvisable to have three males living together, even if they are siblings.
Boars are more aggressive and will fight over resources such as food, water, treats, shelter, mating, etc.
Signs your boars are aggressive are:
- Fur Pulling
- Raising Their Hackles
- Baring Their Teeth
- Chattering Angrily
The guinea pigs will chase each other, and one will mount the other to show his dominance.
Usually, the nondominant boar will submit, and things will be peaceful again.
If not, they can get into a serious fight and hurt each other, and they will need to be separated.
Do not separate fighting boars barehanded; you might get severely bitten.
Some things triggering dominance in boars are:
- Hormone fluctuations as the boar ages, going on between 4 and 14 months
- Introduction of a new cage mate.
- The change of the season
- A female guinea pig is around
- Lack of space or inadequate resources.
Some people recommend pairing boars of different ages together so they will not hit developmental hormone spikes simultaneously, minimizing fighting.
Can You Have 3 Female Guinea Pigs Together?
Housing three females is possible, especially if they are siblings and used to each other already.
Sows will have to establish dominance, just like the boars do.
Sows typically do not get as aggressive as males.
Your piggies also get aggressive due to stress.
Some signs your sows are stressed are:
- Circling The Enclosure, Like Pacing
- Hiding, Hunching, Not Wanting To Move
- Chewing Their Cage Bars
- Changing Their Feeding Or Toileting Habits
- Drinking Too Much Water Or Messing About With The Bottle
Causes of stress are:
- Not Enough Room Or Hiding Spaces
- Not Enough Food Or Water
- Not Enough Stimulation (Or Too Much)
- Environmental Changes Such As Too Hot Or Too Cold
- Noise – They Have Sensitive Ears!
An optimal herd grouping includes a male.
A male will balance out the females’ instincts and be more like a natural grouping.
Do Guinea Pigs Need To Be In Pairs?
Guinea pigs are very social animals and should be kept in pairs, at the least.
There are certain protocols to follow when introducing new piggies to live with your current guinea pigs.
If you have a pair already, add another pair to prevent a single newcomer from being an outsider.
Adding new members to the group in pairs ensures the original group members pay attention to both newcomers rather than just the one.
Make sure your current guinea pigs are familiar with the newcomers’ scents before meeting in person.
By swapping bedding material or enclosures, you get your piggies used to the others’ scents before they meet.
Have your guinea pigs sniff each other through a screen or mesh.
How Many Guinea Pigs Can Live Together?
How many guinea pigs you have in an enclosure depends on the size of the enclosure; the bigger, the better.
There are many benefits to having larger enclosures:
- Your pets are more sanitary and separate their toileting area from the rest of the enclosure, making it easier to clean.
- This will keep their food dish and water bottle clean.
- Your piggies will get more exercise and be less likely to develop medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, bumblefoot (a bacterial infection or abscess on foot), and anal impaction.
- Your pets will be more entertained with more room to run around, preventing boredom and depression, and harmful nervous behaviors.
Considering the space requirements, most people cannot adequately house over 4 guinea pigs indoors.
Other Guinea Pig Enclosure Requirements
Your pets’ enclosure needs to have walls at least 12″ inches high with protection from other animals such as a dog or cat hurting them.
A guinea pig enclosure needs plenty of room for nesting, a food bowl and water bottle, a bathroom area, and hiding spots.
2-3″ inches of paper or straw bedding (not cedar and pine shavings) are best.
Aromatic wood shavings such as pine and cedar can irritate your piggies’ respiratory tracts and feet, causing nasal discharge and bumblefoot.
Glass aquariums, plastic tubs, and cages with wire floors are not suitable guinea pig enclosures.
There is not enough air circulation in aquariums, and tubs and wire floors hurt guinea pigs’ feet and lead to infection.
If you want more details on size, check out our guide to guinea pig enclosure size.
Another factor to consider is the location of your pet’s enclosure.
Your piggies’ enclosure should be out of the way of foot traffic, safe from young pets or children, and in moderate temperatures.
Guinea pigs benefit from being where family members can see them and pay more attention to them.
Don’t put your pets’ cage somewhere unheated, drafty, or damp.
Dampness can cause bedding and hay to mold and make your guinea pig sick.
Guinea pigs cannot sweat to cool down, so do not put your enclosure somewhere too hot, either on a heater vent or in a brightly lit window.
Do not keep your pets where you prepare food for hygiene reasons, such as in the kitchen.
Types of Enclosures
Although there are many types of cages out there, C&C (Coroplast and Cubes) panels are the most versatile and are recommended by many guinea pig rescues.
Coroplast is made from corrugated plastic with a smooth surface and is durable and versatile.
C&C grid panels may be arranged however you wish, and make an enclosure as large as possible.
Standard cages sold at pet stores won’t be big enough for three guinea pigs, nor will hutches.
Get creative with housing; as long as you remember, your pets need plenty of activity, space, and shelter from weather and predators.