It is imperative that you have your C&C cage all set up before going out and bringing your guinea pigs home. Assuming you’re adopting them from a rescue or shelter, chances are your pigs are already introduced, or in this case have been bonded, which is even better. Guinea pigs generally don’t react well to new environments, and will need to adjust to their new surroundings once they are in their cage.
First things first, you’ll want to have a pet carrier with you and add some hay so they can rest in it during the ride home. In addition, make sure to have the carrier sitting on one of the passenger seats in your vehicle, and buckle it with the seatbelt so it’s nice and secure. Car rides can be stressful for guinea pigs, so make sure you take your time on the ride back!
Once you’ve brought home your guinea pigs, you want to make sure you don’t handle them at all for at least a day. Try not to make sudden movements around them, talk loudly around them, and especially do not grab them without warning, or you prolong the time it takes for you to tame them and have them get used to you.
You might worry that your guinea pigs are not eating during the first few days, but in fact they are! When you’re away from the cage, you’ll be surprised to know that they’re happily eating and drinking when the humans are away. Remember, they don’t know you or the surroundings they are currently in. They have no idea if their owners will eat them or torture them (hopefully you don’t!!), so it makes sense that they’ll be doing activities when they feel it’s safe to do so. Don’t take their hiding as rejection; they need that time in the beginning to grow their confidence.
Feel free to hang around their cage, and even have one of your hands sitting in the cage so they can get used to your scent, and realize you’re not there to harm them. However, for the first 24 hours, touching and handling is off limits. Remember, guinea pigs are prey animals so their first instinct is to hide. Once they run in their hidey, DO NOT reach in and try to grab them, or it will make them more afraid.
On the second day, you can try handling them then. When you’re holding them for the first time, they may resist and try to escape. In this case you will want to have a firm grip on them, but do not under any circumstances squeeze them. If you have a child, please supervise them at all times when handling guinea pigs. They may squeeze them too hard without even knowing.
On the third day, try feeding them veggies. Remember, the way to a guinea pig’s heart is through food. Once they see that you’re their main food source, which they will quickly realize, they will come to like you.
Everything takes time, so please be patient and enjoy your guinea pigs. Chances are, they will be living with you for the next 5-7 years, so first impressions are important.