If you are an owner of this little ball of happiness, then you have already had a chance to figure out that guinea pigs are extremely gentle and emotional animals. In fact, so many things can stress them out. Loud noises, different temperatures, changes in their daily diet… Guinea pigs might start freaking out if you simply move their cage to another place. Yes, these little creatures take a lot of things close to their heart.
No wonder, the majority of guinea pig owners at one point started wondering – Can guinea pigs die of loneliness? The surprising truth is – yes, guinea pigs can die of loneliness. They need a companion in their life because they are social animals. If they are living alone in the cage then you need to play with it all the time in order to keep them motivated and happy. If you don’t have time to play with them and to show them affection you need to get a second guinea pig otherwise they could get sick and die of loneliness.
How to find out if your little guinea pig friend is suffering from solitude or not? What are the symptoms? How can you treat loneliness in guinea pigs? And what should you do to avoid this dangerous mental state in your precious little pet?
Let’s find out!
Do Guinea Pigs Need a Companion to Survive?
Naturally, guinea pigs live in big herds. That means that they always have someone to interact with and that socialization is ‘in their blood’. A lot of experts agree that adopting only one guinea pig can be a huge mistake. Your little fellow will surely be feeling lonely and such a psychological state will affect its physical health sooner or later.
Did you know that in Switzerland it is forbidden to have just one guinea pig? In fact, it is illegal!
This country is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to ‘animal social rights’. If you want to adopt a dog, for example, you have to attend a few lessons to make sure that you know how to train it. Even fish have their own rights! You can get an aquarium full of these creatures, only if you have the necessary equipment to create a full day/night cycle for them.
When it comes to guinea pigs, in Switzerland you are allowed to adopt only two or more guinea pigs by law. There is evidence that these cute animals can easily die of loneliness. Unfortunately, even laws can’t always regulate every aspect of the pet’s life. Of course, guinea pigs don’t always die in one day. That means that at one point in its life, the furry ball will be left alone.
Is there anything you can possibly do to make sure that your pet doesn’t suffer from loneliness if left alone?
Related: Which Guinea Pig Gender Is Better?
How to Make Sure that Your Guinea Pig is Happy Alone
The great news is that it is possible to create a lovely environment for your guinea pig even without a second guinea pig. But sometimes nothing can replace the feeling of having a cage mate or a companion for guinea pigs. Still, these are the thing that you can try to do:
1. Build the Perfect Environment
Of course, the things that surround your guinea pig play a huge role in his psychological state and overall health. Firstly, the cage of your fluffy ball has to be big enough, so that it has enough room to play around. Buy various toys to make sure that your pet doesn’t get bored.
These animals love to have something to chew on. It goes without saying that the little guy has to have a constant supply of fresh hay, but you can also consider giving it old socks and pine cones, for example. Just always remember that safety comes first. Make sure to give your guinea pig the materials that are not dangerous for its health.
If your guinea pig is fond of running around and hiding, then different wooden structures can become the perfect type of entertainment for it. You can also use cardboard boxes to make houses for your little one.
2. Play with Your Beloved Pet
Simply giving your guinea pig the toys won’t make you a great owner. If you really want to make sure that your cavy is living its best life – don’t forget to play with it on a daily basis. However, always remember that a new pet needs time to get used to you. Start by talking to your guinea pig while it’s still in the cage. You can also give your hand to the cavy so that it stops being afraid of your smell.
Bear in mind, that if your guinea pig lives without a cage friend, then you have to try and dedicate around two hours per day to interact with the cavy. You can split your ‘sessions’, but you have to do your best to spend enough time with your beloved pet on a daily basis.
How exactly can you play with your guinea pig?
Well, except for talking to it, stroking and handling it, you can sometimes let the little fellow out of his cage. Spending all your time inside a cage can be boring if you don’t have a partner to play with. So you can let the guinea pig run around a room in your house from time to time. But (once again) safety comes first. Make sure that there are no dangerous materials that the guinea pig can chew on. Moreover, there shouldn’t be any open outlets or holes.
A great idea is to place a little box or a guinea pig house in the room where you will be letting it play. Just in case the tiny ball gets too excited or afraid of something, it would need a safe place to hide.
By the way, you might be surprised, but guinea pigs are the kind of animals that love gardening! You can enjoy the company of your pet, while simultaneously doing something else. Guinea pigs really like being outside, but make sure to keep an eye on the cavy so that it does not run away and doesn’t chew on any poisonous plants.
3. Keep Track of Your Guinea Pig’s Health
Of course, it is always easier to prevent a disease than to cure it. But as a great guinea pig owner, you have to learn to understand the symptoms of a disease to make sure that your beloved pet gets the necessary help as soon as possible. There are some vivid signs of depression that might occur when the poor fellow is left alone.
Lack of energy, for example, is a common symptom. If the guinea pig shows little or no interest in eating or playing, then it may be a sign of depression.
Rapid head movements show that your pet is in a state of stress. This might happen if your guinea pig is scared of something or simply feels uncomfortable. But it can also be a ‘side-effect’ of loneliness.
Shifts in weight are also an important signal. Every good owner has to monitor the weight of their pet from time to time. Thankfully, with guinea pigs, it’s quite an easy thing to do. As we have already mentioned, a stressed-out guinea pig might lose interest in food. As a result, it will start to lose weight fast. On the contrary, if a guinea pig has a partner to play with, it is always in great shape. If there is no other cavy to keep your pet active, then it will start gaining weight.
To monitor the weight of your guinea pig, you can either pay more frequent visits to your vet or buy a small scale with a ‘bowl’.
How to Introduce Guinea Pigs to Each Other
Unfortunately, sometimes all the measures mentioned above don’t give any significant results. Then you are left with one single option – to buy another guinea pig. The truth is that the bond between guinea pigs can become so strong that the little fellows will be taking care of each other for the rest of their lives.
For example, if one of the guinea pigs gets into trouble, the other one will start squealing loudly to call you. Once one of them becomes too old and it starts being difficult for it to move, then its companion will bring food to it. Isn’t that cute?
Of course, if you want your guinea pigs to form a great relationship faster, you shouldn’t simply place one cavy into the cage where the other one lives.
The fellows need to get to know each other first. So you can start from buying another cage and placing the two next to one another. A week or two should be enough to ensure that the cavies get used to the smell of each other.
It’s a smart idea to let them meet face to face on neutral territory. In such a way, they won’t start fighting. The territory can be another cage or a safe room in your house. After that, you can start trying to keep the fluffy balls together in a bigger cage.
Is it true that guinea pigs can die of loneliness?
We have figured out that this is in fact true. It is always better to adopt a couple of guinea pigs from the very beginning. But if you don’t have such an opportunity, then there are surely things that you can do to ensure that your beloved guinea pig doesn’t fall into depression.