BONDING GUINEA PIGS
There are many things to be aware of when trying to bond guinea pigs. Sometimes piggies will bond quickly, and other times they will not bond but will be content living next to each other with a divider. It all depends on the piggies. Either gender can have bonding and adjustment issues. It is usually easier to add girls to a herd though whereas boys should only be in pairs unless they are free-roaming piggies.
Always make sure you are holding the piggies together. If you have one piggy out, you should have the other piggy out. That way there is no ‘favorite’ piggy. This teaches the piggies that they are both equally important.
Playtime should be done in a neutral, supervised area. There should be no houses or closed structures in the playtime area, and we suggest plenty of veggies. Tubes and tunnels can be added to the play area once they are comfortable with playtime – usually a week or two out. Playtime should be 2-5 minutes to start and gradually work up to 30 minutes over a couple weeks.
Rumble strutting, humping, and sniffing each other is all part of the normal bonding process. Clicking teeth, going face to face, and raising up against each other is a sign that playtime is over. Keep oven mitts or a towel nearby just in case there is a fight. Never put your hands in between fighting guinea pigs. Their teeth are very sharp, and bites can require stitches.
If the piggies are circling in a rapid swirl that means they literally cannot calm down. Separate them for at least an hour and then try again. Guinea pigs can overstimulate themselves quite easily when meeting a new friend so giving them a break often helps calm them down.
When piggies are separated by a divider, they should be switched often. So put each piggy in the other’s cage after playtime. This gives them the chance to get used to each other’s smells.
When piggies can get through 30 minutes of playtime every day for a week, then you can try them in the same cage. Remove all houses and enclosures that do not have an ‘in’ and an ‘out’. Tunnels and tubes can be used or extra piled up hay. This is meant to reduce the chance of accidentally backing each other into an enclosed area.
If there are any concerns or you have any questions, feel free to ask in our Facebook group – Guinea Pigs of New England.