Are you wondering whether or not guinea pigs like to be cuddled? Well, you are not alone. We regularly receive emails from our readers asking the exact same question, which is why we have decided to cover it in a bit more detail.
For the most part, very social animals and affectionate pets, but do guinea pigs like to be cuddled? It is important to keep in mind that cuddles don’t always come naturally. Depending on the breed and personality, one guinea pig may enjoy being cuddled straight away, while another may take a few months before it enjoys any human interaction. And then there are those that simply never get used to it at all.
In a nutshell, it all comes down to the breed, the personality and how it has been treated in the past. However, with a little bit of patience, lots of love and a few clever tricks, you can turn the most reluctant of cuddlers into the cuddliest cavy around.
Want to know how? Carry on reading to find out why guinea pigs may be a little reluctant to cuddle at first and what you can do to help the process along.
Understanding a Guinea Pig’s Nature
Guinea pigs, as we have already mentioned, are prey animals. This means they are pretty low down on the food chain and a potential meal for larger predators, including humans.
As you can imagine, this constant threat of danger has resulted in cavies developing serious trust issues, even around people. Rather than cuddle, their natural instinct is to run and hide.
Male Guinea Pigs vs Female Guinea Pigs: Which One Likes To Cuddle More
You know that how much a guinea pig likes to cuddle will depend on the breed and its personality, but did you know that gender can also play a role?
Male guinea pigs, or boars, are, for the most part, more outgoing and confident around people. On the other hand, females, or sows, are more timid and can even be skittish at first. As a result, it is much easier to build a bond with a male.
Having said that, every cavy is unique with its own likes and dislikes. Therefore, we suggest taking the time to understand the different personalities of each of your guinea pigs.
Unsure as to whether you want a male guinea pig or a female? This article will help you decide.
Encouraging Cuddles From Your Guinea Pig: 6 Tips To Help You Do This
A new guinea pig will need some encouragement when it comes to cuddling. Take a look at our top 6 ways you can do this.
1. Give your guinea pig time to get to know you
Not all guinea pigs like cuddling in the beginning. Whether it is because of their personality, their breed type or how they were treated in the past,your new pet is going to need time to adjust to its environment, its hutch mates and you. In fact, we can almost guarantee that it is going to be timid and skittish at first.
But don’t despair! As your new pet settles in and gets to know you, chances are pretty good that it will become more confident and even look forward to cuddling time with you.
2. Make sure your guinea pigs are in the right setting
Guinea pigs can become stressed really quickly, which can have an impact on their interaction with you. To keep its stress levels down, you need to ensure its enclosure is a good size and that it has plenty of food, water, shelter and toys to keep it stimulated.
But it’s not just about what is inside the hutch. Where you set it up is just as important. Always make sure your pets are out of direct sunlight and not exposed to wind, rain or extreme cold. Ensure it has plenty of space where it can exercise, explore and relax.
This article is extremely helpful for more hints and tips on setting up your guinea pig’s hutch.
3. Use food to gain your guinea pig’s trust
Guinea pigs LOVE food, so why not use it to win over their trust? In the beginning, your guinea pig may be wary of you because it thinks you want to eat it. However, as soon as it realises you are not a threat, AND you have food, you will begin to gain its trust.
Using food and treats is a great way to start initiating physical contact with your cavy, but remember not to overdo it at first. Keep contact to a minimum and always use slow and gentle movements. For example, gently pat it or give it a scratch while talking to your guinea pig in a soft tone. This will give your piggy time to get used to you and know your voice.
Want to know the best foods for your guinea pig? This article will help.
4. Be patient and don’t rush the process
As desperate as you might be to pick your piggy up and give it a big cuddle, it is important that you don’t rush the process. Attempting to pick your pet up before it is ready may leave it feeling traumatised and more afraid than ever.
If you have small children in the house, be careful to not let them handle the cavy too roughly or too soon. While they may look like a fluffy plush toy, guinea pigs are delicate and need to be looked after correctly.
We have got a great article that explains how best to pick up a guinea pig. Take a look here.
