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. 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 want to be petted! However, as with all animals, you have to know how and where the cavy likes to be petted, and once you do, you will have a new best friend.
Where do guinea pigs like to be petted? Before you try to pet the guinea pig, at first you will need to reach out to them by putting your hand inside the cage, to feed them or touch them. After that, you must be gentle, use slow moves, pet it with 1-2 fingers in the direction of the fur growth. Pet them under the chin, on the head, and around the head. Avoid the face, feet, stomach, and the far back.
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. To build trust with your guinea pig, you will adjust it over time to your touch and petting habits. Also, you must adjust to the cavy’s needs and know what it likes and dislikes when it comes to its body. Petting time can be a wonderful activity with many types of bonding, but only if done right.
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 what this new home for them feels like.
You can build trust with the guinea pig in the regular, simple ways. At first, do not nag the cavy, 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 water in the water bottle and put food and treats for the cavy.
Also, when you put your hand inside its cage, and you absolutely must pet the cavy even a little bit, make predictable movements and not sudden movements. Use one or two fingers, to slowly reach to the cavy’s head and body and gently touch it.
The cavy will manifest certain body language when it feels ready for petting. It will be playful, skipping around, or simply sitting relaxed. If you hear the cavy making whistling sounds, like high-pitch sounds, it is very friendly and you can reach out with your hand. If the cavy makes a cooing sound that seems to calm down, it is also in the petting mood, but very gently and softly. At this point, you can even hold it in your arms, but only with slow and relaxing, caring movements. If it makes purr sounds, then it is smart to just step away and not force it to be petted – at this time the cavy is somehow disturbed, and this goes the same for hissing sounds.
The body language always corresponds to the cavies and their mood. When not in good mood for petting, the cavy looks as if frozen or shocked. if otherwise, you can evaluate whether it needs slow or playful petting.
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 cavy 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 cavies are long-haired and handling them is a special task – with the fingers go through their fur in the growth direction, as if you comb 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 cavy 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 cavy’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 worry. If it’s the latter, it comes with short and rapid sounds together with the vibrating.
If the cavy 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 would love a little brushing on its fur, mostly after bath time, when the fur gets all dried, but in other occasions too. This will also keep the fur in amazing condition and will relax the cavy too – 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 cavy with your hands and fingers most of the time.
What Place Do Cavies like for Petting, and for How Long?
There are some rules to know 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 cavy on top of furniture, and opt more for your arms, lap, or the floor play space. Whatever the surface is where you place the cavy for petting, it must not be cold or hot! Imagine you are barefoot on something hot or cold – not pleasant, right? The cavy, too, likes comfy and nice temperature for its petting time; it can be on a blanket, on the sofa, your lap, on the floor that has carpet over it, and similar.
You will be amazed that with time, the cavy might even enjoy a few hours of petting, in between with food time and bathroom visits! Some, on the other hand, will be petted for just 20 minutes more or less, and that is enough for a beginning.
If the cavy 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, as to not look like it’s all spread out with all limbs. Support its front feet with the other hand. Do not squeeze it around its 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 escape in the front. 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 cavy and even cause some injury to their small, fragile bodies.
Ensure to never touch its mouth, nose or eyes as well, and ensure kids do not do this as well, because kids usually go straight for the mouth and face, and this poses a risk for biting.
This doesn’t stop here – the next thing is to offer treats and snacks. This way the cavy will learn that every time the owner holds it, it is for something nice, like playtime with snacks, or cuddling and meal time.
The things to remember are not too hot or cold surfaces where the cavy will be petted, be gentle, petting in the direction of fur growth, combing once a week.
Follows this and you will have a happy cavy!