How Long Until Your Guinea Pig Feels at Home? A Quick Guide

Like many good things in life, special friendships take time to develop. Although it can be disappointing when your much anticipated new guinea pig is reluctant to come out of its hideout, it is an entirely natural behavior. As difficult as it is, giving it time to settle in without being handled is essential to the bonding process.

It can take between a week and 3 months for a guinea pig to get used to a new home. When it arrives, it should not be handled for a few days. Bonding with a new piggy is a gradual process that should start with setting up a consistent pet care routine and letting the animal get used to your voice.

Welcoming a new piggy into your family is exciting. You naturally want to spend time cuddling your adorable new pet. As difficult as it is, giving it plenty of time to adjust quietly will pay off in the long run.

When Do Guinea Pigs Get Used To You?

Cavies are creatures of habit and get stressed by change. Moving house is rated as one of life’s biggest stressors in humans, so it is understandable that for small, prey animals like guinea pigs, adjusting to a new environment also takes time.

The time required for a guinea pig to get comfortable in its new surroundings can vary between a week and three months. Factors that affect the length of the settling-in process include:

  • Where the animal comes from. Piggies from pet shops might not have been handled much, so it may take longer to get used to you than a pet you are rehoming.
  • If the piggy has had any negative interactions with humans in the past. We often don’t know the whole history of our guinea pigs, and they may come to us with trust issues.
  • If the new cavy is dominant or submissive. Some little personalities are naturally bolder and more confident than others.
  • Is the new piggy being adopted on its own or with others? Cavies are social animals that don’t do well on their own, so always consider getting at least two. The settling-in process will be less traumatic for a pair that came together. If you are adopting cavies from different places, they need to stay apart during the adjustment process.

No matter where your new cavy comes from, giving it enough quiet time to settle in before you start handling it is essential. Most piggies freeze or hide for the first few days in their new home, which can be very disappointing for their owners, but with patience and time, it will soon be the snuggly pet you imagined.

Tips To Help Your Guinea Pig Get Used To You

To understand why a new cavy may be extra skittish and hide, remember it is a prey animal. Since it is in a new environment, and danger could come from any side or above, it will stay on high alert until it has settled into its surroundings.

It is well worth letting your new pet settle in without handling it for up to a week. Of course, that does not mean you can’t visit the cage, and it is a good idea to spend time speaking softly or even singing to your piggy to get it used to your voice.

Your new pet needs to realize that you are a friend, not a foe, and you are the bringer of good things in the form of food and tasty treats. Although bonding with a new cavy takes time, knowing a few dos and don’ts can make the adjustment period go more smoothly.

What To Do To Help Your Guinea Pig Settle

What NOT To Do When You Get A New Guinea Pig

Have the cage ready and waiting when your new piggy arrives. Ensure that the cage is large and spacious.

Don’t reach toward your piggy or pet it for the first few days. It should enjoy perfect peace and have enough time to take in its new environment.

When interacting with your cavy, stay low so you appear less threatening. Always move very slowly.

Try not to loom over the cage. To a small rodent, you will seem like a giant, or worse, an overhead eagle.

Have plenty of hiding places available in the cage so it feels secure.

Never remove the hiding spots to force your cavy out into the open.

Talk softly, or sing, to your new pet

Don’t pull a guinea pig out of its hiding place or force it to interact.

Keep other pets, even other guinea pigs, away from the new piggy when it arrives.

Don’t immediately put a new piggy into a cage with an existing guinea pig.

Ensure that the cage is in a quiet room.

Don’t bring in too many visitors while the animal is settling in.

Stick to a consistent feeding routine that the piggy can get used to.

Don’t try to rush the process. Some piggies will take longer to settle in and get used to you than others.

Offer tasty treats so the little animal makes positive associations with having you nearby.

Don’t assume that because guinea pigs are placid pets, your new pet will enjoy being held immediately.

If you stick to the dos and avoid the do-nots on this list when your piggy arrives, it won’t be long before you hear an excited wheeking sound every time you approach the cage. When you see your piggy starting to come towards you, it’s time to move on to the next steps of the ‘getting to know you’ process.

How Long Does It Take A Guinea Pig To Bond With You?

It may only take a few weeks for a guinea pig to get used to you, especially if you stick to a consistent routine. Since all piggies are individuals, there is no set timeframe for reaching each milestone in the relationship. Some will warm up to their owners quickly; others will be more apprehensive.

Bonding with you can take longer and depends on how much time you are able to invest in the little animal. Once the piggy has settled into its new environment and no longer hides or freezes when you are around, it is time to move on to the next phase of the friendship.

A cavy that has bonded with its owner can become very affectionate. That is the dream that most owners hope for. Things you can do to help your piggy feel comfortable around you include:

  • Always let a new cavy settle in quietly without being handled for as long as it takes to come out of hiding on its own accord.
  • Keep a consistent routine.
  • Let the animal sniff your fingers at first without trying to pick it up.
  • Try to hand-feed treats.
  • Talk to your guinea pig a lot using a quiet, reassuring tone. It will learn to associate your voice with good things.
  • Know how to pick up and hold your piggy correctly so it feels supported.
  • When it is ready, give it plenty of lap time and time out of its cage.
  • Stay tuned into the cavy and learn to speak ‘piggy.’ Guinea pigs communicate with a series of sounds and behaviors. Of course, humans can’t understand them all, but you can learn some basics. For example, if you are holding it and it starts to nibble you, it may be asking to be put down because its bladder is full.

Conclusion

It is impossible to predict how long it will take a guinea pig to get used to you, but with patience and time, even the most timid characters will eventually warm up. Giving the piggy enough time to settle down before trying to handle it is vital and sets the tone for the rest of the relationship.