Are Guinea Pigs Affectionate Pets to Humans?

Are Guinea Pigs Affectionate Pets

I’m sure that everybody wants to know everything about the pet they are going to get. Guinea pigs are one of the most popular pets and by each year their popularity slowly rises.

If you would like to know more about their behavior, especially about how affectionate they are, then you have come to the right place.

Are guinea pigs affectionate pets? Yes, guinea pigs are affectionate pets, their level of affection mostly depends on the owner’s behavior towards the guinea pig. So if you are gentle and you do everything to help them adapt to their new home, your guinea pigs will slowing start showing affection. On the other hand, if you make guinea pigs feel as they are in danger, of course, they will be afraid of you, and they will not be affectionate. Every pet-owner relationship is in the hands of the owner.

If you plan on getting a guinea pig, you should know by now that in the wild nature, they are prey animals. It is not a surprise knowing their small size.

As prey animals, situated at the bottom of the food chain, they are always on alert, and it’s hard for them to feel safe. They can sleep with their eyes open. This is why it is very important to behave appropriately with them.

In this article, we are going to show you how to make your guinea pig trust you and also how to develop a strong affectionate relationship with our simple guide. Let’s begin!

How Affectionate Are Guinea Pigs: Everything You Need to Know

These little creatures naturally in the wild live in groups, if they have one or more guinea pigs in the cage it will drastically improve their mental well being. If your guinea pig is not affectionate the reason for this is probably because it feels lonely and depressed. The bigger their group, the safer and happier they feel.


The Quickest Way to the Guinea Pig Heart is Through the Stomach

The Quickest Way to the Guinea Pig Heart is Through the Stomach

This old expression is genuine when it comes to guinea pigs. You should always give them food when they finish what you already have put in the cage. Another great tip that falls into this category is that whenever you provide them with food, you should talk to them in order to make them feel secure around you.

Also, when you feed them, let them sniff and lick your fingers. This way they can make contact with you, and they will recognize your scent the next time you are close to them.

So, don’t worry! Once guinea pigs recognize you as their source of delicious food, their affection for you will grow substantially.

Related: What is Guinea Pigs Favorite Food?


Guinea Pigs Need Your Time

The only way to get your guinea pig to be affectionate is for you to build a relationship with them.

How are you supposed to do that?

The first thing you need to know is that building and maintaining a relationship with them is very time-consuming. If you what to earn their trust, you must interact with them every day, hang out, play or cuddle with them.

Don’t make a mistake of getting a guinea pig if you know you won’t have the time to give him love. This can make both of you (you and the little guinea pig) very upset!

Related: Are Guinea Pigs Hard to Take Care Of?


Your First Weeks as Roommates

Your First Weeks as Roommates

You need to know a lot about guinea pigs before buying one, but you always have to keep in mind that they are prey animals, it’s their nature, and there’s nothing you can do about their constant fear of being in danger.

All you can do is make them feel safe and create a connection with them despite their nature. To accomplish that, your first weeks together are the most important.

Firstly, always give them what they need. There should always be hay in their cage, and their cage needs to be clean. They should always have water as well.

A common mistake that most owners do is not letting their new pet to settle in their home and to get to know their surroundings. During the first days, it would be best if you would resist taking guinea pigs out of their cage. They need their space and time to get comfortable in their new home.

A good tip is to talk to them, to make guinea pigs aware that you belong to their surroundings and that you are no danger to them. But be gentle when talking as they are pretty jumpy animals (any strange little thing might scare them or put them in biological alert).

We have already talked about why it’s important to earn your guinea pig’s trust. Another great way to do that is by extending your fingers through the bars and let your pet sniff and lick them.

Be careful: Your guinea pig might think that your fingers are baby carrots so it might take a bite.

To sum this up, you need to always be gentle and precautious and don’t freak them out! Once they think that you are some danger to them, it’s hard to change their feelings about you.


Guinea Pig Ways of Showing Affection

Guinea Pig Ways of Showing Affection

We all want our pets to show affection back to us, but did you ever think about it? What if guinea pigs are showing us affection and we misinterpret it? This is why we will tell you about how a guinea pig behaves when it likes his owner.

When they see you as their source of food, their love will grow substantially. You will feel them being more empathetic with you.

Licking their owner is one of their ways of showing you their affection. This is one of their methods of recognizing you by taste and smell, to be sure whether you are dangerous or not (depending on how you treated them).


