If you think that raising a guinea pig is more like one-way love, you are quite wrong.
Guinea pigs indeed have emotions but their willingness to show you a range of different feelings depends on their personality and how close the two of you are. Trust is the key. If your guinea pig has confidence in you, he will gradually start showing all kinds of emotions.
Curious to know if your guinea pig knows when you are sad? Can he recognize your face, does he miss you when you are not around? Can your piggy be jealous or unhappy? How do guinea pigs show their love? Keep reading this article to find out…
Do Guinea Pigs Feel Love?
Guinea pigs can definitely feel love. That love can be towards you, as a guinea pig owner but also towards other piggies from the cage.
Guinea pigs do bond with their owners although many people think it won’t be possible for them to be as close with a guinea pig as with a dog or cat. But that’s not the truth. Piggies are perfectly capable to feel affection but the way they show it is a bit different from other pet species.
How Do Guinea Pigs Show The Affection?
Once you bring your new pet to your home, it will have to pass some time before your piggy starts showing you some affection. First, you need to gain his trust, he needs to get used to his new environment. After he stops see you as a huge threat but rather a giant source of tasty treats, he is going to be more relaxed in your vicinity which is the main precondition for love and affection.
At first, he might be running away from you. When you try to cuddle him or to hold him, he might try to bite you.
Be aware that it might pass several weeks before your piggy starts to change his behavior towards you and to show you some affection. He should relax completely with you in 3-6 months. That depends on his personality but also on the time you spend with your pet.
You will be sure that he loves you when :
- He doesn’t bite you anymore. If he gently nibbles you or licks you, be happy, as these are signs of great affection.
- He eats from your hand. When you achieve that your piggy eats from your hand, you should know that he is very comfortable with you
- He is very interested in you. Remember how was it in the beginning? Your cavy was running away from you, hiding, wasn’t really interested to have any interaction with you. Now is a different story. When you get home from work or school, he is popcorning, he is so excited. You can see how happy he is. When you say something, he does pay attention. Remember that piggies will always recognize the voice of their owners.
- When you let your guinea pig out of his cage for some nice floor playtime with you, he starts to climb on you, especially if you have some food to share.
- He likes being held. He doesn’t try to run away from your hands. You can interpret this as a sign of real affection as he needs to have a huge confidence in you to let you hold him.
- He sleeps with closed eyes around you. Take this as a special blessing, as many owners will never experience such a thing. Guinea pigs usually sleep with eyes wide open, paying attention to what is going on around them. If you notice that your piggy closes his eyes when you cuddle him or hold him, you are really lucky! Your piggy is so relaxed with you and loves you so much!
Can Guinea Pigs Recognize Their Owners?
Yes, guinea pigs can definitely recognize their owners. But you have to be aware that building a quality relationship with your piggy requires some time, so you need to be patient. How fast that will happen depends on how you treat your pet(s).
- Don’t shower your pet with love and attention as soon as he comes to your home. It’s more likely you will frighten him, he won’t understand your behavior correctly.
- Never yell at your guinea pig and don’t be extremely loud in his vicinity. Cavies have a very sharp memory, they will remember that you scared them once and you will have to work twice as hard to make them forget.
- Give them food from your hand. Guinea pigs have a very strong sense of smell and it’s super convenient to associate your smell with the food they like. That way they will learn that you are the one, who takes care of them, providing food. If you have kids, encourage them to hand-feed your piggies, that’s good for building a strong bond between them.
- Guinea pigs do recognize their owners but they will be even closer to you if you make them members of the family. Of course, food and a proper habitat are important for piggies but equally important are attention and love. Let them out of the cage sometimes, spend some quality time on the floor playing with them. Talk to them even if you think it’s crazy as they cannot respond. Don’t ignore them, when they are around you.
Do Guinea Pigs Miss Their Owners?
Since you know that guinea pigs can feel love for their humans, as well as they, recognize them very well, it’s pretty clear that they miss their owners when they are not at home.
Again, how much your piggy will miss you depends on how he is attached to you, his personality…
If you had been out for a couple of days and then returned, you might notice that your piggy is pop-corning, jumping around, wheeking, and squeaking. If he does that, he is so happy to see you and you missed him for sure.
You might have another problem. You need to rehome your piggy as you cannot take care of him any longer. The thought that he is going to miss you terrifies you very much. Some piggies will suffer for some time while others won’t care. However, any guinea pig will adjust to a new owner as long as he/she makes an effort to bond with him.
Can My Guinea Pig Feel My Emotions?
Since being social creatures, guinea pigs are not only capable to have their own feelings but also to recognize the same feelings in other creatures.
