Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ask A Guinea Pig: Why Are Guinea Pigs Skittish?

Delores asks:
Why does my guinea pig run from me when I try to pick him up - even though he loves to be held?
Answer: According to Guinea Pigs: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual by Katrin Behrend, "Guinea pigs are defenseless animals, and they must use flight as their sole means of survival. For this, nature has endowed them with speed and agility" (p. 41).

In other words,we don't have fearsome teeth or claws like some other animals, so our first instinct as a species is to run and hide if something seems like it could be dangerous. You're probably thinking, "But why would my little piggy consider me dangerous? I treat him/her well." I'm sure you do (you do read Cavy Savvy, after all!), but you humans are so much bigger than us that it's hard not to be terrified.

That said, there are some personality differences between piggies; some of us are more skittish, and some of us are friendlier than others. Sometimes we can learn to be less scared of you over time, especially if you feed us treats; on the other hand, some of us will always be fearful. The best thing you can do is to treat your piggy well, and accept them as they are, whether they become less fearful or not.

I could go outside, but I feel safer in here.


  1. I've actually found the single biggest factor in stopping guinea pigs running so much is getting their cage up off the floor. I think then you don't loom over them as much. I used to have some in cages on the floor and they were really scaredy, but when I got stands for them they instantly got friendlier.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Snugglor! I can imagine humans being less scary when they aren't towering over you.

  2. I adopted our piggy when he was about 2 and have had him a year now. At first he was skittish and scared but did get used to us and loves to be held especially by my granddaughter. For the past week or so he has become very skittish and scared for some reason. Nothing has changed, his cage is up off the floor already. We have not introduced any other type of danger to him. Very concerned, any thoughts?