I have bonded, and attempted to bond, LOTS of guinea pig pairs. There are a few things you need to know before starting:
1. When bringing a new guinea pig into your home, you should quarantine them for a least a week. This will allow you to make sure that neither of the piggies have any illnesses that they could pass onto the other and the new family member will be able to get used to the smells of the home. During this time, you can also begin to bond with your new piggy one on one.
2. This is probably the most important to remember: not every guinea pig pair will get along! One of my guinea pigs, Alvin, has been un-pair-able thus far. He does, however, enjoy being grid-mates with Girzzly. He and Grizzly are in a large C&C cage with two grids diving them. They are able to smell each other and interact while still having their own space. You NEVER want to have a guinea pig isolated form other piggies!
3. Know that if you pair a young pig with a slightly older one, once the baby hits maturity there is a chance they may not bond well anymore. This is not true for every case, but is something to keep in mind.
There are many methods to bonding guinea pigs, and many experts have their own routine and things that have worked for them in the past. There is no one right way. Here I will outline the way have been bonding guinea pigs for many years now and has worked the best for me.
Step One: Lay down new blankets/fleece in a neutral part of the house. I like to use the bathroom because there are no other animal odors in there. Everything you use during this introduction phase should be cleaned or new. This is because you do want to use items that one of the guinea pigs has marked as their own already. A neutral, level playing field is key to success.
Step Two: Make sure there are several shelters, water bottles, hay racks, and plates of fresh veggies and maybe some fruit nearby. The reason you want several is because you don’t want them fighting over places to lay, food to eat or water to drink.
Step Three: There are different opinions about this step, so you need to decide what is best for you and your piggies. Sometimes I do this step, sometimes I don’t. I have not really found a definitive answer as to whether this step make a difference or not.
So what is this optional step?
Some people think that by bathing the guinea pigs prior to meeting you can eliminate heavy marking scents that are in their fur. Like I said, I have bathed guinea pigs before a meeting, and other times I have not because over bathing is not good for piggies.
So, this third step is optional. There are so many differing opinions on this.
Step Four: Place the guinea pigs in the neutral area together. You want to make sure that you have dry fluffy towels near by to toss over the piggies and break them up should a fight occur. NEVER stick your bare hands between fighting guinea pigs, trust me on this one! I once got a beautiful puncture wound on my birthday from doing this during my first bonding session. (I still have the scare to prove it!)
Step Five: This next step is also something that is debated between people, which is why knowing the piggies you are bonding ahead of time is so important.
48 hours is key.
In my experience I have tended to find that it takes about 48 hours to truly determine whether or not the guinea pigs will be a good match or not. I have talked with others who say 12, 24, or 36. Just make sure you keep your eye on them for a few days after bonding, especially after you have returned them to a clean permanent cage.
Finally, here are some other things you should know when bonding piggies:
1. Mounting and rumble strutting are perfectly normal at first. The piggies are trying to figure out which one will be the dominate one. Now, should they start biting each other and blood is starting to appear, this is a sign that they are not going to be a good fit. I have heard of people being able to successfully bond guinea pigs after a nasty fight, this has never happened for me though. I tend to find that once two guinea pigs have had a huge fight (where there is blood involved), they usually will never pair together.
2. Once they have eaten and fallen asleep, waking up to another guinea pig in the cage with them is one of the determining factors in bonding, and the time where you want to have a towel ready for sure.
There you have it. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment down bellow and I will answer them to best of my ability! If I don’t know the answer, I find one for you!
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Ashlee + Piggies