There are a record number of unwanted pets in the world. One way to curb the pet overpopulation is by spaying and neutering pets. But suppose the pets you have are guinea pigs. You’d like to get more guinea pigs but do not want to breed. It used to be that you were out of luck. Now, you can get your guinea pig spayed or neutered so that he can enjoy the security and comfort of herd life without adding to the herd.
That Was Then
My first guinea pig, Happy, lived in the late 1970s. Back then, there was absolutely no question that we could not get him neutered because no vet in our area could perform the procedure. My parents didn’t ask any vets about neutering because no one got a pet smaller than a cat neutered. Happy very rarely came into contact with other guinea pigs so we did not have to worry about being stuck with unwanted baby guinea pigs to find homes for.
But times have changed. Guinea pigs have become more popular as pets in North America and Europe. In my 20s, I learned that guinea pigs did best when they have other guinea pigs for company. I had a small colony of guinea pigs, most of them rescues. The only restriction was that I only allowed female guinea pigs in my home so I wouldn’t have to deal with babies. Getting my females spayed was a costly and risky operation to be undertaken only when the females had ovarian tumors.
This Is Now
By the early 1990s, neutering male guinea pigs were becoming a common procedure in Europe. This enabled animal rescues to house guinea pigs together without worrying about unwanted pregnancies or deaths. Having the first pregnancy over the age of 8 months can kill a female guinea pig. Her pelvic bones fuse together by then. If she has not been bred by six months of age, she and the babies could die because she physically cannot expel the babies.
By 2005, not only was neutering male guinea pigs becoming common in the United States but so was spaying females. Spaying and neutering guinea pigs are becoming more common for animal shelters and guinea pig rescue organizations. The big issue was how much anesthesia a guinea pig could handle safely. Special tiny gas masks are placed over the guinea pig’s nose to help keep the pet stable throughout the surgical procedure.
Factors to Consider
Surgery is not only expensive but small animals like guinea pigs can come down with post-operative infections which can quickly turn lethal. If your guinea pig gets along with people and seems unphased by change, then she has a good chance of recovering from surgery. But if your guinea pig becomes unhinged at a mere shadow passing overhead, then she may not be a good candidate or surgery.
If your guinea pigs are of the same sex and get along and you do not plan on having them contact other guinea pigs, then spaying or neutering should be unnecessary. But if you plan on showing your guinea pig or getting more guinea pigs, then consider spaying or neutering. Even if you plan on housing males and females separately, accidents happen and you suddenly find a tired male in the female’s cage.