What are guinea pigs afraid of? There are many things that can scare guinea pigs, such as the other animals, loud noises, sudden movements, vet and other people around them, and even in some cases, they can be afraid of their owners. Also, they can get scared when they are left alone and during improper handling or grooming. Good thing is that guinea pigs show some signs when they’re scared and there are also a few things that you can do to help them overcome their fears. Guinea pigs are “prey animals”, meaning that they were naturally hunted in the wild by larger predators. They lack the defenses to protect themselves, so that makes them understandably afraid of almost everything.
As you bond with your guinea pig, it is essential to understand what exactly your pet fears so that you can help it overcome those fears.
Guinea pigs will give you signs which indicate that they’re scared. So in this article, we’re going to give you information about what are guinea pigs afraid of, what signs they show when they’re afraid and how to calm them down after they have been scared by something. Let’s begin!
How Do You Know If a Guinea Pig Is Scared?
There are some signs that guinea pigs show when they’re scared of something. Guinea pigs can change a lot their behavior and do some strange things like hiding a lot (more than usual), running, or making different noises.
If you feel that your guinea pigs are afraid, make sure to recognize these signs to help your guinea pigs not being scared.
Signs Your Guinea Pig Is Scared
• Strange Noises
These beautiful pets have behavioral characteristics that will alert you with some sounds when they feel afraid or threatened. Guinea pigs usually have a variety of purrs and chirps that they make when they are happy, sad, or scared.
If they are making short and anxious purrs it means that they are fearful of their environment. Your guinea pig will bare and chatter their teeth as a warning to stop whatever you are doing to them, whether it is handling them a certain way or introducing them to a new person or pet.
Guinea pigs tend to freeze when they are scared and in that situation, they will fully dilate their eyes, they don’t move and they don’t react to your voice.
This usually means that they are on guard against danger. It may take some time before your guinea pig trusts you enough to engage with you when you approach them for a meal or cuddle time.
• Moving Around
Just like humans or any other pet, guinea pigs will naturally fidget or move around a lot when they are anxious. If you are holding or grooming your pet when they show this behavior, then you should place them back in their cage so that they will feel safe again.
If a guinea pig is scared a lot, it will run away when it hears even the smallest movement or noise, because guinea pigs don’t like loud sounds or sudden movement. Make sure to put their cage in the quiet place of your apartment.
Note: This behavior from them is temporary and it will change after they get used to the environment around them.
• Hiding a Lot
Guinea pigs love to hide and this is why you need to put some hideouts in their cage. But, if your guinea pig hides a lot and if it refuses to leave their hideout, that’s not normal behavior and it can be a sign that your little pet is scared of something.
They love to rest and sleep in their hideouts, but if they spend a lot of time there and refuse food or to play with other guinea pigs, then you need to do something to make them feel safe.
• Refusing Food
Guinea pigs love to eat and normal behaving guinea pigs will never refuse the food. But scared guinea pigs will refuse food in front of you and will eat only when you are not in the same room.
You need to have in mind that food is the best connection between you and your guinea pig, so refusing the food can be a sign of fear or maybe some illness.
Guinea Pig Fears: What Are They Afraid of?
You’ll notice that your guinea pig runs and hides when your other pets come near, even if they are in their closed cage. Guinea pigs are small rodents that larger animals hunt in the wild, so they naturally fear all larger animals.
Even if your larger pets want to make friends with the new addition to your household, it is essential to do this pet bonding gradually. Bond with your guinea pigs first, then introduce them to the other four-legged members of your family.
Loud, Sharp Noises
After you bring your new pet home, they will naturally be afraid of their new surroundings. Just like if you brought home a newborn, you can’t assume that they will be used to everything that you do.
If you like to blare your television or radio, or if you have children, place your guinea pigs in a quieter area of the house. Make sure that you engage with them often in order to bond with them, and then gradually introduce them to the other natural sounds of their new home.
If you are doing any home renovations, where there is a lot of hammering or similar loud noises, that is probably not the best time to adopt a guinea pig. Guinea pigs are naturally afraid of any sharp and loud noises, to them these sounds can signal danger.
Even if your guinea pig has been a member of your family for years, these sounds may still scare them. Place the cage in a quieter area of the house if you need to hang a picture or replace a cabinet. It will shield them from the intensity of the sounds and make them feel safer.
For the most part, guinea pigs are naturally afraid of people, especially if they don’t recognize the person. This may be because they do not trust the person they have encountered, but it may also be a sign of prior abuse.
