About 6 months ago I became the mom to two Male guinea pigs (they were about 3 months old at the time). Since then I've been hand feeding them their veggies, attempting to hold them, and talking to them softly/spending time by their cage. I've made sure that they always have access to plenty of food and water, toys, and hiding spots. Their cage gets cleaned at least once a week, top to bottom. Despite all of this, they still run away any time I get near them. I have had to almost corner them in their cage to pick them up (I try not to do it often, but they get messy and need baths, ect), and it's very apparent that they don't really want to be held. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong? I've tried everything I can think of to get them to be comfortable around people. Thanks!
I've had my pigs for over 3 years and they will still run from me most of the time. Sometimes they will hold still and let me pick them up, but almost always that is when they are up in their haylofts where I can scoop them up from underneath them rather than from above. When they realize that I want to hold one of them, they will run up the ramp and sit in the loft if they are in the mood to be held. But I didn't teach them to do that. They taught ME. It took me a while to figure it out, actually.
That said, my pigs enjoy being held and petted (well, most of them do; two of them are "done" after about 5 minutes). They hate to be caught, though, and probably always will.
Even when they get to know you well (like mine do me), their prey survival instincts are most often too powerful to overcome. That does not mean they don't like you. My pigs like me about as much as guinea pigs can like humans, I think.
However, you really haven't had yours for very long, and they are still young. They are not full grown and they are even more easily spooked when they are young. And some pigs just never warm up to humans.
But I think if you keep talking to them a lot, being the bearer of yummy treats, and scooping them up from below rather than from above, they will warm up at least some. I like to watch TV with a guinea pig on my lap, and other than the two who are "done" after 5 minutes, the others will settle down and watch TV with me.
- Supporter in 2018
Another method, one I used for years until I learned this one; Zip-tie three grids together on the sides. You can use this to make a smaller box so you can pick them up.
It's totally normal for them to be scared and run from you. But you need to handle them, so just scoop them up!