If looking to become a guinea pig owner, or as a guinea pig owner, it is important to understand that this cute mammal is incredibly sociable and need their own species for a companion. This is a well-recognized welfare need. See Petopedia page “All about Guinea Pigs” for more information on their needs and requirements
As such, keeping guinea pigs in a pair or groups is the best way to house them, not only for their well being but also for the pleasure and joy their interaction with one another can bring their owners.
Guinea pigs should be kept in same-sex pairs with a large enclosure and run so that they can each have their own “bedroom” and have alone time should they choose to. Although you can also keep guinea pigs in herds of females (sows) or a male (boar) with 1 or more female guinea pigs.
Grouping Guinea Pigs:
- – Two or more sows of a similar character
- – Two boars – take care not to mix two very strong characters as they may fight.
- – A neutered boar with one or more sows. Sows often seem more relaxed when they live with a neutered male.
Why choose to neuter a male guinea pig?
Many people are under the illusion that by neutering a male guinea pig their personality will change and the bickering between boars/groups will lessen. This is simply not true. Neutering a boar will not change his personality in any way, reduce territorial behaviour nor encourage previously bickering males to be friends again. Unfortunately, if a friendship deteriorates between adult male guinea pigs, sometimes despite best efforts to continue to house them together it may simply be safer to separate them and re-pair them with females. And this is the main reason why owners will consider neutering their males. In order to house them with a female or group of females, boars will need to be neutered to stop unwanted pregnancies and allowed to heal before being introduced.
The age at which a boar should be neutered is debatable, as some veterinarians prefer not to neuter over the age of around 2.5 years old, while others may perform the procedure up to the age of 4-5 years. It is important to speak with a vet who is experienced with guinea pigs and discuss each individual male piggy before making the decision to neuter. The general health of the guinea pig should be considered, along with the reasons for neutering and whether surgery is the most suitable option.
How much does neutering male guinea pigs cost?
The cost of neutering is wide-ranging depending on area, veterinary centre and the individual guinea pigs needs. It is best to discuss this with your vet.
What to expect
- – He may be a bit drowsy and wobbly after surgery, but this is completely normal. These days anesthetic is usually administered in the form of gas as it can be gently breathed out after surgery
- – Your vet may use stitches below the skin to hold the wound together with a spot of skin glue on top. Both glue and stitches tend to be dissolvable and will disappear naturally over the course of 14 days or so. The area will be shaved and may look very sore, however, try not to worry – it often looks worse than it is!
- – Upon going home, your vet should give you some antibiotics to ward off infection, and you should ask for some probiotics to settle the tummy (as antibiotics can upset the flora in the gut and put them off their food – something we really don’t want during a period of convalescence).
- – Your guinea pig should ideally be kept on his own for a minimum of 6 weeks to allow any leftover sperm to die. If he is introduced to a female any sooner than this, the risk of pregnancy increases.
- – Don’t worry if your guinea pig doesn’t particularly touch his food or water for a day or two after surgery, he probably won’t feel like eating right away and his appetite should gradually return. You can try tempting him with small pieces of his favourite veggies and fresh hay. Then monitor his intake carefully – if you have any concerns at all you must seek veterinary advice.
- – Keep him comfortable, Never bed a freshly neutered male on wood shavings or other similar substrates as it may irritate the wound and cause discomfort, pain, and infection. Alternative options would be fleece blanks, puppy pee pads or something soft such as Carefresh type substrates. Wash and/or replace the bedding daily.
- – You can use some water boiled in the kettle (then cooled!) with some cotton wool pads (not cotton wool balls as the fibres can get stuck in the wound) to gently clean the wound once every day or two until healed.
- – Be sure to take him for his check up appointment to make sure he is healing well and has no complications.