Why is My Guinea Pig Scared of Me?

guinea pig

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Perhaps you just got a new guinea pig and you’ve noticed they can get skittish and timid around you. You may be wondering if it’s something you did, or if your guinea pig simply has a shy personality. 

There are several reasons your guinea could be afraid of you, including that you pick them up too much, you discipline your guinea pig, and more.

If you’re interested in finding out why your guinea pig could be afraid of you, read this article so you can correct your mistakes and get them back to loving you. 

You Pick Up the Guinea Pig Too Much

One reason your guinea pig could be scared of you is that you pick them up far too often. 

Guinea pigs are prey animals. No matter how you go about it, to them, us reaching down to pick them up with our hands looks like the talon of a predator bird to them. Personally, I’ve noticed that guinea pigs don’t mind being held as much as they mind the action of getting picked up.

Not only that but if you pick your guinea pig up every single time you see them, they will start to associate you with that negative experience and be generally afraid every time you come around.

It’s important to give them some breathing room from this activity. 

One way you can combat this effect is to simply do something positive for the pigs every time you see them. Come in with a treat (like fruits or vegetables) or for some gentle petting, don’t pick up the guinea pig, and leave.

They’ll start to associate you with positive things and won’t be as afraid when you come to pick them up next time.

Be patient- this takes time. 

You Discipline Your Guinea Pig

One of the biggest reasons guinea pigs develop a fear of their owners is that they are disciplined by them. You may have thought that you can discipline a guinea pig like you could a child or a dog- but this is absolutely not the case.

Guinea pigs don’t have the capacity to understand why we would be yelling at them or disciplining them for certain things. Rather than learn from their mistakes, they’ll simply start to associate you with yelling or bad experiences, and be scared of you in the future. 

If your guinea pig is misbehaving but you want to avoid direct discipline, try this method instead. If your guinea pig is acting up, calmly pick them up and move them to a neutral area.

This may be a laundry basket with no toys or accessories. Leave them in the neutral area for 5 to 10 minutes, and then put them back in the cage. 

Your guinea pig will begin to associate their behavior with the neutral environment, and will naturally stop. 

Your Guinea Pig is Lonely

Does your guinea pig have a cagemate? If not, your guinea pig might be lonely or may even be suffering from depression, making you think they’re afraid of you instead. 

Guinea pigs are extremely social animals and they require lots of interaction to stay happy and healthy. Often times, we are unable to singlehandedly provide all of that interaction for them, so it’s important to make sure they have a cagemate for them to play with.

It’s an important step in socializing a young guinea pig (and it’s really cute to see them play together, too!).

brushing a guinea pig
Learn to bond with your guinea pig by grooming them gently

You can have several female guinea pigs altogether. If you have a male guinea pig, providing them with just one other male cagemate is sufficient, as male guinea pigs can be territorial.

Either way, make sure your guinea pig has at least one playmate to occupy them when you can’t be around and a cage big enough for as many guinea pigs as you have. 

You Have a Shy Guinea Pig

At the end of the day, it could be that your guinea pig is simply a shyer personality than other guinea pigs- and that’s completely okay. 

Each guinea pig has its own unique personality. I had two growing up- one entirely rambunctious and unafraid, and the other shy and reclusive. They grew up in the same environment, so it really did come down to a matter of personality. 

Even if it seems like your guinea pig is so shy that they’re only afraid of you, that’s not necessarily the case. Guinea pigs express their emotions in different ways.

Read our Guide on Guinea Pig Popcorning here

If you see them popcorn when they get food or treats, and they aren’t fighting with their cagemate too often, they’re happy. 

However, it’s important to make sure that conflicts with their cagemate aren’t causing the issue.

If one of your guinea pigs bullies the other to the point where your guinea pig is withdrawn, try separating them for two weeks and reintroducing them to their buddy after. 


There could be any number of reasons at play that make your guinea pig seem like they’re timid and afraid of you. You may be picking them up too much, disciplining them, or they’re just simply shy or lonely.

Use this article as your guide to figure out how to make your guinea pig get back to their energetic, happy selves. Good luck!

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