Male vs female guinea pigs
Trying to decide between male and female guinea pigs? It’s well known that guinea pigs do best in bonded pairs or small “herds”, but when it comes to selecting male or female cavies, things can get a little vague. Are there noticeable differences between the two? Can opposite genders be kept together? What are male and female guinea pigs called?
Male guinea pigs are called “boars” and female guinea pigs are called “sows”, just like their non-related namesakes. Boars and sows have slight differences in both appearance and personality. We’ll help you narrow down which to choose.
Guinea pigs somewhat resemble adorable potatoes. These plump, short-legged, bundles of energy have been known to provoke the humorous question: which end is the tail? Physical differences in their potato-esque bodies are subtle, but in general males will be larger than females.
Boars tend to weigh slightly more than sows – around half a pound heavier. Like other male animals, male guinea pigs may appear bulkier than females, even if they don’t weigh much more.
Male guinea pigs can be slightly longer than females, however, this isn’t always the case. While a boar may appear larger than a sow, it’s usually by weight rather than length.
The most notable differences between male and female guinea pigs are seen through their behaviour and personalities. Here we’ll outline some of the most common behavioural differences between boars and sows.
Males have testosterone, and boars that aren’t neutered have an abundance of it! This can sometimes lead to territorial aggression in male guinea pigs – both among cagemates and caretakers. A large guinea pig hutch and run is necessary when housing male guinea pigs together. Small enclosures can create strife between boars, so it’s best to give them as much room as possible. Secondary runs, such as the Zippi Guinea Pig Runs can be connected to their main enclosure through the Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System to give them plenty of space to spread out.
Female guinea pigs aren’t usually aggressive with each other, but each individual cavy is different. In general, sows live together amicably, but can occasionally exhibit territorial aggression if kept in enclosures that are too small for them. Like with males, giving female guinea pigs as much space as possible is always the safest option.
Each individual guinea pig will have their own personality, but boars tend to be more outgoing and curious with their owners. Sows are generally more shy and content to hide out. Training guinea pigs is possible no matter what personality type your cavy has, but as a general rule, may be easier with males.
Since boars are larger than sows, they’ll need to eat more. And, for reasons unclear to humans, male guinea pigs tend to get very messy with their meals. It’s not uncommon for boars to toss their pellets or spread their hay around their hutch and run. A Caddi Treat Holder is a great solution to serve fresh fruits and vegetables or hay to boars to reduce waste. Sows may not need to eat as often, but should still have quality pellets and hay available to them at all times.
Guinea pigs have their own language that they try to impart to their humans. Any guinea pig can get vocal (especially around mealtimes), but males may be particularly loud. This is partly because of their more outgoing personalities, and partly because they are more robust by nature. Still, sows will make plenty of noises that only guinea pigs can muster!
On average, male guinea pigs have a lifespan of 1-2 years longer than females. However, the lifespan of all cavies is largely dependent on their diet, care, and environment. Guinea pigs often suffer from being overweight, which puts extra pressure on their small frame, so keeping them active is necessary for a long lifespan. Guinea pig accessories are an excellent way to add physical and mental enrichment to any guinea pig’s life.
Maintenance and care
Boars have a musky odour that is off-putting to many owners. This smell is the result of glands that are used in marking territory and attracting females – though not attractive to human noses! They’re also notorious for spilling food and water, and are perfectly content to stew in the mess they’ve created.
Many owners want to know how to reduce guinea pig smells, but an easy-to-clean guinea pig hutch is the best method for warding off unwanted odours. Wiping down the inside of the hutch and refreshing the bedding daily makes a huge difference in preventing unwanted smells from your guinea pigs.
Regular hutch cleanings are usually all that’s needed to keep your guinea pig looking and smelling fresh, but some cavies with longer coats may need additional care. It’s generally not advised to bathe a guinea pig regardless of gender or breed, but grooming your guinea pig can be a great bonding experience.
Both male and female guinea pigs can thrive outdoors all year round. A quality guinea pig hutch fosters their natural instincts, keeps them cool in summer and warm in winter, and gives them plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors. It’s common to see owners house their cavies inside, but guinea pigs thrive in an outdoor environment so long as their needs are met.
Guinea pig breeds and behaviour
Sometimes behaviour is more heavily influenced by the breeds of guinea pigs than their genders. No matter which breed or gender you choose, it’s important to meet the guinea pig you are thinking about adding to your family to get a feel for their unique personality. Many guinea pig owners find themselves surprised by bringing home a cavy that is neither the gender nor breed they originally planned on. The best practice is to bring home the piggie whose disposition complements your own.
Because of their territorial nature, it’s best to have just a bonded pair of males, unless you have plenty of space to expand their territory. Small herds of females are another good option if you’re considering adopting more than a bonded pair. Sometimes, you may find a neutered male guinea pig in need of a home, or may consider having your boar neutered. Neutered males living together display less aggression, and can be housed with females without the risk of accidental litters. If you’re interested in having a male guinea pig neutered, be sure to find a veterinarian that is familiar with altering cavies – it’s not as common of a procedure for guinea pigs as it is for dogs and cats.
Omlet and your guineas
Omlet makes products that help you keep your guinea pigs healthy and happy. Our line of guinea pig products makes caring for your cavies fun and enjoyable. Whether you choose boars or sows, choose Omlet products to help them live their best lives.
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