Helping Abandoned Guinea Pigs

How can you help two rescued guinea pigs that are scratching and resist handling?

Q: I found two guinea pigs that had been discarded next to a dumpster where I work. I believe that they were out there for only about three or four days before I found them. They are not socialized. My husband was able to catch them both and bring them home with him where they are now being cared for. However, both of these little cuties seem to be scratching quite a bit. As they are not socialized toward humans at all, I am not sure what to do for them. They will not tolerate being handled in any way, and I am afraid of further stressing them. Any suggestions?

A: Have both guinea pigs seen by a veterinarian who regularly treats guinea pigs. This will give you peace of mind and perhaps some answers regarding the scratching. The itching could be nothing or it could be mites. The veterinarian can also confirm the sex of your guinea pigs and overall health.

Guinea pigs are food driven. Go to their cage with a bit of carrot or whatever morsel they enjoy to endear yourself to them even more; eventually, this should elicit a response of high squeals while waiting at the front of the cage. Once they learn to trust you, they will permit themselves to be picked up. Remove the house inside their cage to eliminate obstructions and herd them gently into one corner; they will come to anticipate your hand as you slide it under their belly to lift them out.

Once you lift a guinea pig out of the cage, place your hand on its back for added support. Then you can hold the guinea pig with its tummy to your tummy, or place it on your arm to support it like a baby. The guinea pigs will learn your ways and understand your intent.

Because you have two guinea pigs, one will always be the “front man” and the second will be the “behind-the-scenes guy.” Like people, guinea pigs have things that they just love and things they would rather never smell again. Have fun discovering your new pets’ individual personalities as they discover your kindness and caring. What you put into them is what they will give back in a wealth of love.

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Critters · Guinea Pigs