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How Do You Hold A Guinea Pig? (The Right Way & Wrong Way)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: March 9, 2021

Many people usually fear and in doubt about how to hold a guinea pig, usually because they are fragile, and one wrong touch of their body can cause damage.

They have soft bones that can break, causing injury if they fall from a height.

If injured when handling, this can cause them to be vulnerable and nervous when they have human contact.

Guinea pigs are small, adorable, and gentle animals.

They form a great bond with their human companion, who takes care of them because the guinea pig is small, it needs care when handling them.

Holding A Guinea Pig

As we said, guinea pigs are fragile animals, and when handling, they should be with care.

When picking them up, make sure their feet face the ground; they are upright to avoid damaging their spine.

The right way to hold them is to place one hand under their body and support the hind legs with your other hand.

Place them close to the body for their safety.

The wrong way to hold a guinea pig is by holding them high off the ground.

How To Pick Your Guinea Pig For The First Time

Picking up a guinea pig can be the most critical thing to do when picking up this pet.

Without the proper knowledge, you can pick it in the wrong way, making it nervous, and you might become irritated with human contact.

So, how should this go about??

Guinea pigs are small animals that love to cuddle and have human contact.

They love to hug and cuddle.

They are usually round in shape, and if they fall, they cannot bounce up; they only hurt.

This encourages for careful handling of these animals.

Here are the steps.

Give Them Space

After buying a guinea pig, it becomes a new environment for them.

Like any other animal being in a new environment is hard; they take time to cope with their new surroundings.

For a guinea pig, get them in their cage and place them inside.

Then cover the cage with a light cover leaving space for light to enter the cage.

This gives them the security they need, and they start being secure with the environment around them.

You should give them a space of a day to three days to cope with the situation.

After this period then you can begin introducing yourself.

Let It Get Used To You

With safety assured for the guinea pig, it’s time to introduce yourself.

It’s not advisable to start by removing it out of the cage.

First, all you have to do is give it your hand to smell you and get to know you.

When trying to stroke it or touch it, please do not touch it from the top; these startle them because their eyes are at the side.

Although these animals can see predators from a distance, they are not good with things close to them.

To touch them, approach them from the front and get down to their level; they will start small by sniffing you.

For it to trust, you need to stroke it gently at the back.

If they are not comfortable yet, be calm for a while as it’s their nature to run and hide.

During this process, ensure that they are eating and are they comfortable in their cage.

Throughout this period, you can talk to them using a soft voice to get used to you.

Stay Calm

These animals are always startled; this is because they become nervous about their surroundings.

Always ensure when you are picking up, you are calm.

They can pick up the emotions of humans around them.

Loud noises are a risk to them as they get uncomfortable.

It’s better when picking them to switch off the television, radio, and phone.

Pick Them Up

When it’s time, and you trusted you, you should know how to carry the guinea pig.

Ensure your hands are clean for their safety.

If they are running away, let them be for a few days so they can trust you.

Always ensure that you are down to their level when picking them.

Never come from their behind.

Place your hands in their cage and give them a few minutes to investigate the new thing in their environment.

They are very inquisitive; let them inquire for a minute or two to get acquainted with you.

When you hold them up, slide one hand under the guinea pig, start holding them up, and then place your finger to support the back legs.

This will support them in your hands.

Use your second hand to support the back of your guinea pig.

Lift it with your two hands; when lifting it with your two hands, they feel secure.

Avoid Squeezing Them

Ensure you hold them because they can jump from your hands.

It’s also advised to hold them while sitting down, which avoids the risk of them falling.

How To Hold Your Guinea Pig

To hold your guinea pig properly, you should do the following things.

Place A Cloth Underneath

Always when you are holding it in your chest, make sure you place a towel or a cloth.

They usually cannot pee or put their droppings on you, but in some instances, that might happen.

Give Them Food

Guinea pigs love carrots, which can be a good thing to give them food while holding them.

They make it a habit and always associate your cuddling with good things.

You can also offer them strawberries or even lettuce.

When They Wiggle, Never Put Them Down

This is a sign that they are uncomfortable and want to get down.

Placing them down gives them the impression that they will go back in their cage whenever they wiggle.

How To Teach Your Child To Handle A Guinea Pig

Children should never try to hold guinea pigs.

When you are not near, always make sure to lock the guinea pig cage to ensure your child does not carry it.

Here are some of the ways you can teach your child to handle a guinea pig:

  • Let them pet the guinea pig when you are holding it
  • Make the child sit down when you are giving them to hold it
  • Give the child to hold and watch them when playing with the guinea pig

Handling Pregnant Guinea Pigs

Carrying a pregnant guinea pig is out of the question.

This should not be the case when they are pregnant unless you want to clean their cage.

When cleaning their cage, you should use a special pet cage to carry them around.

If you carry them and become startled, they are at risk of both the mother and the children getting hurt.

At this stage, they are undergoing a lot of stress.

This makes them more fragile and easily nervous; thus, they hide to avoid touching.

Things To Know About Guinea Pigs

For you to handle a guinea pig, you have to understand it.

It also needs to trust you by becoming friendly to it.

These cannot happen without you knowing what to do and when.

Since they are fragile animals, they should always handle them with care.

So here are some of the important things you should take into consideration.

How Long Should You Handle A Guinea Pig?

A guinea loves cuddling with humans who pets them.

