The Ultimate Guinea Pig Cuddling Guide (You Need This!)

There’s something about guinea pigs that make you want to cuddle and snuggle them to bits.  Cavies are social, affectionate animals, but… they’re also notoriously skittish. 

So, how often should you cuddle your guinea pig? How long? And how do you do it safely?  I was curious, so I did some reading and research on the topic.  These questions and more will be covered in this in-depth guide about cuddling cavies.

How Often Should You Cuddle Your Guinea Pig?

As a general rule, cuddle your tame guinea pigs at least once a day if they enjoy the contact. If your guinea pig is skittish, limit the amount to once a week and bond with your pet in others ways. Ultimately, how often you cuddle is dictated by your guinea pigs preferences.  

Some guinea pigs are “lap babies” and will enjoy being on your lap daily.  It’s reported that males are more outgoing than females in this regard

Other guinea pigs prefer snuggling up with their other piggie pals and if you try cuddling up with her, she’ll either give you the stink eye or skitter away.

You: Come here, my precious, itty-bitty, snookie pookie.

Your little friend: Uh….nope.

That said, even if your cavy doesn’t want to cuddle, you should still observe her everyday for changes in her behavior, appearance, and mood to make sure that she’s healthy and happy.

How Long Should You Cuddle With a Guinea Pig?

On average, most guinea pigs will enjoy a 10 – 15 minute cuddling session. After that, they prefer to be set down.

Others will lay with you for hours.  

Some won’t want to be handled at all and barely tolerate grooming and medical checkups.

You should look to your guinea pig for direction as to how long they’d like to cuddle.

Your piggies can’t speak, but their body language speaks loud and clear.  Listen to how your piggie pal feels and respond according.

For example, look for the following behaviors to understand when you need to end your piggie cuddling session:

  • Wiggling and fidgeting
  • Moving away or putting a butt in your face
  • Nipping hard at your fingers or clothes

Paying attention to your little cavy and responding to her needs is one of the most important ways that establish trust.  Also, you’ll enjoy spending time with your cavy more once you understand how your cavy communicates.  

How Can You Cuddle Your Guinea Pig Safely?

There’s no worse feeling than your guinea pig getting injured in the midst of a cuddle session.  Guinea pigs have delicate bodies and a fall can cause serious injuries.

To cuddle your guinea pig safely, pick up and hold your guinea pig properly, choose a calm, secure cuddling location, and return your cavy to his cage safely.  Those are the main things that you need to remember to make the cuddling process safer and happier for you and your guinea pig.

Pick Up and Hold Your Guinea Pig Properly

  • Avoid loud noises and avoid sudden movements that’ll scare your cavy.
  • You want your guinea pig to become familiar with your scent.  If you have other animal friends at home, change your clothes. Having the aroma of a potential predator lingering on you will not relax your guinea pig.
  • Approach your guinea pig from the front – never the back.  It startles your guinea pig.In the wild, guinea pigs are lunch for large birds, and descending on them from your giant-like height will terrify them. So, get down low and approach them from your level.
  • Make your movements slow and deliberate.  Sudden movement will scare your piggie and might cause him to bite.
  • Support your cavy’s chest with one hand and their bottom with the other. Hold them firmly, but not tightly because that might be uncomfortable for your guinea pig.
  • Talk to your piggie pal in a warm soothing voice, so that they get used to hearing it and become more comfortable.
  • Start off with 1 minute or so of cuddle time and then slowly work your way up as your cavy becomes more relaxed and happy with you.

But, what if your guinea pig is especially skittish or very young or just not used to being handled?  You can also try putting a veggie treat into a cozy (or cuddle cup).  When your guinea pig goes into the cozy for the treat, just scoop him up.  Easy peasy.

cuddling guinea pig with girl

Choose a Calm, Secure Cuddling Location

Lower is almost always better during cuddle time. Piggies are scared of heights.  So, try to cuddle them from a seated position.

If possible, sit on the floor or in the middle of a couch.  It’ll help avoid injuries if your guinea pig gets the jitters suddenly and blind jumps off of you.

Cuddle in an area free from other animals (particularly if you have cats or dogs) and loud, involuntary sounds like TVs with loud television shows. You and your guinea pig will have a difficult time enjoying the cuddle if your environment is filled with everything that sets off her fight or flight response.

