Why Are Guinea Pigs SO Scared!? (+9 Tips To Help)


You might have noticed how jittery a guinea pig can be? They are very self-protective and seem to be easily scared quite often.

The main reason that guinea pigs seem scared is because in the wild they are easy prey. If you consider their tiny bodies, coupled with the fact that they cannot run very fast, you’d soon understand their instinctual fear in most situations. This helps to keep them out of danger.

There is no way to change their natural habits and instincts, but there are ways you can get them to relax a little and lead happier lives. 

Knowing this will make it easier for you when you handle your guinea pig in the environment you create for her, enabling you to make her feel comfortable around you and other guinea pigs.  Creating the correct setting and also changing your behavior will encourage your guinea pig to lead a more relaxed and fun life. 

Learning about your piggy can  help you to recognise when your guinea pig is very scared, in this way you will know how to proceed. Often when a guinea pig is afraid they will run and hide, they will become jittery and scurry about looking for a hiding place. Sometimes if very afraid they will run around in circles. 

If they are terrified, they could freeze. Guinea pigs will not eat if they are afraid, and often their poop might be runnier, or they might stop pooping altogether. 

It might be a little frustrating dealing with a scared piggy because you know there is nothing to be afraid of, but it is so important to be consistently kind and calm toward them to help change that behavior and show them that they are safe. 

There are ways to deal with guinea pig fears, and they have been proven to work over and over again. 

Here are some tips on how to make your fearful guinea pig more confident and relaxed. As with most animals who are fearful, it is always better to try and understand them and their fears, and to behave gently and patiently around them. 

guinea pigs looking at a carrot on floor

1. Give Them a Chance 

If your guinea pig is a new pet, give them a chance to settle in and get to know you. If you imagine yourself in a new environment, you will certainly know that feeling where you feel a little fearful and disoriented in a new situation.

The same goes for your pet guinea pig. They take a little time to understand that their new environment will not harm them in some way. It is a good thing guinea pigs are afraid, they are so small to start with, and they are easy for predators to attack, being fearful is their only defense. Knowing this will help you understand them a little more, and understanding your pet’s behavior always helps your pet in the long run. 

2. Let Them Come to You 

It’s normal to want to pick your guinea pig up and offer comfort, but if they do not know you very well, this could have the opposite effect.  The best thing to do is let them lead the way, in other words, let them define the pace, and they will come to you eventually. 

Over time they will start to trust you and the environment you have created for them. 

Understanding that piggies will come to you in their own time is very important. For now, you might just be the ‘vegetable person’ in their eyes. The person who supplies them their food. In time, once they feel calmer, they will want to get to know you better. Once they start to do this, the bond between you and your pet will deepen and become so much more fun. 

3. Keep Your Guinea Pig Calm 

Guinea pigs spend most of their time in their home space. They need a lot of room to run about in, investigate and play. Be careful of putting too many piggies in one cage, this will cause fights and disturb your piggies calmness.  If a guinea pig is calm, they are far more receptive to fun things, like being cuddled and also building a bond with you. [Source]

Create a large space for him and consider getting more than one guinea pig so that they can keep each other company. Only get more than one guinea pig if their environment supports good health if there is not enough room or space for them to hole up on their own this might cause more stress. 

4. Create Safety and Provide for Space Needs 

Guinea pigs not only need to run and hide away to calm their fears, but they also require time for themselves. Space where they can just chill and be left alone for a while. 

These could be areas where you add more straw, or home-sewn pockets, that have fleece inside. A guinea pig will go to these areas from time to time to rejuvenate or to calm down. If you are not handy with a sewing needle these little pockets of comfort can be purchased at a pet or specialty store. 

Guinea pig in the grass

5. Find The Right Spot For Their Home 

When deciding where to put your guinea pigs home, consider a few important factors. Noise is a big stressor for a piggy, so near an open window where there is a lot of traffic wouldn’t be the best idea. If you enjoy loud music now and then, or like watching TV, be aware that these noises can startle your guinea pigs. A wild west movie could get noisy with a shoot -out, for example.

Try and place them in a consistent environment where there are fewer surprises. So you might need to put them in your bedroom, for example, or a spare room, or well away from the television or speakers, to avoid startling them. 

6. Remember How Huge You Are 

Don’t forget when you are around your piggy that compared to him you are like a giant. So cutting down on hurried movements will help keep him calm. Always be mindful to move slowly towards him, fast movements can startle your little piggy. Also, be aware of the tone and pitch of your voice. Shouting at a guinea pig is not good and will cause him to flee. Guinea pigs can die of heart failure from shock, so always talk softly to them.  If you are frustrated, rather move away from them. For the same reason, small children need to be shown how to handle guinea pigs kindly. 

7. Know When to Leave Your Piggies Alone 

Sometimes piggies need some time out. They will decide when this is to happen and will retreat. When this happens allow them this space and don’t try and encourage them to come out, as this will go against their natural instincts. In a short while, they will be in the mood to socialize again. If your home is going to be busy for a while you can even cover their cage up to avoid too much sensory input, allowing them to rest.

8. Go Toy Shopping for Your Guinea Pigs

Owning guinea pigs is fun, especially if you go toy shopping for them. From wooden stairs to canvas tunnels, there are a multitude of things to choose from. There are even hanging hammocks they can cuddle up inside of. Some tunnels are made from grass, wood, and even canvas.

Piggies enjoy nibbling too, and there is a variety of nibbling toys and treats available for them. The more fun activities they can get on with the more they relax and the more they relax, the more you can bond with your pet and have fun. 

9. Play Some Tunes 

Guinea pigs love music! There are plenty of channels offering guinea pigs relaxing music! Or you can play natural sounds like rain or the sea to mask outside noises, as well as calm them down. Google Guinea pigs relaxing music, there will be tones of titles to choose from, including wind downs and sleep! [Source]

Guinea pigs are naturally anxious but are wonderful loving pets once they can trust you. Managing their anxiety is also fun and involves getting to know them in a constructive and playful way. Even calming their fearfulness is fun and rewarding with the points mentioned above. 

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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