Guinea Pigs don’t communicate the same way that we humans do, but it’s still important to do your best to understand them, especially if they’re trying to convey negative emotions. One such emotion that you should look out for is fear. Today we explore scared guinea pig behavior and ways to overcome the problem.
How do you tell if a guinea pig is scared? First off, it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t really know for sure. So you shouldn’t immediately jump to conclusions. But there will always be tell-tale signs that your guinea pig is scared.
Scared Guinea Pig Behavior
Like most other animals, Guinea Pigs use a combination of sounds and body language to communicate their feelings and emotions.
Now, while other Guinea Pigs may be able to tell exactly what they want to convey using this mode of communication, it’s not that easy for us humans.
For example, a guinea pig that is hiding all the time could have a problem, but you don’t know for sure if it’s just stressed or if it’s scared of something. If it’s the latter, the best thing to do is to remove any possible threats in its environment. But if it’s the former, you may need to dig deeper as there could be other underlying causes for it to feel that way.
Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Scared
Here are a couple of signs that may indicate that there’s a problem with your guinea pig. It may not necessarily be fear, but if your pet exhibits two or more of these behaviors, it may be worth looking into.
- Hiding all the time. One of the easiest ways to know that something’s not quite right with your guinea pig is when it’s hiding all the time. Guinea pigs enjoy playing hide and seek, but there’s no valid reason for them to stay hidden all the time. Unless, of course, if it’s afraid of something and feels that it should be hiding.
- Lack of physical movements. A regular healthy guinea pig will always be moving about. If you notice your pet being unusually quiet or lazy, there could be a problem. Scared Guinea Pigs will try to keep their movements to a minimum. They try to avoid alerting whatever or whoever it is they’re scared of.
- Chewing on cage bars. While Guinea Pigs may naturally love chewing, chewing on cage bars specifically is almost never viewed as healthy behavior. A guinea pig that seems to have unnaturally taken up the habit of chewing on the bars may be trying to say that it feels uncomfortable inside the cage. Why it feels this way is another matter altogether.
- Fussiness. A scared guinea pig may also be unusually fussy. If your guinea pig seems to spend a lot of time circling its cage, it could be trying to look out for a threat. Prey animals like Guinea Pigs do this sentry behavior in the wild too when they feel like they’re being threatened by a predator.
- Difference in eating or toileting habits. This is another tell-tale sign that there may be a problem with your critter. A guinea pig which suddenly stops eating or going to the toilet as frequently as it used to may be feeling some kind of negative emotion, like stress or fear, for instance. Take note that this behavior could also point to problems with its health.
What Can I Do If My Guinea Pig Is Scared?
Obviously, having a scared guinea pig is something that would worry any pet parent out there. But don’t worry, there are several measures that you can take in order to make sure that your guinea pig is feeling safe and comfortable all the time.
Determine what’s scaring him
The first thing you need to do is to determine what’s scaring your guinea pig in the first place. There could be lots of reasons or there could be just one, what’s important is that you get to the bottom of it.
The best way to go about this is to think back to the time you first noticed your pet exhibiting scared guinea pig behaviors. Was it when you bought that brand new extra loud alarm clock? Was it when you removed one of his favorite huts? Or was it when your cousin first showed up at home with her mini pinscher?
Make sure he gets his exercise
A guinea pig that lacks sufficient exercise will be generally less healthy than one which does.
Unhealthy Guinea Pigs are naturally more easily scared or threatened than a healthy one. Why? Unhealthy ones tend to be weaker and are more at risk to predators in the wild. Even in a human home, they still retain this instinct.
At the same time, Guinea Pigs that don’t get enough exercise will be more stressed as well. This is because they’re active animals which always have to be moving about.
Distract him with toys
In some cases, your guinea pig may be simply bored or lonely. This could make him focus unnecessarily on things that may be scary to him, like unfamiliar animals or loud noises.
The best way to solve this problem is to simply distract him with toys or even treats. As long as you keep his curious and inquisitive mind busy, you won’t encounter too many problems with your adorable critter.
Provide lots of hiding places
It’s normal for Guinea Pigs to feel scared every now and then. After all, they’re prey animals, so it’s in their instinct to be naturally more careful than other animals. For example, birds, foxes, ferrets, and other bigger, more fearsome animals constantly hunt guinea pigs.
That’s why it’s very important to provide plenty of hiding places inside your guinea pig’s home or enclosure, in order to make him feel safe at all times. Having lots of different places to hide both comforts him and reassures him that no harm is going to come after him when he’s in his sanctuary.
Always be nice to your guinea pig
Lastly, always be nice to your guinea pig, no matter what. Don’t use loud voices when talking to him. Don’t ever hurt him and don’t ever try to punish him when he does something that you don’t like.
Guinea pigs are very simple creatures that don’t really know the difference between right and wrong. At least, in human standards. Remember, they also don’t understand complex human emotions. Instead of feeling ‘guilty’ or ‘sorry’, your pet will just feel distressed or scared if you suddenly act mean towards them.
Conclusion: Scared Guinea Pigs
There are lots of reasons why a guinea pig may feel scared. While the exact reason is impossible to pin down most of the time, it’s usually easy to determine scared guinea pig behavior when you know which signs to look out for. In many cases, it’s also possible that he’s not even scared, just lonely or even bored.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s important to always take note of any changes in behavior that you notice in your guinea pig. Doing so could mean a whole world of difference for your beloved pet.