Many guinea pigs that were adopted from shelters or rescue organizations may have been mistreated in the past. You should ask these questions before bringing your new family member home. Abused animals always require more care and love, so you should be prepared to invest some extra time to make your guinea pig feel safe again.
Even if your guinea pig hasn’t been abused, they will still fear humans. It is in their nature. When introducing your new pet to the other members of your family, try to do this gradually. If you were the first to bond with your guinea pig, make sure that you are present when introducing it to your spouse, children, and other family members.
When adopting your guinea pig as your child’s first pet, make sure you explain to them to be patient with their new pet. It takes time to bond with an animal. Also, monitor your child’s handling of the guinea pig to make sure that he or she doesn’t harm it.
Being Taken Out of Their Cage
The cage is a symbol of protection to guinea pigs. When you open their cage, your new guinea pig may run and hide. This is a natural behavior that guinea pigs are scared to be picked up, especially if they are afraid of the owner. If you need to take your guinea pig out of the cage to clean it and replace the bedding, then you need to gently persuade your pet to come out of hiding with soft words and phrases.
When beginning to interact with your guinea pig, try to reach into the cage and pet them without picking them up. Guinea pigs are naturally cuddly, and they love attention, so this may encourage your new pet not to fear being taken out of their comfort zone every time you approach.
Guinea pigs are very social and they are some of the friendliest pets you can adopt. They thrive in social situations, especially with other guinea pigs. When choosing a guinea pig, consider selecting more than one. If your guinea pig has a friend, they will be much happier in their new surroundings.
If you only have one guinea pig, and you would like to adopt another, gently introduce your new guinea pig to its new cage mate, watch for signs of aggression and fear.
For the most part, your guinea pigs will welcome the company, and he or she will bond immediately with their new sibling. If you notice that your pet is being aggressive to its new cage mate or if they are fighting, keep them in separate cages.
Keep their homes close to each other so that they can still interact. This way they will have the company of each other while asserting ownership over their own space.
Imagine you were the size of a guinea pig, and a giant took you out of your home and brought you into an environment where another giant started to poke and prod you with their hands and hard, metal instruments. If this doesn’t sound very appealing, then you know precisely how your guinea pig feels about trips to the veterinarian.
Check-ups are essential to the health and livelihood of your guinea pig, but these trips can stress them out. Confort your guinea pig as much as possible during these trips, while allowing the medical professional to do their job.
Talk to your guinea pig in the waiting room, hold them close while you wait for the doctor. Making them feel safe, even in these unknown surroundings, can make the vet visit less traumatic for your guinea pig.
Grooming is a normal part of any pet care. Clipping your guinea pig’s nails and bathing them can preserve their health and happiness of your guinea pig. If you neglect to cut their nails, they can grow into the bottoms of their feet, requiring surgery to remove them. Guinea pigs self-groom, but they also need baths every three months or so (more often if they get dirty).
The first time you groom your guinea pig is always the hardest. They will fidget, squeal, and possibly try to bite you. This means they are afraid of what you are doing to them. Be as gentle as you can, and try to relax your guinea pig into a state of calm.
Don’t hold your pet down and force them to endure grooming if they are extremely agitated. Eventually, as you bond with your guinea pig, these grooming techniques will not bother them so much. They may even come to enjoy it.
Are Guinea Pigs Afraid of the Dark?
Considering that guinea pigs are prey animals and that they love to hide, it’s normal for them to prefer the dark. So, guinea pigs aren’t afraid of the dark and we can say that they love dark places because they feel safe there.
Also, many people believe that guinea pigs are able to see in the dark, but this claim hasn’t been proven yet. Most of the rodents have a night vision and if we take into account that guinea pigs don’t love the sun that much and that they are able to move in the dark tunnels, maybe they can see in the dark as well. Guinea pigs feel safe and comfortable in the dark and they love to sleep in darker places.
Be sure that your guinea pig has a lot of places to hide in its cage, don’t place the cage near the window where there is a lot of sunlight and turn of the light during the night.
Why Is My New Guinea Pig Scared of Me?
Do you have a feeling that your new guinea pig is scared of you? That is a normal guinea pig’s behavior but it is important to note that in most cases it is only temporary. Guinea pigs have lived in the wild and they were prey animals for various predators.
This is why being scared of someone is their natural instinct and they need time to adapt to you and their new environment. They will hide, eat, and drink only when you are not in the room or they will probably make some strange sounds to let you know that they are scared. It will be hard for you to take them out when you want to clean the cage.
Hiding and running away from you doesn’t need to be a sign that guinea pig is afraid of you, as they are also very shy. Guinea pigs have a different personality and some of them are less or more shy.
