Male Guinea Pigs vs Female Guinea Pigs: What’s the Difference?

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: September 19, 2022
Image Credit Miroslav Hlavko/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • Male and female guinea pigs have differences in eating habits, compatibility, behavior, and appearance.
  • In the wild guinea pigs live in groups of 10 or more. In captivity, it is not wise to put two male guinea pigs in the same enclosure.
  • Male and female guinea pigs are both playful.

Are you thinking about getting a guinea pig? If the answer is yes, you probably have a lot of questions such as how to choose the best one for your household. One of the most common questions is: Should I get a male or female? Good question! When looking at male guinea pigs vs female guinea pigs there are some differences to consider.

Discover the physical differences between male and female guinea pigs as well as the differences in behavior, eating habits, compatibility, and more.

Male Guinea Pigs vs Female Guinea Pigs: What’s the Difference?

When comparing male vs female guinea pigs, the most basic difference is their sexual organs. Looking at the underside of a guinea pig at the base of its tail, a female’s genitals look similar to a Y-shape. Alternatively, the genitals of a male guinea pig take the form of a line with a bump above it. The bump is its male reproductive organ.

Male vs female guinea pig-sitting on ground
Two Cute male and female Guinea pigs sitting on the ground.

Weiming Xie/Shutterstock.com

Male vs Female: Playfulness

Understandably, if you’re going to get a guinea pig you want it to be playful. Though there is no definitive evidence, males have a reputation for being more playful than females. But there are other factors that determine whether a guinea pig is playful with its owner.

The amount of handling and attention a guinea pig has as a baby, or pup, affects its level of playfulness. A pup that’s been handled a lot is going to develop trust in humans and is likely to grow up as a playful pet. Alternatively, a pup that is rarely handled may be distrustful of humans and more standoffish as a result.

If you choose to get a young guinea pig, it’s likely to be more playful than an older one. This is the same for both older males and females.

A guinea pig that feels safe is more playful than one that feels anxious in its environment. As an example, a guinea pig living in a room with lots of noise such as dogs barking, or a television blaring is likely to develop a nervous temperament. This makes it less willing to relax and play. So, keeping its cage in a quiet room is a good idea. A relaxed guinea pig is going to be more willing to play. Changing the environment of this pet can make a big difference in how friendly it is toward its owner.

Gaining the trust of your small pet is the first step in being able to play games with it and enjoy its unique antics.

Male vs Female: Size

In size comparison, there’s not much difference between male and female guinea pigs. When they reach adulthood, they are about the same length. Most of these rodents are eight to twelve inches long. As a note, different types of guinea pigs vary a bit in length.

A male guinea pig usually weighs a little more than a female. A female can weigh up to two and a quarter pounds while a male can weigh two and a half pounds.

Male vs Female: Aggressiveness

Unfortunately, male guinea pigs are sometimes labeled as more aggressive than females. The truth is these small pets are known for their gentle nature.

You have to take into account the history of a guinea pig when looking at its behavior. For example, say someone adopts a male guinea pig from a rescue shelter. Because the guinea pig was mistreated by its previous owners, it exhibits aggressive behavior. This is the only way the guinea pig had of protecting itself from harm. But, with time, love, and patience, the new owner gains the trust of the adopted guinea pig. The pet gradually becomes more gentle and friendly as a result of the kindness it’s shown.

Like most animals, if a guinea pig feels cornered or threatened it can become aggressive. In addition, a mother guinea pig may become aggressive if she feels her pups are being threatened.

Taking a look at the surroundings of a guinea pig as well as its history can help an owner to determine the reason behind aggressive behavior.

Male vs Female: Eating Habits

Male and female guinea pigs need a diet that includes leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale along with a supply of hay. Because males can be a little heavier than females, they may eat more. But, for the most part, both males and females eat about the same amount of food.

One exception is a pregnant guinea pig. She is nourishing the growing pups inside her so she’s going to eat a larger amount of food.

Male vs Female: Grooming Routine

The difference in grooming has more to do with the type of guinea pig a person owns as opposed to its sex.

Male and females with short-haired coats are going to need a minimal amount of brushing. Alternatively, male and female guinea pigs with long hair will need a longer brushing routine to keep their coat healthy.

The nails of both males and females grow at about the same rate. So, someone with both male and female guinea pigs can trim them all during the same grooming session. As a note, sometimes a guinea pig’s nails can be worn down by walking or playing on a wooden floor or other hard surfaces. So, it’s not always necessary to trim a guinea pig’s nails.

The teeth of both male and female guinea pigs should be checked to ensure they don’t get too sharp.

One easy way for an owner to control the growth of their guinea pig’s teeth is to feed it hay on a regular basis. Consuming this type of food wears this pet’s teeth down naturally so it’s comfortable eating other foods.

Male vs female guinea pig-on grass
A young female Guinea pig standing on the grass.

iStock.com/Ian Fox

Male vs Female: Lifespan

The typical lifespan of both males and females is four to eight years. Both males and females experience health issues and diseases that sometimes shorten their lifespans.

Feeding a guinea pig a nutritious diet with plenty of hay and vegetables is an effective way of keeping it healthy and strong throughout its life.

Male vs Female: Compatibility with Other Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are social creatures. In the wild, they live in colonies of ten or more. So, you would think domesticated guinea pigs would get along just as well. But this isn’t always true.

Two male guinea pigs can live together. But, it’s a good idea to observe them for a while to ensure they are getting along. Sometimes male guinea pigs are territorial. So, if you have one male that doesn’t like the other in its territory, there could be fighting. A fight between guinea pigs can result in injury. So, if there’s a scuffle, you should separate them right away. Guinea pigs that are getting acquainted will do a lot of sniffing and follow one another around the cage.

When putting two males in a cage, it’s ideal if one has a dominant personality and the other has a passive one. This allows one to be the leader of the pair and the other to be the follower. Placing two dominant males in the same habitat together can result in fighting.

Female guinea pigs usually do well with other females. In the wild, females and their young pups live with other females. When you put two females in a cage, make sure there is enough space for them to move away from each other. Adding a male to the cage is a good idea if the females don’t seem to get along. A male can act as a calming influence. But, make sure the male guinea pig is neutered so you don’t end up with two pregnant females!

Someone who owns just one guinea pig should be prepared to play with it for at least an hour each day. This is necessary because the pet doesn’t have another pig to play with. Keep in mind that getting a pair of guinea pigs is going to give both of these pets a better, more social life.

If you adopt or purchase two or more guinea pigs from the same group, there’s an even better chance they will get along from the start.

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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