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My guinea pig has been living alone for 3 years. I don't know what to do - please help.

okeh

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Hello fellow owners.

I feel enormous guilt because my guinea pig has been living alone for 3 years. I knew of course that it was recommended not to have one guinea pig as they need a companion, but I never thought that it could severely damage my guinea pig's well-being.


Rico seems to be physically healthy. He eats well and likes to communicate (especially when he's in for a treat), but his behavior makes me quite anxious.

Most of the time he rests (he looks rather relaxed than bored, nearly sleeping). Rico doesn't look very active even if the door is opened so he could freely leave the cage. When I take Rico out of the cage, he looks very frightened and tries to find a hideout. As time passes, Rico slowly starts to explore. I don't remember when I last saw him running or being active when he's alone (he runs and popcorns when I or my parents play with him).

Here is Rico's ration (if such info is even needed):

I'm trying to make pellets (Versele-Laga Complete) and hay always available. Every evening I give Rico vegetables (cabbage, pumpkins, apples or zucchini). He seems to enjoy all the food, but the pumpkin and the zucchini are certainly Rico's favourites:)

After learning of the consequences of such a life, I feel like an animal abuser. I've thought of giving Rico away as I don't see a way I could buy him a mate now (the cage will be too small, and my parents are not very interested). I'm afraid that I often regard my pet as a toy of some sort, rather than a small being.

Still, Rico is my friend, I love him and want him to be happy.

What can I do in such a situation? I'd really appreciate friendly help from the community, even though I've probably done horrible mistakes.

Best regards,
Luka
 

David Piggie Lover

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Hello. Oh my this is hard.
Yes piggies do like a mate. .
What you must do is not blame yourself and feel guilty. . Rico sounds very loved and you didn't know.
I had a lonely piggie for years as he was very happy. . I did try and I found out off the school who stupidly had him for the kids to scream at that he always been single. After he fought another piggie..
He was great and spent hours with me doing his things. .
You wasn't to know so don't feel bad. . Look at advise on this forum. . .
I think if you give Rico away after all this time be two hearts broken.
 

JimmythePig

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Sweetie I dont know enough to give you advice, but I do know that you are not an animal abuser. You are a perceptive, empathic, compassionate human being who is looking for what you can give to Rico rather than what Rico can give to you. You respect that he is a living being with needs and emotions.
I am sure you will get some great advice from this forum.
 

Wiebke

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Hello fellow owners.

I feel enormous guilt because my guinea pig has been living alone for 3 years. I knew of course that it was recommended not to have one guinea pig as they need a companion, but I never thought that it could severely damage my guinea pig's well-being.


Rico seems to be physically healthy. He eats well and likes to communicate (especially when he's in for a treat), but his behavior makes me quite anxious.

Most of the time he rests (he looks rather relaxed than bored, nearly sleeping). Rico doesn't look very active even if the door is opened so he could freely leave the cage. When I take Rico out of the cage, he looks very frightened and tries to find a hideout. As time passes, Rico slowly starts to explore. I don't remember when I last saw him running or being active when he's alone (he runs and popcorns when I or my parents play with him).

Here is Rico's ration (if such info is even needed):

I'm trying to make pellets (Versele-Laga Complete) and hay always available. Every evening I give Rico vegetables (cabbage, pumpkins, apples or zucchini). He seems to enjoy all the food, but the pumpkin and the zucchini are certainly Rico's favourites:)

After learning of the consequences of such a life, I feel like an animal abuser. I've thought of giving Rico away as I don't see a way I could buy him a mate now (the cage will be too small, and my parents are not very interested). I'm afraid that I often regard my pet as a toy of some sort, rather than a small being.

Still, Rico is my friend, I love him and want him to be happy.

What can I do in such a situation? I'd really appreciate friendly help from the community, even though I've probably done horrible mistakes.

Best regards,
Luka
Hi!

You are giving Rico a happy life. Guinea pigs are survival orientated and realists; they get on with life as it is for them. Single guinea pigs are not sad beings in themselves; especially those that don't know what they are missing out on. They find their own happiness and joy.
As long as he as lots of stimulation and interaction, he will be happy in himself. By now he may even struggle with another guinea pig, so it is not quite as easy as buying a little baby and expecting them to get on like a house on fire. Most of the ex-singles I have adopted from rescues have social deficits of some sort. It was not quite easy to find them a suitable friend.
Yes, Rico could be even happier with the right companion and would have been happier if he had had a companion from the start - but I am sure that you will in the future start your research with a welfare based place before you get (or better adopt if that is an option where you are) pets from a good welfare standard place.

