Guinea pigs are social animals, so you don’t want to keep a guinea pig on its own. These animals can literally die of loneliness. At the same time, males don’t always pair so well with other males. That leaves pairing a male and a female guinea pig as your only real option. But unless you want them to breed, you may need to neuter the male. But what are the costs of doing so, and what do you need to consider about the procedure? Here’s everything you’ll want to know.
So, how much does it cost to neuter a guinea pig? The cost to neuter a guinea pig varies dramatically. On the low-end, you may be charged around $40, but the procedure can run to as much as $500. That being said, the average cost is usually between $120 to $200. Other expenses, such as a full health check, blood tests, pain medication, and a follow-up appointment will all add to the price.
These other expenses may or may not be necessary. And you may incur them before or after your guinea pig’s operation.
Just be mindful, and do check with your vet as to what is included in their fees.
And while this all sounds costly – neutering is something you really will want to consider.
Because guinea pigs are considered “easy to breed”.
And if you don’t want to take on a herd of guinea pig babies anytime soon, you’ll have to be very proactive about preventing it from happening.
But should you neuter your guinea pig? Is it the only, or an advisable approach to this potential problem?
Let’s find out!
Should You Get Your Guinea Pig Neutered?
You should get your guinea pig neutered if you want him to have a female companion, but you don’t want them to have babies.
Guinea pigs usually live for 4 to 8 years, and they can have a lot of babies if they aren’t neutered.
That’s a lot of pups to give away!
The Neutering Process
The neutering process involves removing some parts of your guinea pig’s reproductive system so that they become sterile.
In male guinea pigs (also called boars), neutering involves removing the testicles.
In females, the process can be called either spaying or neutering, and it is a more involved operation that requires removing the ovaries and the womb (called an ovariohysterectomy).
Reasons to Neuter Your Guinea Pig
To Avoid Pregnancies
The main medical reason for neutering your guinea pig is to prevent babies.
Guinea pigs are quick to reach their sexual maturity – some reach it as early as 4 weeks!
And these little furballs are prolific breeders: your guinea pig enclosure could quickly become overrun with little ones, leading to a population problem.
To Avoid Overpopulation
To give you an idea of how quickly things can escalate, the gestation period for a pregnant guinea pig is 52 to 75 days.
Each litter has 1 to 8 pups, with 2 to 4 on average.
A female guinea pig can give birth to up to 5 litters a year – which in most cases means 10 to 20 pups!
That’s a lot of animals in a small space.
To Prevent Possible Health Complications
These health complications apply to male guinea pigs. Neutering can lower their risk of mammary tumors or prostate cancer.
In addition, male guinea pigs’ rectal muscles can become atrophied, which then causes problems for defecating and could mean having to clean out their anal sac every day.
That alone may be reason enough for neutering your male pet!
Male guinea pigs also secrete a smelly substance called smegma (it smells like it sounds) from their sebaceous gland (near their anus).
This gland is linked to testosterone production, and the leakage of smegma can lead to hair clumping or dermatitis.
What Age Should I Neuter My Guinea Pig?
The best age for neutering your guinea pig varies according to different vets, although the average preferred age is 4 months. Some vets will want your guinea pig to be at least 2 months old, while others insist on 3 to 4 months old.
There isn’t an age limit for neutering healthy, adult guinea pigs, but there are greater risks once your guinea pig is 3 to 4 years old.
Senior animals are more susceptible to risks from anesthesia and can take longer to recover.
Some vets won’t perform the procedure on guinea pigs who are 2.5 years or older.
Make sure your guinea pig is at a healthy weight – the heavier the better, with 23 ounces (650 grams) as a minimum.
If you have any concerns about your guinea pig’s health, get your vet to do a health check. You want your friend to be strong and healthy before undergoing surgery.
Where to Take Your Guinea Pig to Get Neutered
Look For Accredited Vets
The best place to take your guinea pig to get neutered is with a vet member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians.
This isn’t strictly necessary, but these vets have often had additional training to treat exotic animals, including guinea pigs.
Just because your vet has neutered cats, dogs or other animals like rabbits doesn’t mean they’ll be an expert at neutering your guinea pig.
You want the best, most experienced vet for your pet, as this can make the difference between a successful surgery or a disaster that could lead to death.
