Bonfire night can be a wonderful celebration – fireworks, flashing lights and big beautiful bonfires! Whilst it can be a lovely time for us humans, guinea pigs and other small animals often don’t agree. Here’s everything you need to know about guinea pigs and bonfire night.
Bring them inside
If your guinea pigs usually live outside in them its best to bring them in so they are away from the noise and flashing lights of fireworks. Simply lifting their hutch inside works well (without them inside) as they don’t have to get used to a new cage.
If it isn’t possible for them to come indoors then an empty shed or garage that isn’t used is a great substitute. Remember that car fumes can kill guinea pigs so don’t place them inside a garage that has a car or is in use. If you don’t have any option but to leave them in their hutch outside then position it so it’s facing a wall or fence. This will prevent the glare of firework lights causing distress.
Guinea pigs should not be left in their run anytime but especially not on bonfire night.
Inside guinea pigs are fine to stay in their usual cage during bonfire night.
Block out the sound
Once your guinea pigs are inside, its important to block as much of the sound and lights out as possible. Closing windows and closing curtains and blinds are a fairly easy but effective way of achieving this.
If your guinea pig is still outside, covering the hutch with a thick blanket or towels can help to block out the light flashes of fireworks.
Switching on the TV or radio can also help to drown out the sound of loud banging fireworks. Be mindful of what station you chose. The aim is to use the new sound to calm your guinea pigs so keep the volume low and avoid programmes with lots of gunfire or car noise.
If your guinea pig is new to hearing the TV or radio, ensure you keep a close watch over them to see how they are adjusting to this new sound.
Companionship goes a long way with guinea pigs, so refrain from separating your guinea pigs even if one of them is more on edge than the others. Guinea pigs are social creatures so having their cage mates provides a lot of comfort.
They will also enjoy hearing your voice so staying in the same room and chatting to them is a great method to calm them down.
If we think they are getting nervous or they start showing signs they want to go in, we place them back inside their cage and still stay close. We keep talking to them and often they come back out again peeping to see what we are up to.
Let them hide
Extra hay is always a welcomed gift for a guinea pig! Filling their hay racks with fresh hay is a great distraction as is filling a box with hay ensuring there are adequate holes in it for entering and exiting.
Ensuring your guinea pigs has plenty of hiding places is essential and another way to take the focus of the loud bangs and flashes of lights caused by fireworks. A hiding hole or plush bed will provide hours of comfort and entertainment and once your guinea pigs begin investigating, they will forget all about the strange sounds and lights.
Saving empty cardboard boxes and cutting holes into them also make great hiding places so they can hide away from the new noises if needed.
Give them something new
Treating your guinea pig to a new toy or treat is another great way to distract them during bonfire night. No guinea pig can resist peeking out to investigate when a new chew stick or wooden toy appears in their cage.
Our last guinea pigs were always very afraid of loud noises so we found changing the items in their cage just before the fireworks started worked wonders in distracting them. They would spend so long sniffing around every item that the fireworks had usually finished before they had!
Signs of stress/fear
Knowing the warning signs of guinea pig stress and fear is essential in order to act quickly if you think something is wrong with your pet.
Guinea pigs can become stressed fairly easily by relatively small things such as changes in temperature and introducing a new guinea pig. Please become familiar with the following guinea pig stress symptoms:
- Chattering teeth
- Refusing to come out of hiding to eat or drink
- Sleeping more than usual
- Acting nervous and freezing
- Not wanting to be held
- Changes in eating
- Fur loss
- Head shaking or tossing
Unfortunately guinea pigs can die from stress since it can put extra pressure on their hearts meaning it can stop if your guinea pig is feeling stressed.
If you think your guinea pig is suffering from signs of stress, contact your vet immediately. In the interim, you can offer comfort by speaking softely and offering them their favourite treat. Do not force them to come out of their cage or a place they are hiding in as this will only make them more distressed.
The best way to prevent guinea pig stress is by following the advice in this article and ensuring you are constantly checking on your guinea pigs during stressful events.
Keep them close
Knowing how to comfort your guinea pig is an essential part of caring for your guinea pig and learning how to survive bonfire night doesn’t have to be complicated. Please feel free to ask anything if your unsure either in the comment or via email.
What does your Guinea pig think of bonfire night and the fireworks? Is this your first bonfire night together? Drop us a comment to let us know.