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How To Tame Your Guinea Pig

Updated on June 8, 2010
Regular handling is a must for a tame guinea pig.
Regular handling is a must for a tame guinea pig.

It may surprise many of you to know that historically, guinea pigs became popular in the West because they were lovely and tame and docile when handled. Anyone who has ever had to chase a shreiking guinea pig around its enclosure simply in order to hold it gently might wonder what the difference is between those friendly guinea pigs you keep hearing about and the terminally suspicious ones that you have the misfortune to own.

Good news people! There is no difference. Like most animals, guinea pigs obtained from pet stores or breeders who did not have the time and patience to handle them as pups (baby guinea pigs are called pups) will be suspicious and wary of human contact. And for good reason too! In South America, guinea pigs are often kept not as pets but as food, and have been for the last 7,000 years. Any animal that has been used as a food source for 7,000 years and isn't a little naturally wary of humans is an animal that is quite literally too stupid to live.

So then, how do you tame your guinea pigs? Well for starters, you bring them inside. If your guinea pigs are outside and the only contact they have with you is when you change their hay and put a bowl of food in their cage, it could be quite some time before they become friendly. Guinea pigs are fairly decent inside pets and if you keep their cage clean, odor is not a major issue. If you live in a climate with cold winters, you'll need to be able to bring them inside anyway during winter as they are animals designed to live in the balmy climes of South America and can and do freeze to death outside during winter.

Once your guinea pigs are inside, and preferably, somewhere where they can see you (it's even better if they're not down at floor level, nothing makes a guinea pig more paranoid than a person looming over it,) you start the process of taming them by making them take their vegetables not from a bowl, but from your hand. Guinea pigs love food more than they love hiding and most will feed from your hand within 24 hours.

From there it is a simple process of positive association. Treat them when you see them (not too much, you don't want them to be overweight) and they will soon come to regard you as the best creature that ever existed on the planet. This is the way humans have tamed and domesticated animals for thousands of years (cats and dogs were domesticated this way) and it is sure to work with your guinea pigs too.

Remember however, they will always run if you try to pick them up. It's just hardwired into their little guinea pig brains not to sit still and let death come from above. Once picked up though, they should relax quickly, and when they are tame, accept treats.

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    • profile image

      Claire 

      5 years ago

      How ld are the pups

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      7 years ago

      i have 2 very cute ginni pig pups and they are so scidish even when i hold them they still shake please help.

    • kasiapl profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from New Jersey , USA

      aww soo cute :)lol I used to have this chubby guinea pig named wheetle and it used to run sooo fast hehe it was cute

    • lizmoss71 profile image

      lizmoss71 

      8 years ago from Orpington, UK

      A nice hub, and some good tips. Food is definitely the way to a guinea pigs heart!

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