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Guinea Pigs/my new guineapig


Hi there, I just adopted a guinea pig yesterday. He is three years old and he seems unusually inactive for a guinea pig. I have had him on the carpet, on a towel, for an hour now and he has not left the towel or explored at all. He has a carrot and he hasnít left the towel at all to explore the environment - moves around a little but not what I would expect. Is this healthy? If he hasnít received adequate exercise with his previous owner how can I restore him to health and encourage him to move?

The most likely cause of his inactivity is stress from the change of environment. When new owners pick up their first pig from me as pets I advise them to leave the pig completely alone, don't handle them and don't try to stimulate them for about a week.

They need time to adjust to their new surroundings. I've found this is more the case with adult pigs than with the babies. Youngsters are just normally active and busy seeing what's around them, whereas an older pig is more sensitive to the new sounds and smells of their new home.

I would suggest just leaving him in his cage for a few days to allow him to acclimate to his new surroundings. Make sure he's got food and water but other than that he will be more comfortable adjusting on his own. You can offer him some lettuce or a piece of carrot as a treat, but he may refuse it for a day or so. And if he's never had treats he may take some time to learn what they are.

Sitting on a towel by himself may feel to him that he is vulnerable and finds it a bit frightening. Give him a chance and he should start becoming more active in a few days. Remember that these are prey animals, meaning they are typically food for predators and being out in the open may make him a bit nervous and afraid to move for fear of danger.

Even though guinea pigs are domesticated they still have that hard wired sense of fear when in a new place. They don't understand the new sounds and smells, but once he adjusts he will learn the sound of the refrigerator door when the carrots are being served. He'll learn the sound of your voice and he'll respond with his little squeaks wheeks that make them such good pets.

Be patient and give him the chance to learn that he's safe. Once that happens his personality will change.  

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Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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