You’ve had guinea pigs for a while now, and you thought that by this time they would have gotten used to you. But even though you provide them with food, water, attention, and a clean cage, they’re still scared of you.
So, what the deal?
There are many reasons why your guinea pig might still be scared of you. They’re prey animals, so their natural instinct is to be scared. Previous trauma can make them not trust you at first. A stressful environment can also make them fearful.
It could be that during your first introduction, you made some bonding mistakes. You might not be spending enough time with your piggies.
Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Scared
If your guinea pig is scared, some of the signs that you will notice are:
- Being able to see the white part of your guinea pig’s eyes
- Your guinea pig squirming when you try to hold it
- Your guinea pig running or hiding from you
- Your guinea pig chattering its teeth at you
- Your guinea pig making a rumbling noise
- Your guinea pig making a rhythmic shrieking sound (guinea pigs make this noise only when they are truly terrified)
Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Are Scared Of Me & How to Put Them At Ease
There are several reasons why a guinea pig might be afraid of their owner:
1) Your Guinea Pig Is Adjusting To A New Environment
Guinea pig might be scared of you is that it is anxious about being in a new environment.
If you have just brought your guinea pig home or moved your guinea pig from being housed in one area to being housed in a new place, your guinea pig will likely be feeling some anxiety.
You can help put your guinea pig at ease by offering familiar foods and treats.
It can also help to make sure your guinea pig has safe toys to chew on to relieve tension. Another thing that can help is establishing a routine.
Having set times for feeding, cleaning the cage, floor time and lap time can help your guinea pig become more comfortable in its environment.
2) Interactions With Humans
Many people have encountered guinea pigs who simply will not trust them no matter what they try. Often these guinea pigs have had unpleasant histories with other humans or simply haven’t been handled much by humans.
Guinea pigs who have not been treated well or handled much require a lot of patience and need to spend time with humans who will treat them well. At first, your guinea pig will hide from you, but eventually, it might become curious and venture out to investigate the strange being sitting beside its cage.
As your guinea pig becomes more comfortable with your presence, you can begin to spend quality time with it. You can also earn your guinea pig’s trust by hand-feeding it fresh fruits, vegetables, and treats.
3) You May Not Be Handling Your Guinea Pig Properly
Guinea pigs can become afraid of people when they are being held in ways that hurt them or feel uncomfortable for them. This problem can be solved by holding your guinea pig properly.
In order to hold your guinea pig properly, place one hand under its chest and support its rear end with your other hand.
Guinea pigs often feel as though they’re going to fall when being picked up. Holding your guinea pig against your body helps reduce this fear of falling.
Further, never place your guinea pig on its back because their spines are very fragile and not meant to bend that way.
4) Your Guinea Pig Might Be Stressed
Your guinea pig might be scared of you simply because it is feeling stressed. Guinea pigs can become stressed for a variety of reasons including their environment, poor health, and loud noises.
One way to prevent your guinea pig from being stressed is to take good care of your guinea pig by keeping the cage clean, keeping your guinea pig well-groomed, and maintaining a routine.
You can also relieve some of your guinea pig’s stress by creating a peaceful environment.
It is also important to provide your guinea pig with a space in its cage where it can retreat such as an igloo or other guinea pig-safe hideout.
5) Your Guinea Pig Might Feel Isolated
Your guinea pig might be scared of you because it is feeling anxious due to being isolated. Guinea pigs are social creatures and can become anxious when left alone for too long.
It is best to keep guinea pigs in groups of two or more. This way they can meet their social needs and have less anxiety.
When your guinea pig feels less anxious, it is more likely to trust and be comfortable with you.
6) Pain or illness
A guinea pig that used to be confident and has become more frightened might be in pain or unwell.
There are some guinea pig ailments such as upper respiratory infections that are common in this species.
And it’s possible they have hurt themselves in their cage without you knowing.
If you can’t work out why your guinea pig is behaving differently, then it’s a good idea to pop them down to the veterinarians.
7) Lack of hides
Guinea pigs feel safest if they know they have somewhere to hide.
A guinea pig that is kept in an enclosure that is bare, with nowhere to feel like they aren’t being watched, will likely be nervy.
To make them the happiest of all, include enough shelters, hides, and shelves that each guinea pig has somewhere separate.
So they can choose to be together, or choose to be apart and still feel secure and protected. Feeling safe in your home, helps you to feel safer when outside it too.
8) Predators nearby
Sometimes when it appears your guinea pig is scared of you, they are actually scared of something else.
The presence of dogs, but especially cats, can really upset some rodents. Your cat purring and rubbing around the cage might look adorable, but he’s not doing it because he wants to make friends.
Although guinea pigs are out of the size range for many cats to handle, they are still natural enemies. And your guinea pigs know that.
If your pets seem scared of you, try making sure any larger predators in the house stay well away.
Put the cage in a less accessible position, or if possible ban cats from the room entirely.
9) Your guinea pig may not entirely trust you.
While this can be hard to hear, an important step to building a trusting bond with your pet is knowing that they don’t fully trust you at this moment.
It could be because you haven’t worked with them enough yet to establish a strong bond, or maybe you have tricked or deceived them a few times.
10) Bonding Mistakes
It’s important to bond with your guinea pig properly. If you don’t, your relationship with your fuzz spud may be difficult. Make sure to take the time to get to know your little pet and build trust.
Remember that we are predators to guinea pigs. We are taller than they are and can easily scare them. Your first introduction needs to follow the steps below in order to help with your bonding:
- Prepare some fleece liners and lay your guinea pigs on them. Lie down with your piggie.
- Feed them treats, veggies, or hay straight from your hand. This will increase your chances of bonding.
- Talk to them as you feed them. They will learn your voice and recognize it.
- Remember to also look your guinea pigs in the eye as you bond. It will help build trust. Make sure you’re in front of them so that they can anticipate your movements. This will help them relax.
- If you keep doing this, they’ll slowly start to warm up to you. They will start to associate you with giving them delicious food. Remember to also play with them to bond further.