Handling your guinea pig

Guinea pigs rarely violently struggle when they are being picked up but they sometimes make a “squeal of protest”, which sounds pig-like to many people. Nevertheless, great care should be taken not to injure them when picking them up. Due to the size of their rotund belly, their spines and hindquarters should always be supported when handling.

To pick up your guinea pig, you should approach it with two hands. Use one hand to stop the guinea pig running forwards, and the other to stop them backing up. Place one hand under the guinea pig’s chest and abdomen, and the other supports its hindquarters and weight. Many guinea pigs like to be propped up against your chest for security and comfort.

Very young children should not be allowed to pick up or carry a guinea pig; they may squeeze them too tightly or accidentally drop them with upsetting consequences.

One of the most desirable features of guinea pigs as pets is that they rarely bite when being handled or restrained. One reference indicates that only 1 in 400 will bite under these circumstances.

When placing your guinea pig back on the ground or in its cage, make sure you have a secure hold of it; hold it close to the floor firmly and securely before letting go to ensure it doesn’t jump or fall from a height.

Guinea pigs that aren’t used to being handled can be wriggly and have a tendency to jump away from you if they are nervous.

The best way of handling a wriggler is to maintain a firm and secure hold of them (without squeezing them too tight) until they stop wriggling. Some guinea pigs will enjoy being wrapped lightly into a towel or blanket and this will calm them down and make them feel secure to stop wriggling.

When it stops wriggling, place the guinea pig on the floor (or in its cage) without letting go; generally the guinea pig will feel much more secure when it feels something under its feet. When the guinea pig feels relaxed, gently let it go. Your guinea pig should soon get used to being handled if you handle them regularly and hopefully won’t be so wriggly!

Ideally pregnant guinea pigs should not be handled unless necessary.

If you need to take your guinea pig to the vet, try using a pet carrier or box that you can encourage your guinea pig to walk into by itself. Placing some of its favourite food in the carrier usually does the trick.

To hold a guinea pig for injections gently encircle their forelimbs and neck with one hand and use your other hand to support the hindlimbs from moving backwards. Your vet will then be able to give your guinea pig an injection in the midsection. Many guinea pigs don’t like injections and will protest vocally!