Guinea pigs are hardy, easy to care for, and extremely adorable pets. They’re also quite social and thrive in the company of other fellow cavies.
If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to pet a single guinea pig, then no, it is not.
As social animals, guinea pigs crave companionship and bonding. If they’re petted alone, they can become extremely lonely and fearful.
In fact, the desire for companionship is so powerful that they may develop serious mental and physical problems.
Read on to find out whether guinea pigs actually end up dying of loneliness.
Can Guinea Pigs Die of Loneliness?
Yes. As surprising as it may sound, guinea pigs can indeed die of loneliness.
As herd animals, guinea pigs like to live in pairs or groups. Even if you’re the best pet owner in the world and look after all its needs, your guinea pig can’t survive on its own.
You mustn’t leave your guinea pig alone as it begins to sulk in solitude.
Having a cage mate is very important, as cavies require constant companionship to feel fulfilled and happy.
According to an extensive study on the long-term isolation of guinea pigs, the sample developed profound stressors that hampered their quality of life.
A few months into the experiment, a few male guinea pigs had lost significant weight and were unable to reproduce.
Guinea pigs are also timid explorers and become easily attached to their owners and other companions.
For this reason, if they’re left alone in a cage for too long, they become slow and sedentary.
Your pet may eventually develop stress and depression. If you don’t introduce another cavy in the cage, then your pet could easily die of loneliness.
Should You Get Another Guinea Pig if One of Them Dies?
Yes. Guinea pigs are extremely emotional and social animals.
If you petted a pair and one of them dies, it’s extremely important to introduce another cage mate.
This is because a pair of cavies that lived together for a long time will definitely have shared a strong bond.
And, as an owner, it’s your duty to replace that bond by letting in another companion.
Otherwise, the emotional loss and loneliness can eat away at your pet. Your cavy might even die of loneliness.
Getting another cage mate is your only hope to pull your pet out of depression.
It’s possible that your cavy might not get along with the new resident.
Nonetheless, some company is still better than the isolation that often leads to depression.
If, however, your pet is excessively hostile to the new mate, keep the newcomer in another cage for a few weeks until your pet gets used to their presence.
What Happens When Your Guinea Pig Gets Lonely
Loneliness can have detrimental effects on your cavy’s physical and psychological health.
Without a companion in the cage, they get extremely fearful, skittish, and vulnerable to depression.
If they spend a little too long in isolation, guinea pigs become confused, gloomy, and spiritless.
Any depression, anxiety, and stress will often reflect in their behavior.
Your cavy will show signs of irritability, fidgeting, or head-tossing if they’re extremely stressed from the isolation.
A depressed cavy will simply become listless and less energetic over time.
For this reason, it’s completely illegal in countries like Switzerland to pet a single guinea pig.
The law was passed under the legislative clause for “social rights” that acknowledges that pets can easily get lonely.
And, in the case of guinea pigs, there are far-reaching psychological and physical consequences.
Having a furry companion can readily improve their quality of life, which is why Switzerland has “rent-a-guinea-pig” services to provide partners for lonesome cavies.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Human Interaction?
It is unnatural for them to be alone all the time. Not only do they need to interact with other guinea pigs — they also need to interact with humans.
So, if you’re petting cavies, make sure you’re spending enough time with them.
Your presence is essential to their well-being; therefore, make sure to keep them in good cheer, whether rain or shine.
It will take a whole lot of dedication and effort on your part; however, as social animals; your cavies deserve that quality interplay.
Playing little games with them is a wonderful way to keep your pigs entertained and happy.
Their intuitive and smart nature can turn anything into a game.
Whether you attempt a game of “guess what’s in my closed hand” or a hide-and-seek adventure, your guinea pig will always participate enthusiastically.
This is because cavies crave the attention and love of their owners.
You should definitely take time out to brush their coat lovingly and “chat” with them on an everyday basis.
Keep the interaction regular, gentle, and soothing and your guinea pigs will be the happiest you’ve ever seen.
Will Two Male Guinea Pigs Fight?
There’s a common misconception that petting a pair of male cavies can result in a brawl.
It is more about the personalities than the gender when it comes to cavies co-existing peacefully in a cage.
And, the good news is that regardless of gender, most guinea pigs love each other’s companionship.
Although there are a few troublesome pigs that will fight in any case, the majority like a social cage.
You can easily pair adults, two babies, or a baby with an adult. However, when introducing a pig to the new territory, remember to quarantine them for 2-3 weeks.
This will prevent any new illnesses or parasites from spreading.
How to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Happy
Guinea pigs are immediately more fun and interesting to observe in a herd.
They become happier and more playful with their companions are in a cage.
Even if you’re dealing with a grumpy guinea pig, it will always prefer company over isolation.
It’s actually quite easy to keep your guinea pigs happy. Here’s what you can do for your furry pet.
Allow Interaction with Other Guinea Pigs
Always introduce a pair or a herd of cavies in your cage.
Their need for companionship and bonding simply can’t be stressed enough.
Even if your guinea pigs are in a captive setting, they still require the same level of interaction as those who roam freely.
Several guinea pigs encourage active behavior and stimulate each other.
Since they are territorial animals, it’s always easier to put together a group at once rather than gradually introducing newcomers.
Keeping female-only groups isn’t as important as having a well-balanced environment.
Having at least one or two males in the cage will help balance things out in case a conflict breaks out between the females.
Here are a few suggestions for possible groupings:
- Two to four females with two neutered males
- Two to three females with one neutered male
- Neutered males in smaller groups
Give Them Extra Attention
You might not need to do this as often; however, make sure to spend a few good hours 2-3 times a week with your guinea pig. Regardless of having cage mates, your guinea pig needs your attention and care.
Even if they have cavy pals with them, you can’t avoid transitional periods. In case one of them dies, the remaining cavy will need extra attention and valuable interplay to overcome the loss. Be prepared to give him extra company during hard times.
Get Into a Play Routine
Guinea pigs love interactive games, so take out a few minutes every day to play with them.
However, avoid any games that would startle or surprise them as guinea pigs are timid pets.
Instead, choose an easy game at the same time of the day or a similar situation.
Developing a routine will cause them to understand and expect it every day.
Even when they won’t understand everything you’re saying, always use your actions and words to explain the play.
They will eventually comprehend your tone and gestures.
Give Them Adequate Space
If you truly want your cavies to be happy, give them adequate space to roam and play freely.
Cavies that are introduced to large, spacious cages reflect happiness through “popcorning”.
Your guinea pigs are more likely to get along with each other if there is more space in their cage. Big spaces are more stimulating and encourage more exercise.
Monitor Their Health
Keep a track of their weight loss or gain since most health problems are due to stress or loneliness.
Guinea pigs love to play and wrestle so if your guinea pig just likes to sit, then you should definitely consult a veterinarian.
Make Sure They’re Eating Properly
Above all, make sure their diet is nutritious and wholesome.
Guinea pigs need a chockfull of vitamin C daily, so ensure ample servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and their favorite hay and grasses.
Guinea pigs are truly precious pets that need your love, attention, and care.
As they’re extremely vulnerable to loneliness, always pair them up with other cage mates!
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