At the same time, they can also refuse and hide when they are uncomfortable.

It’s recommended that guinea pigs can cuddle for around ten to fifteen minutes.

This is because they can become restless, or they may want to go to the bathroom.

It’s also advisable you always have a towel underneath in case they pee or poop.

And if they pee or poop, you should be calm and clean without making them nervous.

If they become restless and want to get back to the cage, they start to nibble clothes and produce a whining sound.

When Can You Not Hold Guinea Pigs?

There are some cases when you shouldn’t touch these animals.

They become too fragile at times.

We have already seen when they are pregnant, and they are in the cage.

When they are unwell or injured, you take them to the vet for a check-up.

The vet advises when they are well and are ready to cuddle again.

Newborn guinea pigs should be in their cages till the vet says it’s okay.

They are too fragile as their body is small and their bones are so weak.

Places You Should/Should Not Touch

We have already known that they are fragile animals, and they are also afraid of everything.

At this point, we should know that some parts of its body make it nervous.

Guinea pigs do not like their bottom touched or rubbed.

They usually love having their back, and head between their ears stroked.

Hold Them With Care

Cuddling up with guinea pigs makes them feel loved.

This is a way for them to get used and start looking forward to the time for cuddling.

When you hold them and treat them food, they will trust you and always bond time.

Carrying A Guinea Pig While Walking

It’s not advisable to be walking around while the guinea pig is in your arms.

This can be very dangerous and fatal at the same time.

In some instances, if they live outside and you are bringing them inside for lap time.

Then you have to carry them to and from.

Throughout this process, you should carry them as advised and hold them up against your body.

Ensure your hand holds their bottom and the other hand holds their legs.

This keeps them from falling.

At this position, some guinea pigs snuggle in your hands as they feel safe there.

Also, avoid rash movement when carrying them, and always be calm.

Wash Your Hands

Keeping your hands clean before handling a pig ensures that you do not contaminate it with any germs.

This is because they have a strong sense of smell.

If you have eaten a delicious meal, they can mistake your hand for food and bite you.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, wash your hands.

Do Not Use Deodorant

For them to know you, they do smell your unique scent.

If you have deodorants on when handling them, they may not respond to you as they are not familiar with the scent.

Always ensure that you do not have any scent on you when going to handle them.

Keep Them In An Area Free Of Obstacles

When you want to hold a guinea pig, you should make sure the walking area has no obstacles.

These obstacles may trip you and fall.

To ensure this doesn’t happen when you have the pig, clear the area off any obstacle for safety.

A Quiet Environment

When these animals are young, or you’re handling them for the first time, they can get squirmish.

Ensure that the environment around you is quiet and calm.

Bark from a dog or tv station getting a little louder can startle the animal, making them irritated.

Free Space

When you are holding them in a room, they can always jump when you are not careful and make a run.

They tend to hide.

You should ensure the room you are in is free from holes that it can enter.

This is because, if they jump out of your hand, they run very fast.

If there are holes in the room, then they can disappear.

To avoid this, ensure the room is free, and you can easily catch them when they start running.

Carry Food

They tend to lure easily to food.

When you want to catch them easily, you can have a treat for them each time you pick them.

This will give them the confidence to come up to you as they know they will eat.

Never Wear Clean Clothes

When you are handling guinea pigs, never wear clean clothes.

In ten to fifteen minutes, they may go to the bathroom on your clothes.

So, when you are holding them, be sure that your clothes may get dirty.

Even from the fur on their bodies, it may stick to your clothes when cuddling with them.

Good Care Of Your Pet

Handling the pet helps it from becoming nervous and squeamish around you.

This helps create a bond.

It provides you and the pet with pleasure when you are cuddling them.

Grooming of the pet each day can protect them from mental relaxation and relieve them from stress.

Being able to bond with you provides them a friend who helps them relax during these cuddling moments.

This helps them have social interaction and prevents them from having mental illness from being lonely.

Do They Pee When Being Held?

Ideally, when handling them, you should not go more than fifteen minutes.

In this period, they may have felt like going to the bathroom.

You can always know when they are uncomfortable and want you to put them down.

Many will become restless at this point and start giving you a nip that is hurtless.

Others will lick you while being restless.

If you do not return them, they start nipping you hard till you do so.

It’s hard for a pig to pee on you; rather, it can poop on you.

If it peed on you, then you missed all the signs it gave you.

What Should You Do If It Escapes?

In the case that your guinea pig escapes when handling them, do not panic.

If you are in a room, be sure that you will catch them, thus no reason for panic.

And also, you should not chase them around the house.

This will scare them more.

The first thing you should do is enclose all escape routes from the room.

Use books to cover any outlets and even that entering under the sofa.

Ensure that there are no dangerous objects that it can chew on.

Corner them on our side and lure them with food.

Since they escaped from your hands, they might have hurt in the process.

Be careful when you pick them up to make sure they are not in pain.

Lure them with food and pick them using the normal way of picking them.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pigs are small and friendly pets, and you need to know how to hold a guinea pig.

These pets give comfort to animal lovers, and in return, they have love and care.

When they trust you, they become your friend, and you can easily cuddle with them at any time.

At the same time, they are very delicate animals, and ensure you are checking on them.

Never allow your children to play with them without supervision because children play with animals as toys.

A regular check-up with the vets is essential to ensure everything is okay with them.


Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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Last update on 2023-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API