How Do I Settle Shy New Guinea Pigs?

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Mar 10, 2009
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Coventry UK
Guinea pigs take time to settle in their new surroundings; more than you think. So be patient! It will take months before they are fully at home and have bonded with you. But it will be worth it!

Make sure that your piggies have each somewhere to hide until they are ready to come out and explore. This can take a few days. They will dart outside for feeding when nobody is around to watch. Even if you don't see your guinea pig eating, they won't starve! Leave little treats close to their hidey hole. You know when your piggy is starting to feel at home - it will poke its head out and will even take your treat off your hand.

Talk to them gently whenever you come close or put food in, as much and as often as possible. Move carefully and avoid sudden movements - guinea pigs are prey animals, and right now they are in unknown territory with their all their instincts on high alert. Try to lower your height, so you don't look so much like a predator ready to pounce!

New piggies are irresistably cute, but please try and curb your desire to pick them up for as long as you can unless they are already used to regular handling! The minimum would be for at least 48 hours, more even better, so they have time to come round to trust you. Do not let children pet and feed the piggies without supervision.

Be aware that with piggies from a shop or a breeder you cannot be sure that they have had vegetables and greens before; so don't put out too much at first, or they might get diarrhea.Introduce only one new veg at a time.
Young guinea pigs may not have figured out how to use the water bottle yet; change it regularly nevertheless and put a bowl with water underneath, even if you have to change the water twice daily. When they are more comfortable, you can show them how by moving the ball with your finger. Some piggies, however, will never drink and prefer to get their fluid from the fresh food.

Don't put your piggies out in the run immediately; or if you have a two-level hutch, let them get comfortable with the main level first, before they have established a base in their new home. They will be only frightened or confused otherwise! Ramps are often a problem at first; safety side rails or a tunnel can help, as can a cover that allows good grip. Some piggies may take a while to pluck up their courage to use them.

Please also read our "piggy whispering" thread with tips on how to understand guinea pig instincts and learn to make friends piggy style: How-to-understand-guinea-pig-instincts-and-speak-piggy-body-language
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