I would like to make a herd of guinea pigs! How many, and what kind should I get?

Popcorning Pigs

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I already have two girls who get along pretty well. One of them is pretty calm and likes to chill out in her hiding houses, while the other likes to run around the cage. They play together a lot as well. I have plenty of room in my cage and I am willing to expand because I would like to get more guinea pigs to make my herd larger. Any thoughts on the number of guinea pigs, the breeds, personalities, or genders of the guinea pigs that I should get? I will take all the advice I can get.
 

Gem789

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I already have two girls who get along pretty well. One of them is pretty calm and likes to chill out in her hiding houses, while the other likes to run around the cage. They play together a lot as well. I have plenty of room in my cage and I am willing to expand because I would like to get more guinea pigs to make my herd larger. Any thoughts on the number of guinea pigs, the breeds, personalities, or genders of the guinea pigs that I should get? I will take all the advice I can get.
I have 6 girls together, all different breeds.Its more to do with character compatibility than anything else.
 

natalieheep

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Since you already have girls, you could get more girls and a neutered boar:) People say a herd with one male works out pretty well, but having more than one male with sows will start fights. Good luck:)
 

Popcorning Pigs

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Since you already have girls, you could get more girls and a neutered boar:) People say a herd with one male works out pretty well, but having more than one male with sows will start fights. Good luck:)
Thank you. I will try that.
 

Wiebke

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I already have two girls who get along pretty well. One of them is pretty calm and likes to chill out in her hiding houses, while the other likes to run around the cage. They play together a lot as well. I have plenty of room in my cage and I am willing to expand because I would like to get more guinea pigs to make my herd larger. Any thoughts on the number of guinea pigs, the breeds, personalities, or genders of the guinea pigs that I should get? I will take all the advice I can get.
Hi! How many piggies you want to get is up to you, but you cannot have more than one neutered boar per group. I would also strongly recommend to build up a group around your existing piggies in a way that any new piggies cannot challenge the existing hierarchy and cause major upsets.
I would also recommend to build up your group gradually; asking yourself at any stage whether you can still cope well with the space, work and time requirements (cage cleaning!) as well as with the financial side - especially when it comes to vet care!
It is also better to space out the ages in a group; you will end up with stampedes to the Rainbow Bridge anyway as deaths are not neatly spaced out, but losing 3 or more piggies in a matter of days or weeks can be tough. You also have to treat all piggies in contact with each other when you have an infectious issue like parasites or ringworm carried in.

Best go from two to four (or five of you include a neutered boar), so you avoid any typical trio outsider problems/no acceptance in a happily bonded pair and you go straight into mini-group behaviourial territory, which develops from around 4-5 piggies. You get large group dynamics from around 7-8 piggies when it gets easier to add single piggies.

Preferably choose sows with a group background, submissive ones or sub-adults (the latter if you don't know anything about their personality as they are desperate to belong, whereas adult sows often prefer to come out on top and can be very fear-aggressive when confronted with other piggies, especially when they have been kept as singles or been the top piggy in a pair that never had a proper introduction). Respect that not all sows are suited to group life and rather than opting for looks, go for personality and background - in this respect, age is immaterial; I have successfully introduced 4-5 year old sows and neutered boars to a group as well as babies, sub-adults and young adults.

Bonding at and adopting from a good standard rescue that knows the personalities/background of any piggy is the best thing you can do to make dure that your group is gelling well; you also rehome only fully quarantined/healthy, properly sexed and guaranteed not pregnant sows. That is worth a LOT and any extra effort you make as it can save you many a sleepless night!
Ideally you date your pair under expert supervision at a good standard rescue to make sure that acceptance happens abd the hierarchy is OK before you bring any new piggies home. Otherwise you will require a plan B in case they do not gel and you need to keep your piggy pairs separately. Guinea pigs are individualists; there is no breed personality.
Key to any happy piggy bond is character compatibility and mutual liking.

Please also keep in mind that a group is a dynamic concept and that these dynamics evolve over time, not always to better. You won't get a serene herd; you will inevitably get your very own live furry soap opera as piggies are very much like little people in fur coats when it comes to personality and social interaction! Any small group is entirely personality driven. What may look good on paper may not work out in reality.

Please take the time to read these guides here:
Boars, sows or mixed pairs; babies or adults?
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?
Bonding: Illustrated Dominance Behaviours And Dynamics

These rescues in several countries we can guarantee for that you are in safe and experienced hands:
Recommended UK rescues: Recommended Guinea Pig Rescues
Some other countries: Guinea Lynx :: Rescue Organizations
 

Merab's Slave

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I'm bonding a new pair with an older pair.
It was slightly more stressful than I expected when the oldest of the new girls discovered that she had ATTITUDE when I put them all together in their new cage.
The neutral space time had been quite good and they seemed settled.

It's working out OK after a few days now. It is about character.

Good luck - keep us posted.
 

Flutterby

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I agree with the advise given, it's all about the right piggies and the correct bondings. Definitely only one neutered boar per group. My largest herd was 13 with a neutered boar and twelve girls. They lived pretty harmoniously but took work to build up to the size I had.
 
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