Guinea pigs are prey animals that are used to being hunted down in nature by predators like hawks and snakes. This has made them acquire instincts of running away to hide whenever they sense danger.
They are ever alert and it’s not hard for a guinea pig who is already used to you to run off in hiding when they sense your presence. It’s only natural for them.
Just like people, guinea pigs have distinct personalities. They can either be very shy or very friendly.
If you just got a new guinea pig and it seems to always jump off into hiding no matter what you do, that’s because your new pet is only naturally scared. It’s not sure whether you are a predator who wants to eat it or not.
It may always remain in hiding whenever you are around then come out when you leave. Don’t worry, let’s look at how much time you need to give it and things you can do to make your pet get familiar with you.
How long does it take for a guinea pig to get used to you?
As we have just seen, guinea pigs are different. Some may be too shy to get close to you while others may be very open to getting close to you. It usually depends on your specific guinea pig’s character. Though small Pets states that it may take somewhere between three days to three months or even longer.
When trying to get a guinea pig to get used to you, patience is always key. Give it enough time to get used to its surroundings and to your presence.
How to get a guinea pig to trust you
For a new guinea pig to get used to you and begin acknowledging your presence, it must first be able to trust you. Begin creating this trust as soon as possible.
Here are a few ways to do it.
They say the way to the heart is the stomach. That applies greatly to guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs love food and they are almost always eating. Use this as a way of teaching your new pet to get to know you.
Always associate your presence with food. Going to their cage with food each time will make them begin to get comfortable around you. After all, they see food when they see you.
Give them treats every now and then. Just like little kids, they love sweet things.
Guinea pigs are smart animals and they learn fast. In no time, they’ll be coming to you on their own whenever you go near the cage because they know you are carrying goodies.
You may be dying to cuddle your new pet as soon as you bring it home but remember, it’s scared of you. The cuddling won’t even be fun when you know that it’s scared to death to be in your hands.
When beginning to get it used to your touch, start small. Try hand-feeding it during meal times.
Guinea pigs have a really great sense of smell. As you hand-feed them they’ll begin learning your scent.
This is great because when you try to touch them they’ll be able to recognize your scent and allow you to touch them instead of running away. While hand-feeding you can also try touching them gently with your other hand.
Hold them with care
Guinea pigs have no way of knowing how far they are from the ground. They may get scared when you lift them because they are not sure whether they’ll fall.
It’s good to hold them below their chest and support them on their bum so that they feel secure. Hold them firmly but do not squeeze.
To bond, even more, lay them on your chest as you speak softly to them.
Talk to them
It’s normal for people to talk to their pets and your guinea pigs should not be an exception. Always make conversation with them.
Not only do they have good smelling capabilities but also great hearing senses that have been said to be better than a human’s. Talking to them enables them to get used to your voice and be able to recognize it.
Begin to talk as you enter the room so that they may know that it’s you coming in and not a stranger or predator. Remember that their eyesight is really poor and they cannot know who you are from a distance.
Use calm low tones. As they get used to your voice they’ll be coming to you when they hear you.
Spend time with them
Guinea pigs are social animals that get really lonely when left alone for long periods of time. If you are keeping only one, remember that you are it’s only companion.
Take the time to spend with it. Try to do it around the same time every day.
Guinea pigs love routines. Whenever you are feeding, treating, or bonding with them, keep it a routine.
Going to them at certain times will make them even anticipate your coming and you’ll find them eagerly waiting for you. Don’t always bond with them in the cage.
Have playtime or floor time. Let them out in a secure area and stick around. They’ll roam around and come closer to sniff you as they get used to you.
Learn more about them
Get to learn as much as you can about your pet. It’s likes, dislikes, favourite treats, etc.
Learning about them will make you do what they like and increase their trust in you. For instance, knowing where they like to be petted will prevent you from petting them in the wrong places that could make them uncomfortable.
Signs that a guinea pig loves you
As your pet gets used to you, there are several signs that will serve as clear signs of their feelings towards you. If they are used to you and comfortable in your presence they will:
- Enjoy lap time and being held.
- Love being handfed.
- Lick and nibble you softly.
- Come over to you when you go near their cage.
- Follow you around when they’re out of the cage.
No matter how long your guinea pig takes to get used to you, just be patient and try to win it’s confidence first. Avoid keeping them in places with high temperatures even when outdoors because they are prone to getting heatstroke.
Never keep them in the same cage with other pets. This may bring about fear in your pet or even a cross-infection of diseases.
A happy guinea pig who is comfortable in their environment and in your presence will always show it. They will often make contended sounds like soft purring, whistling, or popcorn all around.