Do Guinea Pigs Like To Be Held? Facts, Tips, Steps


All owners want to find out the best ways to bond and interact with their guinea pig? But sometimes it’s hard to tell what they enjoy and what they don’t. Is your guinea pig going to enjoy being held?

Guinea pigs do love to spend time with their owners, and being held is going to form part of that time. Regularly holding your guinea pig will help them feel as if they are able to bond better with you, and create a stronger relationship between owner and guinea pig.

But then it does open up the question as to how you hold them, when you should hold them, and also when it’s best to leave them alone to their own devices. After all, you want to make sure that they are capable of enjoying the time you spend with them, and the last thing you want is to stress them out in some way.

Guinea Pigs and Being Held

You need to remember that a guinea pig is going to love bonding with you, and that’s only going to happen when you spend time together. They love the company and feeling safe and secure with all of this, but trust does take time to build, and it’s not going to happen overnight.

Building Trust

Even though being held is something that your guinea pig will love, you need to work on building that trust. Here, you must allow your piggy to take the lead with everything. It needs to be done on their terms, and in their own time. A guinea pig is a fearful and scared pet at the best of times, so they need to feel comfortable and confident that you are not going to pose any sort of danger to them.

For this, you need to spend time with them, but start off at a bit of a distance. Don’t go straight in there and pick up your piggy and start cuddling them. That’s not going to go down too well, and you will then cause more damage than doing any good.

Your piggy needs to be able to explore you, and to learn that everything is safe, and they are in no harm. They will start to build the length of time they spend with you on this bonding mission, but you shouldn’t go straight into picking them up and holding them straight away.

Actually, you need to do the opposite of that.

Petting and Taking Your Time

The key is to work up to stroking your piggy before you even think about holding them. If they have got to the stage where they have come up next to you and seem relaxed in your presence, then the next step is to work at them feeling confident enough with you touching them.

At first, this may freak them out. It’s something new and unusual for them to contend with, and that’s a tough thing for your guinea pig to contend with.

If they do come up near you, don’t make any swift movements. They will catch onto this and become scared, and you want to avoid that wherever possible.

Instead, slow and gentle movements will suffice. Then, pet them slowly and gently, focusing on around their head and nose. Don’t apply too much pressure, as that’s going to make matters worse, and if they start to move away, then allow them to do so.

By moving away, it may mean they are not feeling that comfortable with things at this point. However, don’t force the issue and be prepared to work away at it again in the future.

One other point with this part of the process.

It may be the case that your piggy will only be like this with you, and nobody else. They don’t bond with everyone, but when they do, it’s a strong bond and they will show you so much love.

After the Trust is Built

Let’s jump forward in time slightly, and presume that the trust has been built and your guinea pig is ready to be held.

If they love you, and trust you, then your guinea pig is going to enjoy being held and cuddled on a regular basis. They love the feeling, and it also helps make them feel a whole lot safer in their world.

But that then leads to its own problem, and that’s being aware of how to correctly pick them up.

So, how do you do it?

First Thing – Don’t Be Nervous

The first thing is to make sure you aren’t nervous. Believe us when we say that there’s nothing to worry about as holding your pet guinea pig is a very simple process.

Also, your piggy will pick up on you being tense and anxious, so please try your best to just relax into the process. Don’t worry about dropping your piggy. You will be sitting on the floor, and you aren’t going to be lifting your piggy up any height. Also, if they do squirm and want to be let go of, then you don’t have far to go in order to place them safely on the ground.

It’s also important to keep the environment as calm as possible. This is especially true when it’s the first time you will be holding your piggy. Don’t make any quick movements, and don’t allow any loud noises to happen, wherever possible. Keeping things as calm and serene as possible is going to result in the best possible outcome for both you and your piggy.

Check How Your Piggy is Feeling

This is where you need to start paying attention to everything that’s going on. It’s important that you pay attention to how your piggy is feeling before you try to hold them.

If they try to move away, or even try to bite you, then don’t force the matter. You can easily try again later on in the day, or even another day. It means your piggy is not feeling relaxed enough and is stressed. They don’t yet know that having a nice cuddle with you could make them feel better. It’s all scary for them, and they probably want to be left alone until they calm down.

That’s why we recommend allowing them to come to you rather than you going to them. They control the pace of this entire thing, and it leads to that better experience for everyone involved.

Picking Up Your Piggy

So, how do you pick up your piggy? Well, you need to be careful, and do things the right way. The key thing here is to slide your hand under the belly of your piggy. You must understand that having their feet up off the floor is going to be scary for them, especially the first time it happens, so them feeling this support under their belly does reduce some of the stress.

Also, picking up your piggy in this way does mean you have a good grip of them and are in control of their movements.

But there’s one other small movement which is also important, and that involves one of their front legs.

With your fingers, try to hook them around one of the front legs of your guinea pig. That is going to effectively secure the hold you have on them, and it also adds to the feeling of security that your guinea pig is looking for.

Of course, if it’s a child doing this, then they may find it difficult to do this thanks to the size of their hands. If that’s the case, then get them to hold one of the legs with their other hand until the guinea pig is clearly more settled with being held. [Source]

Always Use Two Hands

You must never hold your guinea pig with only one hand. That is scary for them, and they are not going to enjoy the experience. Instead, use two hands to make things feel very secure.

If you only use one hand, then your piggy will likely feel as if they could go ahead and fall. That’s not a good situation for them, and they will then start to wiggle and squirm with the need to be put down. That could very well stress them out and make it harder for you to pick them up and hold them in the future.

When holding them, place one hand on their back when picking them up for a cuddle. They will feel that pressure on their back and then forget about the idea of falling backward and hurting themselves. You then stand a great chance of increasing the likelihood of them relaxing into being held and enjoying the bonding session.

A Firm and Gentle Grip is Best

When holding your guinea pig, a firm and gentle grip is the way to go. Also, please don’t walk around holding them. They don’t need that extra movement to happen. [Source]

Instead, your guinea pig is going to be quite content sitting there with you having a quiet moment and some alone time with you. They don’t need to be walking around while up in the air. That will stress them out a lot, and they will then often be quite wary about approaching you again in the future.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, and allow your piggy to run up between your legs before lifting them. Keep them relatively close to the ground to make it easier for you to let them down when they have had enough of being held.

How Often Will They Enjoy it and What Does it Do?

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that your guinea pig will end up wanting cuddles on a regular basis, and you better be on hand to dish them out whenever they want. Like we said earlier on, your piggy loves these bonding sessions when they take to an individual, and they will happily come over for a cuddling session whenever it’s on offer.

What it does for them is easy to understand. They feel relaxed and safe. They realize that nothing is going to harm them, and this contentment is good for their overall health. They thrive on these bonding sessions, and they may do so more than any other pet of their kind.

As long as you are providing them with the correct level of care for their living quarters, food, and general health, then your guinea pig will respond to being held in a positive way.

But then, it can also be used as a way to understand that all is not as it seems. If they loved being held, and then are not interested, then you may have to investigate why that’s the case. It could point to something being wrong.

In Conclusion

So, your guinea pig loves being held, but don’t expect it to happen immediately. Allow them to come to you in their own time, and to control the pace.

Make sure you understand how to not only pick them up, but to then hold them in such a way so as to give them support. Remember, protect their back and rear end with your hands, and that will help them to relax into things.

As soon as they get used to being picked up and held, they will want to do so on a regular basis, and with them being such cute pets to own, who would ever be able to resist that? So, allow yourself to enjoy the experience, as that’s exactly what your guinea pig is going to be doing.

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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