Guinea pigs are scaredy pets by nature so it might take them a while to get used to you as well as their surroundings, new sounds and noises, or companions. So how can you tell when your guinea pig starts liking you? What does it mean when they nibble on you? And how can you tell when your guinea pig doesn’t like you and what to do about it? Answers to these questions and more are right here!
How Do Guinea Pigs Show Affection?
Nibbling and Nuzzling
Like most animals, guinea pigs show affection by grooming each other. If your guinea pig is licking you or nibbling on you or your har or clothes, this is a great sign that your guinea pig has accepted you as one of their own and like you. It is one of the cutest ways your guinea pig can show affection! It can also nuzzle you by pressing their head against yours which is just a sign of affection.
Wheeking / Squeeking / Whistling
Guinea pigs often make noises described as ‘wheeking,’ which sound exactly like you’d expect. They make these noises when they’re excited, often about food, a new toy, or a friend! Guinea pigs also learn to recognise different sounds, such as the one their bag of food makes when being handled. So, guinea pigs often start making these sound just before feeding time, when they hear their food being prepared.
This is something most of us have associated with cats, but guinea pigs can purr too! When it’s a low soft continuous purr it is a good sign. It means your pet is calm and content and enjoying your company.
However, pay attention to high pitched purr which likely means that something is wrong, and your guinea pig is unhappy. Maybe it’s in the presence of another guinea pig and they don’t get on or maybe it’s just done being held or petted and wants to be left alone for a while.
Laying Down On You
Each guinea pig is different, and some have more energy than others but if your pet is free to roam around or you’re holding it and decides to lay on you instead of exploring or jumping around, it’s a good sign it feels safe around you. It means it’s not only happy to be around you, but also that it has completely accepted you and trust you to protect it.
Then next stage of this is when your guinea pig falls asleep on you, especially with their eyes closed. That is the ultimate sign of trust right there.
Following You Around
If your guinea pig follows you around, you’re a part of its pack. It is no longer scared of you, on the contrary, it feels safer with you around! This is the last stage of bonding with your guinea pig and there’s not much more your pet can do to show the love they have for you! Same goes for when it is seeking you out – when your guinea pig approaches you on its own, whether that is inside or outside of its cage, or if it enjoys being held.
Guinea pigs can be very vocal animals, especially when in groups or when they’re happy. If your guinea pig is constantly making happy sounds, some of which were mentioned above, it is a great sign your pet is very happy to see you and be around you!
Popcorning is one of the cutest guinea pig behaviours. Have you ever noticed that your guinea pig suddenly jumped up in the air, turned their head and landed on all fours? Sometimes they repeat it several times whilst running around and changing directions? Sometimes they even squeak. This behaviour is called popcorning, because, come to think of it, they look a bit like kernel popping in the microwave.
Sometimes they look a bit crazy or as if they were having a seizure. But not to worry, this completely normal and it’s a sign of a happy guinea pig. They do this simply when they can’t contain their excitement.
Sometimes they can popcorn simply when you enter the room or when they notice you’re around. This is a good sign they feel happy to be in your presence.
How To Know If Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Like You?
In the beginning, you can expect your pet to be nervous around you, act stand-off-ish or even hide away completely. It mostly just means it’s not used to you yet and this is completely normal.
Does your guinea pig sometimes just stop moving for 20 or 30 seconds? Or longer? Does it seem like it just froze midway through? This is an automatic response to danger. Its ancestors were prey animals so this is one of their reflexes. When getting scarer or sensing danger, they can sometimes just freeze as a response to an approaching predator in hopes of not being noticed.
Sometimes your guinea pig may respond in this way when getting frightened by a loud noise or a fast move you made.
It doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t like you, rather it is not completely comfortable around you and you should approach it with caution.
Chattering Their Teeth/Hissing
By hissing or chattering their teeth guinea pigs show they’re angry or threatened. It can be a warning before biting or just showing they’re displeased with the current situation.
Guinea pigs rarely ever bite, as they tend to run away from a threat rather than face it head-on, however, occasionally they can bite. This usually happens when they’re pushed into a corner and don’t see a way out other than biting. It is their first and last line of defence. It also means they’re extremely stressed which can impact their health as well.
Throwing Its Head In The Air
Guinea pigs often show this behaviour when in herds or often when males are comparing their strength. It’s also a sign of being annoyed. When interacting with humans it’s a sign that it wants to be left alone. This can often be seen when being petted. It could be interpreted as cute behaviour, however, at this point, it is best to leave your guinea pig alone for a while as it just wants to do its own thing for a bit.
And remember, all these behaviours are a natural response to threat or fear and they can absolutely be dealt with.
What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Is Scared Of You?
At first, most guinea pigs are scared of humans and it takes a while to build their trust so don’t despair! Below are three steps to get you started and some additional tips for bonding with your pet.
How Can You Bond With Your Guinea Pig?
