What to do if your Guinea Pig dies.
This is a question I get asked a lot and I am often taking calls on this subject. It’s not something that you want to talk about or that you even think about until it happens to you or you have already gone through this process before. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that your guinea pig will pass over the rainbow bridge at some-point. So we have put together this page to answer as many questions as we can on what to do when your guinea pig dies. If I have forwarded this link to you, you are most probably going through this right now, and I hope that this can help you with some of your questions.
Just like us, guinea pigs can act and behave in different ways after the death of a friend. If your deceased guinea pig had several friends and was in a herd, the reaction of the fellow piggies may not be so bad as they have others to comfort them although they are still very likely to feel some kind of loss after their friend has passed away.
Single piggies can be very badly affected by the loss of their friend, especially if it has always been just the two of them. Losing a companion can be very upsetting and stressful for your Guinea Pig as much as it can also be for you or I when we lose a friend. The guinea pig that has passed away, may be the only other guinea pig friend that your surviving piggie can remember and the shock of losing them would have never been something that they would of ever dreamed of happening.
Let your Guinea Pig understand what has happened
If you find that your Guinea Pig has passed away during the night, your surviving guinea pig would have been with them and may understand what has happened. Sometimes you will find that your Guinea Pig would be cuddling up to them; trying to keep them warm. If this is the situation you have come across this morning, this can be really upsetting for you. The shock of something that you did not expect, can have you all six’s and seven’s all day or even for days afterwards. We’ve all been there, and we completely understand how upsetting this is. Crying for days like we were children again, even though I’m in my 50’s. But we have to pull ourselves together and think about our other Guinea Pig.
On the other hand, if your piggie died at the vets and didn’t come home, your surviving piggie is none the wiser of what has happened and they can left be waiting and looking for days for your Guinea Pig to come home.
When a guinea pig dies, it is important that the remaining guinea pigs are able to say their goodbyes, if this is at all possible. Place the passed Guinea Pigs back into their cage or hutch, for just a few minutes for this to happen. They may ignore their friend or look from afar, or nudge them to try and wake them. It’s all part of the understanding process.
Will my other guinea pig be ok on their own?
There is not a definite answer to this, as like I have said before we all react in different ways.
Bear in mind that Guinea Pigs are social animals and like to be with their own kind. 95% of Guinea Pigs don't do very well on their own once they have previously bonded with another guinea pig and need to have at least one friend. Imagine how lonely you would be if you spent all your life with no one to talk to and interact with.
We recommend getting a partner for your single Piggie. It can be hard and sometimes even stressful for a while, but your Guinea pig will be so much happier for it.
What to do immediately for your Guinea Pig upon them losing a friend.
A Guinea pig will grieve and morn, just like us humans do, so here are some thing that you can do to help your Guinea Pig immediately after losing a friend.
1-Clean out their cage. If they can’t smell their companion, this will help.
2-Give them an old teddy bear for company and to cuddle up to.
3-If you can. Move their cage or hutch so they have something new to look at and investigate.
4- Keep them more entertained, more cuddles and attention, extra treats, new toys etc
5- Leave the radio on for them when you go out if they are inside your home.
Signs that your Guinea Pigs is grieving and needs help
You should monitor your guinea pig closely to make sure they are OK. Some guinea pigs can become quite ill after the death of lifelong friend and given time may pass away too within a few weeks or months. If your piggie shows any of the following signs, they are mourning, you need to take action straight away.
1-They may go off their food, not wanting to eat for a while. If they are eating but not their usual amount, this isn’t too much of a concern, but If they stop eating altogether, get them to the vets for a check-up ASAP
2-They may sit quietly and not be their normal happy self, looking sad.
3-There may be a change in their behaviour and personality.
These are all signs that your Guinea pig is not coping very well on their own and they need a companion as soon as possible.
Should I get another Guinea Pig?
Unless you have already decided that you would not have any more Guinea Pigs when these have gone (but who would do that?), then the answer is definitely YES!.
Guinea’s need company, they are very social pets and most love being with others. If you are left with a single piggy who is pining for their friend, get another or maybe even two.
For a guinea pig that is in deep mourning for the loss of their friend, this is the best option for them.
What gender/ how many/ what age?????
This is a question I get asked all the time and the answer has many answers too. People ideas on this are different too so you have to do what is right for you, but this is our advice we give out at the piggery.
If you have a female Guinea pig already your options are as follows:
a) adopt an older female from a rescue
B) you can get a female baby from a reputable breeder or rescue
C) a get neutered boar.
If you have a single male, your options are;
a) you could get him a girlfriend or 2 as company. Almost all girls get on with boys and like to be in a herd, so you could get 1,2 or 3 girls. But you should always get your male neutered first!. This can be costly at about £80 and having an aesthetic can be risky, especially if your boy is over 3 years old. Getting a female for a neutered male Guinea pig who is very sad due to bad mourning is the perfect quick remedy.
b) You could get him a single boyfriend, but only get one. 3 boys just don't get on. But you are best to get him a young boar as a friend and not an older one. Once they have got their personalities, it is hard to try and bond 2 adult males together. Although if you want to rescue an older boar, most good rescues will try and bond them for you or offer a bonding service.
See our page on ‘Which Guinea Pigs to get’ and ‘Bonding’ This may help too
We always recommend adopting from a rescue centre if you canin the first instance to give an unloved Guinea Pig a caring home. This way you are not only helping your remaining guinea pig but another one too!