Guinea Pigs are some of the cutest animals and pets. Naturally, you are going to want to hold and even cuddle them, but is this a good idea? If you’ve recently purchased a Guinea Pig, or are planning to get one shortly, this is one of those questions that you will likely ask.
So, do Guinea Pigs Like To Be Cuddled? Guinea Pigs generally like to be held and cuddled. They are very social animals, love human interaction and particularly like it when their necks and backs are stroked and gently scratched. Due to their relatively small size and fragile nature, it is important to handle and cuddle them with utmost care.
A Guinea Pig will most want to be held when in a good mood and will fidget when they want to ‘get down’; typically after 10 minutes of lap-time.
In this article, I want to detail some of the best practices for handling and cuddling your Guinea Pig.
I’ll be talking you through some things to consider and some of the things you should be careful of and even refrain from doing.
Hopefully, by the end, you will feel more comfortable and understand that it’s 100% okay to cuddle your Guinea Pig.
Let’s dive into the details.
Typical Guinea Pig Temperament
Guinea pigs are sweet, loving animals. The best thing about them is that each and every one of them has their own unique personality – which you can learn to understand, admire and appreciate over time.
It is important to know that Guinea Pigs are actually quite timid animals, especially when they are in a new environment.
They take time to get used to their new surroundings and spending time within your company.
Be gentle, pamper them, and speak to them often in order for them to get used to your voice.
It is advisable to ensure you get a spacious cage that provides some form of inner housing; where they will be able to hide if they feel insecure or scared. This is why I like the Living World Deluxe Habitat (available for a great price on Amazon).
Guinea Pigs are very friendly, and you’ll notice this in time when they gain confidence. They have the ability to recognize their owners and will greet them when they approach them through specific noises.
They easily make contact with people and enjoy pampering and playing as long as you keep them safe and treat them gently.
As a species and in the wild, they live in herds so it is important that you are routinely in their company or you have several Guinea Pigs as pets. It is always advisable to keep them in pairs as a minimum.
However, Guinea Pigs do breed easily and frequently so if you do not want to them to have any offspring you should keep your males and females separated and never pair the two.
To prevent fights and quarrels between your Guinea Pigs, it is a good idea to get a double cage (with two sections) whereby each Guinea Pig has a its own bowl of food.
Another thing to consider is if you have young children or are likely to have young children around your Guinea Pigs.
If children get too excited they can unintentionally scare them. Speaking too loudly and touching them in sensitive areas are two areas where problems can arise.
Guinea pigs are also great to keep along with other pets. However, this will ultimately depend on the pet, their own temperament and in certain cases certain breeds.
For example, certain breeds of dogs and/or cats may have a pronounced urge to hunt. This can mean that your Guinea Pigs (or other similar smaller animals) are perceived as prey.
To prevent any issues if this is the case you are going to need to be very vigilant of where you keep your pets and have an understanding of where they are at all times.
When To Cuddle A Guinea Pig
Guinea Pigs attach to humans very quickly and for this reason they are soon more than happy for you to pick them up and hold them. They also love to be gently cuddled by people, especially when they are feeling happy.
It is therefore advisable that you look out for signs of your Guinea Pigs mood. The best time to hold a Guinea Pig is when they are happy.
You’ll likely want to refrain when they appear distressed, concerned or would otherwise be adversely affected by holding and cuddling (like when they are sleeping/going to the toilet).
A good indicator that your Guinea Pig is in good spirits is when they “spin around” in their cage or when out on the floor.
Jumping and jerking (the so-called popcorn move) are other signs that they are particularly happy in the moment.
Giving them time to roam outside of the cage is a good way to ensure this happiness and enhance their overall well-being in general. Typically 30 minutes is about the right amount of time.
You should always consider their fragile constitution and their gentle structure when holding them, so be sure not to hug too closely and give them enough space to breathe.
Beyond just being held, Guinea Pigs are naturally very social and ‘vocal’ animals. This is another great way to quickly get an insight into their current mood.
There are various sounds that Guinea Pigs to look out for and that they like to make. Each represent the different emotions they may be feeling which you’ll soon learn to recognize over time.
Guinea Pigs use noises as clear signals of communication directed at you. They can show you when they are disturbed (mostly when holding them inappropriately) and this should be recognized and respected.
