The perfect pets for children? Rabbits or guinea pigs! That is the answer of most people to this question.
Why is that?
Because the opinion that these two types of animals are the perfect pets to pet and cuddle is widely held – unfortunately. Because guinea pigs are not at all into being cuddled and squeezed by human hands.
In order to give you a deeper insight into the needs of guinea pigs and to show you why, under certain conditions, these animals are nevertheless excellent pets for young and old, we have written this detailed article.
Anyone who would like to get guinea pigs as pets should know that these furry companions are escape animals with a great need for personal space. The need for space also applies to these animals within a pack.
Although guinea pigs are pack animals, it is very rare that they actively seek physical contact with other guinea pigs.
Of course, there are exceptions here and there, but as a general rule, guinea pigs wholeheartedly appreciate being everywhere but in the middle.
Depending on how you treat your guinea pigs and behave in their presence, it is possible to build a positive and intimate bond with them. In order to gain the trust of your guinea pigs, it is advisable to keep in mind that guinea pigs are escape animals. So the more predictable you are to your animals in your behavior, the more trust they will have in you.
After a certain period of acclimation, you will probably be able to feed your guinea pigs from your hand without any problems. Joyful, excited squealing and scurrying guinea pigs that are happy to see you will show you that you are doing everything right.
Some guinea pigs will be happy to be petted by a familiar person if you take things slowly and don’t force them.
If you want to find out whether your guinea pig likes to be touched by you, pay attention to its body language and its vocalizations. If you gently tickle your guinea pig behind the ear with a finger and it stays put even though it might flee, it seems to be enjoying the tickling.
Panicked, almost screaming squealing or falling into a state of absolute shock with wide-open eyes, on the other hand, do not indicate that the animal is enjoying your petting.
It is also important that you give your animal the opportunity to leave the situation at any time.
Lifting guinea pigs (except in absolute emergencies) is generally taboo, because guinea pigs only feel comfortable when they are standing with all four feet on the ground.
If your pet is interested in you, but doesn’t want to be touched, there are other ways you can spend some quality time together.
You will find out what these are in the next chapter.
How to spend time with your guinea pig
Even if your guinea pig doesn’t like to be touched, you can still spend a lot of time with him.
We would like to present you three possibilities.
- clicker training with guinea pigs
If you like to spend time with your fluffy guinea pigs, clicker training might be of interest to you.
With the help of clicker training you can teach your guinea pigs different tricks. This will keep them mentally active and is a lot of fun for both you and your animals!
All you need for clicker training is a clicker or a marker word or sound and enough food to reward your animal for the desired behavior.
The first step is to teach your pet that whenever the clicker (or whatever you want to use instead) sounds, he gets a piece of food. You do this until you notice that after the famous click, your guinea pig already pays attention and waits for its food.
Once this link between food and click is established, the actual training begins.
It is best to start with simple tricks, such as a turn around its own axis. For this, lead a treat around the guinea pig so that it follows it and thereby turns.
Once the turn is complete, the click is immediate and the guinea pig is allowed to receive its reward.
You will quickly find that guinea pigs are very intelligent animals and will understand and perform new tricks after only a few repetitions.
Over time, you can also establish a signal word for the turn. Say something like ‘turn’ and then lead your guinea pig around in a circle using the treat.
Depending on how quickly your pet learns, you will need to repeat the command a different number of times until the vocal command is sufficient for your pet to turn once and then claim the reward that is rightfully his.
In this way, you will be able to teach your pets new tricks over and over again and invent a real freestyle that will be a lot of fun for both of you.
Keep in mind, however, that not all guinea pigs find every exercise equally easy or difficult. You will find that there are some exercises that your pet simply doesn’t understand or doesn’t enjoy.
You should accept this and choose another exercise!
Since clicker training is mentally demanding, it is better to schedule several small sessions of 5 to 10 minutes throughout the day, rather than one large session that will only cause frustration as concentration wanes over time.
Also make sure that you use rather low-calorie snacks such as carrot pieces as a reward to prevent your guinea pig from rolling through the enclosure one day 😉
- there is power in rest
It can also be wonderful and relaxing to just spend time together with your animals – without actively demanding anything from them.
Just sit with your animals and observe their behavior, listen to them nibble on hay, and enjoy them jumping for joy in their enclosure.
This way you will learn a lot about the animals and their communication and you will also find more peace and relaxation yourself. Especially after a stressful day, a trip into the world of guinea pigs can be like a balm for the soul.
- obstacle course
Some guinea pigs love to face new challenges while still being able to regularly dust off food from their owner.
Animals that love to move will especially enjoy completing an obstacle course that you have built.
There are no limits to your creativity: Wooden tunnels, toilet roll slalom, a seesaw and much more are ideal for creating a fun course.
Once the course is complete, you can guide your pet through the various stations with the help of a treat and then reward them after each station. Of course, it is important to make sure that your pet cannot injure itself while walking the course.
Obstacles with great height are therefore taboo!
For whom are guinea pigs suitable as pets?
Based on the above characteristics of these animals, you have already learned that guinea pigs are not cuddly animals.
However, there are a variety of activities that can provide lots of fun with guinea pigs. Therefore, guinea pigs are also good pets for older children if they are mature enough to be able to respond to the animals’ needs.
Guinea pigs make ideal pets to practice responsibility and learn the skill of compromise. The trick is to find activities that both the animal and the human enjoy.
Even just watching the animals can be exciting and relaxing at the same time.
However, if you definitely do not want to give up cuddling rounds, it is best to get another animal.
Even though guinea pigs won’t respond directly to cuddles, you can still build a deep bond with the animal and actively spend time with it.
We certainly love the little balls of fur 🙂 .
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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