Guinea pigs are so cute that you always want to cuddle them. However, before you pick up or even just pet a guinea pig, you should know that most rodents do not like touching and excursions on your hands at all. If you do have to pick up your furry friend, you should definitely be particularly careful and approach the task properly.
Guinea pigs often take a long time to adjust to being petted and picked up – Shutterstock / Ocskay Mark
Guinea pigs are generally not cuddly animals. They don’t like being picked up, but in exceptional cases they can get used to it. If you pick up your guinea pig, for example because you have to take it to the vet, you should know in advance what you can and cannot do to hold it. It is particularly important that you do not frighten the animal, but only pick it up when it is ready.
Calm down guinea pigs: Talk to them, stroke them, lift them up
If your guinea pig is not yet used to being picked up, you must first approach it very carefully. Never come down on the rodent, otherwise you will instinctively appear dangerous as you could be mistaken for a bird of prey. Instead, approach from ground level. It is important that you do not make any jerky, hectic movements or loud noises when you approach the little one with your hands. The best thing to do is talk to your protégé in a calming manner and stroke him lovingly first. Don’t lose patience if the guinea pig bolts and evades your hands – just try more attempts after a while. A bit of fruit or veg to get you going won’t hurt. Only when the guinea pig is calm and ideally even ready to be petted, can you pick it up without scaring it.
Many guinea pigs freeze when touched, then close their eyes and growl softly. Unfortunately, this is interpreted by many inexperienced guinea pig owners as a sign of relaxation because it is reminiscent of the purring of cats. In fact, this is a rodent’s self-soothing strategy: it’s just waiting for you to stop and leave it alone again.
Picking up guinea pigs: Do not clasp them with both hands
When you lift your guinea pig, you should reach under the thorax of the animal with one hand – preferably from the side – and at the same time support the rear part with the other hand. When picking it up, make sure that all four feet are supported. The hand on the bottom serves to hold the rodent a little so that it cannot flee to the sides.
In order not to injure your fur pompom, you must not under any circumstances clutch it with both hands on the chest – this can lead to suffocation, since the sensitive lungs may be strained or squeezed too much. Also taboo: picking yourself up by the neck. Picking up guinea pigs by the neck can result in serious injury such as contused lungs.
Carrying guinea pigs: avoid falls
When picking up and then carrying your guinea pig, be careful not to push too hard, just enough to avoid letting the animal jump off your hands in a sudden panic attack. Falls, even from low heights, quickly lead to broken bones and serious injuries. If you need to walk the animal a few feet, do so with both hands in front of your chest so you have more control.
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