Finding a Companion for a Single Guinea Pig

DontPanic

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Hello! I'm new to this forum (and caring for guinea pigs) and I have some questions about finding a companion for a single guinea pig. I'm planning to take in my boyfriend's guinea pig because he doesn't have the resources to give the little guy the cage size he needs (and a friend!). I've already built him a wonderful c&c cage, however, I'm worried about finding him a friend. He's a male guinea pig at about 2 1/2 years old; so he's very much an adult. I would really appreciate some help with this! I've read a lot of conflicting information about guinea pig bonding. I have quite a few questions to ask about this so I'm going to split them up into sections below.

First of all, I'm curious about what kind of guinea pig he would bond with best. I'm pretty set on getting him a piggy that's close to his age from a rescue. I think the idea of rescuing a whole lot more, and I've read that younger guinea pigs will fight with older ones for dominance. The problem is, I have no idea what kind of personality my little guy has! He's never really been around other guinea pigs so I don't know how he would interact with them. I would prefer to find him a male companion, but if it's better to neuter him and find a female one I'm not at all opposed. I just want to reduce his stress about everything. What kind of piggy would be best as a companion for him?

Second, I'm very confused about how to introduce them! Should I introduce them at the shelter? I read somewhere that it's better for them to have long introductions but, that might not be possible at the shelter. Should I take him to the shelter to "date" (lol)? I called ahead and they told me they have a neutral area for them to meet. I want to find the perfect match for him, and that might mean meeting multiple candidates. The alternative to meeting at the shelter is to take a piggy home and have them get used to each other there. Of course, I would set up a different pen for them to greet each other. This way they could have a longer introduction. However, if it doesn't work out between them I don't have the resources to house both in separate enclosures :(. Any suggestions?

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I'm also a first-time guinea pig owner. I feel a little anxious about them meeting and me potentially misreading their behaviors. What are signs of aggression that mean they aren't a good match or should be separated? What should I do if he gets aggressive while meeting piggies at the shelter?

Thank you for all your help! I'm super appreciative of this forum; it's been so helpful. :)
 

DontPanic

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Also, here is the cage I built for them today! If anyone is wondering it's 28x54 inches. I thought that would be big enough for two male piggies! c: If anyone has any criticism go ahead! I really want to be fully prepared. (ignore the messy floor I swept up after taking this :p)
IMG_0709.jpg
 

Piggies&buns

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If the shelter does dating then you won’t have to worry about anything - they centre will find suitable piggies to try him with and carry out the introductions. If the piggies don’t get on, then they can try another until a match is found.

It’s important with boars that once they are introduced and it is successful, that they then remain together from then on (you only separate boars if there is a full on fight)

Age is not relevant when it comes to finding a friend. If a character compatibility which is the key to a successful bond so if he find someone himself a younger friend, then that is fine. The point is they are compatible and want to be together then there won’t be any issues. You will always see dominance behaviours though - it is just what piggies do!

I will add in some guides below which detail how to do a bonding if you were to have to do it yourself. Ultimately though if you do it yourself and it doesn’t work out then you will need to have an arrangement with the shelter to return the piggy and try to find another match and try again.

I will also add in all the boar behaviour guides to help you as there is too much information to repeat here.

Lastly, the cage is lovely but for two boars a 2x5 c&c is recommended. They are more territorial and need more room than sows. A 2x4 can be a little too small for two boars, but it is fine for a boar and sow pairing if you decide to get him neutered.
If you do have him neutered then he will have to wait for six weeks after his operation to become infertile before he meets any ladies.

I’ve also added in the collection of new owner guides as the last link for you to look at.

We will of course answer any further questions you have, we are all more than happy to help!

A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
Cage Size Guide

New Owners' Most Helpful How-To Guides and Information
 

DontPanic

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If the shelter does dating then you won’t have to worry about anything - they centre will find suitable piggies to try him with and carry out the introductions. If the piggies don’t get on, then they can try another until a match is found.

It’s important with boars that once they are introduced and it is successful, that they then remain together from then on (you only separate boars if there is a full on fight)

Age is not relevant when it comes to finding a friend. If a character compatibility which is the key to a successful bond so if he find someone himself a younger friend, then that is fine. The point is they are compatible and want to be together then there won’t be any issues. You will always see dominance behaviours though - it is just what piggies do!

