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How many?


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
May 3, 2005
Just curious -- what do you think the optimal "herd" size is, for the average guinea pig owner? Do most of you have two, or more?
I know for myself I think two is the optimal size but then again I have a variety of other animals. But if I could have more I might be tempted to have more.
We started out with 2 but one of them ended up pregnant so now we have 6. The two were easy, three would be ok but for us, 6 is just too many. I think it depends on space availability for the cage and time and money. I know that in the three weeks we have had the babies, their veggie bill has doubled at least and with just two, I think we went thru maybe 5 lbs of pellets in 8 weeks verses the same amount in just three weeks with the babies. Also, you may likely need multiple food dishes and water bottles so that adds up a bit in the beginning. Also, vet bills can add up quickly with more. In less than a weeks time, we ended up with over $100 in vet bills for our mom due to a uterine infection. I think maybe start with two and add until you reach your comfort level with them. You may be more comfortable starting with more than two as well. Just my opinion...
I think the average owner should only keep a pair maybe a trio of same sex or altered piggies. I started with 1, found out through this site and gl that she needed a friend so found an ad for a second female in the newspaper and got her. Well then about 3 weeks later there was a sow in desperate conditions in a shelter and I ended up taking her in because she was on cedar bedding and being fed a pellet mix, plus she was just too adorable. My fourth sow came just after Christmas and in March along came Bubba, his previous owner was a teen who had lost interest in him and the teen's grandparents were taking care of him but wanted to rehome him. I took him in. Due to some negligence on my son and his friend's behalf, I ended up with 2 litters of very unexpected pups. One litter had 3 pups and the other litter was 2 pups. The pups from the second litter didn't make it. But at the moment I have 8 pigs and it's getting hard to give them all individual attention and it's much more expensive to care for a larger number of pigs than it is to take care of 2 or 3.
Well Im not sure what exactly is the best number of pigs, but for boars sometimes only 2 will work out for them, it depends on the pigs. But for sows, I like the idea of 4, still, it depends on the pigs.

8 pigs Ly, that must get tough to give them all the indivudual attention they need, are you going to keep the babies?
I have 2 girls. I would love to have more but why tempt fate. Especially reading all these posts that have to do with piggies not getting along, or one died, etc. My piggies are healthy and tolerate one another, why look for trouble. I barely have time for the 2 that I do have, there would be no way I could devote time or space to more.
I've always owned a pair at a time, and they keep me hopping. Besides the time I spend directly with the pigs, there's also the time spent shopping/washing/prepping veggies, shopping and transporting aspen bedding, daily spot cleaning, floor time, weekly complete cleanings, weekly weighings and inspections, regular nail trims, occasional ivermectin rounds......hmmm, that's just what I can think of offhand. I buy hay and pellets online, so that saves some work. And I'm frequently down on my knees picking stray hay stalks and aspen shavings off the carpet; I can't help it. They're easily more work than a dog or cat (which I have also), but their sweet faces and high-pitched wheeks have captured my heart and turned me into their obedient slave. The aforementioned vet bills are a huge deciding factor in my limit of two pigs, as well. Kudos to all those here who have the time, energy, and resources for more, though!
Ly, that's how I got my only male. My boss' son wasn't taking care of him. Otherwise, I would have just three. I think two or three are the best; however I did notice the increase in food consumption at 3, and in work and cleaning when I had 4. I also think my male is a big poo producer though. I also have had to expand my cage with each pig. I would like to have a 2x4 for two pigs, but I have built yet another cage extension putting my cage at a 2x7, which is CONSIDERABLY larger: ) It's in my room too (we have a big dog and an allergic father), it's bigger than my bed.
I have four which is a good number but slightly stressful for my purse.
The most guinea pigs I have living together is five. They get on so well. Summer is the dominant sow who is lovely to all the others, she doesn't boss them around at all, but when there's a new piggy to the herd, she'll be the one to inspect him/her. She gets on well with any guinea pig. Ruby is Summer's niece, she can be bossy to the younger ones. George is the boar of the group, he is sterile of course. Isabel is Ruby's daughter and then there's Rosie, who is very shy and the most inconfident of the group. I think there's definately more happiness in the herd if there's four+ than just a pair of piggies!
I started with 2 but did not know the one was pregnant so it went to 3 and then we got another girl so it went to 4 but that girl was also pregnant so we ended up with 6. I am lucky in that they have not only the very large cage but the cage is left open so they can also free range through the entire pigg-proofed bedroom that has become entirely theirs. Little tough on the purse strings but not much worse than when it was only 3.