Life is not about being afraid of making any mistakes but how you grow with them and become a better and more mature person. We can't undo the past - but we can always make the future better, in little ways as well as big ways. Rueing what you have done wrong is part of it, but more important is that you make the best of your current circumstances and simply do better the next time round. Life is a life long learning curve. It is not about being perfect; it about getting a deeper understanding by doing things wrong and then doing things right(er) the next time because you now understand more why they are right. Next time you will hopefully also have more control over your own life and can save up and research to give future pets what they need most from the start. Just don't make the mistake of trying to be perfect and never put a foot wrong because that is the best way to stop yourself growing - it is at any time more important that you love and care for another being, and there is nothing wrong with your heart!

There are things you can do to make Rico's life richer and more interesting.
Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs

You also may want to learn to understand guinea pig social interaction better, learn what he means and 'speak' guinea pig with Rico.
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

This guide her talks about the various challenges that you face with single guinea pigs in a range of situations, how you could go about companionship in respect of the challenges if you wish to and if you can. And lastly it talks about what species expectations a single guinea pig is having from you.
Single Guinea Pigs - Challenges and Responsibilities


However, I would also recommend to review his diet as it is not ideal and rather heavy on fattening and sugary veg (which is why Rico loves them of course!). Although it may not be quite easy to shift him over to new foods, it is worth trying to as it can be life prolonging and health boosting. Please be aware that unlimited hay and some dog-pee free grass if available should make 80% of what a guinea pig eats in a day. Just because we humans don't it, we tend to treat it as a non-entity without any nutritional value - which couldn't be more wrong! Fresh young growing grass is high in vitamin C and even hay (dried grass) still contains some; it is the reason why guinea pigs have never had the need to make their own. The fibre is what the digestive tract is laid out for. The very abrasive silica in hay and grass is what guinea pig back teeth have evolved against and what is keeping them ground down evenly - and therefore also the self-sharpening teeth that you see at the front.
The more a limited veg diet resembles the foraged additions of guinea pigs, the better. Fruit and berries are a rare and lucky find; more common are fresh herbs which are rich in vitamin C, minerals and trace elements for instance. You can find a picture of a sample diet in our comprehensive diet guide, which looks at all food groups in detail.
And lastly, even the best pellets are much more full of empty fillers compared to hay. I tablespoon at the maximum is all they need because any more is making them eat less hay.
Instead of giving lots of treats, try to make normal feeding time fun - that makes Rico healthier and gives him and you bo. th more joy and fun
Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

Here is the link to our full new owners guide collection, of which the above links are all part of. It is worth bookmarking and using as a helpful resource. The guide format allows us to update and extend our information at need.

PS: It would help us a lot if you please added your country. We have members and enquiries from all over the world with different backgrounds, vet and rescue access, brand names and climates.
 
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Sweet Potato

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I'm so glad you've found the forum. we've all made mistakes and sometimes they're not as easy to resolve as we would like. you certainly are not abusing your animal. the diet could do with being adjusted slightly to include more leafy greens and less pellets and yes it would be ideal if you could find him a friend. but don't be hard on yourself it's clear you care a lot.
 

okeh

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Thank you for all the great answers! It was a huge relief for me. I hope we are great friends with Rico (I'm still thinking of getting him a companion).

P.S. I'll revise Rico's diet.

It would help us a lot if you please added your country
My country is Ukraine. I am from Kyiv (Kiev), its capital.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you for all the great answers! It was a huge relief for me. I hope we are great friends with Rico (I'm still thinking of getting him a companion).

P.S. I'll revise Rico's diet.


My country is Ukraine. I am from Kyiv (Kiev), its capital.
Thank you for adding that! We've had a number of members from various East and Southeat European countries, but so far nobody from Ukraine.

If you are thinking about a companion, rather make sure that they can live in adjoining cages in case a bonding is not going to plan. The links I have given you are discussing the various options and fall-back measures when you can't date at a rescue and come home with a companion only if the bonding has worked out.
 

Wizzy

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I have a lovely 125x60cm cage for my guineas that I got for £27 off of zooplus, I'm not sure if it's available in Ukraine but worth having a look if money's an issue? He does sound like a very well cared for piggy x
 
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