Pet Behavior: Guinea Pigs

Everything You Should Know About the Behavior of Pet Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are among the sweetest and most peaceful little creatures on earth, yet they have their own temper issues. Get some facts about their normal life, habitat and behavior.
In nature, guinea pigs live in groups of five to ten individuals. This type of life brings them many advantages, because it gives them more chances of survival in the wilderness.
Because their social instincts remained imprinted in their genetic inheritance, these cute little mammals love living in small groups. Therefore, if we want our pet guinea pig to feel happy and at ease, we should provide a playing mate for it. Even if they are kept in different cages, but still close to each other, guinea pigs feel better than all alone, because they can hear the noises and they can smell their friends. Because they are social beings, they like to keep in touch with their own kind even from a smelling or audio point of view. We can either keep a single guinea pig, but this is convenient only for us, or keep two or more guinea pigs, which would make our favorite pet much happier.
Despite their being small, each guinea pig has a distinct personality. Some are friendlier, while others prefer being on their own. But if we keep one guinea pig alone, this does not make him/her nicer. The pet still needs some time to get used to us, not to be scared by humans. If we take care of the little one, if we pick him/her up a lot, or give him/her treats (a slice of cucumber or carrot, or any other thing the pet is crazy about), if we even speak to the creature, it will slowly grow accustomed to us, to our voice, our smell, our affection.
It is advisable to address some words to the guinea pig every time we come close to the cage. It is better for them to hear our voice, and know we are around, instead of being picked up all of a sudden. Guinea pigs possess an extraordinary sense of hearing, so that they can recognize us even by the way we walk, differentiating our way of walking from other people. An important thing to remember when handling these animals is that they should be picked up with both hands, one hand to hold its posterior part, and the other to grab him from under his chest.
The mutual interaction between guinea pigs has a positive effect on their health, they can smell each other, they can make specific sounds to communicate with each other, and also communicate through body language. All these intensify their emotional state. If there are two or more guinea pigs, they usually have better appetite and more balanced eating habits. If one of them eats some food that the other has not yet tasted, the example is usually followed.
There is a powerful hierarchy within the guinea pig group. One mature male can dominate a group of females. Females have a system of subordination among themselves. The dominant female will choose her food, her favorite place, while the other is subordinated to the dominant female, but can be superior to other females, and so on. This is not a permanent hierarchy, it can change any time, and for instance the pregnant females or the ones that have babies suddenly become dominant, even if they were subordinated in the past.
Although rarely, it can happen for two dominant and aggressive females to keep on fighting. In the wilderness, in such a case the male intervenes and thus the conflict is appeased. If two females in captivity keep on fighting, they should be separated. Otherwise they can harm each other a lot, not to mention the stress they can cause to each other. Also, in case you have a group of pet guinea pigs, such misunderstanding between two dominant females may result in the poor health of the entire group.
As we can see, however cute and harmless these sweet animals might seem, they can still be quite tough and dangerous when it comes to their interaction with each other. It is not easy to keep them, as they have this typical behavior and owners should have a little knowledge as far as the way these creatures are, act and how they can live a happy life, as close to their natural environment as possible.
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