It’s a universal truth that one of the greatest joys of having a pet is being able to hold them and cuddle them. Not all pets like being held and some even have a strong independent streak, so always be sure to read your pet’s body language to ensure they’re ok with being handled.
Guinea Pigs have maxed out the cute meter and with being pocket-sized, we simply have to hold them!
Once you’ve established a bond with your piggy, you’ll find that they usually do like to be held and petted, which is part of why they’re such a great family pet.
However, while holding and petting your cavy can be fun for you and them, it’s important that you do it right. Take advantage of this guide to learn everything you need to know about this important topic!
Do guinea pigs like to be held?
Despite being domesticated decades ago, Guinea Pigs have not lost their fear of attack from above. This makes them especially wary of large objects coming above them and why you’ll see them scatter when someone places their hand in their enclosure.
But this does not mean they’ll always be scared of you or your large hands reaching for them. By building a bond with your piggy and gaining their trust, which takes time, you can help them understand that you wish to cuddle and pet them, not have them for dinner.
So, yes, most cavies do enjoy being handled and petted! From crawling into your lap to seeking out your hand to be picked up, piggies will let you know they’d like to be held. They may give small squeaks of happiness while in your lap or nudge your hand for scratches.
Why some guinea pigs might not like to be held
Along with being prey animals with a large fear of anything unknown and attacks from above, some Guinea Pigs are independent and would rather run around than sit in a lap. This doesn’t mean your piggy doesn’t love you, they’ve just got their own unique personalities.
If a cavy is not held properly or has been dropped, it can make them fearful of being picked up in the future. With their delicate skeletons, it’s imperative that you learn how to properly hold your piggy or you can cause them discomfort and pain.
The most likely cause for your cavy to not be so happy in your lap is that you haven’t developed a strong enough bond with them.
Remember, they live their lives in constant fear of attack. If they don’t perceive you as someone they can trust, they will never feel comfortable in your lap. Always be sure to bond with your pets and to give them daily attention and lots of treats!
How Can You Make Your Guinea Pig More Comfortable with Being Held?
If your guinea pig is hesitant about being held, there are some things you can do to help them feel more comfortable.
First, make sure you are holding them in a quiet and calm environment. You can also try offering them a treat while you are holding them to associate being held with positive experiences.
Additionally, try holding them for short periods of time at first and gradually increasing the amount of time as they become more comfortable.
Do guinea pigs like to be petted?
Studies have shown that petting is beneficial for both owners and pets, so of course, you should pet your piggy! But this doesn’t mean that every piggy likes to be petted or petted in the same place. Again, it’s important to read their body language to know if they approve of your petting.
Most Guinea Pigs do enjoy being petted or scratched! The most common spots are under the chin or behind the ears, similar to a cat or dog. They may even lift up their heads so that you can fully reach their chins! Some like to be stroked gently down their backs with only a finger or two, remember, they’re delicate little guys.
The best way to figure out where your cavy likes to be petted is to experiment. Try scratching their ears, under their chin, or their back, and see how they react to each spot. Soon enough, you’ll know exactly where they enjoy being petted most!
If you prefer visual examples of how to properly pet your cavy, give this one a try:
How to hold a guinea pig
With such delicate frames and not weighing much, Guinea Pigs need to be held properly. After you’ve established a strong bond with your piggy and are ready to begin picking them up, start by placing your hand fully under their stomachs and lifting.
Keep them tucked close to your chest as this will help them feel secure. Place one hand under their bottom to prevent them from falling and the other slightly behind their heads.
This keeps them tucked close and unafraid of falling, which is a huge fear for them. They can also enjoy sitting in your lap or stretched out in your arms, just keep them close to the ground in case they jump.
Some piggies also enjoy being wrapped in a towel or blanket and it is also a safe way to hold them, especially for small children.
