You would think that furry pets such as guinea pigs would automatically be affectionate. After all, they are so cute, how couldn’t they be? However, loving these tiny, furry, gentle creatures can sometimes feel like a one-sided affair. If you are questioning if your guinea pig loves you, here’s what you need to know.
Are Guinea Pigs Affectionate Animals?
Yes. Guinea pigs are very affectionate once they are sure they are safe. In the wild, they are prime targets and so are naturally primed to be scared of everything. This survival trait has become ingrained in their DNA, and even captivity-bred guinea pigs react in the same way. Luckily it doesn’t take long for them to feel safe in their new home and start showing their affection.
Naturally, guinea pigs are very social creatures, and they love socializing and bonding with humans. However, before they can feel completely at ease, they need to be shown affection and tenderness; that is why it might feel like a one-sided affair most of the time. If you own a guinea pig, here are a few signs that your little piggy loves you.
6 Telling Signs That Your Guinea Pig Loves You
Guinea pigs have many ways to show their love; granted, they are not as elaborate as how dogs or cats do it, but it’s easy to tell once you know the signs. These naturally social creatures exhibit a wide range of behaviors, and if you learn to properly interpret them, you can tell how your little piggy feels. Here are a few examples.
1. They don’t run from you
Guinea pigs are instinctively cautious and always on alert. Before they get used to their current surroundings, they might run away from you and hide in their cages which might lead you to think they hate you. However, this isn’t the case, it’s just their survival mechanism kicking in. Even though they don’t live in the wild, they still have those survival instincts ingrained in their DNA.
So don’t take offense if your little piggy scurries off to safety whenever they sense a possible threat (read you approaching them). Over time, however, this reaction might lessen, and you will notice they don’t run away as much, or they quickly come out of hiding once they realize it’s you.
2. They let you catch them
Guinea pigs are timid animals; if they let you catch them, it’s because they trust you and consider you to be a safe, protective figure. However, it’s crucial that you don’t try to pick them up if they haven’t shown any interest in you because they might feel threatened, try to run away, or even bite you.
3. They don’t bite you
When your pet is comfortable around you, they aren’t nervous or fidgety, meaning they are less likely to bite you. Normally guinea pigs are docile creatures; however, your guinea pig might bite you if they feel they are in danger or nervous. This is because their teeth are some of the few defensive tools they have. If your little piggy is nervous, or afraid they might bite you if you try to make contact.
However, once your guinea pig gets comfortable around you, this biting will turn into playful nibbling and licking. For these furry creatures, this is a sign of affection, and it’s something they do to each other when grooming each other and bonding. So it’s a good sign if your guinea pig is nibbling at your toes or fingers.
4. They like being held
Guinea pigs love a good cuddle. After all, who doesn’t like a good cuddle? Similar to dogs or cats, they love having the freedom to run around and plop down on their owners and relax. When your guinea pig loves you, you become their favorite safe place, so don’t be surprised if they climb onto you when you sit, choosing to cuddle or explore.
A happy guinea pig will often nuzzle its heads against you to show it wants to cuddle. During this cuddle time, don’t be surprised to hear them purring. In guinea pigs, purring, much like with cats, is a sign that your guinea pig is content and happy. This smooth, thrilling sound is also often likened to pigeon cooing.
5. They can eat from your hand
Guinea pigs are naturally jumpy creatures. Whenever they feel threatened by anything, such as sudden movement, they freeze. This makes hand-feeding them quite a show of trust. While it might take time before you get them to eat from your hand, this simple action shows that your guinea pig completely trusts you. Start off leaving small treats for them to lure them in and get them used to eating near you, and eventually, they will make it to your hand.
6. They recognize you
Another easy sign that your guinea pigs love you is they get excited whenever you arrive. Guinea pigs are very intelligent creatures with a keen sense of smell and hearing. This means they can learn who you are by our scent and sound, especially if you are consistently good to them. You might notice that every time you come home or walk into the room, grey runs towards you pretty much like dogs or cats do and starts popcorning.
Popcorning is this little dance guinea pigs do whenever they are excited. It’s called popcorning because the way they jump around is similar to how popcorn pops. It also looks a lot like a bucking bull. Additionally, they might also make high-pitched noises similar to whistling when they see you because they are so excited.
