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How To Pick Up Guinea Pigs? (How To Hold a Guinea Pig Safely)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: April 3, 2022

A guinea pig owner without much experience in handling guinea pigs often wonders how to pick up guinea pigs. 

Be gentle. Guinea pigs have delicate spines and must be handled with care. They should be kept upright, with all four feet facing the floor, to avoid back injuries. If they are startled, they may jump out of your hands, so don’t hold them up high – they prefer to be close to the ground.

The simple way to explain how to pick up your guinea pig is:

  1. Put one hand underneath their belly.
  2. With your other hand, lift and support their back legs.
  3. For added security, keep them close to your body.

Guinea pigs frequently form close relationships with their human companions.

Even if they enjoy being cuddled, it can be quite difficult to pick up one of your piggies. This is especially true for a new guinea pig that is just getting used to its new environment, a new home.

Also, this is true if you make any sudden movements.

But you should show some understanding, as guinea pigs are prey animals and they don’t feel comfortable being picked up from above. They usually tend to run away when they feel “danger” approaching, so they make picking them up pretty hard.

That is why the first rule when trying to pick up your piggy is to put your hand under its belly.

Even though this seems easy and simple, oftentimes it is not.

Sometimes you may feel as if they just really love to mess with you. They will approach you and move away in a split second.

Let’s explain four efficient methods of picking up guinea pigs ranked according to difficulty.

How To Pick Up a Guinea Pig?

We’ll start with the easiest way and then end with a pro method of picking up a guinea pig.

The Tunnel Method

To make this method work, you need a short and sturdy tunnel.

Just a regular fleece tunnel will be perfect for this undertaking because guinea pigs cannot resist tunnels.

If your guinea pigs do not go into the tunnel at all, you can also put a little bit of cucumber or any other treat your guinea pigs love.

But usually, you will accomplish your task without putting a treat in the tunnel.

So just place the tunnel in the cage and you can also just walk away for a couple of seconds or maybe a minute.

When you’re ready to pick up your guinea pig, you will close the front and the back of the tunnel with your hands.

Pay attention to the position of your hands. Make sure to support the belly of your guinea pig.

Hold your guinea pig in the tunnel close to your body because you don’t want your guinea pig to jump out of the tunnel.

So make sure that your hands are underneath the tunnel as well.

Quickly put your guinea pig down, give it a healthy treat, and you can start cuddling with your piggy.

This is a really bulletproof method of getting your guinea pig out of its cage without chasing it.

The Chat Method

To make this method work using two hands, you need an element of surprise.

What you’re going to do is you’re just going to pretend you’re talking to another guinea pig.

And while you’re talking to another guinea pig, pull your hand under your guinea pig’s belly and gently lift it.

Basically, you want to catch your guinea pig by surprise while it believes you’re focused on other guinea pigs.

This method is great if you know that the piggy you want to pick up is going to run away if you try to pick it up.

You don’t want to chase your guinea pig because it causes much stress to the guinea pig you are trying to pick up and to other guinea pigs.

Don’t immediately snatch the guinea pig from above but gently go from her head, stroke her and place your hand under the belly of the piggy.

Quickly, grab your piggy using your other hand to support its hind legs.

The Advanced Method of Picking Up Your Piggies

This method involves teaching your piggy to climb on your hand, up to your arm.

It takes a lot of time to train your guinea pig to simply climb on your hand.

Baby guinea pigs are the easiest to train, but you can teach your adult, older guinea pigs to do that.

You will need a lot of patience and a healthy treat-bribe.

How successful you’ll be, depends on a guinea pig’s character and temperament.

Take a treat, which can be anything such as a piece of lettuce, a piece of cucumber, or a pear.

With one hand, hold it above your arm, just above your hand.

If your guinea pig is small enough, it will fit into your palm and will start climbing up your arm.

You should wait until your guinea pig is firmly on your hand with part of the paws and part of the belly.

Use your other hand to secure the piggy on your hand, hold your guinea pig close to your body, and gently put it down.

The Easiest Way of Picking Up Your Piggies

This method works particularly well if you need to transport your guinea pigs in a carrier.

Simply place the carrier in the guinea pig’s habitat, open the door, and scatter around the carrier a few healthy treats such as cucumbers, bell peppers, or anything else your guinea pigs love.

You won’t have to wait long before your piggies rush into the carrier.

If you have more than one guinea pig sitting in the carrier, separate them into different carriers because guinea pig carriers are usually not big enough to host more than one to two guinea pigs.

How To Pick Up a Pregnant Guinea Pig?

Although guinea pigs enjoy being held and cuddled, what should you do to pick up a guinea pig that’s expecting babies?

We recommend handing a pregnant piggy if truly necessary.

This is especially important one month before new piggies are due.

Also, don’t try to pick them up too soon after they’ve been born as you may hurt their fragile bodies.

How To Safely Put Your Guinea Pig Back Into the Cage?

Because jumping out of your hands could injure your guinea pig, you want to put your guinea pig down into its cage backwards.

Can Children Learn To Pick Up Guinea Pigs?

Preferably, you will let your younger children stroke and feed their guinea pigs rather than pick them up.

Ask your child to sit in a safe place where your small animal can run around freely. 

Guinea pigs will usually come up to take treats, and once they get used to each other, a child may be able to stroke them gently.

This is the best way to start a bonding process with new guinea pigs.

In time, of course, your children can learn how to pick up their pets but don’t cause serious injuries.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pigs are flighty animals and will sometimes flee from you, even if they are used to being picked up.

Picking up your guinea piggies soon becomes a routine.

However, don’t try to pick them up only using one hand and never chase them because both you and your piggies will be stressed out.

They will tolerate being picked up but will most likely not enjoy it.

We have presented several methods that should help you pick up your guinea pig and hold it carefully without causing them any harm.

We have to emphasize that you need to be patient and even use different methods for different guinea pigs.


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