Bonding with Your Guinea Pigs!! by Alexis Foote
It's National Guinea Pig Appreciation Day!! To celebrate, I asked a friend to contribute a guinea pig related piece for the blog! Hope you enjoy!! - Jackie Rairden
Guinea pigs are rodents that are popular pets in the US, Europe, and Asia. They are considered to be “easy” first pets to care for, and many families purchase them for their young children. That is why I feel it is important to understand how to bond with guinea pigs, and what behaviors are normal.
The most important factor to consider when bonding with guinea pigs, or any pet, is how well they are being cared for. That being said, we have to think about a few guinea pig traits:
Guinea pigs are herd animals in nature and should never be housed alone.
It is a common belief that guinea pigs can live by themselves as long as they receive enough love and interaction from their owners. However, this is not the case, as humans are not guinea pigs, and cannot substitute for the real thing. I once had a guinea pig who I had an extreme bond with, and he lived by himself.
Once I learned that they should not live alone, I rescued another pig to be his cage mate. This only strengthened our bond, because he was that much happier. So, the first step in guinea pig bonding is ensuring you have at least two.
Ensure you have the proper cage size for your pigs.
Store bought cages are never large enough to be a permanent home for two adult guinea pigs. The recommended minimum cage size for two guinea pigs is eight square feet. Any extra room you can spare, the better. Although guinea pigs are herd animals, they still need room to get away from their cage mates when they need to. Just like humans would not be happy if we had to spend every waking second with another person cramped in a bathroom together, guinea pigs are not either. And just like it is difficult for us to make connections with other people when we are miserable, the same goes for guinea pigs. The happier, healthier they are, the easier it will be to bond with them.
Guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild, which means they can be very skittish around us gigantic humans.
It is important that when you first bring your pigs home, you leave them alone for a few days. This way, they can get used to their new environment, the new sounds, smells, voices, and faces. After its been a few days, there are a few things you can do to start the binding off slowly:
Guinea pigs require fresh fruits and vegetables every day, so try hand feeding them a piece of lettuce or a carrot. Once they will take something out of your hand, it means they probably trust you’re not trying to poison them. This can take a while though, so be patient.
Another thing you can do is take your pig out for lap time. While they are out with you, offer them a nice treat, so they associate being on your lap with good things. However, if your pig does not want you to pick them up, just let them be until they get a little bit more comfortable.
It can be very difficult to build trust with your pigs, and easy to break down. I had finally gotten to the point that I could clip my first guinea pig’s (Midnight) nails at home and all it took was one time clipping the vein in his nail for him to never trust me to do it again.
Guinea Pigs are intelligent animals that will remember things, just like dogs and cats. So, taking the time to slowly build that trust and create a really solid bond with your pigs is completely worth it. Make sure that multiple times a day you are checking in on them, trying to give them some love and attention while they are in their cage, which is a safe place for them.
You can also get to know their body language and behaviors and learn how to react with them in a way that they understand
Some things they do when they are happy are race around their cage, the classic “popcorn” which looks like them popping up and down, sometimes not of their own volition. They can make "wheeking" sounds to say they are happy, but may also make them when angry or scared, depending on the pig.
Some things they do when they are not happy is run away, hide, and often make a “purring” sound, which some people mistake for a happy sound.
Of course, every pig is different so you have to get to know your pig to find the best way to bond with them. One of my pigs, Mocha, really does not like being picked up or brought out of his cage, so I bond with him while he is in his cage. I pet him and give him treats, and try to get him out of his shell. Just like humans and other animals, pigs have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. It is knowing what those are, and respecting your pigs’ boundaries and needs, that will create that bond and trust.
Guinea pigs are fantastic pets, whether you are just starting out in the pet world, or you’ve had every animal under the sun. They are complex, loving, intelligent animals with so much to give. By doing your research, understanding them, and getting to know your individual pig, an unbreakable bond can be created.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you liked this post by Alexis! You can follow her on Instagram @lexi468
Let me know in the comments if you found these helpful Did any of these tips work for your pet? Which ones?
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel here and I’ll meet you back here (or there) at The Water Bowl!
Happy Guinea Pig Appreciation Day!