Guinea pigs are social animals, so it is essential to accompany your guinea pig for their happiness and good health. You may be wondering how much time should you spend with your guinea pig? So, I did some research and consulted some experts, and here is what I have learned.
It would be best if you can spend at least one hour daily with your guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are most active during the morning and evening hours, so it would be a perfect time to play, cuddle, and groom your guinea pigs. Younger guinea pigs will need more floor time as compared to old ones as they are more energetic.
Most importantly, it would help if you spent quality time with your guinea pig. This means setting aside an hour where you do nothing else, and your only focus is to bond with your guinea pig.
That includes active play, with mazes, tricks, and toys. Also, it involves some activities like searching for hidden food or roam around the house.
If you are in a hurry or don’t have enough time you can go with two sessions of half an hour. It is better to provide some attention to them as they hate it if they are left ignored.
Do guinea pigs need a lot of attention?
Despite their quiet and calm and behavior, your guinea pig wants a lot of attention from you. Having a companion is crucial for the well being of your guinea pig.
Wild guinea pigs survive in large groups. It helps them search for food and to avoid predators. Guinea pigs have evolved since their domestication, but their need for companionship still exists.
However, pet guinea pigs don’t have their own colony. Most of the owners prefer to keep one or two guinea pigs. That leaves them craving for more attention and care from their owner.
Guinea pigs should be given proper attention as they don’t have a colony to socialize. If your guinea pig does not get enough socialization then there is a possibility of certain behavioral issues These includes:
- Destructive habits
Also read: Can guinea pigs live alone?
How to give your guinea pig attention?
Overstimulating your guinea pig will do more harm than good.
If you interact with your guinea pig correctly, then your guinea pig will feel content.
Provide appropriate attention
Don’t try to force your guinea pig to spend the time with you. If your guinea pig seems scared or doesn’t want to interact with you, it is better to stay away.
Your guinea pig can feel upset, tired, or unsafe if you force them. They may even bite you, hideaway, or refuse your care in the future. If your guinea pig doesn’t seem to attract socially, you need to try again after a while.
At the same time, your guinea pig may be interested in your care and attection. In such a case, you can provide them as much attention as you want.
Feel free to cuddle, play, or stroke your guinea pig as long as they allow you to do. They are having fun if they seem very active for several hours.
If your guinea pig’s playtime lasts only for a short period, you can try again after some time when they feel energetic again.
Understand your guinea pigs properly
Maybe some of the guinea pigs prefer to have socialization differently as compared to others.
For example, the young guinea pigs can enjoy the playtime without any hesitation. Those guinea pigs who are old can be comfortable in just lying or sitting beside you. Older guinea pigs can only cuddle in your thighs and refuse to play with toys.
Similarly, some of the guinea pigs need more attention as compared to others. You may have a guinea pig that likes to be alone. While your other guinea pig can be mad for your continual attention in form of cuddle and grooming.
Hence, it is essential to understand your guinea pig. You can easily avoid overstimulating a scared guinea pig or understimulating your energetic guinea pig.
Paired guinea pigs require less attention
Guinea pigs are very social animals. Thus the owners can leverage their social behavior and keep two guinea pigs together.
Providing a company of the same species of the guinea pig is a good idea if it is hard for you to provide sufficient time to them.
The paired guinea pigs can be happy together within themselves. They can socialize with each other as per their need.
They will be happy together without any attention from your side if they are healthy, properly housed, and well-fed.
As a bonus, they will have a calm behavior and can be managed easily.
Spend some quality time daily
One hour next to your guinea pig can be different from a good floor time of 15 minutes. Providing quality time is more important than the number of hours spent.
That implies, playing with your guinea pig for 15 minutes is better than lying beside them for an hour.
It is essential to be focused and provide more attention to a young energetic guinea pig. You can train your guinea pig to perform some tricks, play the games, or run mazes.
However, when it comes to senior or less energetic guinea pigs, you may need to take a subtle approach. You can conduct a different activity by sitting beside your guinea pig. Or you can take them out for a change.
Also read: 25 awesome boredom buster ideas for your guinea pigs
Best time to play with your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals. That means they are active throughout day and night.
However, early morning and early evening is the best period to spend some time with your guinea pig as they are most active and energetic during those hours.
You can choose activities that are suitable for their energy levels.
When your guinea pig wakes up in the morning, they become very active or energetic. It will get themselves busy in grooming, running around, playing with their toys, and foraging.
When they become hungry, they will probably run towards you for the meal. That could be the best time to teach some tricks and play games. You can reserve all the energetic activities for high-energy hours.
During the middle of the day, the energy of your guinea pig will start to decrease. You will probably find them falling asleep in their sleeping spot, or they will lie down to relax.
Your guinea pig will become active again during the evening hours. However, this is not the best time for intensive exercise or play.
As their energy level is not top-notch, stroking or cuddling them should be better at this time.
Even if your guinea pig doesn’t like to be petted, then you can find it more obedient at this hour.
At this period, it is appropriate to serve some treat to your guinea pig to encourage their positive behavior. The stubborn guinea pigs can refuse. But, they will surely love to spend the time playing or relaxing around you.