When There’s Too Much Affection
Even though guinea pigs are social creatures who need love and attention, it is possible for them to have too much of it. Too much affection shown too fast can be stressful for them, especially if they don’t know you or they haven’t gotten used to you yet. Think of it as a sensory overload. While they have nothing to fear, they are being bombarded by a lot of attention, and they are not used to it.
Not to worry, just as they have ways to show their affection, they have ways to show when they need a break from it all. If your pet tries to run away from you whenever you try to hold it, hisses, freezes, bares its teeth, fidgets, or throws its head up in the air, these are signs of aggression, and it’s crucial that you give your furry pet some space. It doesn’t mean your pet will stop loving you, it’s just that they want some space to process everything.
How to Get Your Furry Piggy to Love You
Getting your guinea pig to trust and love you takes some time and work. Here are a few things you can try to help foster trust and eventually love.
Minimize scary sounds
Guinea pigs are always on alert and scared easily, so make sure you keep their cages away from any devices that make loud noises such as TVs, fridges, street traffic, washing machines, etc. These noises can make it harder for your guinea pig to relax and start considering their new home as a safe place instead of a dangerous jungle where they need to be alert 24/7.
Minimizing the amount of loud, startling noises your guinea pig is exposed to regularly will help them relax and feel safe. This is the first step to them associating you with safety. If you have kids, explain to them the need to stay calm and relaxed around guinea pigs and gradually introduce more and more noises after they have gotten used to you.
Introduce your scent
Guinea pigs have a well-honed sense of smell and can easily tell different scents; it is another one of those survival instincts.
You want your guinea pig to get used to you and your scent, so pick something you have been wearing all day but haven’t washed and hang it on their cage or near it. This will allow the guinea pig to learn your scent even when you are away. Be careful of the smells you introduce.
If you have other pets such as snakes, dogs, or cats, their scents can frighten the guinea pig and remind them of their skittish instincts. To introduce something that is free from such scents.
Introduce your hand
Getting your guinea pig to eat treats from your hand is a big show of trust. Start by letting them eat on their own and slowly introduce your hand so they can see and smell it. Place some food on it and see if the guinea pig will eat from you.
Keep your hand in this position for a while even though they don’t eat from you, and do this as many times as you can. This will help them learn that your hand is not a threat. Make sure not to place your hand too close to the little piggy as it might make them uncomfortable and cause them to retreat.
Talk to your pet
Guinea pigs also have an acute sense of hearing; that’s how they learn to identify threats in the wild. You can use this incredible sense of hearing to help gain their trust.
Every day, try and talk to your pet as much as you can in a gently soft voice, especially when they are hiding from you. Once they realize you pose no threat, they will start relating your voice with safety and comfort. You will see them get out of hiding faster or even running to you once they realize it’s you.
Create a routine to reduce surprises
It comes as no surprise that guinea pigs hate surprises, so establishing a routine can help ease this anxiety and make them feel safer.
Whether you are introducing your scent, talking to them, or teaching them to eat from your hand, establish a routine. You want to stay consistent as you do these thighs, so you don’t spook them and lose the progress you made. For instance, you can talk to them softly as you hold out your hand and feed them.
Use other piggies as an example
If you have other guinea pigs, you can use them to show the newcomer that you are trustworthy. You can cuddle them and hand-feed them.
Once your new piggy sees you interacting with other guinea pigs, it will help ease their anxiety and lower their guard faster. You can use this tip when trying any of the other tips. For instance, when trying to get your new guinea pig to eat from your hand, you can hand feed the other guinea pig to show it’s safe.
If you notice that your piggy is reluctant to interact with you, give them time to get used to you. This does not suggest that you have to stop being affectionate towards them; on the contrary, you have to keep meeting their needs until they warm up to you. With enough patience, they will let you interact with them a bit each day until viola; you are best buddies.
It’s normal for these rodents to be scared in the beginning; after all, it’s in a new home, with different sights, smells, and sounds. So don’t be shocked if your guinea pig is shy.
Over time, if you use the tips listed here, they will warm up to you and start nibbling and running to you. Older guinea pigs, however, might take longer to warm up to you and might require a bit more work to tame.
Telling if your guinea pig loves you is simpler than you think. Just like most pets, if they are affectionate towards you, they will let you pet them, seek you out, nibble your hands and feet and even get excited when they see you
Caring for these little creatures is an investment and requires serious commitment, so it’s a wonderful thing when your furry pet shows their appreciation through their affection. Paying attention to their behavior will help you tell how your guinea pig feels about you.