Questions To Ask When Choosing A Vet
Here are some questions to ask your potential vet when deciding where to have your friend neutered.
- How many guinea pigs have you neutered? Over what period? The more experience your vet has with this procedure, the better, obviously!
- What are your recommendations before surgery? For instance, you do NOT need to fast your pet before surgery: any longer than 1 or 2 hours before surgery can cause gastrointestinal changes or hypoglycemia. Guinea pigs do not have a vomit reflex, unlike cats, dogs, and humans, so if your vet recommends fasting, this should be your cue to look elsewhere!
- What is your success rate for guinea pigs? Some vets have close to a 100% success rate, so find someone with the best track record possible.
- What anesthesia do you use? The preferred anesthesia for these small animals is isoflurane gas, as your guinea pig won’t be as drowsy when they wake up. Also, ask about any potential side effects and how to address them.
- What aftercare do you provide post-surgery, and who carries this out? You will want to make sure your friend is given food as soon as they wake up to ensure a speedy recovery, and you’ll want someone qualified to address any issues that may come up.
- What do I need to do at home to help my guinea pig recover? Make sure your vet provides you with comprehensive instructions on looking after your friend for a speedy recovery.
- What additional costs are there? Ask about the cost of pre-surgery health checks, antibiotics, or probiotics for after surgery and anything else you’ll need to consider. Some vets will include everything in their fees, others won’t, so it’s up to you to inform yourself.
Does Neutering A Guinea Pig Calm It Down?
There are myths around the internet that neutering a guinea pig calms it down, whereas this is simply not true.
If you house male guinea pigs together, they can end up fighting and perhaps hurt each other.
In this case, neutering them doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Other Ways To Calm Your Male Guinea Pig
The best way to calm down an aggressive male guinea pig is to house him with a female rather than another male.
However, one instance where neutering can help with aggressive behavior is if you have two male guinea pigs housed with one female.
Neutering the males usually means they won’t be as driven to compete for the female’s attention for mating purposes.
If the two males don’t get along (which can happen), you will have to house each male separately with his female for companionship.
Best Combinations For Groups Of Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are herd animals and usually do well together, provided you’ve got the right combination of animals.
Here are some ideas that work for housing several guinea pigs together:
- Two or more females of similar temperament
- Two males of calm temperament (two strong personalities could fight each other)
- One neutered male with one or more females. Apparently, females can be more relaxed when they live with a neutered male, although guinea pigs will still mate.
Other Things You’ll Need For Your Guinea Pig After Surgery
You’ll want to consider what you’ll need to have in place after surgery to help your guinea pig recover, as these can give rise to additional costs:
- Antibiotics. Your vet should give you these as a matter of course, and they may or may not be included in the fees for the operation.
- Probiotics. You may require probiotics for your friend if there are any digestive issues after surgery. Some guinea pigs have stomach troubles for a while due to the antibiotics, and others don’t, but you may want to budget for this if you need probiotics.
- A quiet place indoors. Your guinea pig will need to be kept on his own for at least 6 weeks to allow him to heal. This also allows for the death of any leftover sperm. It’s best to keep him indoors to reduce the risk of stress or infection.
- Soft bedding. Wood shavings or other rough surfaces can irritate your guinea pig’s wound, so provide something soft. Pillows, fleece blankets, or other soft things will help your friend stay comfortable while avoiding the risk of infection.
And finally, keep your guinea pig company!
Spend extra time with your pet, as he has been through a stressful operation and he will be missing his playmates.
Remember that guinea pigs need company, and you don’t want your friend to be lonely or stressed – he’s already not feeling 100%, and your companionship will make all the difference.
Getting a guinea pig neutered does not come cheap.
In some cases, it can end up being a very costly procedure!
Nevertheless, and regardless of price, this is generally the best thing you can do to limit the size of your herd and prevent unwanted pregnancy.
But, just because you can and want to does not mean you should hire any old vet.
It’s critical you get the right vet to perform the operation and who can take the best care of your cavy both pre and post-surgery.
Do ask them questions, and before committing, ensure you understand all that is involved.
Besides, as with any surgery on a guinea pig, human or otherwise, complications can arise.
And you want to ensure you are doing the right thing for your guinea pig and the rest of your herd.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.