There is nothing that pet owners want more after bringing a new guinea pig home than to pet it. But then they end up feeling disappointed when their cavy scurries away as if rejecting its owners. There’s no need to worry because it is a normal reaction from guinea pigs. They are nervous animals by nature and require some time to open up and become the social butterflies that they are. So how exactly do you interact with your new guinea pig without scaring it away?
To thoroughly enjoy interacting and spending time with your guinea pig, you must have lots of patience, yummy treats, gentle hands, and an understanding mind. Combine these with the handy tips and advice we share with you below and you’ll definitely become best buddies with your new furry friend.
Why are guinea pigs skittish?
Cavies are considered prey animals in the wild. To protect themselves from predators, they are blessed with the ability to run away. Their instincts help them distinguish between different types of predators. This trait keeps them vigilant of whatever is happening in their surroundings.
New guinea pigs tend to scamper and hide from their human companions because they are unfamiliar with everything and it makes them feel vulnerable. It will take some time for your furry friend to become used to his new home and put its trust in you. However, do not take this as an act of rejection. You should keep interacting with your cavy because it is one of the best ways to establish a strong connection with him.
How to Help a Guinea Pig to Settle In
Just like any pet, guinea pigs love to be showered with love and affection by their owners. What are the quickest ways to get your furry friend to love you back? Follow these steps:
1. Give it some space and time to adjust.
During the first day of your pet’s arrival in its new home, it would certainly be confused due to the sudden change of surroundings. You can help it get comfortable with his new surroundings by following these helpful tips.
Tip #1: Minimal contact during the first few days.
Your guinea pig must be left alone for 24 hours to explore its new home. Aside from giving it food and water, you must resist the urge to handle it. Since it is still unaccustomed to your presence, your guinea pig will only end up scared and stressed.
You can also add a wooden house or a cotton nest in its hutch or cage. It will help it feel secure that it has an easy and solitary place to hide if it ever feels agitated or scared.
Tip #2: Avoid loud noises.
Guinea pigs have a very sharp sense of hearing. Their ears can hear high frequency sounds that we cannot hear. Sudden and loud noises would fuel their anxious temperament. So make sure to place its hutch or cage in an area with less foot traffic and not prone to sudden disturbances. Additionally, when talking to your cavy, always keep your voice soft and low.
Tip #3: Talk to your guinea pig.
Cavies commonly have poor eyesight. It can be an extremely frightening experience for them when you try to handle them or reach into their cage. However, they can hear you just fine, so why not grab the chance to sit down and have a chat with your cavy?
Use a soothing tone. During your first attempts, it might scurry away from you, but later on, your furry friend will get used to your voice. It will eventually respond to you with purrs when you interact.
2. Nothing can ever go wrong with food.
A guinea pig’s mouth contains more or less 17,000 taste buds, which give you the chance to impress it with foods that are not only nutritious but also tasty. Cavies are naturally grazing animals and are usually fed with hay and guinea pig pellets or mix. But do not hesitate to get creative and serve it with other delicious grub.
What do guinea pigs eat?
80 per cent of a guinea pig’s diet should consist of high-quality Timothy hay and it must be present in its plate all the time. It is also recommended that 10 per cent of its diet should have leafy greens. You can also feed it with fruits as treats but it should be given in small quantities since they are packed with a lot of sugar. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables suitable for guinea pigs:
- Red and green cabbage
- Seedless grapes
With a variety of leafy greens and fruits, you will be able to make a healthy diet for your new guinea pig. However, be careful not to overfeed your furry friend especially with treats. Since their digestive system is not designed to handle foods that are high in sugar, guinea pigs might contract diabetes and other health issues.
How to feed your new guinea pig
Feeding your new furry buddy can be challenging at first, but there’s no need to worry! Nobody can resist the temptation of food, even your cavy. Just follow these 3 easy steps and it will love your company whilst it eats.
Place your cavy’s hutch in an area where it can easily see you. This way, it will get used to your presence and will be less skittish when you are around. Thus, when you ever try to approach and feed your guinea pig, it will not dart away.
Take the food you have prepared for your pet and feed it by hand. It is an effective way to boost the bond between you and your new cavy. This step teaches your guinea pig that human hands are gentle, so it lowers its fear and increases its trust in you.
Talk to your guinea pig in a soft soothing voice whilst you feed it. It helps it calm down and relax whilst eating.
3. The time has come to pet and handle your new cavy!
Once your guinea pig gets used to you, be ready because it will definitely want your affection. You can show your love and affection by petting and picking up your furry friend.
Petting Your New Guinea Pig
Favourite guinea pig petting locations may vary for every cavy. Therefore, it might take some time and a lot of experimentation to find the area where your guinea pig loves to be petted. Here are general rules to observe when you discover what your guinea pigs like:
- When petting your guinea pig for the first time, observe how your furry friend will react. Keep it short and don’t overdo it.
- Never sneak up on your guinea pig especially when it is sleeping. Always make sure it knows that you are about to pet it.
- If your guinea pig runs away when you try to pet it, do not chase it. Remember that they are prey animals and will easily get frightened if you run after them.
- Take note of your cavy’s body language and listen to its vocalisations. It will give small but helpful hints in learning how it feels when you pet it. For instance, you can hear a happy guinea pig purring if it likes to be scratched under its chin.
Handling Your New Guinea Pig
Most guinea pets dislike getting handled or picked up because it sets off their natural prey instincts. To their eyes, your hands may seem like an eagle’s talons reaching out for them. Help your cavy get comfortable with handling by following these steps:
Step 1: Make sure that your pet is aware that you are about to pick it up. It will reduce the chances of it running away.
Step 2: Place one hand under its chest or under its front foot.
Step 3: Your other hand must hold the bottom of your pet for additional support. Be sure to keep a gentle but firm grip to make it feel secure.
Step 4: Hold your cavy close to your chest to prevent it from slipping off your arm.
Turn Your Skittish Cavy into a Loving Furry Friend
Because of their prey instinct, guinea pigs tend to be nervous pets when they are introduced to their new home. However, they will learn to trust you by giving them space, tempting them with food, and petting and handling them gently.