Return Your Furry Friends to Their Cage Properly

Many accidents can happen when moving your guinea pig from and to his cage.  Follow these tips to keep your cavy safe.

  • Hold your cavy securely-one hand on the cavy’s chest and the other on his bottom.
  • Slowly lower your cavy into the cage-piggie bottom first. Resist the temptation to let the cavy drop those last few inches into the cage.
  • If your cavy is especially skittish, you can always sneak a treat in a cozy.  Wait until your guinea pig enters the cozy to get the treat.  Afterwards, grab a firm hold of your guinea pig in the cozy (making sure that your guinea pig won’t fall out).  Then carefully place the cozy in the cage and your guinea pig will exit when he’s ready.

If you want some tips on how to build a better relationship with your guinea pigs or how they relate to each other, check out these posts: 15 Wonderful Ways To Entertain Your Guinea Pig (Right Now) and 10 Shocking Mistakes That Make Your Guinea Pig Hate You

Reasons Why Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Want to Cuddle

There are lots of reasons why your cavy might not want to snuggle with you.  Perhaps it’s because she’s…

Benefits of Cuddling Your Guinea Pig

There are benefits to cuddling with your guinea pig.

Cuddling can speed up the bonding process between you and your furry potato. 

Also, trips to the vet and grooming are a lot less stressful on your piggie, because he’ll be used to being handled.

  • A prey animal.  Your piggie pal is hard-wired to run, hide, and bite.  They’re easily rattled and easily scared.  If her environment is stressful or she’s uncomfortable with you, then she’s unlikely to cuddle.
  • Not in the mood. Each guinea pig is unique.  Some are very docile, others a little mischievous, some very affectionate.  Just like people.  Sometimes your guinea pig just doesn’t care that you’ve had a hard day and need a cuddle or some other form of affection.  They’re more concerned with playing with their piggie pals or don’t want to be bothered.
  • Feeling a little sick.  There’s always a chance that your piggie doesn’t feel well.  If you notice any major changes in your guinea pig (such as weight loss and behavior), contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Put off by your smell.  Well, not your smell exactly.  But, if you have a dog or cat or any other pet whose aroma shrieks: predator, then your piggie pal might not want to get close for a cuddle.  Wash your hands and change your shirt after handing other pets before attempting to snuggle your guinea pig.

Now, Test Those “Weapons of Love”

Patience, persistence, and care are the “weapons of love” that make a guinea pig cuddling session so positive.  The more successful, stress-free experiences that you have with your guinea pig, the more she’ll enjoy the cuddling.  

Let’s review some of the most important points from the post. 

  • Take your cuddling cues from your cavy and cuddle your guinea pig as often as it’ll let you – which can range from everyday to once or twice a week.  For most guinea pigs a 10 – 15 minute cuddling session is more than enough lap time. Other guinea pigs might want to cuddle for longer periods of time, and some won’t want to cuddle at all.
  • Let your guinea pig decide when the cuddling time should end.Paying attention to your little cavy and responding to her needs is one of the most important ways that establish trust.
  • To cuddle your guinea pig safely, pick up and hold your guinea pig properly, choose a calm, secure cuddling location, and return your cavy to his cage safely.There are legitimate reasons why some guinea pigs may not want to cuddle, such as being prey animals, not being in the mood, or feeling unwell.
  • Cuddling-when it’s reciprocated-is beneficial to you and to your guinea pig.

Remember that you can buy a guinea pig, but you have to earn your guinea pig’s love. And when you use patience and care to earn it, you’ll discover a lot more cuddles, snuggles, and affection in your future.

Beck, A. (2013). Guinea pigs: Keeping and caring for your pet. Enslow Pub.

Guinea pigs: The right pet for you? (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pigs-right-pet-you

Pet Guinea pigs in New Zealand: Your quick care guide. (2018, April 30). Topflite Ltd. https://topflite.co.nz/your-quick-care-guide-guinea-pigs/

Selecting a pet rodent. (n.d.). American Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/selecting-pet-rodent

The effect of human interaction on Guinea pig behavior in animal-assisted therapy. (n.d.). ScienceDirect.com | Science, health and medical journals, full text articles and books. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787817300928

Vanderlip, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

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