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January 5, 2009

Welcoming Your New Guinea Pig

Make the transition as stress-free as possible

The Humane Society of the United States

guinea pig being held

istockphoto

When you first bring your new guinea pig home, she's likely to feel stressed by the transition to an unfamiliar environment. She may be away from her littermates for the first time and will be inundated with strange sounds and smells.

You can ease your guinea pig's stress by following a few simple steps.

  • Set up your guinea pig's cage with appropriate accessories and food before you bring her home.
  • Use the same type of food and bedding that she's used to and introduce new products slowly.  Be sure to use paper-based bedding, not cedar or pine shavings.
  • Cover the cage with a light cloth for the first day or two to allow your guinea pig to explore her new home with greater privacy and fewer distractions.
  • Don't rush to handle your new guinea pig; give her a day or two to acclimate to her new home before you start petting her or picking her up.
  • Discourage friends and visitors from handling your new guinea pig during this adjustment period.

Once your guinea pig is comfy and relaxed in her new home, you’ll be ready to take your relationship to the next level by introducing her to gentle handling.

Multi-pig households

Guinea pigs are social animals who crave the company of other pigs. Even so, if you've acquired a new guinea pig as a companion for another, you shouldn't introduce them right away.

Keep your new piggy quarantined for two weeks after you bring her home to prevent the possible spread of disease. This means keeping her in a separate cage and not allowing her to interact with your resident guinea pig. During the quarantine period, make sure your new pig is eating and drinking normally and appears active and alert. Once you've had your vet check her out, you can begin introductions.

Introductions need to be gradual to allow the pigs to get to know each other's scent.  Introducing them too quickly can lead to fighting and rejection.

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