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Bonding guinea pigs: success and failure

Guinea pigs are social animals so you would think that bonding them so that they can successfully live together would be easy: it isn’t!
Boys and girls need to be kept separate unless you want babies. In fact, boys and girls need to be separated from age 5 weeks! Female guinea pigs should not get pregnant after a year due to pelvis fusion.


Teenage years or any change can be tricky. We adopted Larry and Garry last year and the move unsettled them and they began to fight, drawing blood. We separated them and now Larry lives NEXT TO other boys so he can still have social interaction while Garry has successully bonded with another male Ginger. The bonding process was awful to witness but they live so happily together now!

My 3 boys (2 full siblings and a half brother) have been together since 5 weeks old but have had some arguments. One boy ended up clambering into an adjacent enclosure and was injured. So I had to take the difficult decision to remove the dominant violent individual. I am hoping that he will bond with a baby from our next litter. Otherwise he will continue to live side by side with his brothers.

Girls are so much easier. Our oldest girl rules the roost and the others follow suit (now they all want to be hand-fed veggies, thanks to Sugar!)
Guinea pigs should be introduced in a neutral space. Plenty of hay but no hides should be available. This is also easier outside with a fresh supply of grass to distract them. The living area should be cleaned so it is also a neutral space when they return. Bonding should be done all in one go, not over several sessions, so don’t give up while they figure out the pecking order.

Make sure you research suitable cage sizes for the bonded group and ensure there are enough hides. Think carefully about the time of day as well: guinea pigs are most active at the beginning and end of the day. The middle of the day might be best unless they are cranky from being disturbed from their nap!
Good luck and congratulations if you are planning to welcome new guineas and bond them!

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