It’s a heartbreaking situation for any caring guinea pig owner when a beloved pet dies. It’s also a bad time for any cage mates of the deceased guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are social animals and do best when in the company of at least one other guinea pig. Just when to introduce a new guinea pig to the old one depends on several circumstances.
Introducing a New Guinea Pig After Death – How Long You Should Leave a Guinea Pig Before Introducing a New Partner?
When to introduce a new guinea pig after a companion dies depends on how well the surviving guinea pig is doing. If the guinea pig has a loss of appetite, is more frightened than usual, or seems depressed, then introduce the new guinea pig right away. Otherwise, keep the new guinea pig in quarantine for at least two weeks before introducing it.
Guinea Pigs are Herd Animals
Pet guinea pigs, also called cavies, descend from cavies that lived in the wilds of South America. They had to live in groups to keep a constant watch out for predators.
Even after hundreds of years of domestication, this instinct to keep a watch out for predators has never left pet guinea pigs.
A solitary guinea pig is under a lot of stress. A predator could come swooping out of nowhere any second.
Although some guinea pigs bond with their people strongly enough so that their people become honorary herd mates, guinea pigs used to the company of their own kind often suffer when alone.
This being said, each guinea pig is an individual and will react to being alone in his or her own way.
Signs of Extreme Stress in Guinea Pigs
A new guinea pig should be placed in quarantine before being introduced to the old guinea pig. This is easier done when there is more than one old guinea pig.
When there is only one other guinea pig, that guinea pig can suffer from so much stress that its health is negatively impacted.
If your surviving guinea pig is suffering from these signs, and the new guinea pig has passed a vet exam, consider introducing the new one right away:
- Grooming more often than usual, including pulling out hair.
- Loss of appetite.
- Pooping less often than usual.
- Hiding more often than usual.
- Being more skittish than usual or wriggling frantically when touched.
- Sitting in a hunched position.
- Racing around the cage or enclosure more often than usual, as if trying to get out.
- Biting the bars of the cage more often than usual.
- Drinking more often than usual. The guinea pig may also not actually drink the water, but keeps on moving the ball in the water bottle spout to make a noise.
Putting a New Guinea Pig into Quarantine
New guinea pigs should be seen by a vet for an exam within a few days of being brought home. Most animal shelters will perform a vet check before being put up for adoption.
Still, guinea pigs can have illnesses which do not show symptoms right away and can be passed on to other guinea pigs.
It usually takes two or three weeks before a sick guinea pig starts to show any symptoms. Quarantine cages should be kept in rooms separate from other guinea pigs.
Wash your hands after working with the new guinea pig, just in case you do not accidentally transfer anything from the new guinea pig to the old one.
Introducing Guinea Pigs
It’s best to bring both guinea pigs into neutral territory, such as a room where the old guinea pig does not live or play.
You need to supervise the entire time, so be sure to pick a time when you are not distracted. Place each guinea pig in a separate cage with wire mesh so they can smell each other. Get treats.
When sniffing goes well, take them out of the cages and place them on the floor. Give treats.
Guinea pigs have to establish a pecking order, so usually the oldest one will act dominant. These dominant gestures are normal:
- Raising hairs
- Walking slowly while making deep purring noises
- Chattering teeth
- Light nipping.
Separate if there are screams, if fur flies or if one bites the other hard.
Even if things go well, have several short introduction sessions to make sure they are getting along before leaving them alone together.
Putting a Baby Guinea Pig in with an Older Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are herd animals and enjoy the company of their own kind so much that generally, old guinea pigs do not mind the presence of baby guinea pigs.
The older one will show signs of dominance, such as chasing the youngster. Always supervise introductions to remove the baby if things get too rough.
Usually, things go smoother with a baby guinea pig over six months old or under three months old. Three- to five-month-old guinea pigs act a lot like human teenagers.
They like to push boundaries. According to Animal Humane Society, young guinea pigs three to five months old may try to fight older guinea pigs for dominance.
After a pecking order is established (or re-established), any fights will stop.
Frequently Asked Questions About Introducing New Guinea Pig After Death – How Long Should You Leave a Guinea Pig Before Introducing a New Partner
Can Guinea Pigs Die of Loneliness?
Guinea pigs are more comfortable with at least one other guinea pig because there are more eyes looking out for predators. When alone for long periods, guinea pigs can’t completely let down their guard. This makes them very stressed and more prone to illness, which can kill them.
How Long Does It Take for Guinea Pigs to Bond with Each Other?
Guinea pigs are individuals, so each one will take its own time to bond with a new guinea pig. It can take anywhere from hours to weeks. Even two guinea pigs need time to establish a pecking order.
The Least You Need to Know About Introducing a Guinea Pig
There is no hard and fast rule about when to introduce a new guinea pig to another that recently suffered a loss of a cage mate.
You know your guinea pig best. If the guinea pig is not eating and seems depressed, then introduce the new guinea pig as soon as possible to avoid the old guinea pig getting sick from stress.
Ideally, new guinea pigs should be placed in quarantine for at least two weeks before introducing to any other guinea pigs, just in case the new guinea pig has a contagious illness.