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Guinea Pigs/g. pig temperament


Hello.  My husband and I owned a very docile g. pig who died this summer at age 9. Oscar had lived alone, and seemed fine with it, but then we read that g. pigs should have a friend of the same sex.  So, we acquired 2 males from the same litter, about 10 weeks old, and not abused.  Neither one bites, but they scream and struggle when they are handled.  There are no children in the home, so they are not handled roughly.  We were told that the more we handle them, the calmer they will become.  That has not happened.  Now they are about 6 months old.  Are they exhibiting juvenile behavior?  I am ready to give them to a no-kill shelter and try with another pair.  Or might the situation change as they get older?  Or is it an unpredictable situation? Thank you.

Abyssinian guinea pig
Abyssinian guinea pig  
I think you're right, they're just showing juvenile behavior. It may work better for you if you separate the two of them. You might also try swaddling them in a towel when you pick them up and hold them. That tends to calm them down.

I've always felt that the boys made better pets than the girls, but when there are two of them in the same cage they start to reach sexual maturity, then they start to challenge one another. The only time I've been able to keep two boys together happily is when I put a very young boar in with a very old one. The older pig is past breeding and just isn't that interested in a push and shove match.

Not every pig has the same kind of temperament. Some are docile and some are boogers about being held. Some breeds are more docile than others. Abyssinians for example are extremely rambunctious and unwilling to sit still. The longhaired breeds seem much quieter by nature.

My Teddies are much calmer than my Americans. I'm not sure why that is, but for all the years I've raised pigs it's always been the case. I'm not sure if you know what breed of pigs you have but I'm going to post a picture of an Aby for you so you can see what I'm talking about.

I think because of their odd growing coats they don't like to be petted. All pigs like to be stroked the way their hair grows. With an Aby it grows all over, so it's very difficult to pet them at all.  

Although cavies are herding animals they can indeed live a happy life having no other company but their human, as you've already experienced. I would try separating the two boys from each other to see if that changes their attitudes.  If not, you may want to trade them in for something that will keep peace in the household.  

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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