Although guinea pigs have a reputation for being fun and loving pets, it may take time for them to trust you. This is why in order to successfully bond with them there are certain things you need to know. This information is necessary for everyone’s happiness.
How to bond with your guinea pig? You can bond with your guinea pig by providing safe spaces, being often around and interacting with the guinea pig, this way you are helping them feel at home and comfortable around you and other human beings. Playing is also an excellent way for you to bond together!
Today’s article will focus on 10 things you need to know before getting a guinea pig in order to effectively bond with them. Follow these tips and you are guaranteed to see results!
10 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig
Tip 1: Location, Location, Location
Before you decide to bring your pet home for the first time, choose the location of its cage very carefully. Please remember that the guinea pig might be scared and shy once entering its new home. Therefore, it is important to pick a safe, quiet, and serene space in order to help your pet relax and slowly integrate in its new surroundings.
Consider the following:
- Do not allow initial contact between your newly arrived guinea pig and already-existing pets, loud noises, and children. It is ideal to keep your pet in the quietest area of the house for at least a few days so it can adapt to the new space.
- Please avoid any initial intense contact with your guinea pig for around 3 days when first introduced into its new living space.
- Whilst keeping the guinea pig in the room, close any doors or windows, or any possible hiding spaces, and free your pet for playtime sessions.
Tip 2: Cage Size
Guinea pigs need some space, just like we humans need some of our own for living purposes. Many, therefore, underestimate the size of the cage for their pets, which can lead to distress and lack of happiness. Keep in mind that the ideal cage measurements for one or two guinea pigs is 7 square feet. For any additional guinea pig, make sure to add 2 square feet each. This is to ensure that guinea pigs can engage in activities like running and playing. Make sure you can fit in extra toys and accessories, the more the better!
Make sure that:
- The cage base needs to have a solid surface. Do not consider other materials, like wire, otherwise, your guinea pig may have trouble moving and may even risk injuring themselves. Opt for a hard plastic surface, as it will be not only safe but also easier to clean. Keep in mind that you will need layers of bedding to keep your guinea pig safe and in comfort.
- The cage needs to be simple and easy to clean. All areas need to be easily accessible while you are cleaning and should be made out of cleanable materials, namely plastic. Metal cages can be a viable option, the only downside is that they rust with time and will need replacing otherwise they can be a health hazard for your pet.
- With regards to bedding, read our other article to see what we recommend. You would only have to bear in mind the pros and cons. Remember to never use damp material, it can expose you and your pet to health concerns and mold. Straw and sawdust can also be at high risk of molding. Pine and cedar shaving are sometimes toxic and not advisable. Check the materials before purchasing!
Tip 3: Toys
Playing and toys are fundamental for the development of any pets, and guinea pigs are no exception! Not only can they develop motor and social skills, but it also encourages bonding and it can definitely improve a relationship between you and your guinea pig pet.
Toys and playful accessories are thus fundamental and will make the guinea pig feel comfortable and more approachable.
We recommend a variety of toys:
- Huts: these spaces allow your pet to go into hiding and give them a feeling of safeness in case they become overwhelmed or stressed. These can be either made by hand or purchased in-store or online.
- Balls: guinea pigs are playful and occasionally hyperactive pets and like to spend a good amount of their time playing. Therefore, we recommend the addition of balls, to only keep them occupied but also encourage the development of their motor skills and in keeping the pet fit.
- Tubes: a toy that combines hiding and playing. These are not only fun but are also useful for your pet to chew on to clean or develop their teeth.
- Ramps: another useful toy not only to encourage activity and fitness but can be used for your pet accessing or leaving the cage, before or after handling them.
Tip 4: Talk to Your Furry Friend
All domestic animals need to universally adapt to the voices of their owners, and this is especially true when recently owning a guinea pig.
We, therefore, recommend that you first talk to your guinea pig in a quiet and gentle manner so it gets used to you and your voice. With time you may gradually start talking the way you usually do to your guinea pig and make sure you place them in this instance in a room you are often in.
It is also important that you often repeat their name, guinea pigs are very bright and smart creatures and will learn their name quickly. Therefore, every time you speak to them and you mention their name, they will soon learn that they are being spoken to.
Remember: Guinea pigs adore being showered with attention!
Tip 5: Food
This is among the best ways of gaining the trust and attention of your pet. Make sure you select the healthiest and best quality foods, they will be very thankful. Among these, we suggest pellets, vegetables, and fruits. If you feed your guinea pig often enough, it will associate you to the scent of their favorite food.
- Try feeding a piece of apple or banana once a day, or alternatively a slice of bell pepper.
- Fun fact: guinea pigs are like us humans, they too have their food preference such as having a sweet tooth or preferring salty snacks. To find out their tastes, try feeding them a variety of fruits, vegetables, and pellets.
- Feeding should always be done by hand, so the guinea pig gets acquainted with you and associates you to their favorite food.
Tip 6: Handling Appropriately
Because they crave plenty of attention and love, it is important that you handle your guinea pig correctly in order to gain their trust and establish bonding.
First of all, you need to be comfortable handling or holding the guinea pig. By doing so, you are showing your pet attention and love. If you are not comfortable holding a small pet, think again about getting a guinea pig as a pet.
Secondly, when holding your pet make sure to be gentle as guinea pigs can be shy creatures and are easily scared if not handled correctly.
- For a successful hold, make sure your pet feels safe and secure. You will see this when they appear relaxed. A stressed pet is when it is curled up or looking to run away.
- Do not hold your pet tightly, make your pet feel more relaxed and not trapped.
Pro Tip – Hold your pet close to your body, also when you are moving around.
Tip 7: Bonding Time
Placing your guinea pig in a fixed place, in its cage, all the time does not promote immediate bonding. In order to bond, remove them from their cage and allow them to roam free within contained safe places, in a room of your choice. Every day, dedicate some time to your guinea pig and keep a close eye on them when they are out of their cage.
- Hide and seek is a fun bonding time activity idea. When playing with your pet out of its case, make sure to place some paper sacks in your room and place food in a few of them. Watch your pet have fun exploring and enjoying its treats!
- Monitor carefully your pet’s moves, if you are not careful you can lose them easily.
- When approaching your pet, prior to playing, offer them a treat. This will give them a great incentive to play with you and spend quality time together.
Tip 8: Understand Their Habits
They often say that man is a creature of habit. This can also be applied to your guinea pig.
In order to bond effectively with your pet, you should understand their habits, likes, and dislikes. Just like with any human friend, guinea pigs require understanding, patience, and respect. We invite you to pay attention to their favorite foods, which area of a room or cage is their favorite, and where and how they like to be cuddled.
Do not worry if your pet does not seem to respond to your acts of affections, all of this takes some time!
Tip 9: Health and Hygiene
Although lovable creatures, guinea pigs can be very fragile and delicate pets, health-wise, if not taken care of appropriately. Therefore, we recommend at least one yearly visit to the veterinary to ensure all vital organs are healthy and for an overall check-up
If you notice any unusual behavior or illness in your pet at any time of the year, take them to your veterinary to see the cause of the problem, if there is one.
Tip 10: Budget
Before you consider adding a new member into your household, costs must be calculated. Costs include:
- Veterinary bills;
- Possible medication;
- Food (pellets, hay, fruits, vegetables, vitamin C supplements);
- Cage accessories (water bottle, beds, food tray);
The approximate yearly cost is between $400-$900, depending on the needs and situation.
Please bear this in mind!