They are paying attention to their pack members but also to their owners. They are not so interested in other humans but their owners have different status.
Depends on the guinea pig personality and closely is he attached to you but most probably your piggy will notice if you are sad and happy.
This is not so surprising, as some scientific studies in rodents have shown that rats develop empathy towards other rats. According to the National Institutes of Health ( US Department of Health & Human Services), some studies proved that rats are willing the help the cagemate in need.
I have talked to many guinea pig owners and they are certain that their piggies do feel very well their emotions. For example, when the owner is upset, his piggies are super quiet, observing him closely. When his mood improves, they seem more active, more vocal.
One lady told me that she was sad and worried and took her guinea pig and held it for some time. Her piggy had started nibbling her ear very gently. That’s piggy’s way to say ”Everything will be OK”.
Do Guinea Pigs Get Jealous?
You bet! Guinea pigs can get very jealous. The most important thing is that you should manage and control jealous behavior at an early stage. If things get out of hand, your life could be very complicated.
Guinea pigs can be jealous of another guinea pig but also to humans around you.
Cavies live in a social hierarchy and try to get as much attention they can. They are pretty territorial as well.
What Makes Your Guinea Pig Jealous?
Your guinea pig will be jealous if :
- you have two guinea pigs but you pay more attention to one of them. If one guinea pig realizes that another piggy gets better treatment, more attention, better/different food.
- you have several guinea pigs and you choose to play with each one separately. The one that is waiting his turn might be jealous
- if you already have guinea pigs but bring a new one to your home and pay special attention to a new one
- every guinea has its own favorite toy and you give a toy of one guinea pig to another
- when you spend too much time with your human friends and not with guinea pigs
- circumstances in your home have been changed lately, you have a new mate, partner, or newborn so you naturally spend less time with piggies than you used to.
How Does Jealous Guinea Pig Behave?
How to know if your piggy is jealous? Maybe you are doing something and you are not aware that you are making a mistake. Oh, believe me, you will know if you have jealous piggy in the cage!
Guinea pigs get annoyed very easily. They don’t offer unconditional love like dogs for example. You have to work pretty hard to get their trust as well as to maintain their affection.
Jealous guinea pigs become bad-tempered and destructive. They can attack you for no reason. They stop listening to you and don’t obey you anymore.
If your piggy jealous of another piggy he might start fighting with him, trying to hurt him.
What You Can Do?
The main thing you need to do is to establish a routine and stick to it. If your piggies used to spend 2 hours of floor playtime with you then you should really play with them every day.
Of course, some days are an exception but bear in mind that they like the precise schedule and if they don’t have your attention they used to, they will get annoyed.
You should treat all your piggies equally. All your piggies should have their own hideouts and toys which you shouldn’t mix.
Make sure you provide a proper habitat with many interesting stuff/toys to keep them stimulated and busy. No matter you put tons of different things in the cage, they will still need your attention.
But if you have a bonded couple or trio of piggies that get along well and many interesting items to play with, they will accept that you cannot spend 2 hours with them but 30 min only as you have a newborn in your home.
Do Guinea Pigs Feel Sadness?
Like many other emotions, sadness is also on the list of feelings guinea pigs can feel.
Although guinea pigs are rather happy and cheerful creatures, some things simply knock them down and they can easily slip into depression.
Guinea pigs will be sad if :
They lose their cage mate. This is quite expected and surely will happen. The guinea pig that is left feels sadness for the buddy that is gone. This cavy might be less active, less vocal, could hide more, or could frenetically search for his friend.
Live in a too small a cage. This can happen if you don’t know much about guinea pigs and then buy one in a pet shop where they sell you the equipment for it, including a small cage.
If this happens, no matter how dedicated you are to provide perfect care to your pet, he will be so depressed. He won’t be active as it should be, he will sleep too much.
Live a lonely life. If you have only one guinea pig in the cage, no matter how hard you try to keep him entertained, he will be sad and depressed as guinea pigs crave for the same species friend. They need human attention too but that won’t be enough, the best friend of one guinea pig is another guinea pig.
Being bullied. If you have several guinea pigs and then bring another one or you simply have guinea pigs that are not getting along well, one of them might be abused or bullied. Other guinea pigs will make his life miserable. #
The sad guinea pig will be less active, he will eat less, hide more. He will be less curious, less vocal. Sad guinea pig might lose weight and get sick.
Guinea pigs are definitely emotional creatures. That is why you should never take them as simple, low-maintenance pets as won’t be enough to buy them proper cage and food. You have to interact with them, constantly showing them that they can trust you.