Getting a buddy for guinea pig

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We have an unneutered, 1.5-year-old male guinea pig and would like to get another young male for him as company. Is it a good idea to put males together? I would like to avoid having two cages if possible. What are signs of aggression or stress I should look for in the older pig that will tell me it's not going to work? How long will it take for them to acclimate?

I have had very good luck in keeping male guinea pigs together. As a rule, two male guinea pigs will get along just fine if there are no females about, but some animals are more social than others.

Most likely, if you just put the new guinea pig right in the cage with your original one, the older male will be shocked and appalled by the audacity of the newcomer and there may be trouble. You would do better to begin "the shared experience," in which the two animals share an odd experience together that helps them form a bond. An empty bathtub works great for this as the odd feel of the porcelain and the echoes and lack of smells confuse the animals without scaring them. To confuse your original guinea pig even further, just put a couple of drops of vanilla extract on his nose; the odor from this will be so overpowering that he will not be able to smell the new guinea pig.

Do all this as soon as you get home with the new piggy and allow them both to walk about in the bathtub for a couple of hours together. If there are no altercations, you should be able to put them in the original pig's cage that has a bowl full of fruits and vegetables in it. Most likely they will both go right to the food and start eating, and then you can be reasonably sure that all is well. They still may chase each other around a bit during the day, but if they both eat together out of the same dish and sleep next to each other, things should be fine.

Now that the weather is nice, I have been taking my Amazon parrot out in our backyard a lot and putting him in a crabapple tree in the middle of our lawn. His wing feathers are trimmed, and he has a ball in the tree chewing on the branches and leaves, and watching everything that is going on. My husband wants to build a coop or a cage around the tree with a solid roof so we can allow the bird to stay outside even more — even overnight. However, before he starts the undertaking, I would like to know your opinion on this. There are wild Quaker parrots in my area outside all the time and they seem to do fine judging by the nests they have built all over town.

This is actually a great idea, and I try to keep my pet birds outdoors as much as possible. Such an enclosure must be very secure to the ground and made with wire mesh that is small enough so that raccoons and cats cannot get their paws through the wire.

However, you must remember that your bird is still a pet and wants to be with you. You cannot just leave him in his play yard all the time. I would not advise keeping him out there all night. First, even if the enclosure is raccoon-proof, they will still climb all over it at night looking for a chink in the armor, and this will terrify the poor bird. Second, keeping a parrot out all night leaves it at the mercy of getting bitten by a mosquito that may be carrying West Nile virus.

The other issue with keeping parrots outdoors all night is that some of them can be pretty noisy as soon as the sun comes up, and most likely your neighbors will not be too happy about listening to him at 5 in the morning.