3 Common Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Are Suddenly Scared

So, your normally friendly guinea pig has become scared suddenly (like out of the blue)? If you’re currently wondering why your guinea pig has suddenly become scared, there are a couple of things to consider.

Typically, a guinea pig may become suddenly scared because three sources: predators (snakes or even other household pets), negligent people, and sudden noises (thunder). Since stress and fear can make a guinea pig sick and unhappy, it’s important to fix the problem (if possible) and calm them down.

why area guinea pigs so scared suddenly

In this blog post, we are going to discuss each of the possible reasons why your guinea pig has suddenly become scared, signs to look for, and what you can do to fix it.

Let’s dive in! *cracks knuckles*

Signs That Your Guinea Pig Is Scared

why is your guinea pig scared suddenly

Most guinea pigs are naturally skittish. I mean, can you really blame them? They’re at the rock bottom of the food chain.

Literally everything in the wild is trying to scarf them up and make a meal out of them (and the guinea pigs are like “yeah, no thanks” and instinctively dodge predators left and right, a.k.a. staying alive).

There’s a few warning signs that your guinea pig is scared. Look for these signs so you can determine if something’s wrong:

  • freezing: cavies will often “play dead” to try to fool predators into thinking that they’re dead or to bore the predator so much that they’ll leave the cavy alone.
  • lowering their head and being hunched over: this is an act of submission; it’s kinda like the piggie is saying, “I know you’re the boss, so I’m going to submit to my death right now. You can have me.” It’s sad to see, but it is as sign of fear and acceptance of impending death.
  • hiding (most of the time)combined with food refusal: you know that a piggie is scared out of its mind when it refuses to eat. They will often hide in a corner and refuse to come out, even if they smell their favorite treat.
  • crazy, wide eyes: fear shows in their eyes, too; when piggies open their eyes so wide that the whites can be seen, it’s often a sign of fear
  • shivering: when a piggie is suddenly scared she’ll sometimes start trembling. This is a way for their body to try to warm up by shivering and moving the blood from ant core parts of the body to the extremities (the paws and ears).
  • pacing back and forth in their cage: restless circling of their cage (like they’re desperate for a way out) is a very common sign of fear and anxiety in guinea pigs (and other animals as well). It’s as if they’re desperate to find a way out, but there isn’t.

1. Predators

As prey animals, guinea pigs are hypersensitive to predators, it might be that they’re suddenly scared because they sense that a predator is nearby (or maybe they even came in contact with one).

And because they’re so sensitive, your furry potatoes might sense a predator nearby before you’re even aware of it.

Predators include (but aren’t limited to):

  • hawks
  • snakes
  • eagles
  • rats

If you suspect that a predator is the root cause of your little friend becoming suddenly scared, then you want to try and figure out which predator (if any) may have spooked your piggie.

Do a quick inspection of your house to see if you notice any signs of a predator – like their droppings, slither tracks (in the dust), feathers, scurrying during the night, or anything that could be the connection.

Even other household pets can scare the living daylights out of your piggies.

I know, I know. I’m sorry if you’re someone that posts those adorable “animal odd-couple” pics in Instagram, but it has to be said.

Now, I’m not saying that all dogs and cats are blood-thirsty predators (a.k.a. natural-born killers), because each individual one has their own personality (quirks, if you will). But they do have natural instincts fused into their D.N.A. – just like guinea pigs.

Their instincts involve hunting down smaller prey, evading larger predators, and their brains sometimes just don’t “get” that your guinea pig is an innocent, little ball of fur (and not a tiny, furry snack).

All I’m asking is that you keep that in mind.

2. Negligent People

Guinea pigs rely on humans to keep them safe in a household environment, but if they come into contact with careless people (unwitting or not), they’re likely to become suddenly scared because of mishandling or by behaviors that terrify them.

Maybe your piggies have come in contact with a hyperactive child who decided going up to the cage and screaming at the top of her lungs next to an ear-piercing decibel was a great idea. (uhh, yeah , no, it wasn’t).