5. Make sure your guinea pig has piggy pals
We really can’t emphasise this enough. Guinea pigs are social animals and need the company of other guinea pigs. And as much as you love your piggy, the two or three hours you spend with it every day is no substitute for the constant companionship of two or more piggy pals.
A guinea pig kept on its own can suffer from loneliness, which can lead to all sorts of other behavioural issues, including skittishness, nervousness, depression and aggression. A cavy suffering from any of these issues will be less inclined to want to cuddle.
6. Healthy guinea pigs are happy guinea pigs
A healthy guinea pig is a happy guinea pig, and a happy guinea pig loves cuddles. So regularly grooming your guinea pig is an excellent way to keep an eye on its health, and of course, it helps build that all-important bond.
This article gives you all the information you need on what injuries and illnesses to look out for when doing a health check.
Cuddling Your Guinea Pig: How To Do It Right
Guinea pigs, while pretty hardy, have a delicate bone structure and need to be handled with care. They also have sensitive areas on their bodies where they don’t like being touched.
Knowing how to pick up your cavy and cuddle it will go a long way in making sure your piggy enjoys these bonding sessions as much as you.
Carry on reading to find out how and where guinea pigs like to be touched, which areas to avoid and how to hold it to prevent any injuries.
Dos When Cuddling Your Guinea Pig
- Guinea pigs can pick up on a person’s emotions, so you must feel relaxed before cuddling time. Remember to also create a calm environment. For example, switch off the radio or TV, and remove other pets from the room.
- Most guinea pigs like their necks, heads, and backs scratched. But, of course, this may not always be the case, so we suggest taking cues from how your piggy reacts to this.
- Cavies occasionally like their chins and ears scratched. But again, this depends on your pet’s temperament and how comfortable it is with you.
- Always keep your piggy as close to the floor as possible when cuddling it, preferably on your lap. This is to prevent any injuries in the event it wriggles out your hands.
- Even the most reluctant of cuddlers can’t resist a tasty treat. Use your guinea pig’s favourite food or kibble to encourage it onto your lap. Treats also work well, keeping your piggy calm while it is getting cuddles.
Don’ts when cuddling your guinea pig
- Avoid touching your cavy on its buttocks and belly. These areas are particularly sensitive and can cause your pet unnecessary anxiety. Also, watch out for signs that your cavy is becoming stressed while holding it.
- While it is essential not to hold your guinea pig too tightly, you should keep your grip as firm as possible. This will stop it wriggling out of your hands and accidentally falling. This is because guinea pigs have a delicate bone and muscle structure and are prone to back and front leg fractures.
- Even though guinea pigs are super cuddly little animals and love spending time with their humans, they need gentle handling. They also don’t like loud noises, so they aren’t always the best pets for young children.
- Never turn guinea pigs on their back. Not only do they not like this position, but it can also result in a life-threatening injury to their spine.
Knowing When Your Guinea Pig Has Had Enough Cuddles
How long your cavy likes being held will depend on its personality, its breed and how comfortable it is with you. Other things that may affect cuddle time include your piggy’s mood at the time and its overall health.
Always keep in mind that as much as guinea pigs love a good cuddle, there comes the point when they have had enough. So keep the following in mind when it comes to cuddling up with your cavy.
- While it will differ from one guinea pig to another, we recommend keeping cuddle time between five and 10 minutes. Any longer than that, and your piggy may become stressed out.
- If it is a new guinea pig, we suggest limiting the time you cuddle to two to three minutes. As your pet becomes more comfortable with you and its environment, you can gradually extend the time.
- Your guinea pig will let you know it has had enough when it starts to fidget. It could also be a sign that it needs to wee. Should you ignore this subtle sign, your cavy may very well give you a nip.
To Finish Off
There is no denying, guinea pigs are cuddly pets that love lap time with their humans. But like all good things, it takes time as well as patience. But, and you can trust us on this, your persistence will definitely pay off in the end.
Have you got any cuddle tips you would like to share with us? Or better yet, why not send us photos of you and your cavy cuddling?