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Settling In Your New

Guinea Pig

Please Visit my care sheet download and useful links, here you will find lots of items you will need to start you off caring for your new pets.

When you buy a new guinea pig there are some things that you need to consider to help them settle into their new home.

If you are planning to introduce a new guinea pig to your existing stock or buying two from different places you should consider quarantining them until you are sure that your new guinea pig is healthy and not harbouring any diseases. Guinea pigs (whether wild or domesticated) have evolved to disguise signs of illness as a survival strategy to avoid predatory attack. As a result it can be difficult to initially diagnose any problems.
 
Guinea pigs are naturally nervous and will tend to hide away when placed in unfamiliar surroundings or when strangers approach. It will take a while, anything from several days to a couple of weeks for them to learn that you mean them no harm and are in a safe environment. This is normal behaviour and should not been interpreted as there being something wrong with them or the care you are providing. Your guinea pig will gain confidence and trust in you more quickly if you handle them on a daily basis. As guinea pigs are social creatures I always recommend that you keep guinea pigs in pairs, of the same sex, for companionship and mutual reassurance. They will be less nervous as a result of this than if kept as solitary guinea pigs.

During their settling in period I would suggest that you resist handling your new guinea pig for the first couple of days. Talk to them reassuringly and by all means try and tempt them with vegetable treats to approach you, but don’t force the issue. Don’t stand over them, which they will find threatening, you need to come down to their level and always try to approach from their front. This prevents the guinea pig from being startled and becoming nervous.

Even after the guinea pig has become used to being handled their instinct is still to flee from sudden movements. It is important to remember this when children are involved in handling guinea pigs. Although they will be excited about their pets and may want to show them off to their friends they must understand that their guinea pig needs to be treated thoughtfully if it is not to get stressed when handled.

HANDLING YOUR GUINEA PIG

Guinea pigs have delicate and fragile bodies, which can be easily injured if not handled with care. As mentioned above when picking the guinea pig up, approach from the front and let them see your hands without making sudden movements. By talking reassuringly and stroking them gently this helps show that you mean them no harm. Gently scoop them up, with one hand under their bottom and the other under their chest. Use a firm grip (not squeezing) for your guinea pig will naturally try to struggle free.

Lift your guinea pig close to your chest, keeping one hand under their bottom and with the other place it over their shoulders. This provides support and allows you to stroke the guinea pig at the same time, plus it helps reduce any sudden movement. Always be prepared that the guinea pig may try to jump out of your arms at any point without warning. Should your guinea pig be successful in jumping they could sustain serious injuries ranging from broken teeth, broken bones and even internal injuries.

YOUNG CHILDREN & GUINEA PIG SAFETY

Young children should not be left unsupervised when handling guinea pigs. They may not understand the importance of careful handling and may squeeze the guinea pig too hard if it struggles or simply panic and drop the animal. I always personally advise that a young child should be sitting down on the floor while getting used to the guinea pig, preferably in an enclosed run or closed room. Should the guinea pig escape it will come to no harm. I also recommend that an adult or experienced older child picks the guinea pig out of the hutch or putting it back as the guinea pig can tend to be excitable when leaving or returning to their hutch. As they can kick out with their hind legs I personally put the guinea pig into the hutch backwards, thereby preventing any risk of being scratched (guinea pigs won’t do this on purpose, they’re simply trying to get home quicker).

When the child has the guinea pig in their lap it is recommended that they treat the animal gently and only stroke the fur in the direction that it grows. Some guinea pigs like different parts of their body being stroked for example under the chin, behind the ears and stroking the ears themselves can prove to be calming to the guinea pig. If they don’t like what you’re doing they will vocally complain, or if you’re stroking their head they will nudge your hand away with their head as their way of saying stop it I don’t like this.

PROTECTING YOUR CLOTHES

It’s best to not hold a guinea pig for more than 10 minutes at a time, because they will naturally want to go to toilet some Guinea pigs may let you know if they want to go back to their hutch to relieve themselves by becoming restless.

HANDLING A PREGNANT GUINEA PIG

If you have a pregnant guinea pig, it is not advisable to handle her too much in the later stages of pregnancy as you don’t want to stress her out or cause any harm to her or the babies. If you do need to handle her always support her and the babies fully and place her down gently, not letting her jump or fall out of your hands.