Q: We adopted two male guinea pigs about a year ago. They had lived together from being very young; they are approximately 3 years old now. About two weeks ago we lost one of them. We were all devastated as it was so sudden and the vet said he was recovering well only that same morning. The remaining male, Spike, is down and looks lost though he is eating and drinking. We try and make a fuss of him, even more than before, and try to get him excited about feeding time because they both used to squeak so loud and rush around the cage at the rattle of a bag. It was lovely to see them so full of life and happy. Spike barely makes a sound now.
We’ve been advised to find a friend for him, and this is where we need help. Some people say he will accept a spayed sow better than another boar. Spike is a bossy character and never backed down from the odd spat with the other pig when they had their “nose offs.” Other people say a boar is best with a compatible personality. We really don’t know whom to listen to, but we know we don’t want little ones running around. Can you help with our dilemma? Once we have our new friend, how do we introduce them safely?
A: There is an option you have not mentioned, and that is getting your little fellow fixed. It will not alter his personality; it will just make it possible for him to have a female friend without the pounding of little paws. Finding a veterinarian with an exceptional track record in neutering is important. Ask how many procedures he or she has done, and if they have any references from clients whose pet has had the procedure done by him or her. You don’t want Spike to be the “guinea pig” for the veterinarian to gain experience. Insuring the veterinarian’s experience improves chances of your guinea pig’s survival during any procedure carried out by your veterinarian.
Finding a compatible companion for your guinea pig, as you mention, is another possibility. Take your male with you and have him help you in choose a companion. The two guinea pigs should get along in the first 30 minutes of the introduction to insure that they will get along at home.
A good procedure is to pick three guinea pigs that you like, then introduce each guinea pig one at a time until Spike finds the one he wants as a roommate. Introducing more than three guinea pigs to a single guinea pig during one outing can be very overwhelming for your guinea pig. Remember, Spike has left his home and is in a new environment meeting new guinea pigs. After three visits he will be frazzled and ready to return home, especially if any of the guinea pigs was really dominant and unpleasant to meet. If Spike allows himself to be dominated or is able to dominate the new guinea pig without much fuss, then the two should be alright when they are taken home.