Or maybe an adult didn’t realize that looming over your guinea pig’s cage (like an eagle ready to tear into them like a toddler into a present on Christmas) is a serious no-no.

Bottom line?

Be sure to clearly communicate with your family, roommates, and visitors to your household (yep, even the little ones) about how you manage your guinea pig. You want to be sure that they’re not scaring the living daylights out of these little animals.

Both adults and kids need to understand basic piggie handling and care in order to avoid hurting (and terrifying) your furry burritos (fortunately, it’s a short list of dos and don’ts).

3. Unexpected, Loud Noises

Guinea pigs are prey animals, so loud noises (especially unexpected ones) can seriously frighten them.

Anxiety is real for guinea pigs, you guys.  Lots of piggies are frequently scared by things that we wouldn’t think twice about.

You: Hey, look at that dog over there!  I don’t think he can see us.

Guinea Pig: *Flattens itself against the wall in terror.*  

You: He’s just sniffing around, it’s probably gonna rain soon.

Guinea Pig: *Sees dog approaching and scurries away out of sight, certain that the dog is the grim reaper in a fur coat.*

When loud noises happen, it can scare them so much that they become agitated and restless.

And it’s not something they can turn off or even logically think their way through.

Unexpected noises include:

  • fireworks
  • strong thunderstorms
  • dropping of pots and pans
  • slamming of doors
  • ear-bleeding screams
  • hammering and construction noises
  • playing painfully loud music

Now, I’m not saying that your house needs to be as quiet as a monastery to keep your furry friends happy (who’d want to live in a place like that?).

Normal household noises are perfectly fine as long as you give your fur babies a chance to get used to them. Just don’t have them exposed to super loud noises all of the time – it scared them and stresses them out.

Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!

Tips To Help Calm Your Scared Guinea Pig

why are guinea pigs scared suddenly

So, your guinea pig is suddenly scared by…something. You need to ease your furry, little buddy back into his normal, relaxed state.

Luckily, what you can do is pretty straight forward.

  1. Find the source of the fear and eliminate it. If you want your little friends destress back into their normal selves, then you’ll want to make sure that there is nothing to fear. This can mean eliminating a predator, moving the animal to a different room away from the noise, or placing a dropkick to the chest of the human who mishandled your furry friend (kidding…or am I?).
  2. Make sure they have plenty of hiding places. Huts and hideaways are a great place to go when they’re feeling stressed or scared. You can create a cardboard box in your living area, or have an extra hut inside the cage. The key is for them to have somewhere safe where they can chill until their nerves settle.
  3. Most importantly, give them TIME. When a piggie is seriously spooked – especially if you’re not exactly sure of the source, you’ll need to give them some time to chill and relax. Maybe give them a few hours (or even a day or two if they’re majorly upset). Feed favorite snacks and give your little friend extra snuggles (if they like that kind of thing).

Remember: your guinea pig wants to feel safe and secure. So, do your best to make sure nothing is going to cause them stress and anxiety.

Wrapping Up

If your guinea pig is suddenly scared of you (or anything else) for no apparent reason, try to figure out what might have caused it and make adjustments accordingly!

Predators, sudden, loud noises, and mishandling are common reasons that can make a guinea pig spooked for a little while.

But, with your love and patience, it’ll be back to normal before you know it!

Are snakes nesting on your property? (2019, January 13). Adios Pest Control. https://adiospestcontrol.com/are-snakes-nesting-on-your-property/

Behaviour – Guinea pigs – Our pets. (n.d.). The Largest Animal Welfare Charity in the UK | RSPCA. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/guineapigs/behaviour#:~:text=Signs%20a%20guinea%20pig%20may,Kindness!

Understanding your pet Guinea pig: A guide to behavioral patterns. (2020, December 3). Hartz. https://www.hartz.com/understanding-your-pet-guinea-pig-a-guide-to-behavioral-patterns/

What to do about rats in the walls? | Terminix. (n.d.). Terminix.com. https://www.terminix.com/blog/home-garden/signs-of-rats-in-wall/

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