One of the greatest pleasures in life is to have a pet by your side. Every pet owner can list the benefits of keeping some sort of animal in their home by their side. The greatest benefit is the bond created especially when the animal is petted. Those that have guinea pigs can swear by this because guinea pigs are full of personality and love, and they really want to be petted! However, as with every pet, you have to know how and where the guinea pig likes to be petted, and once you do, you will have a new best friend in your home.
Where do guinea pigs like to be petted? Before you try to pet the guinea pig, you need to first reach out to them by putting your hand inside the cage, just like you are trying to feed them. Now slowly pet them under the chin, on the head, and around the head, as these are the places where guinea pigs like to be petted. Avoid the face, feet, stomach, and the far back. You must be gentle, use slow moves and pet your guinea pig with 1-2 fingers in the direction of the fur growth.
The guinea pigs are prey animals by nature, and this is why it’s crucial for you to know the exact spots of petting them unless you want the cavy to feel scared or defensive. By build trust with your guinea pig, it will adjust over time to your touch and petting habits. Also, you must adjust to the guinea pig’s needs and know what it likes and dislikes when it comes to its body.
Petting time can be a wonderful activity with many chances of bonding but only if done right. Keep reading to find out more about how to properly pet your guinea pig!
Things to Know About Petting a Guinea Pig
The first and most crucial thing is to give the guinea pig time to adjust to the new environment. These animals are adorable and full of personality but they need time to learn what kind of person you are and how this new home for them feels like.
You can build trust with the guinea pig in regular and simple ways.
1. Do Not Annoy the Guinea Pig
First, do not nag the guinea pig for anything. Make sure you follow its reactions and act upon them – this is the golden rule.
Whenever you put your hand in the cage, it must be for a good reason and purpose, not for nagging or forcing yourself to pet the cavy. Clean its cage, change the bedding, replace the water in the water bottle and put food and treats for the guinea pig.
2. No Sudden Movements
Also, when you put your hand inside its cage, and you absolutely feel like you must pet the guinea pig even a little bit, make predictable movements and not sudden movements. Use one or two fingers, to slowly reach the guinea pig’s head and body and gently touch it.
3. Watch for Guinea Pig’s Body Language
The guinea pig will manifest certain body language when it feels ready for petting. It will be playful, skipping around or simply sit relaxed. If you hear the cavy making whistling sounds, like high-pitch sounds and it looks very friendly then you can reach out with your hand and pet it. If the cavy makes a cooing sound that seems to calm down, it is also in the petting mood but do it very gently and softly. At this point, you can even hold it in your arms but only with slow, relaxing and caring movements.
If it makes purr sounds, then it is smart to just step away and not force it to be petted – guinea pigs have different moods when they purr and most of them are not good and they feel disturbed. This goes the same for hissing sounds.
The body language always corresponds to the guinea pigs and their mood. When not in a good mood for petting, the cavy looks as if frozen or shocked. Always evaluate whether it needs slow or playful petting.
4. Best Petting Spots for Guinea Pigs
Now, the important thing to know is that the majority of guinea pigs like the petting but also, they do not absolutely adore it. Knowing all the right petting spots is important to make the guinea pig feel welcomed and loved. Once the cavy feels loved, it will even sit and rest in your lap, or even cuddle!
The main rules are easy to remember. You must never go in the opposite direction of the fur. Some cavies have short hairs and it is easy to see their patterns and hair growth direction. Still, some guinea pigs are long-haired and handling them is a special task – the fingers need to go through their fur in the growth direction as if you are combing them using fingers!
The feet and stomach are the no-go zones with guinea pigs – they feel vulnerable if their belly is touched, and they might feel trapped if you get to their feet and tickle them as well.
Your guinea pig will feel amazing when it’s petted on its head, forehead, around the neck and cheeks and even a little bit on its back – but not all the way to the tail.
Do Guinea Pigs Make Certain Sounds When You Pet Them?
Do not panic if your guinea pig makes some sounds or even vibrations when you pet it.
It will seem as if the guinea pig’s body is trembling a bit, like vibration. This is a very good thing most of the time! Like a cat that purrs when it warms your lap, so does the guinea pig vibrate similarly and this is their mechanism to ‘hide’ the joy and pleasure from the petting.
That deep and vibrating sound is most of the time joy, good mood but rarely it can represent anxiety and disturbance. If it’s the latter, it usually comes with short and rapid sounds together with the vibrating one. If the guinea pig vibrates, also ensure to keep it warm because trembling can also be a sign of cold temperature of your arms or in the room.
Can You Comb or Brush the Guinea Pig While You Pet It?
Of course, the guinea pig loves a little brushing off its fur, mostly after bath time, when the fur gets all dried but on other occasions too. This will also keep the fur in amazing condition and will relax the guinea pig as well – everyone likes fingers through their hair, we can also admit this right?
You can use a small brush with stiff and short bristles or a narrow-tooth comb. Move it along the fur growth direction. Try to limit the brushing to just once per week, to prevent fur shedding and pet the cute guinea pig with your hands and fingers most of the time during the brushing.
What Location Do Guinea Pigs Like for Petting – Inside or Outside of the Cage?
There are some rules to follow when you pet the guinea pig inside or outside its cage. They like both locations, and sometimes they like the open space even more because they feel free to roam around if they suddenly dislike the human hand on them.
Avoid putting the guinea pig on top of furniture and opt more for your arms, lap or the floor play space. Whatever the surface is where you place the guinea pig for petting, it must not be cold or hot! Imagine you are barefoot on something hot or cold – not pleasant, right? The guinea pig as well likes a comfy and nice temperature for its petting time. The location can be on a blanket, on the sofa, your lap, on the floor that has carpet over it and similar.
How Long Should You Pet Your Guinea Pig
You will be amazed that with time (after you developed a good relationship), the guinea pig might even enjoy a few hours of petting, in between food time and bathroom visits! Some, on the other hand, will allow being petted for just 20 minutes more or less, and that is enough at first.
If the guinea pig dislikes being in someone’s arms, simply pet it inside the cage or on the floor.
How to Properly Hold a Guinea Pig?
First, when you do try to pick it up, make sure you kind of cradle its belly and the hind legs, it should look like it’s all spread out with all of its limbs hanging. Support its front feet with the other hand. Do not squeeze around guinea pig’s belly and back, be gentle as if you are holding a baby animal or a bird.
It might be jumpy at first but if this happens, use one finger to surround its front legs so that it won’t try to escape. The absolute no-no is swinging the guinea pig around its neck or back (you know, as cats carry their kittens!), this will stress the guinea pig and even cause some injury to their small, fragile bodies.
Ensure to never touch its mouth, nose or eyes as well and make sure that kids do not do this as well because kids usually go straight for the mouth and face, and this poses a risk of guinea pigs biting them.
This doesn’t stop here – the next thing is to offer treats and snacks. This way the guinea pig will learn that every time the owner holds it, it is for something nice, like playtime with snacks, or cuddling and a mealtime.
The things to remember are to watch out for too hot or cold surfaces where the guinea pig is going to be petted, also be gentle, pet them in the direction of fur growth and comb them once a week.
Follows this and you will have a happy and satisfied guinea pig in your home!