Some guinea pigs like being held, while others become very uncomfortable. Trust determines whether or not a guinea pig likes to be held. A guinea pig that trusts you will enjoy being held. However, if no trust has been established, they will be terrified when you pick them up.
I would absolutely love it if I could say all guinea pigs like to be held, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. All guinea pigs have their unique likes and dislikes. Some love to be held, others can’t stand it.
Signs Your Guinea Pig Does Not Like to Be Held
It’s pretty easy to tell when a guinea pig doesn’t enjoy being held because they will try to run away as fast as possible while screeching.
The most obvious sign that your guinea pig is not enjoying lap time is if they whimper or shiver. Guinea pigs are very shy creatures. When wild animals hold them like you, they are often doomed. This instinct is still very strong in some guinea. Some never get over it. The simple thought of you trying to hold them could make them very scared and anxious.
However, this is not true for all Guinea pigs (which is great news for you guinea pig lovers out there). Some guinea pigs love being held.
Signs Your Guinea Pig Likes to Be Held
So how do you know if a guinea pig enjoys being held? Simple. They will look relaxed and content.
This could mean that they are grooming themselves while on your lap or that their body looks like a squashed pancake with tiny feet going out in four different directions.
Interestingly, guinea pigs who enjoy being held all have something in common…
What Guinea Pigs Who Enjoy Being Held Have In Common
The common experience is time spent with a person. To grow comfortable with you holding them, your guinea pigs need to spend a lot of time with people, specifically you.
Guinea pigs are shy creatures who need to be familiar with the people they interact with. That means building trust to the point where you can hold them without them shaking in fear.
How To Build Trust With A Guinea Pig
Although there are many ways to build trust with a guinea pig, there are two simple things you should focus on.
Have Many Routines
The first is to have a consistent schedule for everything. Consistently feed your guinea pigs every day by hand, and they will trust you more and more with each passing day. Consistently interact with them every day, and they will trust you more.
If there is one thing guinea pigs love, it’s someone they know. The more you build up routines with them, the closer you will be to holding them. There is even one routine that helps create trust faster than any other. That is…a training routine.
We could make an entire article about guinea pig training (and we will). That’s how complex the topic is. But for now, just know that training your guinea pig helps build trust faster than anything else. Whether it’s training your guinea to come at the sound of a whistle or clicker training them, spending all that time with them will quickly build a trusting relationship.
How to Hold Your Guinea Pig
Now that you’ve spent time, months or years, with your guinea pigs and have established routines so that they trust you, it’s time to talk about how to hold a guinea pig. The process of holding a guinea pig is quite simple, but before that, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do.
Ways NOT To Handle a Guinea Pig
While holding a guinea pig is fun and exciting, it’s important to remember never to rub a guinea pig against its fur. It causes pain, and some might even yelp as you do it. It’s also important to never place your guinea pig on their back, as that could lead to spine-related problems later in life.
How To Handle Your Guinea Pig
When picking up your guinea pig, you should first be careful with their spines. You must pick them up with all 4 legs facing the floor. Be sure to keep them close to the floor. It’s not rare for a guinea pig to get startled from being so high up, jump out of your hand, and hurt itself in the process.
What To Do With A Held Guinea Pig
Okay, so now you can hold your guinea pig correctly after a long process of building trust. What are some fun things you can do with your guinea pigs?
The most enjoyable experience you can have with your guinea pig is also the simplest. Having them sit in your lap and fall asleep is the best experience you can have with a guinea pig. Even if they don’t fall asleep, enjoy finding where your guinea pig enjoys being pet.
Either slowly rubbing their back in the direction of the fur (remember not against the fur) or rubbing their chin are both great spots. Every guinea pig has their own preferences, so you have to find what your piggie likes the best.
How To Know When Your Guinea Pig Wants To Be Let Go
When your guinea pig is done having fun and wants to go back to its cage for a good rest, it will do one of several things.
You will either feel a small nibble against your arm, or maybe a series of squeaks will come from it, telling you it wants to be let go.
Remember to never force a guinea pig to go beyond what it would want. Even if they are small, they still pack a big punch when they feel threatened.
It’s All About Trust
Overall, whether a guinea pig likes to be held depends on how much trust they have in the person holding them. Although it’s fun to hold Guinea pigs, it’s important to handle them correctly and not force one that’s scared to be held.