What do guinea pigs like to play with?
Guinea pigs love to play with toys or to perform some tricks. Without methodical ways to have a bond with your guinea pig, you can begin by:
- Hide the treats for your guinea pig to find
- Give a rope to your guinea pig for chewing
- Create a maze for them to run around within
Toys can play the best part to entertain your guinea pig when you are not around.
An exhausted or bored guinea pig will probably like to chew the objects, hit or kick out at someone or something, or mess their habitat.
You can put some small toys in the enclosure of your guinea pig to avoid that. Some popular examples are:
- Wicker baskets
- Chew toys
- Big brown paper bags
- The cardboard box that opens from both side
- Tunnels or PVC tubes
- Newspapers and paper towels
- Untreated wood chips
Things to do with guinea pigs
The best time to spend with your guinea pig is playtime.
But if you have performed all the play ideas and don’t have another idea, you can check out this alternative or creative ways to make the bond with your guinea pig:
A harness will make sure that your guinea pig is free from danger. Using this, you can easily roam through a park peacefully, wander around the garden, or even walk or move in a leisurely manner around the neighborhood.
That will make your guinea pig enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and even grass under their feet. Also, it will teach them to connect with you. You need to make sure that there are no predators in the area or unusual sounds.
You can allow your guinea pig to wander freely around your bedroom or house. Allowing your guinea pig to come outside the enclosure can be the best way for enrichment and exercise.
If you are not playing with your guinea pig, then they will start analyzing the objects.
They can also inhale the smells and twist themselves into the spaces. You need to make sure that there are no chemicals or harmful objects in the area. The surfaces should need to be safe for the feet of guinea pigs.
You can put some hay to chew or eat in a litter box, some toys near your guinea pig. Allow them to have some fun as long as they will not get away from this area.
In the wild, guinea pigs search widely for food or provisions. In domestic guinea pigs, this tendency can come to be a form of play easily.
To make them exercise very well, you can hide the foods in those places that are hard for them to reach.
Your guinea pig can jump, wiggle, and become smart to manage for the treat. Some right places to hide the food or treats are:
- Inside the mazes
- Knotted inside the paper bags.
- Inside the empty toilet paper roll
- On the lower bookshelves
- Underside sofas
- Inside the toys
- Under blanket
- Inside the tunnels
You can try to hide different foods to mix up things. Vegetables, hay, fruits, or some specific treats of guinea pigs can be used.
What to do if you don’t have enough time?
For guinea pigs, friendship is very much important. The owners need to make sure that they are giving sufficient time to their guinea pigs. However, it is not always possible.
If you don’t have much time, then there is no need to worry. These are some methods that can ensure that your guinea pig will get the attention they need.
Provide small duration of floortime whenever you are free
It would be best if you spent at least an hour with your guinea pig every day.
However, if you don’t have much time to manage, then you can try to break small additions of that hour.
For example, before going for work, you can try to spend at least 30 minutes with your guinea pig in the morning. And in the evening, when you come back home, you can try to spend the rest 30 minutes together with your guinea pig.
You can also play 6 times a day for at least 10 minutes with your guinea pig.
That could be the best way for a break if you are working from home or doing homework.
Your guinea pig will enjoy the effort, and it can be beneficial for you too.
Here, the objective is quality and consistency. One or two minutes is not enough time for your guinea pig to play or relax.
For this reason, you need to make sure that you have at least ten minutes in each session of bonding. Otherwise, your guinea pig will not get the time to enjoy any of it.
Do your activities alongside your guinea pigs
It is better not to give attention instead of providing half attention to your guinea pig.
If you cannot offer a full or entire hour, then over 2 hours, try to give half attention. If you had completed another activity or task, later try to:
- Talk with your guinea pig in a very gentle, calm tone.
- Pet your guinea pig with one hand.
- Place your guinea pig in your thigh.
Your guinea pig can join some other tasks also. For example:
- You can do your workout in front of your guinea pig.
- Start drawing, painting, sewing, or writing so that your guinea pig can smell and analyze the pieces.
- You can cuddle your guinea pig while doing your office work or homework.
- You can also eat a meal with your guinea pig. Even you can feed some treats to your guinea pig, but you need to make sure that they are safe for them or not.
Try to give enough attention to your guinea pig as you can. The time will count if you are energetically trying to have a bond with your guinea pig.
If you cannot give the attention to your guinea pig, you can ask for help.
For example, you are reaching out to your social group. That could be the best chance to give their attention to your guinea pig for one or two hours.
Also, that person will probably be happy to help. You need to make sure that your guinea pig is comfortable with that person. It would also help if you made sure that the person knows how to take care of a guinea pig.
Guinea pigs can spend enough time on their own, but there is a difference between being alone and alone. If your guinea pig is bored and requires attention, then it is not suitable for their health.
You can make them feel loved and well socialized by spending only one hour with your guinea pig. You need to select the favorable activities and need to understand what your guinea pig likes the most and enjoy.
Source: The effect of human interaction on guinea pig behavior, Brain and body growth of guinea-pigs, Care of Guinea Pigs.