If you are a new guinea pet owner you may have noticed that your pet is seemingly always on the run. They could hear the slightest of movement or noise then run off into hiding.
It could even be you going to give them food and they’ll run off scared. Guinea pigs do not have good eyesight so they cannot easily recognize you from a distance.
They’ll see something blurry coming towards them and hide. This is because guinea pigs are small animals that do not have defense mechanisms to fight.
The only way for them to escape is through running and not fighting. Sometimes this fear could be associated with various things which we will discuss in detail.
Why is my guinea pig always scared?
Guinea pigs are always scared because they are prey animals that are used to having predators seeking them out while in nature. This has made them develop instincts like being alert all the time to avoid danger. Situations that seem dangerous to guinea pigs range from being in new environments and sudden loud sounds to having nowhere to hide in case of danger and spotting bigger animals.
All these are situations that will make them run away to hide in fear and sometimes it could get so stressed that they will stop eating.
6 Causes for fear in guinea pigs
A number of things could be making your pet the scariest animal you have ever come across. These could include:
If a guinea pig is new to a place, it will naturally be more fearful before it can get used to the environment. It may run away into hiding every time it hears movement or even stays hidden every time if it’s very timid.
Your presence will be met with caution too as it will stay as far away from you as possible. This is because it has not learned whether you are a predator or not.
This is quite okay and you should give it time to adjust to both it’s a new home and you. Be patient with it and begin gaining its trust with food and treats.
Nowhere to hide
Even in the wild, guinea pigs always have holes in which they hide when they sense danger or a predator is running after them. If a domesticated pet doesn’t have a place to hide they may get quite scared.
Guinea pigs require hideouts in their cages or wherever they are. They need the security of somewhere they can run to if they sense that their life could be in danger.
Lack of hideouts will make them panic as they do not know what to do in case they need to hide.
Lonesome without cagemates
Guinea pigs enjoy each others company and they feel much comfortable and safer together. This is because they are able to warn each other of danger.
If your guinea pig is all alone, it may feel vulnerable and prone to attacks. Lonely animals have the tendency of misjudging things too. The slightest sound to them could easily mean danger and scare them.
Loud and sudden noises
Guinea pigs have exceptional hearing capabilities. This enables them to hear even the slightest of noise.
Because of this, guinea pigs do not like loud noises or sudden noises. Shouts, high volumes, vibrating speakers, door banging, alarms and the like, are noises that scare away guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs need to be held carefully. They are quite delicate and you are advised to be watchful at all times when they interact with children.
They feel scared when lifted up because they cannot tell how far from the ground they are. If they are grabbed, squeezed, petted wrongly, dropped, or thrown carelessly they will become fearful. They will associate being touched with pain and be scared of being touched again.
Guinea pigs are far down in the food chain with a good number of predators. Animals like owls, hawks, snakes and wolves eat them.
This makes guinea pigs scared of big animals as their instinct tells them that they’ll be eaten. Spotting bigger animals around including your other pets like cats and dogs could scare them stiff.
Signs of a scared guinea pig
Guinea pigs speak in verbal and on nonverbal cues. They will either make sounds or show you in action that they are scared. Signs to watch out for are:
- Always hiding – guinea pigs love playing hide and seek but if they keep hiding each time and you can hardly see them, then something is keeping them hidden.
- No moving – a guinea pig will keep still and not move when it senses danger so as not to attract a predator.
- Trembling – you may see your pet trembling slightly from fear.
- Fidgeting – sometimes your pet will keep moving around in circles nervously. This could mean that something is making it uneasy. It could even begin chewing on cage bars.
- Not eating or pooping – a guinea pig that’s stressed out and scared will stop eating and pooping like usual.
What you can do about it
As a guinea pig owner, your pet will always rely on you to keep it safe.
- First, determine what is making your guinea pig scared. Look around and think of the time they began acting like that. Was it something you bought or something that happened?
- Exercise – weak guinea pigs get scared easily and are more at risk of predators harming them. Ensure your pet is getting enough exercise.
- Toys – a bored and lonely pet is easier to notice any slight movements around it or sudden noises. Get your pet a variety of toys to keep it distracted and occupied.
- Hiding places – create some hiding places for your pet in case they feel they want to hide from something. This will keep them at ease and give them comfort knowing that they could easily hide if something came up.
- Be gentle – don’t shout at your pet if it does something wrong or doesn’t get it right at first, don’t punish your pet and don’t force your pet to do something. This can make it scared of you when it should be trusting you instead.
- Keep noises low – make sure the noise is always at a minimum for the safety of your guinea pig. Loud music will scare it and hurt its ears.
- Develop bond and be patient – a new guinea pig will take time to get used to you and it’s surroundings. Always be patient and give it time to adjust at it’s own pace.
Always be watchful of your pet to notice any changes in behavior or uneasiness. If they’re new, they’ll definitely get less scared as they get used to everything and everyone.
Take it one step at a time and get your piggy to know that you don’t want to eat it by building trust.