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Can a Guinea Pig Live Alone? Is It OK To Just Have One?

Nicole Cosgrove

May 21, 2021

If you have recently purchased a guinea pig as a pet, one of the most frequently asked questions people have is if their furball will be alright living alone. The short answer is yes. Your guinea pig can survive living alone. However, this is not their preference, there are several things to consider before signing off on keeping it single. We are going to take a closer look at the guinea pig to learn more about it and its preferred living conditions so you can provide your pet with the happiest life possible. We’ll also discuss what you can do to be a better companion to your hamster to reduce any feelings of loneliness.

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At What Age Can a Guinea Pig Come Home With Me?

A baby guinea pig is called a puppy, and these cute little creatures become adults at about 6 months. Most people like to purchase puppies because they are even cuter than the adult versions. However, guinea pigs younger than about 3 weeks should remain with their mother, and most experts recommend waiting until the guinea pig is at least 7 weeks. These newborns will have a difficult time surviving on their own because they need specialized care that only a mother can provide.

The mother will nurse them for 2-3 weeks and sometimes longer. She will also teach the child how to eat solid food, which it may begin doing as early as 1 week after birth.

guinea pig puppies
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What Happens If A Guinea Pig Lives Alone?

Your guinea pig is a social animal that prefers to live in a large group. Like many other rodents, guinea pigs can have large families. However, the males tend to fight on occasion, and most experts recommend purchasing at least one female if you intend to have more than two males in the same habitat. Two males will often act aggressively toward one another when you first put them together and often arch their backs and hiss. This aggressive behavior should subside within about 10 minutes after they get to know each other. If they are not beyond the aggression in about 20 minutes, the two guinea pigs may not be compatible with each other.

Sometimes there isn’t any aggressive behavior at all. Females also tend to break up the tension, and a single female can help keep the peace between several males. A larger enclosure will also help the animals get along and keeping them all the same age allows them to be more comfortable together.

How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig Is Lonely?

Your guinea pig can get depressed, and the symptoms include excessive sleeping and a refusal to be held or pet. It’s common to see these symptoms in your pet when you first get it home from the pet store, especially if it shared a cage with other guinea pigs that you didn’t bring home with you. It may also show these symptoms if a long-time cage mate dies. Many experts believe that this behavior demonstrates depression and even loneliness in your pet.

If you notice these symptoms and there seems to be no reason for their onset, it could be that your guinea pig is lonely. However, it could also be a sign of a health problem, so we recommend taking your furball to the vet to have it looked over.

guinea pig side view
Image Credit: Katya36, Pixabay

How Do You Entertain A Single Guinea Pig?

If you notice your guinea pig showing one or more of these symptoms, there are several things you can do to help ease your pet’s suffering.

  • You can purchase another guinea pig. Females are more likely to accept a new mate, but the males might prefer to wait a short time.
  • You can spend more time with your guinea pig. Most experts say spending 2 hours or more each day will help you bond and makes your pet more comfortable.
  • Give your pet some toys. Your guinea pig would like to play with balls, and you can give them a tennis ball, ping pong ball, or even a crumpled up piece of paper. Guinea pigs also like to explore tunnels that you can purchase or make out of many items around your home. Wrapping paper tubes and paper towel tubes make great tunnels that your pet can enjoy. You can even create cardboard obstacle courses to try to stimulate its mind.
  • Filling a sock with Timothy hay can make a great snuggling chew toy that many guinea pigs enjoy.
  • Create hiding spaces in the cage. Your pet may enjoy some time alone to cope with the new situation, and many times a small hiding space can help.
  • Give your guinea pig some time outside the cage each day to explore the environment. You will need to seal the room off well to keep it from escaping into the rest of the house. There should be no exposed wires, chemicals, or holes in the wall that it could squeeze into, especially around radiators and pipes.

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Summary

We recommend keeping your guinea pigs in pairs because they are social animals that always prefer to live in groups. Several males living together without females can sometimes be problematic, but they almost always have a friendly temperament. If you can only have one, you will need to become the company it craves. Spending a few hours each day with your pet and supplying them with toys can help your pet have a happy life despite being alone.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and learned a few new tricks. If we have given you some ideas to improve your pet’s solitary life, please share this guide to raising a single guinea pig on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: Miroslav Hlavko, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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