Bringing Your Guinea Pigs Home
Article by Heather Jones
The First WeekEven though you are really excited to make friends with your new guinea pig(s) the first three or four days can be very stressful for them. The combination of a new home with new sounds, smells, and people can be very frightening. Loud noises and “hovering” can also be very scary. Please avoid touching and cuddling your new guinea pig until they are adjusted to their new space.One of the best things you can provide your guinea pig during this time is an excellent place to hide. An old discarded toilet paper roll would work just fine but you are also welcome to get something fancier. Be sure you provide a separate hiding area for each guinea pig as well otherwise someone will get left outside or a fight will breakout.Don’t Hover!The best angle to observe you guinea pig is eye level with the cage. Keeping mind that looking down from above into the cage mimics the behavior of aerial predators, something a natural prey animal like a guinea pig would instinctually be afraid of. So remember kneel down and stay at the same level as your guinea pig to show him you are a friend and not there to eat him!Gaining TrustThe way into your guinea pig’s heart is through his stomach. That’s right, treats. Offering treats is a great way to build trust. Luckily, your guinea pig loves to eat and there are no shortage of items to bribe him with. Chapter 5 goes into greater detail on your guinea pigs favorite treats.Take the treat you want to offer, show it to your pet, and then place it right at the cage’s entrance. Then move away, making sure you are not looming, and wait. If you cannot get your guinea pig to move towards the treat to investigate, pick it up again, making sure you move slowly and in a nonthreatening way, and then close the cage door. You can try this technique a few times per day until your guinea pig learns he must come and pick the treat up himself.Watch your guinea pig and carefully try to move closer without scaring him. This will ensure that over time he will get used to your presence. Your goal is to work up to a point where you can offer the treat from your hand and your guinea pig will come and take it. After a while you will find he will come to enjoy taking his treat and begin to associate your presence with treats.Learning to Pick Up Your Guinea PigOkay so now that you’ve taught your guinea pig to trust you by the offering of treats, now it comes time to learn how to acclimate him to being held. Do not try to lure your guinea pig into being held by offering treats. The fear he or she may experience over being held when it is not welcome will overcome the fragile bond you have built with treats. Instead what you want to do is get him or her used to being touched by gently petting. The best thing to remember is that in the wild, you guinea pig would be food for anything that could catch it.When picking up your guinea pig remember to be gentle. Its actually quite easy to accidentally damage their lungs by squeezing too hard. Gently grasp your guinea pig’s torso, then support their rear end – make sure you are being gentle and providing full body support. Always supervise young children as your guinea pick can be injured easily if mishandled or dropped.In ConclusionSpending time cuddling and playing with your guinea pig is worth the time and patience necessary to build a trusting relationship. Make sure that when you are practicing the steps above that you do so in a quiet room without loud noises or unexpected disturbances. Have a treat ready to place on your lap and over time he or she will trust you enough to come and eat it on your lap. Your patience will be worth it when you see your guinea pig get excited and squeal for joy when he sees you.
About the Author
Heather is a life long guinea pig expert. For more great bringing your guinea pig home visit the Guinea Pig Resource Center for more information and don’t forget to sign up for their free newsletter!