Last year at one of our care seminars, a mother and her daughter approached our booth to talk about adopting a pair of guinea pigs. The mother stressed repeatedly during the first 10 minutes of conversation that the pair they adopted must be siblings, and was clearly dissatisfied when she heard that -- at that time -- the rescue didn't have sibling pairs available for adoption.
At first, I thought it was about age. But she made it clear that it mattered not whether the guinea pigs were three months old or three years old. Finally, I gently asked why the pair had to be siblings. Her answer: She'd read in several articles that the only way to have a successful bond between guinea pigs was to have siblings. She'd asked the family vet, whose answer was "Makes sense to me."
Fact: Guinea pigs do not have to be from the same litter in order to have a harmonious bond. Our Happy Tails page is full of happy pairs...and some trios...of unrelated guinea pigs. The same goes for other rescues, like Cavy Spirit out in California.
Fact: Adopting siblings does offer some advantages. They know each other. They have been getting along. They're evenly matched in size and weight. They're the same age. You have a pretty good chance of them continuing to get along.
Fact: Having a sibling pair does not give you a 100% guarantee of a lifelong, peaceful match. Sometimes, as siblings grow older and hormones kick in, there's a shift in the balance of power. An alpha pig gets bossier...almost bullying...with his or her sibling. A guinea pig that has been living as the less dominant member of a pair suddenly gets tired of it and jockeys for alpha pig status -- which typically doesn't make the reigning alpha pig a bit happy. All the same things, though, can be said of any species (including humans). With siblings, you have a much better than average chance of having a lifelong, peaceful match. But it would be wrong to say that having siblings is a 100% sure-fire way to permanently avoid conflict.
Ultimately, successful matches between guinea pigs come down to individual personalities. Some mix, some don't.
What's been your experience with guinea pig siblings? Or guinea pig pairs in general?