Guinea Pigs/scared.


I rescued a piggy from a nursery where the kids dropped him alot so he was never out hes about 6 months old. He is very nervous so ive been hand feeding him veg to get him used to me but he runs as soon as i open the cage , he runs if i move an inch i cant hold him. IM worried he will run away or hurt himself. I just don't know how to approach this issue. Thank you

Not to worry. Your guinea pig is just displaying the same behavior they all do. These are 'flight' animals. They run from anything they perceive as danger. To a guinea pig everything is danger. Usually, once they are caught they settle down and relax.

If you are able to use a cloth of some sort to put over him when you try to pick him up it will be easier for you to handle him. If not, you are just going to have to herd him into a corner, then reach underneath him and lift him. By reaching underneath he won't feel quite so vulnerable as having a large hand hover over the top of him.

The bones are very delicate and can break easily. So don't grab around his rib cage and grip him hard. If you put one hand under his body and the other on top you have a 'guinea pig sandwich' and can lift him without putting excess pressure on his ribs, thus preventing injury.

Some are just more skittish than others. I've had many pigs that did just what yours is doing and behaving as though they were about to be eaten. Once in the arms they would settle down. Again, this is just part of their instinct and they can't seem to help it.

It's unfortunate that he was raised in an environment with small children. The best way for a small child to hold him is for an adult to handle the pig and have the child sitting on the floor with a towel on their lap. Then place the pig on the towel. That way there's no chance the child can drop him.  

Please don't feel that he doesn't like you or won't warm up to you. That's not the case. This is just normal guinea pig instinctual behavior....... to run. To him you are a giant just by the fact that he is so small in comparison. He will settle down once he feels safe in your arms.

If he doesn't settle down when you pick him up the best thing to do is wrap him in a towel or blanket with just his head sticking out. The wrapping makes him feel secure. Have patience and don't expect him to suddenly run right to you. Very few pigs do that, ever. But that doesn't mean they don't enjoy your company or want to be held.  

I'd also suggest you stop feeding him by hand. Get him in your lap first, then offer the treats. That way he will anticipate the goodies coming and be more willing to be held, knowing that's where he gets the treats.

I hope this helps you out. The most important thing is for you not to take his running away personally. Please keep me posted on how you're doing.  

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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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