Which guinea pig combinations are possible to keep?
Guinea pigs are very social animals that live in groups. They won’t be very happy alone, even when we try to give them lots of attention. After all, we are no guinea pigs! We don’t speak their language and we are never present 24 hours a day. Even when two guinea pigs don’t really like each other, they will still have advantages from each other’s presence. What are the easiest combinations?
Castrated male with a female
This combination is most successful. Character does play a role, so it’s good to pay attention to the behaviour towards each other when the guinea pigs are introduced to each other. Many animal shelters will couple lonely animals, which is very useful because they often have a lot of experience with guinea pig behaviour. Castrated males will still try to mate females (good to know!)
Castrated male with more females
When you want to keep a guinea pig group, a castrated male often is a very welcome addition to a group of sows. His presence will often have a soothing effect on the girls.
Most females get along just fine, although they can be a bit mean sometimes. Two sisters or a mother and daughter get along fine in many cases, or an adult female with a baby. When the characters match, two adult females can be coupled successfully as well. However, two dominant characters can also cause a mismatch. That’s why it’s wise to couple animals under supervision of someone with much experience, such as a good animal shelter.
Most males that grow up from 4 weeks of age in a big cage will get along fine. They could have some conflict when they become mature (between 3 and 8 months), but often serious fights are not seen. When they do fight regularly, it is possible that their characters just don’t match. An even better match is an adult male (older than one year) with a baby of 4 to 6 weeks. This way, one of the males is often calmer while the other one may be a bit difficult sometimes when he grows up.
Make sure you don’t mix up dominant behaviour (like swinging the hind legs, making a low noise or chasing the other guinea pig away sometimes) with a serious fight (biting with wounds). Males are often more clear in their behaviour than females. This way it may seem that females get along more often, but sometimes the more subtle signals are missed. Most boars are simple towards each other: they like each other or not. No in between. Many males will get along just fine when you keep two of them together. More than two males in a normal cage may result in conflicts in the hierarchy.