Socializing guinea pigs: how it works

If you want to socialize guinea pigs, you should not just put the new addition in the cage. This would almost inevitably result in a dispute over territory. You can find out here how best to proceed instead.

These cute guinea pig friends seem to have socialized well - Shutterstock / photo_master2000

These cute guinea pig friends seem to have socialized well – Shutterstock / photo_master2000

Of course, the easiest way is to get a permanent group of guinea pigs or littermates right from the start. But if, for example, a guinea pig dies and leaves its friend alone, you have to re-socialize the surviving pig. Meeris are pack animals and keeping them alone would be cruelty to animals.

Choose a suitable partner for the guinea pig

If you don’t take any siblings or a fixed group with you, you should think about which ones best suit your old-established little pigs before you buy more Meeris. The rule of thumb is: Like attracts like-that means socialize with guinea pigs that have a similar temperament and personality. You can ask a reputable breeder, a good animal shelter or a guinea pig charity which rodents tend to be calm and which are adventurous whirlwinds.

Age and gender also play a role in how well guinea pigs socialize or not. Two females or two males usually get along, as does a female with a castrated male. Larger groups of females may argue a little in between, pure male groups need a little more time to get used to each other. For larger groups, a castrate with several females is therefore recommended. If you place a young animal (less than six weeks old) with an older piglet, this usually works more harmoniously than the other way around – especially among goats.

Guinea pigs socialize on neutral terrain

For the socialization of the Meeris it is important that the little animals get to know each other on neutral ground. So set up an extra enclosure, for example in the hallway or in the living room, and calculate with about one square meter of space per pig. Put a large pile of hay in the middle of the enclosure, and you can also place drinking bowls and fresh food in several places. If you want to offer your meeris places to hide and retreat, make sure that they have multiple exits. Otherwise it can happen that one guinea pig pushes the other into a corner and that is not very conducive to getting to know each other harmoniously.

Then put both the old-established and the new animals in the enclosure at the same time and then let the piglets do their thing. However, watch the spectacle so that you can intervene in an emergency. Normally, however, this is not necessary. The struggles for rank and territory sometimes seem more dangerous than they are; However, the piglets cannot do without it, since peaceful coexistence only works with a clear hierarchy in the group. After a day or two, the worst quarrels and showing off are over, the rodents have gotten used to each other and you can put them in their permanent home.

If this is the cage of your long-established guinea pig, you should first clean it thoroughly and rinse it with vinegar water to neutralize the old odors. Otherwise it can happen that the little pig recognizes its old territory by the smell and wants to defend it against the “intruder”.

A guinea pig hates being alone – Shutterstock / photos2013

10.05.2016 – 18:01

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When to separate guinea pigs again

Before you socialize guinea pigs, have a piece of sturdy cardboard or a dustpan and sturdy protective gloves ready next to the enclosure to be on the safe side. If it stays with banging, riding up and other showmanship, you don’t need to intervene. This is part of getting to know each other in order to clarify the hierarchy. Nor do you have to worry when the piggies chatter their teeth, snap one after the other, chase each other and the litter is flying wildly around. It can happen that a Meeri gets a scratch.

However, if the animals bite into each other and blood is flowing, you have to intervene. Slide the piece of cardboard or dustpan between the brawlers to get them off each other. Then reach into the enclosure with the protective gloves and lift the piglets out. A renewed socialization is usually not advisable, since the ranking struggles then start all over again and that means great stress for the animals. As with humans, it can also happen with guinea pigs that two animals simply cannot smell each other.

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