Bringing a new guinea pig into a new home can be a tricky thing to do, if your aim is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. However, with some key actions, you can make this task a whole lot easier. Here are 10 things you can do to make your guinea pig as comfortable as possible in their new home.
10 ways to help your guinea pig settle in
1. Make their home comfortable.
Comfort is important to us all. Without it we don’t feel at home and less likely to settle in one place. It is the same for guinea pigs. They are more likely to appreciate their new home if it has things that help it to feel comfortable. So put things such as good bedding, play toys, lots of food and water (see below), hay to chew on, give them lots of space to run, make sure the temperature is comfortable for them
2. Be kind to your guinea pig.
Being kind to your guinea pig really makes them like you a whole lot more. They are more likely to settle better in their new home if their new owner is kind to them. This means spending time with your new guinea pig, giving them food when they need it, playing with it, being gentle with it and stroking it when it trusts you enough to let you do it. Picking up on one of those points, leads to number 3…
3. Speak softly to your guinea pig.
Although guinea pigs don’t understand human language, they pick up on things that humans express. They are very intuitive creatures who know the difference between a loud and angry voice and a soft and gentle voice. They respond much better when the latter is used, and using it will help gain their trust. When they are spoken to in a loud or even angry voice then they are more likely to run and hide and distrust you even more. So do try and avoid using harsh tones with them, they will greatly appreciate it.
4. Avoid picking them up.
When first entering a new home, guinea pigs are quite nervous and wary of anything which they perceive as danger. As they do not know you, you will be danger to them and they will perceive you as such. So just be sensitive to this situation and give them time to acclimatize to their new environment without facing being handled by a stranger. This part will come in due course and your relationship with them will benefit from giving them their own space. If you attempt to pick them up then they will get scared and run from you or at least try to. So with this, try and do this instead…
5. Spend time with them.
Instead of going straight for the pick up, give them time to settle in. Then after a while, spend time with them at the side of their cage or run. Let them get to know you, what you sound like, what you smell like, what your nature is like. Your relationship with them will benefit from this. All you need is some patience in how you approach the situation. In time you can start to do things like this…
6. Let them eat food from your hand.
Eating food out of your hand is a great way for a guinea pig to get to know their new owner. It takes time for them to trust you enough to eat food from your hand, but when they do it is a great sign that you are definitely heading in the right direction in gaining their trust. Just take some food in your hand and lower it into their cage. Don’t say anything, just hold it here and wait for them to inquire. Just be aware that they may nibble your hand a little as it will smell like food. If they nibble a little too hard, then get it out of there.
7. Make sure they have somewhere to hide.
Guinea pigs are naturally wary animals. The reason they have lasted so long is that they are very good at escaping danger and so always need somewhere to hide. When they first arrive with you, they will be scared and so will need somewhere they feel safe to retreat to. A good hidey home will suffice for this, you can even make one out of a cardboard box such as a shoe box. Fill with it with comfortable bedding and put an entry and exit point on it. They will greatly appreciate it.
8. Make sure they have good food available.
Guinea pigs are voracious eaters. They will eat all day if you let them and so always need food available to them to eat, whether it be guinea pig pellets, muesli, some veggies or fruit or a plentiful supply of hay. They need hay as they always need to be chewing on something and they hay is very good for grinding their teeth on and keeping them at a good length. If they don’t chew, their teeth grow too long and get painful for them. So a good supply of hay is one of the main things that a guinea pig needs to make them feel comfortable.
9. Make sure they have enough water.
Guinea pigs need water just like we do. We need it to quench our thirst and so do piggies. If they don’t have water available, guinea pigs will fall ill eventually. In order to do this, giving your guinea pig an unlimited supply of water to drink from is essential to help a guinea pig feel comfortable. By having water available they can choose when to drink it instead of having an allotted time to receive it. Having a water available which is constantly topped up with water is the best method of giving them water. They can drink it when ever they need it, but without the risk of anything contaminating the water. The water is well protected, much better than if left in a water bowl.
10. Be patient with your guinea pig.
Patience is key when looking after any pet. It can be hard to anticipate a pet’s actions or to wait for them to do what you want them to do. Any behavior change in pets needs patience along with understanding and love. With enough time spent with them, with encouraging words, going at their pace and not rushing them into doing something they don’t want to do like being grabbed at an early stage, you can build trust with your guinea pig and help them feel comfortable in their new home for the long term.