Ask Alice: One Guinea Pig or Two?

Answering your guinea pig care questions.

Guinea pig friends Abby-Roo and Revy
"I would like your opinion on owning just one guinea pig. I have lots of time to spend with the little fella, but I don't know if I could afford to have two."
Hi Nikki,

For us humans, the saying goes that two's company but three's a crowd. When it comes to guinea pigs the adage changes - two's company but three's a herd. The short answer is: guinea pigs truly benefit from having a cage mate so I'd certainly encourage you to adopt two cavies instead of one if you can manage it!

Guinea pigs are highly social creatures who flourish in the company of their own kind. They thrive on companionship and enjoy interacting and communicating with one another. Being kept with a companion really allows their personalities to shine - which is why some people have herds of three, four, or even more pigs. The social dynamics that emerge are quite entertaining to see.

The difference in behavior between a single cavy versus one with a cage mate is remarkable. Bonded guineas are generally more confident, relaxed, and well-adjusted to their environment. Not to imply that you'll be excluded from their friendship - quite the contrary! Not only will they derive contentment from each other's company when you're busy, they'll also appreciate the attention you have to share with them.

Aside from the initial costs of ownership (cage, bedding, food bowl, water bottle, pigloos) the cost difference between caring for two critters versus one is minimal. As quite a few guinea pig owners can attest, there are certainly ways to economize. Fleece bedding, a DIY C&C cage, and bulk hay/pellet purchases are great places to start. No need for expensive toys either - you'll find that cavies can be quite satisfied with cardboard boxes, tunnels, makeshift tents... and the friendship of another pig.

Of course, the final decision is entirely up to you. I hope that provided some helpful insight.

Fellow guinea pig slaves, do you have any thoughts or stories to share regarding piggy companionship?

Update from Nikki: "Thank you for getting back to me :) I will be getting two now!" 
Thanks to everyone who shared their input! 


  1. Some guinea pigs are people-oriented, but many really aren't fond of people. Those types of pigs are going to feel very isolated without another guinea pig pal. In my opinion, half the fun is watching them interact with each other. I've only recently started working at home, and I felt it wasn't fair to have a single pig left alone all day. But even when I'm home, they largely ignore me.

    Having more than one means dealing with their dynamics (especially if they don't get along) and extra cost for vet bills. But that's a risk I'm willing to take.

  2. I always like to say "The more, the merrier", but realize that not everyone will agree. For us, we have always had pets in groups of at least two (or more), when possible. The thought process being that it is better for them socially to have at least one of their own kind to socialize with, (and be a companion for), when their human companion is not around during the day/night, etc. to spend time with them. There are of course additional costs to consider, but if you can afford the expense, I think it is always beneficial to the contentment of the animal to consider having at least one additional companion for them to share their life with. :)

  3. I agree about how fun the piggy interactions are! The nose raises to see who is going to be queen for the day, food preferences, trying to wedge your way into the best bed. They have so many cute antics.

    Pellets & hay weren't a major increase for us, nor were the veggies. There is the annual vet checkup but that is only a $40 difference for us between one piggy and two, so spread out over a year it's not that much extra expense if you save a couple dollars a month. For us the main "cost" differential was the floor space to dedicate to a larger cage, especially in our area of CA where land/square footage is at a premium. But the space requirement to go from 1 to 2 pigs isn't a big jump at all, and it was easy to accommodate cuddles & interactions for both of them easily whether I was alone or my husband was around.

    I also agree wholeheartedly about being better adjusted with more than one pig. As Sally mentions, some pigs are very people-oriented but even then they often enjoy piggy companionship.

    I also found it amusing you used Revy & Abby-Roo as the example given Revy's strong opinions of potential cagemates haha.

  4. You gotta have at least two! The little rascals need a friend(s)!!!

  5. I agree that, ideally, piggies need piggie friends, but I'd also like to weigh in from a current single piggie owner perspective....
    I had 2 piggies together for 6 years, then recently one of my piggies became sick and died. It was heartbreaking for me, and I worried about my single piggie without her friend. I was reluctant to get another piggie as I think being a piggie owner is something I need a break from eventually (due to life changes), and rescuing more and more piggies means that won't happen.
    So, I completely rearranged my single piggies life. Moved her cage into a different area out on our deck. I take her out onto the lawn every day (our cat sits with her and they get along), she has many toys, and I bring her inside of an evening for couch time and pats. I'm also in the process of making her own indoor play area, so when she is in here she has lots of new things to keep her active and stimulated.

    I definitely think she's misses her friend, but I think she is also doing well, is still very active and funny. I know it's not the most ideal situation, but I am doing the best that I can. My husband jokes that she is a "retired piggie" living the good life, and I just hope that she is happy for however long we have left together....

    I always see comments on piggie websites about how having single piggies is not a good thing, but I think that sometimes situations are hard and we do the best we can. I just came across this website and think it's great. So thanks for all the info and tips :)

  6. I started out with two guinea pigs, then when my husband and I were dating we decided to adopt 3 babies (they're all male). This caused my two oldest ones to fight for dominance and they could no longer stay together in the same cage. We used to swap them out so each of the two older ones could spend time with the other three, but after a while one of the two big boys decided he liked being on his own all the time. He would start fights with anyone who came near him. Ironically, he's the sweetest piggy ever when it comes to hanging out with people or even dogs and cats. He just doesn't like other pigs. So my advice would be to get two pigs who are both you at the same time. If they grow up together, they're more likely to be friends.

  7. I was given my "Lola" back in October and I absolutely love her. I was told she is about 4 years old. My question is, can I bring in another baby/young guinea pig to keep her company?

  8. Hi Tennille, that's a good question! Let me get back to you on that - I'll be writing a post on the topic soon so check back :)

  9. Here you go:


    Hope that answers your question!