Guinea pigs are special little animals and they need a lot of things to have a good life. A big cage, toys, one or more guinea pig friends, among other things. But what they especially need is a calm and comfortable environment to live in.
The good news is there are a lot of ways you can keep your guinea pigs calm on a daily basis. So, to help out fellow guinea pig owners, I decided to do some research into the best ways to keep your guinea pig less anxious and stress-free.
So what are the best ways to keep your guinea pig calm?
To keep your guinea pig calm:
- Choose appropriate cage size for how many guinea pigs you have
- Make sure they have a few places to hide
- Introduce new things into their cage slowly
- Minimize loud noises
- Try not to make sudden movements
- Speak to them calmly when handling
- Don’t bother them when they’re anxious
- Keep other pets away from your guinea pigs
- Introduce new foods slowly
- Keep toys for them to play with to reduce stress.
- Cover your guinea pigs cage when they get scared
- Play relaxing music to calm down your guinea pig
- Be patient when calming down your guinea pig
Choosing The Appropriate Cage Size
One of the most important aspects of a guinea pig’s life is their home. They need a big cage to play, run around and hide to keep them calm and stress-free.
If you have more than one guinea pig, you need a cage big enough for both of them to roam without any issues or they may start to fight each other, just because of their cage size.
Just try not to mix up whether they’re playing or fighting because sometimes it can look similar.
If you only have one guinea pig, you need to know two things. First of all, you still can’t put them in a small cage, because they suffer from it.
And second, guinea pigs are social animals. So if you can, try to get a friend for him or her!
Just so you can understand the importance of an appropriate space for your guinea pig to live in, there are guinea pig owners who use a whole room instead of a cage.
Of course, this is an extreme example, but it just shows how much space they need especially if you plan on keeping a lot of guinea pigs.
Keep Hideouts For Your Guinea Pigs
Even though guinea pigs are social animals and they like to play with guinea pigs and other humans as well, they need their own “me time” every now and then.
Guinea pigs like to hide and to be left alone when they are feeling anxious or sometimes just because they feel like it.
You need to make sure their cage has more than one place where they can comfortably hide. Especially if there is more than one guinea pig in their cage. Imagine if two of them want to hide and there is only one hiding spot, that’s no good.
Remember not to bother your guinea pig when they are hiding, they are trying to have a quiet moment for themselves.
Introduce New Things Into Their Cage Slowly
As you know, their cage is a big deal for them and after living in it for a while they’ll know every inch of it.
They need a quiet, big space without surprises so they can thrive. This peaceful and quiet environment can be easily disturbed if you introduce new things to their cage constantly, and even worse, as a surprise.
It doesn’t matter what new thing you’re going to put in your guinea pigs cage, the best way to keep them relaxed and calm is to try to introduce it slowly.
Whether it’s the new food, new toys or even a new guinea pig friend, do it slow and steady.
Let your guinea pig understand and get used to the new situation. That’s how you reduce stress for everyone involved.
The best way to do any kind of introduction is one thing at a time, with long pauses in-between each new thing. Don’t throw a dozen new toys into the cage.
Place one in there, see how your guinea pig reacts and wait a couple of days before trying again. If the experiment fails, remove whatever new thing you put in there and try again later on.
Minimize Loud Noises
Try to let your guinea pig live in a quiet environment. It’s best to place your guinea pig and its cage away from any loud noises such as the TV, the radio, your computer and even a window next to a crowded street.
Guinea pigs do best in peaceful environments and you have to make an effort for them to live like they want to and deserve to.
Try not to scream or shout when you are around guinea pigs, that will stress them out as much, if not more than a loud TV or any loud music.
Of course, it’s impossible to live in a soundproof house and that’s not the objective here.
But we humans do not fully realize how loud our lives are, at least in comparison to how a guinea pig likes to live. A peaceful environment is about being a little less loud, not entirely mute.
Try Not To Make Sudden Movements Around Your Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs hate sudden movements as much as they hate loud noises. When it comes to guinea pigs, surprises and sudden movements are a no go for them.
Most people don’t realize the incredible size difference a human has on a guinea pig.
Whenever you are quickly moving things around their cage, or worse, inside their cage, you can potentially scare your little guinea pig friends.
If you have to make changes in the guinea pig’s environment, take it easy and do it slowly.
For a guinea pig and mostly everyone else, slow is smooth, smooth is good!
Speak Calmly To Your Guinea Pigs When Handling Them
When you are having a one on one session with your guinea pig, remember to be as gentle as you can be. Hold them firm but gently and speak to them with a calm and soothing voice.
In under no circumstances can you strongly grip a guinea pig or scream at them.
It will not only make them stressed and terrified, but it’s also a cruel thing to do.
Most guinea pigs don’t like to be held on for a long time either, so make your one on one session will be worth it for both of you!
Handling a guinea pig is a great way to bond with them, but remember to do it right and for the correct amount of time. Do not overdo it!
If They’re Anxious Don’t Bother Them
If you notice your guinea pig is anxious, whether because they’re uneasy or hiding from everyone, do not bother them.