You just need to take proper care of them and easily build a relationship between you two and in no time your guinea pig will stop being scared or shy.
How to Make Your Guinea Pig Not Scared of You?
As an owner, you can do a lot of things to make your guinea pig not to be scared of you. First of all, be sure to put guinea pig’s cage in a more quiet place, and don’t speak loudly, don’t make any sudden movements or make any loud noises. After a few weeks, you can slowly start relaxing in front of your guinea pig because it takes them a few weeks to get used to your movements and your presence.
Also, be careful when you are feeding them, don’t give guinea pigs food from your hand if they run away from you. Just put food in the cage and leave the room. After some time, when you notice what is guinea pig’s favorite food, you can give them that exact food from your hand. Food is the best way to create a bond with your guinea pigs, because they will remember you as a food source, but you need to be patient when doing this.
Guinea pigs don’t like to be alone and it is very important for guinea pigs to have a companion, especially when you’re not home. You can get two or more guinea pigs. In the wild, they have lived in the groups and when there are more of them in the cage, they will feel safer and be less scared of you.
If your guinea pigs are running away from you when you want to pick them up from the cage, be sure to first talk with them slowly and give them some food (bribe them). Don’t handle them for a long time or often, they don’t like that so much.
Scared Guinea Pig Behavior
What Sound Does a Guinea Pig Make When It’s Scared?
Guinea pigs can make different types of noises and for you, as the owner, it’s very important to know how to decipher them.
There are happy guinea pig sounds, unhappy guinea pig sounds, or scared guinea pig sounds, so you need to know the difference between them. Some scared guinea pig noises are:
This sound means that something is not right with your guinea pig. A guinea pig can be in pain or just scared. Shrieking is one of the scariest noises that guinea pigs can make.
If your guinea pig is growling, that means it’s very scared of something or threatened by someone. Check immediately what’s the problem, because this sound doesn’t happen very often.
Squealing is another unpleasant guinea pig noise. It can be a sign that your guinea pig is scared, but also sick or just hungry. So it’s important to find what’s wrong with your pet or just go to the vet.
Can Guinea Pigs Die From Fear?
Unfortunately, there is a possibility that your guinea pigs can die from fear. Guinea pigs are very affectionate and gentle animals and they can be easily scared. If they feel a lot of stress they can get a heart attack or stroke.
Do Guinea Pigs Pee out of Fear?
If your guinea pigs pee right after you pick them up, then maybe the reason for that can be fear or stress. Guinea pigs usually don’t love to be picked up from their cage or handled a lot for a long period because they pee a lot.
Every time when you hold them for too long, they will pee on you. But, if your guinea pigs pee immediately when you pick them up, then try to pick them slowly or speak with them gently before you put your hands on them.
How to Calm a Scared Guinea Pig: Instructions
Understanding your guinea pig’s behavior goes a long way in developing a lasting bond with the newest member of your family. Similar to bonding with a dog or a cat, spending quality time with your guinea pig will encourage a relationship between the two of you.
If your guinea pig becomes scared during your quality bonding time, always put them back in their cage where they will feel safe. Speak with your guinea pig slowly, don’t make sudden movements, and leave its favorite food in the cage if you notice it is scared of something.
There isn’t an exact time frame for forming a lasting relationship with your guinea pigs, it may take several days or weeks before your guinea pig welcomes your interactions.
Encouraging positive quality time with lots of love and care will make your guinea pigs happy and healthy. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to imagine your life without them.
Guinea pigs are prey animals and it’s very normal and natural that they can be scared. All you can to do is to learn signs that indicate when your guinea pig is scared and to know what you need to do to calm it. Food, water, proper environment and bedding is the best way to your guinea pig’s heart.
Also, don’t leave your guinea pig alone, they have always lived in the groups so make sure to get two or more of them. The most important thing with any pet is to be patient. For more content on guinea pigs please keep following our site!
List of Sources
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Sachser, N., Lick, C., Social experience, behavior, and stress in guinea pigs, Physiology & Behavior, 1991.
Berryman, J. C., Guinea-pig vocalizations: their structure, causation and function, Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 1976.
Ide, Y., Takahashi, M., Lauwereyns, J., Sandner, G., Tsukada, M., Aihara, T., Fear conditioning induces guinea pig auditory cortex activation by foot shock alone, Cognitive neurodynamics, 2013.
Bradley, T. A., Normal behavior and the clinical implications of abnormal behavior in guinea pigs, The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice, 2001.