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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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Pig Rescue. No copyright is asserted herein regarding the illustrations
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The three piggies
included in the article's title graphic were adopted from The Piggie Hutch.