We think their most obvious way of showing affection is by lying up against their owner. This behavior surely reflects love, especially when the owner is sad and he is not in the mood to play with his guinea pig. If your guinea pig lies up against you when you feel this way, you are a very lucky guinea pig owner.

Of course, another obvious one is to have your little guinea pig wait for you to come home. Whether they run to welcome you back or rest their heads on the edge of their cage, you have certainly accomplished creating a strong bond between you and your pet.


Guinea Pig Ways of Showing Insecurity

Their Ways of Showing They Feel Insecure

You should pay a lot of attention to your guinea pig behavior, especially in their first days or weeks in their home if you want to live in peace together.

The first red flag is “hiding.” If your little guinea pig is hiding in its cage when you want to feed him or when you come close to him, then you should be worried.

Their instinct is to hide as they are prey animals and they cannot fight back. So if they tend to hide under the hay in their cages or the corners of the cage, they certainly feel in danger when you are around.

Other signs that your guinea pig doesn’t like you are:

  • Not eating from your hand.
  • Not relaxing when you scratch or brush their fur.
  • If they do not enjoy to be in your lap.

Try your best to change their behavior, certainly it is harder to change it in later stages of them being in your home. This is why the most important period for developing a good relationship with the guinea pig is the first 3 weeks of them being in your home.


Related: How to Tame A Guinea Pig – 7 Simple Things You Need to Do


Tips on How to Make Your Guinea Pig Like You (More)

Tips on How to Make Your guinea pig Like You

The most important thing about creating a strong bond with your guinea pig is being consistent and not giving up. They are animals with personalities: while some may be comfortable with their owners in 3 days, others may need months to feel secure around their owner.

This means you need to feed them (try to feed them directly from your hand though), provide them with a clean and comfortable home and to show them affection.

Try spending more time talking to them or petting their head. Try to cuddle with them. Never lose your hope and try to spend as much time as you can with them. It might seem pointless and overwhelming, but when you eventually succeed, it will be worth it for sure.

In short, it depends on guinea pig’s personality how long it takes for that bond to be created, but only if you are indeed a good owner.


Related: What Makes Guinea Pigs Happy?

Are Guinea Pigs Affectionate Pets to Humans_1

Summary

As prey animals, you cannot expect that guinea pigs are affectionate pets, but in their social groups, they are socially active and very affectionate. Furthermore, they have their unique personalities: some may be more easy-going while others may be less receptive to the love their owners offer.

Ultimately, everything falls on the owner’s shoulders. In the majority of the time, the way you treat your little guinea pig is the way it will treat you. But there are exceptions, you need to be very patient and to show your small pets how much you love them.

There is no point in giving up, and most likely, they will eventually come around. Best of luck!


Related: How to Take Care of a Guinea Pig for Beginners – 9 Essential Steps to A Happy Pet


List of Sources

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Sachser, N., Of Domestic and Wild Guinea Pigs: Studies in Sociophysiology, Domestication, and Social Evolution, Naturwissenschaften, 1998.

Geller, K. S., The power of pets: How animals affect family relationships, Virginia Tech, 2002.

Norman, R., Wills, A. P., An Investigation into the Relationship between Owner Knowledge, Diet, and Dental Disease in Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus), Animals: an open access journal from MDPI, 2016.

Richardson, V., Care of guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2011.

McNicholas, J., Gilbey, A., Rennie, A., Ahmedzai, S., Dono, J. A., Ormerod, E., Pet ownership and human health: a brief review of evidence and issues, BMJ, 2005.

Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals Bred, Supplied or Used for Scientific Purposes, Presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 21 (5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 2014.

NC State Veterinary Hospital, Caring for Your Pet Guinea Pig, Exotic Animal Medicine Department.

RSPCA, Guinea pigs: Good practice for housing and care, Research Animals Department, RSPCA, 3rd edition, 2011.

Cannon, M. D., Emerson, G. A., Dietary Requirements of the Guinea Pig with Reference to the Need for a Special Factor, The Journal of Nutrition, 1939.

Sachser, N., Lick, C., Social experience, behavior, and stress in guinea pigs, Physiology & Behavior, 1991.

Townsend, G.H., The guinea-pig: general husbandry and nutrition, The Veterinary record, 1975.

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.