Want to know if you should get a male or female guinea pig? It is an important consideration, and one worth taking your time on. In this article, we are looking at how you should choose the sex of your guinea pig and why it matters. We also give you advice on sexing guinea pigs (with the help of a video) as well as the importance of neutering your pets.
Is It Better To Get a Male or Female Guinea Pig?
On their own, both female and male guinea pigs make the best pocket pets. As long as it is healthy, happy and friendly, you won’t go wrong choosing either a boy or a girl guinea pig. But, if you are thinking about getting a pair, or adding a new piggie to your existing herd, choosing a boar or a sow is a significant decision.
Remember, though, cavies are social animals. No matter how much time you spend with your pet, it still needs the company of one or more guinea pigs. We suggest, even if you are only buying one piggy, for now, you need to think about how you want to pair them down the line.
Pairing Your Guinea Pigs From The Start
If you are becoming a guinea pig parent for the first time, our recommendation is to get two young females or sows. This is because they generally get on well and are less inclined to fight. While two young boars might get along in the beginning, as they reach sexual maturity, they could end up fighting quite a lot.
If you want to pair a male and female together, it is essential that the boar has been neutered. Otherwise, you will have a guinea pig baby-making machine on your hands. Sows can start reproducing from as young as 6 weeks old. Males, on the other hand, take a little longer, albeit only 4 weeks later. A female’s cycle lasts between 14 and 18 days, where she can become pregnant, and she can have up to 3 babies at a time.
We are pretty sure you will agree that that’s a lot of guinea pig babies.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Guinea Pig
Boars are usually a little bulkier than sows. They are also longer; however, this isn’t the best way to determine a guinea pig’s sex.
Another way to differentiate between males and females is that boars live longer. Of course, this depends very much on their diets, and how well they are cared for.
Female guinea pigs tend to be less smelly compared to boars. This is because of the grease gland, which is more active in males. Again, this isn’t a definitive way of determining a guinea pig’s gender, as some sows can also have active grease glands.
Yes, you guessed it, sows are cleaner than boars. Female guinea pigs keep their living space as clean as possible, while boars aren’t too fussed by the mess around them. Boars are more likely to spread food around and tip water bowls over.
Although it depends very much on your guinea pig’s personality, boars are usually more outgoing than sows, especially when you first get them. A female guinea pig will take a little longer to get to know you, whereas it’s quite easy to establish a connection with a male.
Of the two, males are generally more aggressive than females. This is because they are more territorial and feel the need to protect their space a lot more. Female guinea pigs are more laid back. Having said this, some females are feisty and will get into a scrap if they feel it’s necessary.
Boars tend to be louder than sows, and they can get noisy.
Boars are usually more active and will need a larger enclosure. Having more space to run around and do their own thing will also go a long way in preventing fights from breaking out. Females require less space for two reasons. Firstly, they aren’t as busy as males, and they tend to get on much better with their hutch mates.
If you take a closer look, you will notice that a male guinea pig has smaller nipples than a sow. There is also a difference with their genitals. Males have a little bulge just above their anus. It almost looks like the letter ‘i’. A female’s genitals look more like a ‘y’ with no noticeable protruding bit.
Sexing a Guinea Pig
On that note, the best way to determine whether you have a female or male guinea pig is to look at its reproductive organs. A female guinea pig’s nipples are bigger than a male’s, but there are more noticeable differences when you look at their genitals.
As already mentioned, a female’s genitals are shaped liked a ‘y’ whereas a male’s looks more like an ‘i’ or upside-down exclamation mark (!). The video clip below explains it a lot better
If you are still not sure, your vet will be able to confirm the sex of your guinea pig. Rescue centres will also be able to help in this regard.
Male or Female?
For the first time guinea pig parent, it doesn’t matter whether you get a male or female guinea pig. What is important, however, is how you choose to pair them going forward. Male guinea pigs are as sociable as females, as long as they are neutered and not vying for the attention from sows. And as long as there’s plenty of space for them in their hutch, males will be less inclined to wage turf wars.
Buying or Adopting a Guinea Pig – Which is Better?
Not sure if you should buy a guinea pig or adopt one from a rescue centre? Here is our take on it. Because cavies are such prolific reproducers, there are always thousands needing a new home. For us, adopting is best, and there will be a rescue centre near you. If you prefer to buy a piggy, we recommend that it’s from a reputable store or breeder.
Did you find this article helpful? We hope so. And if you are new to the Home and Roost blog, we would love to see a photo of your boy or girl piggy. Just leave a comment, with a picture below.
And for more cavy facts and information visit our guinea pig library here.