Have you ever noticed that your guinea pig runs out to greet you with happy wheeks and inquisitive behaviors but then acts totally differently around strangers? What does that mean? Could it be that you have a bond with your guinea pig? Do guinea pigs even recognize their owners?
Generally speaking, guinea pigs can recognize their owners and frequently form bonds with the humans they see on a regular basis. Guinea pigs that acknowledge and recognize their owners will be relaxed, confident, and approach them willingly.
Guinea pigs are smart and will show affection to those they have bonded with and recognize. They are social creatures and benefit greatly from a strong relationship with their humans. Keep reading to discover if your guinea pig identifies you and what to do if they don’t.
How Do Guinea Pigs Distinguish People?
Guinea pigs may not have the same capabilities as cats and dogs, but they most definitely can distinguish their owners from strangers.
Guinea pigs use their sense of smell and hearing to remember different things about individuals. For example, if you always use a certain perfume, your guinea pig will smell it and associate it with you. They have a strong sense of smell and can even distinguish your more subtle natural scent.
It is the same for your voice and the names you give your guinea pig. They may not understand precisely what you are saying, but the tone and frequency of your voice are distinguishable from that of strangers, making it easy for your guinea pig to recognize you.
Guinea pigs also have an excellent visual range around their body compared to humans, which can help them to recognize you. Guinea pigs have lateral eyes that provide a 340-angle view with just two tiny blind spots! They also see 33 frames per second, all in color, which makes it almost impossible not to see you!
Yet, even with their lateral vision and 33 frames per second, they have the disadvantage of not being able to see fine details or things that are more than 3-5 feet away.
Guinea pigs may be able to recognize and memorize your general silhouette and face structure, but the details are pretty blurry, so they have to rely on their sense of smell and hearing.
Your guinea pig will recognize the following from you:
- Your footsteps
- Your voice
- Distinct noises
- Your scent
- Your routine around the house
- Visual cues
With an enhanced sense of smell and hearing, guinea pigs have many signs they can use to identify you. These creatures will rely on their senses to make associations with you and identify you whenever you come around.
Your piggy will acknowledge you and make it clear that they recognize you! All you have to do is look for specific behaviors.
If you’re not sure if your guinea pig recognizes you, look for the following behavior when you are around them.
- They respond to your voice
- They approach you or climb up on the bars when you approach the cage
- They squeak when you are around
- They can comfortably eat treats and sniff around while you hold them
- They nuzzle you with their nose or lick your hand
Guinea pig affection is one of the best kinds of affection there is! They are typically skittish and afraid of unknown surroundings and people, so if they are confident and happy when you’re around, they definitely recognize and feel comfortable around you.
If they follow you around and climb up on your leg, then they also have a strong bond with you. It’s the same if they eat from your hand, nibble on you, and groom you!
Squeaking is also a happy noise you may hear from your guinea pig. Quiet squeaking or chutting is a noise you may hear when your guinea pig is content exploring or hanging out with you. Loud squeaking (also called wheeking) indicates a happy and excited guinea pig (often when food is involved!)
So if your sweet piggie shows these behaviors while you are around, there is no doubt that they recognize you and share a strong bond with you.
So if you are a new guinea pig owner and your sweet piggy seems to be skittish around you, how can you get them to recognize you?
An essential thing when forming a bond with your guinea pig is to be patient and spend time with them. Your guinea pig will not identify you within a day of adoption. It will take several days or even weeks to form a bond.
Even so, here are some tips to help your guinea pig recognize you even faster:
- Use your voice
- Respect their boundaries
- Spend time with them
- Create a routine
- Hand-feed them lots of their favorite veggie treats
After following these simple tips, your guinea pig will show you affection in no time!
Talk To Your Guinea Pig
When you first get a guinea pig, or if your current guinea pig doesn’t recognize you, remember that they all have different personalities, but it helps to talk to them!
Give them a short name that is easy to say and use it often. Speak in soft, soothing tones as you come near and talk to them as you give food or take them out of the cage.
Your guinea pig will associate you with any repetitive words you say, so be sure to create a verbal routine around your guinea pig, and they will recognize you in no time.
Guinea pigs are natural prey to wild predators, and it’s their instinct to be skittish and want to hide when encountering new things. This is why it is essential to respect their boundaries while forming a bond with them.
If you notice that your guinea pig is staring at you, frozen, then they are scared. So give them their space, and they will recognize that you are not a threat. Then, as you continue this process, they will come to you independently when they feel comfortable.
The last way to get your guinea pig to distinguish you from others is to spend time with them. Create a routine, give them treats, and let them explore while you are around them. Talk to them and let them know you are there.
Create a positive experience with them, and they are bound to remember who you are and come to you for more socialization. Be sure to offer plenty of veggie treats so your guinea pig forms a positive association with you. Some of my guinea pigs’ favorite treats are green leaf or romaine lettuce, carrots, dandelion, and radicchio.
How to Get Your Guinea Pig to Respond to Their Name
Guinea pigs do not pick up on verbal cues nearly as easily as a cat or dog would, but they can learn their name if it’s repeated several times, especially if you say it in a similar tone every time. To teach your guinea pig to respond to their name, repeat the following steps:
- Say their name in a happy tone of voice
- Immediately follow up with a small piece of their favorite veggie treat
- Repeat their name and give another treat.
It may take several days or even weeks for your guinea pig to fully recognize this word as their name, but they can learn faster with lots of patience and repetition!
You can also call their name for other positive activities like feeding time or when you refresh their hay. Avoid saying their name when they are scared, as this can create a negative association with their name and may even teach them to run or hide when they hear their name!
Guinea pigs make excellent pets, and if you spend quality time with them, they can distinguish you from other people. Guinea pigs show their affection in many ways but remember to give them their space and allow them to get comfortable since it will take time for them to form a bond with you.
For more ways to tell when your guinea pig is comfortable in your presence, you can also check out this article on 10 Signs Your Guinea Pig is Happy.