Offer A Calm And Safe Space
At first, your guinea pig might be a bit wary of you. It’s likely to be in a new environment as well so give it a couple of days for your guinea pig to get used to it and relax. Guinea pigs have evolved to be extremely cautious of potential dangers to be able to hide from potential predators. They are easily scared by loud noises or fast moves, so make sure it knows when you’re coming close by talking in a low, calm voice and avoid moving quickly.
If a few days, you can slowly start gaining its trust by offering treats. Again, it might take a few tries for your guinea pig to get used to your hand in its enclosure but soon the curiosity surpasses the fear. Once your guinea pig accepts a treat you’re offering and takes it from your hand, it is a clear sign it is starting to trust you. This usually doesn’t take long as guinea pigs love eating and would do anything for a tasty treat!
You could set a time and try and feed it regularly every day with its favourite snack and soon you will notice your guinea pig coming out to see you on its own and being curious about this new snack brought to offer.
Touching And Holding
Once your guinea pig is comfortable with taking treats straight from your hand, you may try to gently pet it. By now the guinea pig has associated your hand with treats and is starting to accept you.
At first, take it out of its cage only for short periods of time, start with 5-10 minutes or so. It can be scary for your guinea pig to be outside and not having the safety of its den and cage. It’s important to reassure your pet being outside is completely safe and it can be fun too. This can be done by offering it toys or tasty snacks.
Talk To Your Pet!
To form a bond its essential to interact with your pet multiple times a day. Besides taking it out every day, it’s important to communicate with it often. Talk to your pet when giving it fresh water and food in the morning, every time you enter the room, before you open the cage, and especially before you handle your guinea pig.
Each new experience can be very scary and stressful for your pet. It is therefore important to try and make it as enjoyable for them as possible. Guinea pigs are big eaters so the best way to help them adjust to any new situation with food!
Offering a snack in the form of a vegetable or a fruit can help ease their stress as it focuses their attention elsewhere. It can also motivate them to explore new areas or calm them when being handled by a new person with a new smell.
Offering your pet food isn’t the only way to bond with it. Making their time out of the cage fun and playful will help them associate being taken out of the cage with having fun and will surely get them excited for the next time.
Let your guinea pig road freely (under constant supervision of course!) and explore the area. Sit down on the floor with them and let them explore their surroundings. You can also provide them with a new toy to which they only have access when outside of the cage.
Make sure you don’t make any sudden moves as not to scare your guinea pigs, but also that you’re there for them, whenever they get scared or stop to feel comfortable being in the open.
It’s important to make sure all doors are closed and there are no predators in sight and most importantly, all cables are put away or hidden, just in case your pet decides to chew on them.
You can also cover your legs with a thin blanket and tuck the corners under which creates a tent for your guinea pigs. They love to dig tunnels and burrows, so they’ll feel right at home and safe. It also gives them the opportunity to explore and use their curiosity. The best thing about this? It always looks a bit different so there’s always something to explore.
Has Your Guinea Pig Suddenly Become Scared Of You?
Sometimes your guinea pig might become scared of you even when previously you have been successfully bonding with it. This often happens when you move too fast between the steps and increasingly pushing your pet into situations it is not completely comfortable with.
It can also trigger negative experience that happened in the past, for example as in the pet shop, or something that happened recently and was completely out of your hands, such as a cat jumping on its cage and triggering the flight response.
In all cases, you should come back to square one and don’t force any contact as not to stress your pet further. The best advice is to go back to the beginning and start bonding with your guinea pig all over again. Make sure your guinea pig is completely comfortable at the stage you’re at before moving further. Don’t worry, often this process is much faster as your pet regains its trust in you and a sense of safety.
How Long Until Guinea Pigs Get Used To You?
Usually, it takes about a month until your guinea pig gets used to you. However, each guinea pig is different, and some may require more time than others so don’t worry if it’s taking longer. Just continue making your pet feel safe and try to prevent anything that might scare your guinea pig such as loud noises, fast moves, or moving or rearranging its cage.
How Long Does It Take For Guinea Pigs To Bond With You?
If you’re the first owner and you’ve had your guinea pig from a young age, it takes up to 4 to 6 months for it to bond with you. This also depends on the personality of your guinea pig. Some are more trusting than others or easily convinced with food or curious enough to explore and follow you around, while others might be a bit more cautious.
How Many Times A Day Should You Hold Your Guinea Pig
Once a day. Remember, it’s better to hold your guinea pig regularly but for shorter periods of time. You can start with 5 to 10 minutes and slowly build it up.
The guinea pig will get used to this pattern of being taken out of its cage and will no longer be surprised by it or scared. We recommend offering the guinea pig food when out of the cage so it could create a positive association with being out.
Guinea pigs are skittish by nature, so the main sign they’re starting to like you is that they’ve stopped hiding from you all the time! From there you can build your relationship by calming your guinea pig and proving you’re safe, and even that being friends with you is actually beneficial as they’ll always get a treat!
When your guinea pig starts trusting you and feeling safe around you, it will often talk to you and nibble on you. It can also start following you around, climbing on you or resting on you.
With a little patience, you can build a beautiful bond by taking things slowly and observing the responses of your pet. You can always steer them on your side by offering food or fun playtime.