Do’s & don’ts
- Support your guinea pig’s body with both hands
- Keep your guinea pig close to your chest
- Talk to your guinea pig in a calm and reassuring tone
- Give your guinea pig a treat after holding them
- Hold your guinea pig by their legs or tail
- Squeeze or hug your guinea pig too tightly
- Hold your guinea pig above a hard surface
- Force your guinea pig to be held if they are resisting
Precautions when holding or petting a guinea pig
Owners should never place their piggies in high places. Their natural response to danger is to jump, so they could easily fall and injure themselves.
They also can popcorn (jump) from happiness and end up over the edge, so always keep them close to the ground or secure in your arms.
Holding them close to your chest with both hands will make them feel safe and also allow you to quickly catch them if they try to jump.
Be sure to be gentle when petting your furry friend. They have delicate spines that should always be petted carefully and only if your piggy enjoys it.
You’ll know when your piggy has decided they don’t like the way you are petting them by watching their body language. They may jump to get away, start chittering, or even show their teeth.
By being in tune with what they like, you and your cavy can both enjoy the benefits of a good petting session.
Also, it’s a good idea to supervise young children when they’re holding or petting cavies. Young kids do not always know their own strength and might accidentally pet the cavy too hard or drop it on accident.
Benefits of holding your cavy on a regular basis
Like us, Guinea Pigs are social creatures. Along with regular exercise and playtime with their companions, they also enjoy time with their human owners.
By holding your piggy regularly, you’re creating a strong, trusting bond between the two of you. They will be more excited to see you and seek out your attention because you’ve shown them love and affection.
Being creatures of habits, holding your piggy at around the same time every day helps create a routine that you both can enjoy.
Your cavy will come to remember when it’s holding or playtime and eagerly wait for you. Reading your piggie’s body language will help you decide if they like to be held often or not. Each pet is different and will take time to figure out.
It is important to note though that you shouldn’t hold babies or pregnant mother cavies. When first born and for a few weeks after, baby piggies are extremely fragile.
They can easily be hurt during this time and are best left alone with their mother. Pregnant mothers have also been through a rough time by carrying and giving birth to their babies, making them vulnerable to injury, and should be given time to rest and heal.
Alternatives to Holding Your Guinea Pig
What Other Ways Can You Interact with Your Guinea Pig?
If your guinea pig doesn’t enjoy being held, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to interact with them.
You can play with them by setting up an obstacle course or providing them with toys to play with. You can also groom them by brushing their fur or trimming their nails.
Finally, you can simply spend time with them by sitting near their cage and talking to them or offering them treats.
How Can You Bond with Your Guinea Pig Without Holding Them?
Bonding with your guinea pig is important, regardless of whether or not they enjoy being held. You can bond with your guinea pig by spending time with them every day, talking to them, and offering them treats.
You can also provide them with a comfortable and stimulating environment by giving them plenty of space to play and explore.
The best time to hold and pet your guinea pig
The best time to hold your guinea pig is during the day. Some rodents, such as hamsters and rats are nocturnal and should be held at night.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, have a similar sleeping schedule as us humans. This makes interacting with them a lot easier because they’re awake at the same time as us.
One thing to keep in mind is that cavies tend to go to the bathroom right after they wake up. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid handling them for about 15 to 20 minutes to avoid them making a mess on you!
Soon, you’ll have your little cavy roaming all over you as they try to get into your lap or hustling to the enclosure door in anticipation of cuddle time!
While it’s overwhelmingly exciting to bring your new pet home, be sure to give them plenty of time to settle in and begin building your trust.
You wouldn’t want some stranger to randomly pick you up, and neither does your guinea pig!
With proper handling and plenty of treats, most Guinea Pigs will be happy to snuggle with you. These little guys are so full of personality and are incredibly social.
You’ll find that they’ll wait for you to come home, recognize different family members, and show affection by climbing on your or chirping. Building that bond will take time and patience, but it’ll be a rewarding experience for you both.
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