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Thread: Signs Your Guinea Pig is Lonely After Losing Their Cage Mate

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    Signs Your Guinea Pig is Lonely After Losing Their Cage Mate

    Hello Guinea Pig Cages,

    In short, I recently lost one of my two guinea pigs. I am wondering if anyone had advice on how to tell if your guinea pig is lonely and struggling with the loss of her cage mate/sister; and whether/when I should get her a new cage mate. In addition, I am concerned how temperament and age play into this decision. I've done some reading around about how to do introductions but I did not find a lot that addressed these concerns. Read on if you want the details.

    I recently lost Sassy and now Lilly is on her own, my first pets. They were two one-year-old sisters rescued from a shelter however, the shelter was not confident their age info was correct. Nonetheless, over the last three years since I adopted them, they have lived together. Their relationship was best described as 'mutual avoidance'. For the first two weeks, they engaged in typical dominance behaviour consistent with new introductions but although this behaviour subsided, they never established any dominance hierarchy. Rather, Lilly was dominant about food and Sassy was dominant about everything else (i.e. water, huts, tunnels, etc.). In the one play date they had with other guinea pigs, Lilly got bit really badly by a very dominant guinea pig for trying to steal her food (even though there was plenty of other food).

    Over the last three weeks as we battled Sassy's illness, Sassy was either hospitalized or spent long periods of time separated from Lilly. During this time, I noticed no change in Lilly's behaviour. Even after Sassy's passing, Lilly is still acting normal if not happier (as morbid as that sounds), but it's still too early to tell. My girlfriend and I joke she is the only one in our house happy that Sassy is 'out of her fur' (hehe). I swear Lilly is saying, '**** me, after three years I finally get the place to myself only to be 'harassed' by my parents... seriously, just cause I book told you to give me lots of attention doesn't mean I need it mom & dad, I am quite fine doing my own thing in my castle. And let's be clear, it's now only my castle' (okay, sorry for the cheesy joke but I believe she would talk like that; she has a lot of attitude and I love it).

    In regards to my second concern; during Sassy's three week battle, my vet noticed both in her examination and x-rays arthritic movement in Sassy's joints. This arthritis is consistent with a much older guinea pig but rarely seen in four-year-old guinea pig. As I mentioned, the shelter's info might be inaccurate and Lilly has been given a clean bill of health about 3 months ago, it may be possible she is a senior citizen. But you know how old people are, they hate to tell your their age... okay another cheesy joke, I'll stop, I promise.

    So this leads me to my questions. One, does anyone know what signs I should be watching out for if Lilly starts struggling with living on her own? Everything I've read suggests guinea pigs need cage mates but I do not want to do anything rash. Secondly, given her temperament as well as potentially being a senior citizen, how much should these concerns factor into this decision? My main priority right now is to do right by Lilly because she is my girl and obviously I love her to death. My experience with guinea pigs has taught me... I will own guinea pigs my entire life, obviously, who else would be best friends with this 29-year-old grad student with no life!! Sorry, back on track... given everything I mentioned, if that means holding off on getting a cage mate, no problem. If that means looking for a new sister for her in the coming weeks/months (again, not sure when is the best time to do this), great, I'll start searching! As an upfront, I have space for a quarantine cage and a neutral play area, but in the long run the new guinea pig would need to bunk with Lilly as I do not have the space to setup two big cages.

    Thanks for reading and I look forward to your advice.

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    Re: Signs Your Guinea Pig is Lonely After Losing Their Cage Mate

    When I have lost guinea pigs in the past I have noticed some signs that indicated the remaining guinea pig was not coping well with suddenly being alone. One sign is lack of activity, they would prefer sitting in one spot almost all the day and wouldn't move around the cage much. Another sign was a lack of appetite, not as in giving up eating but as in leaving some of their vegetables uneaten for several hours when they would previously devour them and a lack of excitement at getting fresh hay. The last sign that comes to mind is they suddenly become much more timid, running, hiding and spooking much easier than they did when they had their friend.

    If a guinea pig is not coping with being alone it is best to get a new friend as soon as possible. If a guinea pig is coping well with being alone then you can take your time finding them a new friend, or with a senior guinea pig who is coping well with being alone you may even chose not to get another. Though do keep in mind your two girls may not have been the same age when you adopted them, Sassy may have been older, or Lilly may just be in much better health and could still have years left ahead of her.

    Age doesn't matter much with sows, introducing a much younger sow is sometimes easier (as in a sow younger than 6 months old), but in the long run their individual personalities play a much bigger role in if they will or will not get along well. Her potentially being a senior guinea pig should have little to no impact on introductions as long as she is in good health. Given your description of her temperament she should be okay with most sows as long as they aren't too dominant or aggressive, if you are adopting you can ask if the guinea pig you are interested in has ever been housed with other guinea pigs and if so how they got along. Another thing to consider is if there are any neutered boars up for adoption in your area, a neutered boar can also make a good friend for a sow.

    Here is a great page to read about introducing guinea pigs, http://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html

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    Re: Signs Your Guinea Pig is Lonely After Losing Their Cage Mate

    Sorry, had this whole thing typed up and the site ate it!



    most important bit... trust yourself. You know your Lilly best and you will know if her behaviour is off and if you need to take immediate action or if you can take your time.

    I would recommend weighing her daily for a bit to keep an eye on her weight. It can be difficult to tell if she is eating as much as she should as you are used to two piggies eating, and not just the one. Who knows which one of them did the most the eating.
    Last edited by SardonicSmile; 11-25-16 at 02:43 am.

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    Re: Signs Your Guinea Pig is Lonely After Losing Their Cage Mate

    Thanks for the advice.

    Lilly has always been timid. I do not think their first owners treated them very well and they were more timid to strangers than any other guinea pigs I ever met. It took me a long time to get them to come to me when calling them but after about a year, they finally began to trust me. In regards to everything else, I will keep an eye on her activity. As of now, I do not think she hasn't shown any change and I am trying to avoid reading into things too much.

    Yes, I actually started weighing both of them every week about 4 months ago as I read somewhere guinea pigs do not show you they are sick so their weight is the best way to tell. Makes sense given they are a prey animal. That is actually how we figured out Sassy was sick. She dropped 0.2 lbs in about a week for two weeks (~10-20% of her body mass). Anyway, thanks again for all the advice and I will definitely keep an eye on these things!

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