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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11310
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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How long does it take for a Gunea Pig to become sociable in

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How long does it take for a Gunea Pig to become sociable in his new home?I've bought two 12 week old boars 5 days ago but they are still hiding while I'm in the room and only come out to grab a scrap of food. As soon as they see me they scamper back into their 'hut'. They squeal when I try to pick them up and freeze when I pet them (gentle petting of course). I've been talking to them in a soft, calm voice but they are not showing any signs of wanting to be sociable with me. I'm worried about them being unnerved or being too frightened. Should I worry about this? How long does it normally take for them to 'come out of their shell' and want to be handled?

I'm sorry to hear that you're having these problems with your guinea pigs. Much of this can be blamed on whoever had them before you bought them. Guinea pigs should be handled and tamed long before they're 12 weeks old. The longer they go without being socialized, the more they come to depend on each other for interaction, rather than humans. With time and patience, you should be able to overcome their fear.

You were on the right track by talking quietly to them, but you advanced too quickly. Picking them up should be one of the last steps. I suggest that you back up to where you're talking to them as you sit next to the cage. The more time you can spend there, the better. After a few days, put your hand in the cage and let them sniff it. You can offer a bite of a treat, like a piece of apple. (Don't use iceberg lettuce. It has no nutrition in it and it can cause diarrhea. Romaine lettuce is all right.) Again, you may have to spend several days (or more) in this phase. don't move on until they're taking the treats from you and are comfortable with your hand in the cage.

The next step is to try stroking their backs gently. If that doesn't scare them, continue to do only that for several days. If even that much still frightens them, just hold your hand in the cage for awhile. The next day, try again to pet them. When they'll let you stroke them, slowly move your hand underneath them as if you're going to pick them up, but don't actually lift them. When they don't get scared when you do that, you're ready to try to pick them up.

When you lift them, make sure you support both the front and back parts of the body. The first time you pick them up, don't hold onto them for a long time. Just gently set them back down.

This method will take patience. You'll probably need to spend several days on each step, but if you work at it slowly, and don't rush it, your guinea pigs should become tame.

If you have more questions about this, let me know by clicking on REPLY.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I bought them from a chain pet shop which explains it. Too bad. It's been almost 2 weeks and they still hide when I'm in the room. This morning they came out and ran around a bit and ate while I was in the room. As soon as I get near the cage they scamper away. I think it will take a long time to get closer to them. I'm not home most of the day so i think this will make it even more difficult.


I've also noticed that one is much more dominant than the other. The less dominant one has nics out of his ears which he had when I bought him. I'm not sure if there are more nics now as he doesn't let me touch him/get close. I do not see any blood or redness. I've noticed that the other shows dominant behaivour by making chutting noises, walking with a waggle and the other makes a high pitched whine. Occasionally I hear a squeal. As they hide away I can't really keep an eye on this. Is there anything I can do about this - as I'm not able to be close to them.

That's a shame that these guinea pigs weren't socialized by whoever bred them. As for the dominance behaviors, any two guinea pigs living together will have to determine who is dominant. They do this in a number of ways - pushing, mounting, raising the hackles, going nose-to-nose while raising their heads higher and higher, and dragging their rumps on the floor to leave their scent. These are normal and harmless ways to establish dominance. How far dominance displays will go depends on the personalities of the individuals involved. Escalation of dominance struggles will be shown by some teeth chattering, pulling fur off each other, and noisy squabbles with no real biting. Even guinea pigs who are friends will engage in such behaviors.

If the teeth-chattering becomes severe, real biting is occurring, or the squabbling is non-stop, you must separate the two guinea pigs. It doesn't sound like yours have reached that point. Here is a link to a site with much more information than what I've given you on Guinea pig dominance, aggression, and introductions:

Again, if you need anything else, let me know.


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