We use about 1 head of lettuce a day, 1 cucumber a day, 1-2 cantalopes a week, grapes occasionally, bag of carrots every week-two weeks, bag of green beans a week, about 30-40lbs of hay a month, lots of grass and wheat grass, container of oats a month, and various other goodies from time to time. I use fleece so the bedding costs are not to bad except washing the fleece every day and the newspaper I use under the fleece I get free from the recycling center.
We have 3 boys. When we just had 2, the baby at the time, wsa the dominant one. He could be really obnoxious. We introduced the 3rd one when the bratty one was a year old. Well, since the new baby arrived, the bratty one has mellowed out. So, adding the 3rd worked out great for us. We also have 2 fosters.
I started out with one. Then I added one more. A few months later, I was going to adopt a neutered male and female to finish off my herd. I ended up adopting two females instead. My last adopted one is a neutered male. I will not be adding more pigs for a very, very, long time.
I started out with one. Sakura seemed depressed, so I got her a friend. Tomoyo seemed too docile and was being picked on by Sakura. Adopted third piggie. Turned out to be male. Was going to adopt #4 but fate interviened and he went elsewhere. I'm getting Kero the boar neutered and keeping it at that. But I was right, even just living about the girls he's already started bringing harmony to the group. Sakura and Tomoyo now sleep in the same pigloo. Chatting with Kero seems to make Sakura less grumpy.
I have two right now, and just have adopted a third I am going to get in a few weeks. We also have cats though.

I think if we didnt have cats we would have a lot more! :)
If I am home all day and don't have to go anywhere, I can easily give them all lots of attention but on my busy days it's much harder because they may only get 10 minutes of laptime vs. 30-60 minutes when I am home all day. My mom was supposed to take both baby boars but she just wants to try it out with one (Fudgie) to see if she can handle taking care of a pig because she's been very ill lately but getting a little better now. Plus my parents have cats, a dog and two hammies. So I am keeping Patch here and he will go in a larger cage with Bubba and if later my mom decides she can take care of both baby boars, then patch will go to her house. Baby Elly will be adopted out. I introduced Patch and Bubba night before last and they seem like they will get along ok. They had floortime together last night too. Tomorrow the pups will be 3 weeks old. Fudgie is going to mom's tomorrow and Patch will go in to the new larger cage with Bubba probably later tonight because it's cage cleaning day here today.

But the cost of 8 pigs vs. 5 pigs has increased quite a bit. I would love to keep all the babies but I just can't afford to and even keeping one will be stretching it. I may have to adopt Patch out at a later date if I can't afford the cost of 6 pigs. If I end up keeping Patch, then I won't have to neuter Bubba. So there is an upside and a downside to the situation.
I personally love having 4 sows. When I had 2, one of them was severely dominant and then when I had 3, the baby often got excluded and picked on, but now with 4 everyone has a friend and nobody is overly dominant toward all the rest.
I have 2 boars. We got Turbo for the family and then we added Scooter for Turbo. Two at a time is enough for us.
Two works good but I'm going up to three soon. However that will do it for me for the time being. Maybe in the future, there could be more.
In the last day I went up to 12 pigs! I have 4 boars who happily live together and get along great. Then I have one sow. I took in a pregnant foster pig a couple weeks ago that I hope will get along with my sow so they can keep each other company. I'm keeping my foster pig. She had 6 babies though! My daughter wants to keep them all which would leave us with 12 pigs total. If they don't have homes we might. I would like to keep some room open to foster more pigs in the future though. I go through a ton of veggies, pellets, hay, and shavings. I can just imagine how much i'll go through when the babies are full grown! They all get plenty of attention. My kids hold them off and on all day. My husband and I also hold them. The right number of pigs is different for everyone. If it was just me, 12 would probably be too many.
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