Neutering involves the surgical removal of parts of an animal’s reproductive system. This makes it impossible for the animal to reproduce. Usually a female will have her ovaries and womb removed. Males usually have their testicles removed. This is not a common procedure in guinea pigs, though it is common practice to neuter other pets like cats, rabbits and dogs. This is done to prevent the animals reproducing. The benefit in this is that unwanted and accidental pregnancies are prevented. It also means that mixed sexed animals can live together. Neutering pets helps to control the number of unwanted pets in this country, reducing the numbers being abandoned, neglected and put to sleep.
Some of the guinea pigs at the rescue are neutered. This is usually mature males who arrive at the rescue on their own. It is possible to pair these boars wth baby boars. However, I rarely have baby boars in rescue to bond these mature males with. Therefore I now have them neutered so that they can be paired up more quickly with sows or join groups of sows. This means they spend less time in rescue and find homes more quickly as well. It has a significant impact on improving their quality of life as they are no longer being kept in solitude.
The only benefit is that he can live with a sow or group of sows and not reproduce. The benefit in this is that his quality of life will be improved if he was previously living in solitude. It will also prevent pregnancies in the sows he lives with reducing the risks to them (pregnancy complications can lead to the death of the sow and her babies).
Introducing a neutered male to a a group of sows or a single sow usually works very well. In their natural environment guinea pigs would live in small groups with one boar and a group of females. Boars are usually very happy living this way and it is interesting to see the group dynamis. Boars can often have a stabilising influence on a group of volitile females, often helping to reduce squabbles.
If you have a lone boar and would like him to join a sow than neutering him is a good option if you decide against bonding him with a baby boar. This will stop him being able to reproduce with the female. This is a good idea if you would like to have a larger group of guineas, as you can introduce more than one sow to live with him. If you have a healthy boar and use an experienced vet then the risks of neutering are low.
If you are going to get your boar neutered please ensure you use an experienced vet who routinely castrates guinea pigs. Enquire how often they have done the procedure in the past 6 months and how may of the guinea pigs they castrated survived post operation. Also ask them if any of them developed post op complications.
The typical price for a castration (male neutering) is £50 and spaying (female neutering) is £65
The only vets I would recommend to neuter a boar is either Fiona at EasyVets. She has done over 100 of my guinea pigs now and the success rate has been very high, with very few (only 2 ) having post operation complications. Fiona is based at Shiny Row (Mon and Wed) and Burnopfield (Tues, Thurs, Fri) and can be contacted on 0191 3857730 (ShinyRow) or 01207 271504 (Burnopfield).
Judith at First Vets based in Forest Hall is also very good and experienced with guinea pig castration. She has done many of the guineas at the rescue. 81 Station Road, Forest Hall, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne And Wear NE12 8AQ Tel: 0191 266 6286
Like all anaesthetics neutering does have risks. These must be weighed against the health of the guinea pig and the improvement in its quality of life it would have if it were neutered (e.g. living with a sow).
It is very uncommon to neuter sows routinely. The procedure is far more invasive and therefore it is not recommended to put sows through this operation unless it is really necessary (e.g. for medical reasons). However, not everyone would agree with this and there are some rescues that neuter female guinea pigs routinely.
A spayed sow will not get ovarian cysts or ovarian tumours which is a potential health benefit but must be weighed against the risks of neutering.
I do have neutered sows in rescue from time to time. But this is very rare. Again the only vet I would recommend who routinely spays sows is Fiona at Easy Vets.
Neutering will NOT change a boars behaviour. Therefore it will not stop him fighting with another boar. The only reason to neuter a boar is if he is to join a sow or it is anticipated that he will join sows in the future (e.g. if a boar companion dies).
It is also not going to ‘psychologically’ damage him. He will not be aware of what the operation did to him so will not feel that his ‘masculinity’ has been compromised. He will be very happy to have a girlfriend. His new companion will also not be aware he has been neutered and nor will any other guinea pigs so please do not worry about his masculinity as this is not going to be an issue for him, only for you maybe.
There is always a risk when neutering a guinea pig. But these can be reduced if the boar or sow is young and healthy and if an experienced vet is used.
In extreme circumstances death may occur either during the procedure or after. Again this is rare but is a risk that must be considered. Post operation complications may include infections which can in some circumstances lead to abscesses.