Are Guinea Pigs Ticklish? (The Honest Truth)

Guinea pigs and humans share similar traits, but are guinea pigs ticklish? This is a question that many people ask themselves, and they want to know if their guinea pigs are ticklish as well.

Typically, most guinea pigs are ticklish. Their bellies, sides, and feet are particularly sensitive. If you attempt to tickle your guinea pig, it’s important to recognize when your guinea pig is showing signs of annoyance or discomfort, so that you can stop if necessary.

In this article, you’ll learn how to tell if a guinea pig enjoys being tickled (or not), a safer alternative to tickling, and safe spots for tickling and petting.

Do Guinea Pigs Enjoy Being Tickled?

Are guinea pigs ticklish

Some owners report that their guinea pig likes being tickled or that they seem ticklish. But, the only way to know for sure if your guinea pig enjoys being tickled is to experiment.

Some guinea pigs enjoy being tickled and others don’t; like us, they react differently to tickling.

If you’re not familiar with your guinea pigs body language, you could mistake this for him or her being ticklish (and even liking the contact) rather than showing signs that they do not like what’s going on. It’s best (for your and your furry friends) to learn their body language so you can tell if your piggies are enjoying the interaction or just annoyed as heck.

You’ll know that your guinea pig DOES NOT LIKE being tickled when you see a combination of the following signs:

  • Stands perfectly still. This mimics the freeze reflex that guinea pigs do when they’re frightened. This is a defense mechanism that guinea pigs do in response to fear and pain, and it can be difficult to tell if your guinea pig is actually ticklish or just terrified of you.
  • Kicks or butts away your hand from it’s face. This is your guinea pig saying “Back off, dude.”
  • Tries to escape. It can be confused with popcorning (which is actually a happy behavior for piggies). But, you’ve hit a sensitive spot and your piggie jumps and tries to run from you, that’s a pretty good sign that they don’t enjoy what you’re doing.
  • Purr or rumbles. It sounds like a mixture of a dog’s growl and a cat’s purr. And piggies can make it when they’re happy or angry. So, you have to look at the rest of the body language in order to determine why your guinea pig is purring.

Some ticklish piggies do like being tickled. You’ll know that THEY’RE ENJOYING the tickling if you notice some of the following:

  • Happy wheeks or squeaks. This is similar to the sound that your little friends make they’re expecting a treat or hear a paper bag crinkle.
  • Piggie pancakes. When your furry potato is really enjoying the process, your piggie might flop down like a pancake. It’s their way of saying “Let’s do that again!”
  • Close their eyes. This is the act of ultimate trust. Piggies never close their eyes unless they’re completely comfortable.

So, as you can see there isn’t one definitive tickle response or even a “Get back, buddy” response; every piggie is different!

Ticklish Spots for Guinea Pigs

are guinea pigs ticklish - guinea pig tickle spots diagram

Humans are usually ticklish in the armpits or ribs, and sometimes even in their feet. Due to differences in anatomy, many guinea pigs tend to be very sensitive around their bellies, sides, butts, and feet.

Unfortunately, those areas are also parts of their body that most guinea pigs DO NOT like being touched.

Why?

Guinea pigs are prey animals.

They typically don’t like to be touched on their lower body and backside, because that’s how predators usually snatch them up to eat them.

Piggies have evolved for a long time and most still don’t want to be touched there even after being domesticated for a few hundred years.

All piggies are different and unique, just like us.

That said, some pet parents say that their piggies’ ears, chins, or top of their heads are ticklish spots.

But, if you’re not sure if your guinea pig is enjoying the experience or not, then just stop.

Satisfying your curiosity to see what your piggie will do if you tickle him or her is not worth it if you’re annoying or irritating your little friend in the process.

Luckily, there are many ways that you can show affection or love for your piggie without “tickling” them.

Let’s take it back to the basics with…petting.

Do Guinea Pigs Enjoy Being Pet? If So, Where Can I Pet Them?

Now you might be thinking: Geez, lady! Can I even touch my piggie without causing them to completely freak out.

Of course you can!