I will add in some guides below which detail how to do a bonding if you were to have to do it yourself. Ultimately though if you do it yourself and it doesn’t work out then you will need to have an arrangement with the shelter to return the piggy and try to find another match and try again.

I will also add in all the boar behaviour guides to help you as there is too much information to repeat here.

Lastly, the cage is lovely but for two boars a 2x5 c&c is recommended. They are more territorial and need more room than sows. A 2x4 can be a little too small for two boars, but it is fine for a boar and sow pairing if you decide to get him neutered.
If you do have him neutered then he will have to wait for six weeks after his operation to become infertile before he meets any ladies.

I’ve also added in the collection of new owner guides as the last link for you to look at.

We will of course answer any further questions you have, we are all more than happy to help!

A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Dominance Behaviours In Guinea Pigs
Cage Size Guide

New Owners' Most Helpful How-To Guides and Information
Thank you for all your advice! It's very appreciated! I'll definitely look into expanding the cage then... should have done more research ':D. I'll take a look at those posts too! I've already looked at a few of them. :)

I actually am worried about how the meeting will go at the shelter still. I live in America and not in an area where many rescues even take in guinea pigs. When I called ahead they said they had an area for them to meet but they also mentioned they had never gotten that question before. That made me a little nervous, and I don't know if the employees/volunteers at the shelter will be experienced with bonding piggies. Should I still take them to meet at the shelter? Also, when I transport them home should I put them in separate carriers or have them together so I don't break up their bonding/introduction time? Sorry if these questions sound kinda silly! I just really want to be prepared.
 

Siikibam

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Once they’ve been bonded you don’t separate them. So the same carrier going home. Just be sure that they’re put together for more than an hour (at least 2-3 I’d say) at the rescue. Good luck finding him a friend. Remember boars need more space so make sure you provide that as well as two of everything. And when you’re bringing them home make sure you have thoroughly cleaned out the cage and rearranged before you put them in. It shouldn’t smell of your boy at all.
 

Piggies&buns

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:agr: If they are put together at the Centre, then keep them together from then one, so in the same carrier for the journey etc.
As siikibam has advised make sure the bonding session at the centre lasts for a few hours.
Ensure the cage they are going to live in at home doesn’t have any of your original piggy’s smells in it - so clean it down thoroughly and replace all bedding, rearrange everything etc so that he doesn’t see it as his territory.
If the session doesn’t t last long enough at the centre, then I’d bring them home and put them in a neutral area (not into the cage they are going to live in) to continue their session for a few more hours. Once you are certain all is well, then move them to the cage (having thoroughly cleaned it etc).

The guides I linked in above give you all the details

Do keeping asking questions, they certainly aren’t silly .
 

Anna12

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Thank you for all your advice! It's very appreciated! I'll definitely look into expanding the cage then... should have done more research ':D. I'll take a look at those posts too! I've already looked at a few of them. :)

I actually am worried about how the meeting will go at the shelter still. I live in America and not in an area where many rescues even take in guinea pigs. When I called ahead they said they had an area for them to meet but they also mentioned they had never gotten that question before. That made me a little nervous, and I don't know if the employees/volunteers at the shelter will be experienced with bonding piggies. Should I still take them to meet at the shelter? Also, when I transport them home should I put them in separate carriers or have them together so I don't break up their bonding/introduction time? Sorry if these questions sound kinda silly! I just really want to be prepared.
This happened to me. Because of Covid I couldn't go to a shelter that provided bonding sessions, so I had to make do to get companions for my bereaved guinea pig by going to the closest animal shelter. Sadly, though on paper their personalities were compatible, they didn't click. We did prepare for that though by having a separation between the living area of our single guinea, and the two new guineas, so they can at least see each other through the bars. So, moral of the story: if you can find a shelter that offers the dating sessions, I would really recommend that, otherwise make sure that you have a plan B (for example, an adjacent living area) in case they don't click. Also, the bonding guides on this website are very useful, as well as some videos by Saskia from Los Angelos Guinea Pig Rescue on Youtube. These resources help to be as prepared as you can be to bond your guineas. Hope your bonding session will go well and you find a nice mate for your guinea pig!
 
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