Don’t pick them up or try to touch them. A guinea pig has its own process to deal with anxiety and stress. So whatever you think might help them might actually add to their anxiety and make matters worse.
The best way to help your guinea pig is to let it have the best home possible. A big cage, enough food, enough water, a few places to hide and toys to play with.
If those requirements are met, you did what you have to do to help. Now it’s time for the guinea pig to get relaxed by itself, guinea pigs don’t need more help than that.
Keep Other Pets Away From Your Guinea Pigs
As previously stated, guinea pigs are social animals. But they can only be social with certain kinds of animals.
Other guinea pigs, as long as their personalities match, are okay. Humans, as long as they know how to treat and relate to a guinea pig, are okay as well.
Other pets… not as much. Especially big ones, like dogs or cats. This happens because of two reasons:
- A dog or cat might think your guinea pig is prey to be hunted. This will end badly for everyone involved.
- Even if your other pets understand your guinea pig is a friend, your guinea pig might not understand it entirely and feel threatened all the time.
This leads to incredible amounts of stress for your guinea pig. So to keep your guinea pigs calm, it’s best to have your pets separated sometimes.
Of course, there are several cases where guinea pigs and other pets live together in harmony. But you have to understand these cases are exceptions to the rule and not a regular situation.
Introduce New Foods Slowly
Just like you would introduce new things or a new guinea pig friend, new foods need to be introduced slowly and carefully.
Nutrition plays a big part in a guinea pig’s life, and changing that can trigger stress in a guinea pig. If you have decided to change their food, do it slowly, introduce it over time and not in one go.
Make sure you slowly fade out their old food in place of the new one so they can get used to it.
Keep plenty of the new food and water at all times, and see how they react to it.
If they get overly stressed, new food might not be a good idea and you should switch it back to what they were used to.
Keep Toys For Your Guinea Pigs To Play With To Reduce Stress
Guinea pigs need toys to have a good life and avoid stress. They can become anxious and stressed just from boredom.
They need to have things to do during the day, fun things to do! And toys are a great way to accomplish this.
Even though your guinea pig is probably going to choose a favorite toy, try to make sure they get a wide variety of toys to play with.
When they have something that they like or even something to chew on, it can greatly reduce stress. An entertained guinea pig is a happier and calmer guinea pig!
Cover Your Guinea Pigs Cage When They Get Scared
If there is a stressful situation going on around your guinea pigs cage and you can’t do anything about it, it’s best to cover the cage slightly or entirely instead of letting your guinea pigs experience more of it.
Do not think about it as covering their cage and letting them be in the dark, but think of it as a way to protect them from the outside troubles.
Guinea pigs prefer the latter rather than to be exposed to a stressful experience.
In most situations you can even cover their cage at night. Especially if everyone in your house is active around that time and you want to shield them from any unnecessary noise and movement.
Play Relaxing Music To Calm Down Your Guinea Pigs
Even though guinea pigs don’t like loud noises, they enjoy soothing music to calm down.
Of course, keep the volume level low and choose the type of music correctly. If you decide to play music for your guinea pigs, stay within the more relaxing genres and avoid loud, overstimulating music.
A quick search on YouTube for “calming music for guinea pigs” will bring up a ton of great music for them to relax to.
Try out different videos and see which ones your guinea pigs react to the best, and play it when you notice any signs they’re starting to get stressed.
Have Patience When Calming Down Your Guinea Pigs
When it comes to keeping your guinea pigs calm, just make sure to give it some time.
All guinea pigs are different, which means something that stresses one guinea pig out won’t necessarily stress out the other. You have to take the time to figure out what your guinea pigs like and don’t like.
One of your guinea pigs might not be affected so much by loud noises, but your other one might be extremely terrified by it.
It all depends on the individual guinea pig so have patience when trying to figure out what works best for them.
It can take days, weeks or even months to find out what they like and dislike. But once you figure it out, you’ll have an easier time caring for them.
Calming down your guinea pigs with any of these methods isn’t a one-time thing that keeps them relaxed all day.
It’s a process that when used all together, will make sure your guinea pigs live in a stress-free environment so they can relax without any worries or danger.
Try to do all of these things to the best of your ability and provide what they need, like the proper amount of food, water, and toys.
This way you can keep your guinea pigs calm, which will then lead to a happier, stress-free life for them.
Additional Tips For Keeping Your Guinea Pig Calm
One additional tip to help you with your guinea pig when it comes to staying calm is to keep a regular schedule for them.
Like other pets, guinea pigs can be creatures of habit. That means that they sometimes like to do certain activities throughout their day around the same time.
So what that means for us owners is that we should try our best to do things for them and with them close to the same time every day.
Some of those activities that you can start doing on a regular schedule for them are:
- Filling up their food bowls.
- Filling their water bottles.
- Playing with them.
- Cleaning their cage.
- Generally interacting with them.
That way your guinea pigs can be calmer throughout the day because they’ll know what to expect and can continue with their own schedule.