The correct way to calm a scared guinea pig depends on what has frightened it. One of the best calming methods that works in most situations is to provide the guinea pig with plenty of hiding spots. Guinea pigs will naturally calm down when they are able to hide.
As a pet owner, you are responsible for the well-being and care of your pet. This includes providing them with an environment in which they can stay healthy and happy. An environment that doesn’t cause them undue stress. Since guinea pigs are naturally fearful little creatures, sometimes that can seem like a challenge!
However, with a lot of understanding and patience, this environment (and a trusting relationship!) is totally achievable.
To give our pets an environment they can thrive in, we must consider their surroundings from their point of view and then work along with their natural instincts instead of against them.
As a result, your guinea pig will not get scared as often, and you will know how to calm it down when it gets scared.
How to Tell if Your Guinea Pig is Scared
Guinea pigs exhibit several obvious indicators of fear or stress. These behaviors include hiding, staying still for long periods, pacing around their cage and looking around constantly, and even biting in some cases.
There are other signs your guinea pig is afraid, but in order to know what is unusual for your pet, you should pay attention to how they normally behave.
When you know how your guinea pig normally acts, you’ll be able to see if they’re stressed or afraid when they change their normal routine, sounds, and behavior.
Some fear behaviors are instinctive and easy to spot in all guinea pigs, but some behaviors may not stand out unless you know what is typical of your pet. Each guinea pig is a unique individual, after all!
Now that you have a few tools to determine if your guinea pig is acting afraid or nervous, you can take action to make it feel safe and more comfortable!
What Scares Guinea Pigs? And How to Calm Them Down
The method you use to calm your frightened guinea pig will depend on what is causing your pet to be afraid at that moment.
Most often, guinea pigs experience fear of predators, but this fear can express itself in many ways. The good news is that the way your guinea pig expresses fear can also show you how to calm it down!
Some common fear behaviors and solutions are:
Hiding For Long Periods of Time
Hiding is a normal guinea pig behavior when they are afraid, and holding still is also a good way for most prey animals to avoid attracting the attention of predators.
As small, relatively defenseless creatures, guinea pigs naturally desire to hide from potential predators, so something you can do to make your pet more comfortable in their home is to give them several good hiding places to choose from!
This can lower your pet’s anxiety, as they will feel more secure if they feel like they have plenty of options when they do feel afraid. This may even help them feel less of a need to hide for long periods when something startles them.
However, if your guinea pig is hiding often, you need to pay careful attention to what is causing them to hide in the first place.
Do you have a cat or a dog that often comes to look at your guinea pig? This may be the cause. Do your best to determine what your guinea pig is hiding from, then keep it away from them so they are not in a constant state of stress.
If another pet is scaring them, make sure that the pet no longer has access to the guinea pig’s home. You’ll soon find that your guinea pig becomes more happy and outgoing when they aren’t worried about getting eaten!
Pacing and Looking Out For Danger
Boredom can actually cause some nervous behaviors like these. If the guinea pig doesn’t have enough activities to keep it occupied and productive, they can distract themselves from boredom by becoming more concerned about danger.
To prevent this, or if you notice this happening with your pet, provide them with more toys or enrichment activities such as chew toys or foraging toys. This can help cut down on your guinea pig working itself into an anxious state, as activities where the guinea pig must chew on things are comforting to them.
The Guinea Pig is Biting
Guinea pigs will only bite if they feel very unsafe, so if your pet bites you, you may have accidentally scared it!
In this case, consider what you were doing before your pet bit you. Either work slowly with the guinea pig to build its trust in you over time with that activity… or stop doing whatever caused your pet to bite.
Sometimes we overstep our pets’ personal boundaries, and it’s okay to realize we did something wrong!
One common reason guinea pigs may bite is because they’ve been picked up the wrong way or caught in a way that scares them.
To pick up your pet correctly, support their hind legs and hold them close to you so that they feel secure. Moving too quickly and holding them the wrong way can also cause your pet to leap out of your hands, which could have disastrous consequences if they fall a long way, so be careful.
Other things that commonly startle guinea pigs are loud noises and sudden movements. Guinea pigs have sensitive hearing, so keep from creating sudden, very loud noises. Don’t sneak around your guinea pig, though. They might think you’re a predator if you’re too quiet, and it could scare them even more if they know you are there, but think you are creeping up on them!
Instead, speak gently to them when you enter the room they live in. If you have loud guests or other animals over to visit, consider shutting the door to the guinea pig’s room so that they have some protection from any scary new additions to their environment.
Make Your Guinea Pig Feel Safe in Their Environment
Bonding with your guinea pig is important to create a happy, healthy, confident pet. Guinea pigs are social creatures, and they can get lonely and fearful if they don’t have a cage mate, a good relationship with you, or if you are gone often and they don’t get to see you.
In some cases, you may need to provide your guinea pig with another piggy companion if you won’t be around often enough to meet all of its social needs.
In other cases, you can avoid having a fearful guinea pig and become a calming presence for your pet by forming a strong relationship of trust with it. By interacting carefully with your pet, treating it in a way that it likes, and being understanding of its natural behaviors, you can build trust over time with good interactions.
Always speak kindly, be gentle, and avoid fast movements and sudden loud noises. As your guinea pig associates you with good things, you will be a trustworthy source of comfort… and in time, your pet may find great calm and peace in your hands instead of fear.