Guinea Pigs are amazing, loving animals and pets. So it’s no wonder you may be wondering, do guinea pigs like to be held? Every family likes the idea of having pets ,specially if you have young children. And whilst this is a great idea, you should be considering which pet will best suit your household. Do you want to be able to play with your pet, and enjoy their company as much as they enjoy yours. Or are you looking for a pet which is self sufficient, which doesn’t need attention all day long to feel loved.
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There are many questions that need answering before you chose a pet, and this one is a great place to start.
Well, do guinea pigs like to be held? The answer is somewhat complex. Whilst guinea pigs do like to be held, it takes a while to get them to this stage of acceptance. Let me explain further.
Guinea Pigs have been domesticated over time to become one of the most popular pets around. In some parts of the world guinea pigs still roam free in the wild, and this is where they originate from, like most animals.
Wild guinea pigs are very low down on the food chain. They are grazers which only eat vegetation and plantations, which means they are prey for any carnivores and some omnivores (both which eat meat). Predators such as Snakes, Foxes, Cats, Wolves, Hawks, Owls and even Humans all pose a threat to guinea pigs, and for this reason they are very scared and wary on their surroundings.
Over time, as they have been domesticated and bred for domestic purposes, they have not lost their wariness. They have been trying to evade capture for thousands of years, dating back to 5000BC, so this characteristic is embedded into their species.
Because they are always in fear of being captured, guinea pigs frighten very easily. They will run and hide whenever they fear a threat is near by. This is no different for domesticated guinea pigs either. You will commonly see them scurry away, or run back into their hide whenever someone, or something approaches their cage. It seems like everything is a potential threat to them.
There is however light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll be pleased to know, that with a bit of patients and a bit more stare time, your guinea pig will eventually accept you and not see you as a threat.
The more time you can spend with your guinea pig from an early age the better. One of the best ways for your guinea pig to gain confidence with humans is via treats. Thats right, treats. Just like you would treat a dog. Guinea Pigs or opportune eaters, and will pretty much feed all day. So if you have some treats which you can offer them, they will be inclined to take you up on your offer of food.
If fed by hand this will in turn create a bond with your guinea pig and eventually they will not see you as a treat, but more as a means of food and comfort. After a few weeks your guinea pig should feel completely at ease with you and will even let you pick them up.
How often should you hold a guinea pig?
Once you have the first few weeks out the way and your guinea pig has started to accept you, you’ll likely be wanting to hold and cuddle them all the time. But how often should this be?
Once your guinea pig is completely comfortable with your presence, they will begin to love the time they spend with you. So it’s completely up to you how much you hold them, you can cuddle them as much as you like.
Handling your guinea pig will gain its trust and confident with humans which is great for the whole family. Kids can be loud, which may frighten your guinea pig, so make sure they are staying quiet and whisper around them to begin with. The last thing you need is for all your hard work to be undone by loud kids which frighten the guinea pig back into hiding.
When shouldn’t you hold a guinea pig?
There are some circumstances which means you should not be holding your guinea pig, or any guinea pig for that matter. So these are situations which you need to be aware of, as they can each happen at any moment.
New Born Guinea Pigs
You shouldn’t be handling new born guinea pigs. New borns have very delicate bones and are extremely delicate for the first couple of weeks. They need time for their bone to develop before they can be handled. This shouldn’t be too bad as usually they will stay will hidden for the first week or so with their mother by their side.
Just Given Birth
You should also not be handling female guinea pigs who have just given birth. Yes they will be highly stress and very sore all over as you could imagine. The best possible thing you can do for a the mother guinea pig is let her rest. She’s been on quite the journey over the last 2 months, and now she needs to rest. Any form of handling may cause unnecessary pain to the individual which can easily be avoided.
If They’re Unwell
You may have just got back from the veterinarians, or can visibly see the your guinea pig is unwell. Any form of handling or petting may cause some much unneeded stress or even pain (depending what their illness is). Again it is best to get some professional advise from the veterinarian, and give your guinea pig the time it needs to full recover. They will naturally come back to their usual self when they are ready.
Do Guinea Pigs like to be held- The Signs
Allowing to be hand fed
A guinea pig that can be hand fed shows that it has accepted you as no threat to their safety. This takes a lot of courage and confidence for a guinea pig to do this, so take your time with them. Feeding guinea pig by hand will usually come hand in hand with holding them, or letting them sit on your lap in close quarters. Like I have said before, this is a big deal for a guinea pig, so think of this as acceptance.
They’ll follow you around
After a whilst your guinea pig will actually really enjoy your company, and will almost crave it. Another sign that your guinea pig likes to be held is if they are following you around. This is usually seen when you walk past their cage. Do they follow you from one end to the other. This is their way of trying to get your attention for some cuddles.
Freely climb on you
At the beginning when you are creating a bond with your guinea pig, it’s recommended to handle them in a secure room or enclosed area. IF you put your guinea pig in the floor, it is completely up to them whether they want to come over to you or not. No pressure on either parties. However, if your guinea pig come over to play and starts climbing all over you, then it’s quite clear to say they like to be held.
They’ll talk to you
Now, obviously I don’t mean talk to you in a language that you’ll understand. This is impossible. But when guinea pigs are comfortable in their surroundings they will be extremely vocal. Usually when they’re out hunting in the wild they’re as quiet as possible, not to attract any unwanted attention.
Guinea Pigs voices sound like little squeaks, and once they start, it’s hard to stop. But why would you want to. A quiet guinea pig is a frightened guinea pig, so the more vocal they are, the better.
Do Guinea Pigs like to be held – Step by Step
At the start
- First of all, you need to give your guinea pig some space for the first few days when bringing them home for the first time. This will be a very confusing time for a guinea pig and will put them under a lot of stress.
- After a couple of days, let them get used to your voice and smell. Spend some time sitting back the cage and talking to them, offering them the back of your hand against the cage for them to come and smell. After a few days you should be able to calmly and confidently be able to put your hand inside the cage for them to smell up close.
- After a couple more days, begin to stroke your guinea pig for the head down. The gentle connection will eventually sooth your guinea pig into realising you are no threat to them.
- Be calm and make sure you move slowly with no sharp or sudden movements, this will frighten your guinea pig and scare them away. It will be back to square one if you frighten them at this point.
- Now you should be at a point where you’ll have the trust to attempt to handle your guinea pig. Timing is everything as you want to make this as stress free as possible. Instead of chasing your guinea pig into a corner of the cage, wait until they are naturally settled in a corner. It sounds harsh but this offers them no escape route.
- Using one hand, slip you hand underneath your guinea pigs belly and slowly start to lift them. If they are frighted and try to bite you, then stop what you are doing and try again another day once your gin pig is calm. This will be rare if you have followed all the previous step correctly.
- As soon as you can, use both hands to handle your guinea pig. Either in a cupping motion against your chest with one hand under their back legs, and the other securing them in a comfortable position. Or, laid across the length of your forearm, with the other hand stroking their back.
- Be firm and gentle with them. Make them feel safe in your arms by having them in a dafe position and a low level, so they wouldn’t fall from a height if they fell.
- Once calm, your guinea pig should just sit nicely and let you comfort them and stroke their backs. Once you get to this stage, there’s no looking back. Well done.
Well there you have it, do Guinea Pigs like to be held?
Yes, of course they do. They have so much love to give, but it will take a little time and patience to get to that stage. Follow the steps which have been listed above and you should have any problems.