As the year is coming to an end, we’re approaching that one day that terrifies animals of all kinds everywhere—New Year’s Eve fireworks are the bane of pretty much all animals’ existence. It can be so scary for them, and especially for our guinea pigs who are so anxious and nervous already!
What do guinea pigs hate more than huge, loud noises? (Being touched and picked up, maybe, but that’s for a separate conversation.)
Because the night of unending fireworks is almost upon us, we thought we’d try and help you and your guinea pigs out by listing off some things you can try in order to keep your guinea pigs calm during fireworks, whether it’s for the upcoming New Year’s Eve, later in the year during the 4th of July, or for any other holidays where fireworks are the norm. Sometimes fireworks are even used a day or two after a holiday, so you can be prepared for the duration of the noisy festivities.
Relocating Their Cage
This is an option that makes a big difference, especially if you house your guinea pigs outdoors. Bringing them into your home and utilizing a quiet room would work best, but one thing you can do if you can’t bring your guinea pigs directly into your home is relocate their hutch or cage inside a garage or a shed. It makes all the difference having something like the walls of a building muffling some of the noise for your piggies.
If you’re not able to accommodate that option, you can try to turn the hutch or cage towards a wall or something that can block the flashing lights that come with fireworks.
If you have an outdoor cage that is more open than something like a hutch, you can drape a thick blanket or some sort of covering over the back half of the cage to muffle some noise. Don’t cover the whole thing because your guinea pigs still need proper ventilation as well.
Making Adjustments to Your Home
If your guinea pigs are kept indoors, then there are a few more things that you can do to keep your guinea pigs feeling safe and comfortable. The most obvious step would be shutting all doors and windows. Many people underestimate the effectiveness of closing a window and keeping doors shut in the house—it does so much for muffling loud noises and sounds! You can also close curtains in order to shield your guinea pigs from the flashing.
Another thing you can do is distract your guinea pigs with sounds that they are already accustomed and used to. This could mean playing music they’re familiar with hearing already at a moderate volume, or turning on the TV and putting on a show that they are used to the sounds from.
We’ve even heard of some guinea pig owners putting on some meditation videos and music meant for meditation on a regular basis, so things like this would be helpful to your guinea pigs during fireworks.
The rule of thumb for utilizing other noises to distract your guinea pig is not to drown out the fireworks per se, but to put them at ease with other sounds that they’re used to that they can focus on instead. That being said, don’t play anything too loudly, because they’re still sensitive to sound even if they’re listening to something they’re used to hearing. We're not trying to create scared guinea pigs in our own homes!
There are a few ways that you can make some adjustments to your guinea pigs’ cage in order to make the experience more comfortable for them.
Make sure that your guinea pig’s cage is covered completely in bedding, from end to end, edge to edge. This can be super easy if your cage utilizes fleece liners, and you can even add some extra blankets for your guinea pigs to snuggle under. Something like a fleece guinea pig cage liner would work the best because they can help with insulation and some kind of soundproofing.
The GuineaDad Premium Liner and GuineaDad Liner are both perfect for this purpose, because they’re thick and made with high quality fleece. The liners are multi-layered, which means this can help with absorbing loud noises even better than just the average fleece.
Another perfect feature of the GuineaDad Liners is the pocket design included in all of them. What do guinea pigs do when they're scared? They hide! The pocket is the perfect guinea pig hiding spot on normal occasions, but it’s especially perfect for guinea pigs who want to hide from the unfamiliar loud sounds they’re hearing.
If you’re providing hay to your guinea pigs in large piles, we recommend providing more of it so they can burrow into it. You can do this by leaving them in piles as usual, or place it into a cardboard box with some holes for entering and exiting.
The GuineaDad Hay Box and the GuineaDad Hay Bar are both options that make this a less messy task. Generally, we wouldn’t recommend leaving hay in piles in your guinea pig’s cage because of all the dust that it creates, which is dangerous for your guinea pig and their delicate lungs.
The presence of dust can irritate their respiratory tract, which in turn can elicit a coughing or sneezing response. If they’re coughing or sneezing too much and too often, it indicates the development of respiratory tract infection or some other underlying health issue.
The GuineaDad Hay Box and Bar are microfiltered for dust and other debris, and keep the hay as contained as possible and off of the ground and as your guinea pigs eat the hay, the box or bar will empty out and they can climb inside and use it as a hidey.
