Many pet owners love guinea pigs for their cute noises, and fluffy, soft fur. While these adorable creatures make great pets, they are easily stressed due to being a prey species. Some stress in cavies is normal, as they are always looking for danger so they can avoid it. Additional stress, such as the bright lightning strikes and loud noises of a thunderstorm, can add to your guinea pig’s stress. It’s tough to see your furry friend suffering, and it’s natural to want to help calm them down.
We’ve compiled a list of six tips to help calm your guinea pigs during the next thunderstorm.
The 6 Top Tips for Calming Your Guinea Pig During Thunderstorms
1. Bring Your Guinea Pig Inside
Some guinea pig owners have outdoor enclosures for their cavies to provide them a change of scenery, as well as a chance to safely be in nature. If you know a storm is going to hit the area where you live, the best thing you can do is bring your guinea pigs in before the storm hits.
If they’re used to being handled, you may be able to pick them up gently to bring them inside. If they’re agitated or don’t like to be handled, herd them into a carrier to transfer them into their inside enclosure.
2. Provide a Safe Hiding Place in Their Enclosure
Many cavies are always on the lookout for danger, and need a hiding place within their enclosure to feel safe enough to calm their anxiety. There are a variety of hideouts or hutches available that will help your guinea pigs hide and feel secure during a thunderstorm.
An igloo, such as the Kaytee Small Animal Igloo Hideout, is a common hiding place in many cavy enclosures. The Oxbow Timothy Club Tunnel Small Animal Hideout may be preferred by some guinea pigs, as it offers easy entry and exit points for escape. There are many options available for guinea pig hiding places, so you may need to try a couple of different options to see what works for your cavy.
3. Cover Their Enclosure
If your guinea pigs are sheltering in place in their favorite hideout within their enclosure, but are still shaking in fear at the storm overhead, you can also cover the enclosure with a dark blanket. Sometimes the bright lights associated with lightning are just as frightening to the guinea pigs as the thunder during intense storms. Covering their enclosure will remove the unpredictable lightning and provide them with a dark space to help soothe their anxiety.
Try to leave a 1- to 2-inch opening, preferably at the back of the cage near a wall, to allow for airflow. When the storm is over, slowly remove the blanket so you don’t startle your cavies and make them anxious again.
4. Play the Radio or Television
Some cavies are used to the noise of a radio or television, so turning on those devices during a storm may help decrease their stress, as the noises will be familiar enough to calm them. If your guinea pigs aren’t used to the sounds of a television or radio, turning them on may actually increase their stress and anxiety—so tread carefully.
Another option is to find soothing music for guinea pigs, on platforms such as YouTube. Here is an example of soothing guinea pig music:
5. Distract Your Guinea Pig with Food
If your cavies seem relatively calm when the storm begins, but start to show signs of anxiety as the storm progresses, you can try to distract them with food. Sometimes guinea pigs’ anxiety and stress can be diverted if you add some of their favorite foods to their enclosure.
Guinea pigs eat mainly hay and pellets, but can also eat fresh veggies, such as broccoli, romaine lettuce, and bell peppers. Strawberries and blueberries can be given as a special treat, and might be the perfect thing to distract your guinea pig during a thunderstorm.
6. Be Calm, and Use a Soft Voice to Soothe your Cavy
During a storm, cavies are more likely to see everything around them as a danger to their safety. One of the best ways that you can help keep them calm during a storm is by remaining calm yourself, which may help your cavy’s anxiety levels decrease. If you are afraid of storms, it might be best for you to retreat to another room, so your anxiety doesn’t increase that of your guinea pigs.
Sometimes, talking in a soothing tone to your guinea pigs during a thunderstorm helps to decrease the stress they’re feeling as a result of the storm. Speak slowly and softly in a low voice to soothe your pets. Make up stories, or tell your cavies about your day—it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it’s said in a soothing tone.
Should I Handle My Guinea Pig During a Thunderstorm?
Our first instinct when we see an animal in distress is to try to comfort it, by picking it up and holding it. While this instinct is admirable, handling a guinea pig while it’s anxious will add to the stress it’s feeling due to a thunderstorm. The best thing you can do for your cavies during a storm is to make sure they have a place to hide in their enclosure, so they can process the danger they’re feeling in their own way.
You might be thinking that your guinea pigs love being handled—and while that may be true, physical handling is typically a stressful experience for many cavies. When you add in an additional stressor, such as a thunderstorm, you’re more likely to add to a guinea pig’s stress and anxiety. Remember, the typical response to anxiety and stress by a guinea pig in nature is to hide with its fellow guinea pigs. It’s tough to see our furry friends experiencing fear, but we’re helping them by avoiding handling.
It’s difficult to see your guinea pigs experiencing stress and anxiety during a thunderstorm. There are several things that you can do to help ease their anxiety.
If your cavies are in an outdoor enclosure, bring them inside before the storm hits. Always provide hiding places within their enclosure as their first instinct is to hide when they are scared or stressed. You can also cover their enclosure while speaking to them in a calm, soothing voice. Playing the radio, television, or some guinea pig music may help reduce their stress. You can also distract them with some tasty treats during the storm.
We hope these six tips help soothe your guinea pigs the next time a storm rolls through your area.
Featured Image Credit: Evgeny Gorodetsky, Shutterstock