And when you do, I suggest that you stick to petting instead of tickling. I mean, why not? Tickling (if your little friend even likes to be tickled) isn’t likely to be as satisfying or as long of an experience as giving your piggie a little petting session.

Typically, guinea pigs are happy when you pet them if they are in a familiar place and you’ve given them a chance to get to know you. It takes time for them to get used to being touched, but when they do, many truly enjoy it.

In order to make your guinea pig feel comfortable and happy, here are some tips on how to pet your piggie so you can show your little friend some love.

How to Pet A Guinea Pig:

  1. Be gentle. You don’t want to hurt them! Use the same technique that you would use when petting a dog: slow and easy with nice long strokes. This helps to show your pooch that you’re not trying to hurt them or push them somewhere.
  2. Pet them in the direction their fur is growing. Don’t pet them in the opposite direction. They have sensitive skin and it’s not very pleasant for them.
  3. Stick to the following locations: chin, top of the head, bridge of their nose, upper back, around their eyes. Like I said before, every piggie is different and some owners do say that their piggies like their rumps and bellies stroked or massaged. Carefully experiment to see what your piggie likes, so that you can build a loving bond with your cavy.
  4. Talk to them while you’re petting. Let your piggie get used to the sound of your voice and associate it with a comfortable experience.
  5. Stop if your guinea pig doesn’t seem to like it. If they start looking uncomfortable or making sounds that say “Okay, I’m so over this now”, just stop petting and let them go about their business. 

Just make sure to let them have a break from being touched if they start to get antsy, agitated, or irritated.

Now if you’re able to do all of these things, then you’ll be well on your way to having a good guinea pig petting experience with your cavy!

Why Doesn’t My Guinea Pig Like Being Tickled?

Generally, guinea pigs don’t like being tickled because it usually means that they are uncomfortable, don’t like it, or are scared. Let’s example each of these one by one.

  • Uncomfortable: Some guinea pigs’ ticklish spots are just too sensitive. And they get really irritated and anxious with you if you go into that area.
  • Don’t Like It: There are some piggies out there who don’t like being touched anywhere. It’s just how they You’ll learn this pretty quickly once your piggies start to trust you enough to let you know how they feel
  • Are Scared: You won’t get a chance to find out if your little friends are ticklish if they’re too terrified to be around you. Their prey animal instincts are very strong. So, you’ll have to give them time to get used to you and their environment.

It’s best not to try to do any sort of tickling until your guinea pig gets used to you and has fully recognized you as a friend (one that won’t try to devour them for a meal).

Cuz who can relax for a tickle session when they’re on edge?

And how would you react to a sensitive petting spot being touched by a *gasp* stranger (and by stranger I mean you)?  

It’s best to let your piggie settle comfortably into their home before expecting them to be “okay” with any sort of tickling.

That way, when they do learn to trust you and they give in, it will make for a better overall experience.

What This Means For You:

Your guinea pig isn’t going to be 100% comfortable with you touching them, petting them, or tickling them until she’s used to being around you.

When I first got my piggies (and my hamster), it took several weeks -and months in one case – before they would let me touch them without freaking out.

It took even longer for me to be able to pet them with confidence. I mean, I wasn’t trying to stress them out.

But after time and trust, they enjoyed it!

So give your cavy some time (ticklish or not) before it lets you get close enough to touch or even try to have a tickling session.

Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!

Conclusion

Piggies are ticklish, but some don’t like being tickled. It’s different for every guinea pig. If your guinea pig does not react well to being tickled then you should immediately stop.

And let’s be honest. If you were ticklish, would you want someone tickling you all the time?

If you want to know how to show affection or love without “tickling” them there are many ways which include: petting and talking to them while touching their chin, top of head, bridge of nose, upper back around eyes etc.

The basic rule is that every piggie is different so experiment with what they like in order build up a loving bond between owner and cavy!

Guinea pig care. (n.d.). Animal Humane Society. https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/adoption/guinea-pig-care

New at the zoo: Guinea pigs. (2020, May 12). Smithsonian’s National Zoo. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news/new-zoo-guinea-pigs

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