Guinea pigs are prey animals, which means that naturally they are more scared than other pets. The most important thing to remember when taming your guinea pig is to be patient. It can take some time for guinea pigs to get used to you, so don’t get disheartened. Think of it like a challenge!
The fastest way to get guinea pigs to like you is through food. They love fresh veggies! Start by holding a big piece of lettuce and let them get comfortable eating it. Then start to give them smaller and smaller pieces so they start to associate the scent of your hands with getting a treat! Do this both inside and outside of their cage.
What if my guinea pigs don’t eat from my hand?
Sometimes guinea pigs’ natural instinct to be scared overrides their need for food and they just sit and stare. You’ll need to be patient. Sometimes staying very still for several minutes is enough to reassure them. Others will need more convincing. Try letting them hide under a blanket or a cuddle sack and smell the lettuce. It could take several tries over a week or so but they’ll come out of their shell once they feel absolutely safe and secure!
What if my guinea pigs don’t eat veggies?
It’s common for guinea pigs purchased at a pet store to not eat veggies because they are fed little to none from the breeding facility to the store. Fresh veggies are 10-20% of a guinea pig’s diet so it’s important that they start to eat it. Try hiding pieces of veggies in their hay or putting a piece of lettuce inside their hidey overnight. You could also try a variety of vegetables to see what smells good to them. Guinea pig favorite food list
The secret to getting your guinea pig to trust you is not memorizing taming exercises, but to “think like a guinea pig.”
Imagine you are small, and at the bottom of the food chain. You think everything is out to get you. Suddenly a large creature (aka a human) appears and sticks their large hand in your home to grab you. What is going to make you feel safe?
Think through different situations like this and what you would want someone to do if you were in that position. The key is patience. They probably won’t change overnight but dedicated practice every day will do wonders!
Here are a collection of taming exercises that have worked with my skittish guinea pigs. If you have a taming exercise you’d like to add that has worked with your guinea pigs, let me know on social media and I can add it!
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