‘The ability to express normal behaviour.’ Taken from the RSPCA’s 5 freedoms for animals.

Guinea pigs are sociable animals and must have company of their own kind. In the wild they live in large communities in which they raise their young together and travel around the grasslands seeking out other animals old burrows for protection from their enemies.

Whilst most owners cannot recreate this habitat and environment for thier guinea pigs it is easy to mimic using hay, paper bags and cardboard boxes Paper bags  are ideal for stuffing with hay for guinea to forage in, hide in or just shred! Different guinea pigs will use them in different ways. Recyclable houses can be made from cardboard boxes, the more playful guinea pig will tip the box over or may even attempt to sit on top of it.

By planting an area of your garden down to one of the longer growing grasses (Cereal, Orchard or Timothy are the best for this) an area for tunnelling and creating burrows can be made. These grasses are also ideal eating too. Guinea pigs seem to feel secure in longer grasses and a secure guinea pig is, in general, a happy guinea pig.

Watching guinea pig behaviour in herds is fascinating and it isn’t long before an established hierachy can be seen and routines and patterns of behaviour are observed. Having a group of guinea pigs means being extra vigilant at feeding time and providing enough bowls so that everyone gets a share. If blood or sludge is found and no one is showing any other signs of illness then each guinea pig will need to be seperated and observed in turn in order to ascertain who is in need of treatment.

It is unacceptable to keep a lone guinea pig, if a friend cannot be found the lone guinea pig should be kept in split cage/pen accommadation so that he is aware of other guinea pigs. At some stage he/she should be found a friend, there are many guinea pig rescues that are happy to help with bonding your guinea pig to their new friend. The best way to do this is to take your guinea pig along to the rescue to choose their own friend. The RSPCA recommended in The Animal Welfare Act 2007 that guinea pigs should be kept with their own kind, many rescues also observe this.

Guinea pigs are very vocal animals and have a whole language to themselves. The language includes various gestures and body movements to illustrate their point. The most common sound is the ‘wheek, wheek’ at feeding time.

A boar that is approaching a sow for the first time may rumble his affections while doing a dance with his back feet.

Two guinea pigs meeting for the first time may chatter their teeth at one another (boars or sows), generally a warning sound and perhaps an indication (where there are two or more guinea pigs) that all is not well and is possibly going to get worse!

Mother sows will often ‘coo’ to their pups. This low purr is also a sign of satisfaction, maybe when guinea is being stroked in their favourite place. However, to complicate matters, it can be heard when the guinea pig hears something they don’t like such as the telephone ringing or a plane going overhead, the noises and situations are as varied the guinea pig’s character themselves.

Guinea pig behaviour is individual to that character whilst having some/all of the features common to guinea pigs.

Read about ‘Normal Behaviour’ here: Normal Behaviour

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