A guinea pig is not a high maintenance animal and hence may leave you wondering how long you can leave your guinea pig alone. Dog owners know that they can’t go more than half a day or less without having their dog let out. It’s easy to think guinea pigs can withstand more independence, but is that true? I decided to look into this myself.
So how long can you leave a guinea pig alone? It depends on your pet parenting style, but most guinea pig owners and experts say if you’re going to be away from home for more than one or two days, then have someone checking in on your guinea pig every 12-24 hours.
While guinea pigs aren’t as needy as dogs or other animals when it comes to having to be let out, fed, etc., they are animals, and neglecting them can lead to some serious issues between you and your furry friend. Things like learning how to safely leave them alone for larger periods of time is important information any guinea pig owner should be aware of.
How to Safely Leave Them Alone
A guinea pig has certain needs that should be met on a daily basis. Being fed, having a clean area, and attention are all of these basic things you sign up for when getting this furry little friend. Abandoning them for longer periods of time interferes with their needs and can lead to a bad life.
It’s easy to think such a little animal requires little taking care of, but just like any other pet, it is still hard work. Rely on the checklist below for the optimal way to leave your guinea pig safely alone for when you are unavailable.
1. Food and water.
Even when you think your pet has enough food and water, it’s better to assume they don’t. The problem is if you go away for too long, you don’t know how much or little they are eating.
2. A clean area.
If you won’t be home to clean the pen for your guinea pig, then have someone else come over and do it for you. Keeping your piggies cage healthy and sanitized is a must, if they lay around in their own pee and poop it can lead to infections.
Also an important one. Having someone let out your guinea pig to run around is also important, just like any other animal. It’s also a good idea to give them a large cage incase they want to exercise while in their cage.
Why Human Interaction is Important
Because of their social nature, guinea pigs need to have a bond with their human, especially if they don’t have a friend at home. A lot of owners buy in twos to keep their guinea pigs both happy and entertained. Just like a human or dog would be digressed from being neglected day in and day out, so will your guinea pig.
This is really important for when you want to train a baby guinea pig. Spending hours with them each day, letting them run around and giving them treats for good behavior. The only way to enforce good behavior is to spend the time training them to repeat it and rewarding them when appropriate.
Tip: When training your guinea pig, consider a routine for the time in which you train them to keep it consistent.
Consequences if You Neglect Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs in the wild run in herds, so when you isolate them, you’re taking away some of their basic primal needs. While the action remains the same, the consequences can vary. Knowing the symptoms to look out for can help you realize your pet needs more attention.
|Left Alone too long||Depression||Self-starvation, dehydration, lashes out.|
|Left Alone too long||Anxiety||Fearful and skittish, not wanting to come out of their cage|
|Left Alone too long||Attention Seeking/ Bad Habits||Chewing cage bars, rattling water, annoying habits.|
If at any point, you notice your guinea pig is experiencing some of these symptoms or acting unusual, then it’s time to reconsider your plan on how you attend for your guinea pig.
Tips for Making the Away Time Better
There are certain products and tips you can follow that can make your guinea pig have a better time alone when you are away at work all day. Some of these tricks are going to need to be done in a trial and error process. All animals, including guinea pigs, are different and have different needs and preferences on toys, lifestyles, and favorite snacks.
Mentioned briefly before, guinea pigs do better in packs. That’s why most owners consider buying two at the same time. The benefits certainly outweigh the costs of time, maintenance, and money.
Most owners insist that human interaction is not enough for these furballs. Since humans and guinea pigs don’t have the same form of communication, you’re more likely to find that your pet will do much better in an environment where they have one of their own around them.
If your guinea pig is alone, it’s important to give them ample time to explore and stay active, or else there is a chance they will become depressed and withdraw from their environment. In this case, you may find them acting out or experiencing the symptoms mentioned above.
A Large Cage
Fixing your guinea pigs exercise needs with a hamster wheel or ball is a big no-no. You might think that this is an easy way to entertain your little one, but you’re actually setting them up to be severely injured. Some products say they are OK for guinea pigs too, but their anatomy is different than a rat, mouse, hamster or gerbil and their backs cannot support them if things get out of control.
A cage that’s large enough for one or two guinea pigs is a more suitable option. There are other toys that can also be placed inside to make it less boring for them. Little houses with holes to come in and out of is one option.
A large cage also requires a clean environment in order for them to be healthy and happy. Replacing old hay and soiled scraps is a must. Fresh water is another thing that needs to be replaced if they aren’t drinking all of it and food too.
If you’re looking to buy a new guinea pig cage, then here’s our recommendation (Chewy.com affiliate link)
Every guinea pig is different, but developing that human bond is important to most of them. Get a feel for if your guinea pig likes to come and sit out on your lap. Most do. This connection establishes trust and helps avoid your guinea pig from worrying when you are away.
Playing with them is also a great way to bond. Using their favorite toy and treats to teach them tricks like paw, sit, and other things establish trust as well. Keep in mind though training them is different than playing with them and encouraging already trained tricks. Training requires fewer distractions, whereas playing is meant to be fun.
Despite a guinea pig being slightly less maintenance than some other animals, that doesn’t mean they are entitled to anything less. Giving them some tender, love, and care is important for them to be both healthy and happy. Nonetheless, keep things on the safe side by not leaving your friend unattended for more than a day. And if you have to go away and they can’t come, have someone help you look after them.