As piggy parents, you probably know that guinea pigs are quite skittish, and it comes from the fact that they’re naturally prey animals!
Even if they are living in our homes with us, they can still be frightened by certain things, whether it’s loud noises, or certain behaviors that we display as humans.
In general, guinea pigs take extra time to bond with them and earn their trust. This is why it’s important when you first acquire them that you take the time to get to know them and let them get to know you!
It’s important to go at their pace and respect their boundaries, and only do what keeps them comfortable.
What are the signs that my piggy is scared?
The easiest way to describe them is probably skittish! They’ll also freeze in their spot, which is similar to the way some animals “play dead” in order to lose the interest of a predator.
Another sign is they’ll also lower their heads, and kind of shrink in on themselves to make them smaller—kind of submitting to the danger they think they’re in.
Guinea pigs will also shiver or tremble in fear as well, or they’ll anxiously pace their cage as if trying to find a way out.
What’s scaring my guinea pig?
There are 3 main reasons why guinea pigs can get scared suddenly!
We have a blog post on this, but generally we don’t recommend that guinea pigs be kept around other pets like cats, dogs, and other kinds of animals. Some pets are just not meant to be friends, no matter how gentle the bigger animal may seem!
They still have that hunting instinct, and that can make its appearance and end badly for your guinea pig.
If your guinea pig is suddenly frightened, it may be because they sense the presence of your other pets around!
Or, there can be cases where you don’t have other pets, but the way you or guest that are trying to pet them are approaching them in a way reminds them of how a predator does.
Sometimes if you approach to pet them from above, that can be pretty scary for them! You’re looming over them and then coming down with your hand, and it can startle them.
To remedy this, try laying your hand flat with the palm up and let them come to you if they haven’t already. Once they approach and seem relaxed or at least are curious, you can try to pet them. The best bet is to pet them on their head only as many guinea pigs don’t like their lower backs and butts being touched very often
Fear for their safety from unfamiliar humans.
If a guinea pig has experienced some mishandling from humans they’re not familiar with, or have been with other piggy parents in the past that maybe didn’t know how to properly care for them, they might be scared of other humans they come in contact with!
This is a case where the solution is that you need to earn their trust and show them they are safe by taking good care of them!
Respect their boundaries and don’t try to pet them or touch them if it seems like they don’t want it.
This is a pretty obvious one! Most animals (and people!) get startled by loud noises.
This is an easy fix, as you can simply reduce the noise levels around them as much as possible—whether this is the volume of music that is playing in your home, the volume of the TV, keeping barking dogs in areas far away from the guinea pig living area, or keeping the guinea pig living area far away from the dogs.
Also be mindful of the noises you’re making yourself! Don’t slam doors, try not to drop things close by, and overall just be aware of how something might scare your guinea pig even if you don’t think it will.
Be mindful of your guinea pig and their fears!
The best way to keep them calm and to comfort your guinea pigs is to earn their trust and to make sure to care for them to the best of your ability.