If you was to cuddle your Guinea Pig too tightly, or cause them discomfort, you may receive a small bite. Remember that Guinea Pigs are well-natured and almost never bite a person intentionally.
However, it is something to look out for, especially if young children want to hold and cuddle them. Even a slight bite can be stressful for a young child and could even cause a long term fear of animals.
A great way to look for signs that a Guinea Pig is about to bit is by monitoring its head movements. Generally, when they are preparing to bite, they’ll throw their head away.
How To Cuddle A Guinea Pig
If you would like to hold and cuddle your Guinea Pig, which you should (as its good for you and your pet), then you should consider a few things first.
Firstly, Guinea pigs have certain areas of their bodies where they like / dislike to be touched. They prefer their heads and neck to be scratched, along with their entire backs.
Sometimes they allow their chin to be touched as well, but this will be dependant on the Guinea Pig and how tame they are.
Bellies and buttocks are areas they do not like anyone to touch. This can cause some anxiety and if you touch too close to these areas your Guinea Pig will let you know.
The Guinea Pig is a tender animal with sensitive bones and muscle structure. They do not have many muscles, short legs and if they fall while you are holding them, it usually ends in a fracture.
So, if you want to hold them, it is for the best to be on your lap. Be sure to keep them close to you at all times to prevent them falling.
Guinea pigs are not aggressive animals, especially not towards humans, but they are not the most ideal of pets for young children.
This is because they are timid and need to be approached and touched gently. Sudden movements can scare them and children have a tendency to do this.
With proper care, Guinea Pigs are much loved pets who simply adore their owners. They are always looking for company, so if you are often out of the house, it is good to have at least a couple to keep each other company.
When they are alone for a long time, they often become depressed. Refusing food is a good sign of this and something to look out for.
It is important never to try to turn them on their back, because it is something that they do not like, and it could also result in injury.
How To Make Guinea Pigs More Social
Guinea Pigs are very social animals and they like the company of other people and animals. They like interaction and having attention.
At the same time, they are very sensitive and any contact should be done with an utmost care.
It takes a minimum of five days for a Guinea Pig to adjust to a new environment, so you should give them time to gain confidence in their new home and surroundings.
You may notice in this interim period they are more cautious of being held and cuddled. It is realistic to expect that it will be able to feel completely safe in their new home within a month.
Of course, you can always take your Guinea Pig for a “walk” by letting it run across your garden or living room.
This will improve their mood and reduce any levels of anxiety. If you decide to so this be careful because they could easily get lost or hide away. Make sure there are no areas they can escape.
When walking or running freely, your Guinea Pig may try to nibble on anything that it comes across. If you’re inside the house, this can be anything including furniture, carpets and cables. So you have to he careful with where you let them roam and what they get up to.
If you need to refrain your Guinea Pig from an area, be careful not to force them, but at the same time stop them from falling or dropping off any ledge.
How Long Should You Cuddle Your Guinea Pig?
How long you should hold and cuddle your Guinea Pig will depend on its own character and current mood. It will also depend if they are new pets and used to you and have gained trust in you and your company.
Some Guinea Pigs will love lap time and others may not like it at all. This is something that you will have to learn to notice on your own.
As a rough guide 5-10 minutes is usually a good amount of time.
Food can be used as a way to bribe and get your Guinea Pig into your hands initially. Its also a good way to keep them calm when they are being cuddled.
It is advised when you first start holding them to do so for a short amount of time (2-3 minutes) the first time around and build this up over time.
Guinea Pigs will usually start to fidget when they have had enough and would like to ‘get down’. Other signs to look out for are little nips. As fidgeting is also an indication that they may need to wee, you may want to do this sooner rather than later!
Guinea Pigs that enjoy the experience will typically be carm and content. You’ll soon know when its time to put them down.
If you want to give your Guinea Pig a happy and satisfied life, be prepared to spend some time caring and nurturing them.
Picking them up and cuddling them can be a great way to form a close bond. Start by holding them for short periods of time and be sure to monitor their mood and comfort levels throughout. Youll soon know when its time to put them down.
As long as you are careful it will do you and your Guinea Pig a world of good!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.