If you’ve seen a fluffy little guinea pig, you’ve likely wanted to cuddle them and stroke their soft fur. After all, they’re so stinkin’ adorable!
But, do guinea pigs actually like to be cuddled and held? What about petted?
I don’t recommend adopting a guinea pig to be a cuddly pet, because many of them will never enjoy cuddling or being held. However, some guinea pigs are cuddly and will relax in people’s laps. Most guinea pigs will also learn to accept pets once you’ve bonded with them.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether guinea pigs like to cuddle and be held, how to hold your guinea pig, and more.
Do Guinea Pigs Like to Cuddle?
Some guinea pigs do like to cuddle, while others won’t ever enjoy the experience. It depends on their history, socialization, and personality.
Two guinea pigs can be raised the same and turn out completely different, so don’t blame yourself or your care if your guinea pig is skittish or dislikes being held. Also don’t try to force them to be someone they’re not.
It can be hard to have a guinea pig who hates cuddling when you see all the cuties online melted into people’s laps. Please respect your piggy’s boundaries anyway! Remember that they depend on us for everything, and are completely helpless when we place them in a situation that scares them.
Almost no guinea pigs like to be picked up, even those who love being held. While this might seem contradictory, you have to remember that they are prey animals.
The only reason a wild guinea pig would be scooped into the air is if they were caught by a bird of prey. You can understand why that would be frightening!
Though our guinea pigs aren’t wild, they still have deeply-ingrained instincts passed down from their wild ancestors.
How Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Held?
When carrying a guinea pig, it’s important to hold them securely and to support their entire body. Once you’re sitting down, you can let them do a bit of exploring–just make sure they can’t jump or fall from your lap.
During this time, your guinea pig will show you how they like to be held. Every piggy is different! Some will climb onto your shoulder and into your hair, some will relax on your lap, and some will try to hide in your shirt or up your sleeves.
I had a guinea pig who loved trying to eat my hair and who’d sit comfortably with me for as long as I kept him out of his cage. He had a big personality!
Another of my piggies was a homebody who loved his cage. When he was being held, all he wanted to do was hide in my sweatshirt.
Don’t try to force your guinea pig into unnatural positions, as this can hurt them. For instance, holding them on their backs like babies can cause spinal damage.
Your guinea pig’s whole weight should always be supported, and their feet should be facing the floor while you hold them.
Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Petted?
Yes! Many guinea pigs like to be petted. Of course, it depends on their personality and how much they trust humans.
When you first bring your guinea pigs home, they’re unlikely to accept pets. But over time, many piggies will let you pet them in the cage so long as you’re calm and gentle.
Of course, some piggies enjoy pets while cuddling as well!
One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s easier to pet a piggy if their cage is raised off the ground. Not only is it easier to reach them as you pass by, but they also seem less afraid. I think it’s because we seem smaller to them when they don’t have to look up at us on the floor, and it’s easier to approach them from the side instead of from above.
How to Best Pick Up Your Guinea Pig
Use a Cuddle Cup or Hide
A cuddle cup is made specifically for picking up and cuddling your piggy. These products are like little pockets that guinea pigs can climb inside and feel safe.
If you don’t have one, you can also use a hide. Some people use tunnels, fleece hides with bottoms, or even upside-down hidey houses. I used to carry my piggies in these and it worked very well!
In my opinion, using an item like this is the best way to pick up a guinea pig. Many piggies will learn to climb into a cuddle cup or hide to be picked up when they begin to associate it with good things like floor time, cuddles, or food. It’s much less traumatic for them than being forcibly picked up.
Always make sure your hands or the item is supporting your guinea pig’s weight evenly. Block the entrance with your hands to prevent them from jumping as well.
Approach From the Side
The reason being picked up is so scary for guinea pigs is because it mimics the way they’d be lifted by a bird of prey. They instinctively fear this sensation, as in the wild it would mean a likely death.
This is why you should always approach your guinea pig from the side, not the top. Bring your hands under your guinea pig and lift them from below.
Scooping them up from above can feel natural to us because we’re so much taller, but this simple shift can make a big difference for your piggies.
Support Their Weight Evenly
Guinea pigs have fragile spines, so it’s important to support their entire body when picking them up. Never pick them up beneath the front legs, by the scruff, or in other ways that leave part of their body hanging.
Instead, scoop one hand beneath their chest and place your fingers between their front legs. Then, use your second hand to support their rear. Bring the guinea pig close to your chest and hold them securely.
Hold One Paw Between Your Fingers
When holding your guinea pig, keeping one of their legs between your pointer and middle fingers can give you more control.
It keeps them from squirming and scratching, which can hurt you but is also dangerous to them. You never want your piggy to be able to fall out of your grasp.
I hope these tips have helped you learn whether guinea pigs like to be held, and how to pick up and cuddle your piggy. Remember not to force interactions if your guinea pig doesn’t like it!
The best way to develop a bond with your unique piggy is to follow their lead and find things that they enjoy. This might be hand-feeding, petting inside of the cage, or having floor time with you nearby, rather than cuddling.