When most people think of showing an animal affection, they imagine petting it. Guinea pigs are a great family pet that you would naturally want to cuddle, pet, and hold. They are easy to care for, lots of fun, live long lives, and typically love people. But do they enjoy being held frequently and petted?
Do guinea pigs like to be petted? Guinea pigs have a prey instinct that naturally causes them to resist being petted. However, each breed is different, so you may find yourself with a guinea pig that enjoys physical touch, or you may have one that does not. However, most breeds of guinea pigs, with training, can eventually feel calm and comfortable in your hands.
Because some breeds of guinea pigs will vary in how well they tolerate being petted, it can be challenging to know what your guinea pig prefers. Continue reading to know if your guinea pig likes to be petted and how you can train it to enjoy physical affection.
Why Guinea Pigs Are Afraid of Being Petted
When you reach out to pet a guinea pig, it triggers an instinct of fear. Wild guinea pigs are prey to many animals that grab at them and snatch them to eat. So, when a guinea pig sees your hand coming toward it, its instincts tell it to run. Most guinea pig breeds, however, can be trained to be comfortable with human touch and enjoy being petted.
How to Know if Your Guinea Pig Likes to Be Petted
Guinea pigs are healthy animals that require low maintenance and make great first pets. When taking care of a guinea pig, you want to make sure it is comfortable and happy in its environment and your care. Identifying whether or not your guinea pig enjoys being petted is necessary.
Guinea pigs are fantastic animals to bond with. They are very friendly and will recognize their owners and respond to them. They will show their excitement and greet someone by climbing their cage and squealing when they see someone they love and enjoy. To build a relationship like this, you will want to develop trust and make sure your guinea pig likes to be petted.
Here are some signs to look for:
- Body Language – Before touching your guinea pig, read its body language. If your guinea pig is acting playful, jumping around, or seems very relaxed in your presence, then it is likely that it will enjoy a petting.
- Initial Reaction – When you first reach out to pet your guinea pig, look for its initial reaction to seeing your hand coming towards it. If your guinea pig tenses, freezes, runs, or cowers away, it is afraid of you and does not want to be petted.
- Noises – Whistling or squealing sounds are also a sign that your guinea pig is happy you are present and will most likely enjoy a petting from you. A high-pitched shriek or hiss can be a sign that your guinea pig is not enjoying being touched and feels threatened.
- Licking – Guinea pigs like to show affection by licking. If you reach your hand towards your guinea pig and it licks you, then your guinea pig is happy and is more likely to accept petting.
By watching your guinea pig closely and looking for signs of happiness and content, you can identify whether your guinea pig wants to be petted. There may be some times where your guinea pig wants to be left alone and others where it is eager for your affection; just pay attention to what your guinea pig is telling you.
How to Pet and Hold a Guinea Pig Properly
Playing with and petting your guinea pig is a great way to bond and develop your relationship, and to do this, making sure your guinea pig is comfortable with your touch is crucial.
To show each other affection, use these guidelines to know how to properly pet and hold your guinea pig starting with it inside its cage:
- Read your guinea pig’s body language before you begin petting it.
- If your guinea pig is open to being petted, make sure your guinea pig has acknowledged your presence and is aware that you are going to start petting it. You don’t want to surprise or startle your guinea pig with your touch.
- Move your hand slowly and gently toward your guinea pig.
- If your guinea pig runs away, don’t try to follow it around the cage with your hand. Back away and understand that your guinea pig does not want to be held or petted right now.
- As you begin to pet your guinea pig, use just a finger or two.
- Start by petting the top of your guinea pig’s head or under its chin
- Pet your guinea pig in the direction its fur grows. Also, only pet your guinea pig in areas that it likes to be petted. Avoid all other areas of its body.
- Watch your guinea pig as you continue to pet it and look for signs of enjoyment or discomfort.
- Don’t pet it for too long. If your guinea pig looks uncomfortable, feels tense, or walks away, then stop petting it.
- When you go to pick up your guinea pig out of its cage, you will slide your hand under its stomach and wrap a finger around its front legs.
- Then, slide your other hand under the guinea pig and use it to support its back.
- Next, gently lift it with both hands.
While petting a guinea pig, it is also important to make sure they are in a calm and stable place. Place your guinea pig on a stable surface, such as their cage floor or floor of your room. This way, if your guinea pig gets nervous or tries to run, there’s no chance it will fall out of your arms. Additionally, picking a spot where your guinea pig feels safe, such as a bedroom or in their cage, will help the petting session go well.
Try not to hold your guinea pig for longer than 10-15 minutes. Holding and petting your guinea pig for too long will make it uncomfortable. At this point, it could begin nibbling due to restlessness and nerves or even end up using the bathroom in your hand or on the floor.
Where do Guinea Pigs Like to be Petted
Now that you know how to hold and pet a guinea pig properly, make sure you also understand where a guinea pig likes and does not like to be petted. The table below goes over where guinea pigs like and don’t like to be petted:
|Where Guinea Pigs Like to Be Petted||Where Guinea Pigs Don’t Like to be Petted|
|Under the chin||Face|
|On the top of the head||Stomach|
|Around the head||Feet|
|Behind the ears||Far back|
As you pet your guinea pig, make sure you always pet them in a way that will build trust and strengthen your relationship. If you pet them in areas that they don’t like, your guinea pig will develop fear and anxiety and always dislike being petted.
How to Train Your Guinea Pig to Enjoy Being Petted
If your guinea pig doesn’t prefer the type of affection you want to show it, training it to like being petted will be necessary for both of you to develop a good relationship.
Follow these steps to train your guinea pig to enjoy being petted:
- Find a comfortable and quiet location for each petting session. Your guinea pig will be more open to petting if it doesn’t have to worry about sudden noises, other animals, or other humans interrupting the quiet.
- Place your guinea pig on a solid surface. Often, just holding your guinea pig for extended lengths of time can help it adjust to the feeling of being touched or held.
- Gently start to pet your guinea pig on top of its head or under its chin. If your guinea pig accepts this, continue for a moment or two and then give it a break. If your guinea pig doesn’t like the petting, pull away and try again later.
- Give your guinea pig a treat. Having food with you can help calm your guinea pig and make it more open to being petted. Associating you or being petted with food can make your guinea pig more comfortable and relaxed over time.
- Always make sure you are petting your guinea pig in the direction its fur grows. It can be hard to tell sometimes which way your guinea pigs fur is growing, so if you are unsure, look for signs of discomfort from your guinea pig while you pet it.
Guinea pigs are smart and friendly pets that can be fun to have in your home. Taking care of a guinea pig includes bonding with it and developing a loving relationship. This can be done through petting, but because not all guinea pigs naturally enjoy being petted, you may need to train yours to tolerate it.