Our guinea pigs Ru and Mi both enjoy doing this, and sometimes both piggies will be hiding inside their own box or bar on opposite ends of the cage! Our piggies aren’t the only ones who do this, and we’re tagged in photos on Instagram every day of guinea pigs all over the world using their GuineaDad Hay Bars and Hay Boxes as hideys.
Speaking of hideys—place some more in your guinea pig cage if possible! Give your guinea pigs lots of different options for tucking themselves away. The more hideys, the better. These can be tunnels, pouch-type hideys, or traditional hideys.
Our guinea pigs love all kinds of hideys, but the GuineaDad Queen’s Castle definitely has to be one of their favorites. We made this castle with not only guinea pig comfort in mind, but also guinea pig health. The GuineaDad Queen’s Castle is made of solid hardwood, but it’s also made of the lightest hardwood that we could find.
It’s important that the wooden hideys that your guinea pigs are using are made of wood that is safe for them. Any softwoods like cedar or pine are not safe for your guinea pigs. Cedar and pine give off harmful toxins that can destroy the linings of their respiratory tract, which can lead to vulnerability to infection.
We once had a guinea pig owner message us about how they had used a softwood castle that had made their guinea pigs ill, but when they switched to our GuineaDad Queen’s Castle, their piggies were perfectly healthy and safe. Always check the materials of all the items that you choose to allow your guinea pig to come in contact with. This is especially the case when you know that your guinea pig is going to gnaw on and chew on these items!
The GuineaDad Queen’s Castle is not only made of safe materials, but it’s also meant to help your guinea pig with maintaining their teeth. Guinea pig teeth are constantly growing, so it’s important that they are constantly eating and chewing in order to healthily wear down their teeth to comfortable lengths.
You can also use cardboard hideys, which are always easy and convenient to use because everyone has some spare boxes lying around! However, there’s no way to know if these various shipping boxes are completely safe for your guinea pig to use as hideys.
To take the guesswork out of it, our GuineaDad Crunchy Condos are made of virgin paper, food touch-safe ink, and non-toxic glue—all materials that are safe for your guinea pig.
What’s also great about using hideys and the GuineaDad Liners is that you can tuck the hideys into the pocket in order to create a hiding spot with double the coverage and extra darkness, which guinea pigs enjoy.
Cuddling or Bonding Time
Another way to keep your guinea pigs calm during fireworks is by staying close by. Don’t underestimate the power of your presence on your guinea pigs! They’re not just social animals that enjoy the company of each other, but they enjoy your company as well, even if it may not seem like it sometimes. The most important thing when it comes to guinea pigs is they enjoy your presence and physical contact with you to some degree when it’s on their terms.
We’d also recommend cuddles and lap time if that’s something that your guinea pigs are comfortable with. However, if your guinea pigs are like ours and don’t like being held or picked up, you can utilize a pouch hidey of some kind to hold them in your lap without having to touch them. Remember, we’re trying to ease their fear of the fireworks, and we can’t do that if they’re also stressed from being picked up and touched in a way that they don’t enjoy.
So, if this is also something that your guinea pigs aren’t comfortable with, then generally being in a position where you’re in close contact with your guinea pigs without physically touching them can also be a big comfort to your piggies!
If your cage is large enough, you can sit or lay in their enclosure and let your guinea pigs approach you and climb all over you on their own terms. If your cage isn’t large enough, you can do this in your floor time setup as well. Sometimes even just being nearby can help your guinea pigs feel safer and more comfortable.
Food is always going to be your guinea pigs’ best friend, and it tends to be one of the easiest things to use as a motivator for your guinea pigs. You can turn the food distraction into a cage exploration activity for them in order to distract them from the scary firework noises.
In order to do this, you can scatter treats around their cage to encourage them to run around and be active, and you can also create hay-stuffed tubes with some treats as a hidden reward once they’ve cleared out the hay, and utilize any toys that work as feeding toys.
Eventually, guinea pigs will get used to the noise!
Guinea pigs will always be scared at first, but most of the time, the guinea pig will become used to the loud noises. While their eyesight isn’t that great, their sense of hearing is pretty strong and your guinea pigs will be able to tell that the noises, and the fireworks in general, are coming from far away.
Don’t be too surprised if your guinea pigs start acting normal after some time has passed by after the fireworks have started—they’re going to be just fine!
Want to read more about your guinea pig’s behaviors and what makes them tick?
Check out these blog posts to learn more.
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