Cavies are social creatures and usually happiest living in pairs. Because there are many more wonderful cavies in this world than there are wonderful homes for them - these should be same sex pairs. Please. When cavies that have lived harmoniously together are brought to my shelter, I do not separate them unless they are boar and sow. I hate to break up any pair, but not breeding cavies is more important to me. However, we will try to find another companion for each. If the pair (same sex) is healthy and friendly I will attempt to adopt them out, but only as a pair. Separating cavy buddies can cause one or both of them to become depressed and quiet, or timid and scared. They may quit eating and drinking. Cavies don't always "snap out of it" and could even die if the problem isn't recognized and handled. A cavy's life totally changes when he is purchased or adopted. Nothing looks, sounds or smells the same. The people are different, their hands are different, the cage is usually different, the room that it's in is different. Whew! The poor cavy can't call home to hear the reassuring sound of a familiar voice. How comforting to have his buddy at his side, going through all this new stuff with him.

When looking to adopt a cavy, please consider opening your heart and home to a bonded pair. The affection and kindness you give will be returned twofold.

Watching companion cavies interact is a blast. They chase, they play, they snuggle. They steal food from each other, certain it's the biggest or best piece. Sometimes they groom each other, sometimes they bicker. They'll talk, they'll tell each other whoppers. If one cavy is in a box (or bag) chewing his way out - the other is probably outside chewing his way in. This is great entertainment! You'll feel less guilty putting in a long day at work knowing your pet isn't sitting home lonesome and bored.

You will need a good sized cage for 2 cavies. I recommend at least 30" x 24" (or similar square inches floor space) and bigger is better. Extra room is nice for chewable paper/cardboard "toys" and perhaps a house or tunnel. Other than that, routine care of 2 cavies really isn't that much more expensive or time consuming than 1. Of course, keep in mind this come from a person living with dozens of cavies! What are the drawbacks? Well, you'll have 28 wiggly squiggly toes to trim instead of 14. 2 little faces will be frantically chewing the cage bars demanding meals and treats instead of 1. Your chances of someday needing veterinary care are increased. And, 2 cavies will merrily scatter more wood shavings - as far as possible. But heck, you have to drag the vacuum out anyway.

Oh, oh. So does that make you a bad owner if your cavy is sitting there all by his lonesome. Not necessarily. If you can provide your single cavy with plenty of attention, toys and interesting activities he should adapt just fine to being an only cavy. But be aware that if you and the kids are away all day at school and work, then later everybody is asleep for the night - that's some long stretches of quiet and solitude for a single cavy. Not to mention everyone has chores, meals, homework and other interests to keep them busy while they are home.


You may have to use your imagination to help fill your cavy's day while you are unable to cuddle and make much of him. Maybe leave the radio on, set to a soothing music or talk station, so it's not dead quiet all day.

Toys can be as simple as cardboard boxes, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, lunch bags with the open end rolled back a couple times for stability, or even wadded up notebook paper. Things that will keep him busy chewing and remodeling.


A nice mound of fresh grass hay will give your cavy something to tunnel under, push around, lay on and nibble all day - as well as provide food necessary for proper cavy nutrition and digestion. Hay racks keep a cavy busy working for his hay.

Please be sure the cage is roomy and comfortable. For a single cavy, I recommend at least 24" x 24" (or similar square inches floor space), and again - bigger is better.

If you feel your cavy may not be getting enough human companionship, you should consider getting him his own cavy. Either a roommate or a neighbor in a separate but nearby cage. Not all cavies are willing to share their cage. In my herd I have a handful of single divas that snub all cavies I've introduced them to. Some of these cavies have always lived alone, some are single after beloved companions have passed away. Maybe we just haven't hit on the perfect match yet, sometimes it takes a few tries to find a soulmate. Possibly these cavies are too set in their ways to live with another. However, at my shelter the single cavies still get a feeling of companionship from all the other animals surrounding them. They can see, hear and smell their neighbor cavies and it is seldom still and quiet here for long.

If you'd like to try pairing your cavy up with a new friend, adults will generally accept a baby (4-8 weeks old) easiest. I also have luck getting mellow adults paired up as well, but babies are often accepted almost instantly. The adults seem to fondly tolerate the disrespectful and rambunctious little whippersnappers. Many of the cavy pet books claim you cannot keep 2 boars together. In my experience boars are no harder to pair up than sows. In fact, my sows are snottier! I believe it depends much more on the individual personalities clicking. Either a couple cavies will hit it off or they won't.

DO have a Plan B ready of the little stinkers resist all attempts to become best buds. Are you able to keep both anyway, in separate cages? If not, can you return the newest cavy - by that I mean will the store or shelter policy allow it and can you emotionally do it? There is no magic way to make 2 cavies like each other if they really don't hit it off. If forced to live together anyway one may end up hurt, chewed or miserable. Don't rush out and buy a second cavy without first thinking it through. If you and your special pet are ready to welcome another cavy into your lives - bless you! That will be one less lonesome piggy waiting to feel wanted, loved and safe.

The following information is from my article Should I Neuter My Boar? and also pertains to companion cavies. This article can be read at it's entirety by clicking here.

We currently have about 68 cavies at the shelter. Except for a handful of prima donna's all are kept in same sex pairs or trios. Sows with sows/boars with boars. None of my boars now are neutered. I find it all depends on the individual animals hitting it off or not. Often 2 very young cavies of the same sex will get along just fine - or an adult will usually accept and be fondly tolerant of a baby. As for boars or sows being more responsive to humans - I don't see a big difference between the sexes. Both can be very sweet, loving, cuddly - or independent and busy. The boars may be more flirty with their humans, swaying their butts and purring loudly when held (same behavior used to court the sows). If you're just starting out with cavies it might be easiest to purchase or adopt 2 littermates of the same sex at the same time - or a mother/daughter or father/son who have been together. That way you don't have to worry about quarantining cavies from different sources separately to avoid spreading disease/bugs to each other. Please do consider adopting from a cavy rescue or animal shelter. It is often possible to get an already bonded pair of same sex cavies this route.

Occasionally seemingly bonded cavies will suddenly, for no apparent reason, stop being buddies. Perhaps somebody has stepped over a line or a youngster has become too cocky for its own good. I have had this happen to both boar and sow pairs, but more so the boys. If the fighting does not stop after a couple days or gets more serious, the cavies may have to be separated. I don't feel it's worth having cavies chew each other up trying to establish a pecking order. I once tried the squirt bottle routine with a couple of boars that suddenly weren't getting along after living together for months. They did indeed stop fighting while I was there to squirt them. One day when I wasn't there to stop the fighting the younger boar ripped a cheek open on the older boar. It could have used a couple stitches, but since it was a Saturday night and we have no nearby emergency cavy clinic - I "glued" the cheek shut with a thick antibiotic ointment. It did heal just fine. I also admitted defeat and separated the boars.

Keeping incompatible cavies in separate but neighboring cages is another option. They still have company - yet also have their own space. Same sex cavies may even learn to socialize while enjoying exercise time in a large open area, then retiring to their separate abodes afterwards. DO NOT try this with a boar and sow though, she could be bred in the wink (or two) of an eye.

This article and the logo are © 1993-2002 Vicki Palmer Nielsen - Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue. No copyright is asserted herein regarding the illustrations accompanying the article; copyrights, if any, of the illustrations are retained by the original holders. If you would like to reproduce anything from the website, please first e-mail Vicki for permission at :

The three piggies included in the article's title graphic were adopted from The Piggie Hutch.

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