Handling the Guinea Pig

Handling the Guinea Pig

V. Ream

Last updated: 11 Sep 96

When you buy your guinea pig it may seem a bit nervous at first. It may not be used to being handled or just be frightened by all the changes it has gone through in a short space of time. Allow the animal time to adust to its new home. Each day you can tempt your guinea pig with treats and handle it for longer periods of time. You will find your pet responding within days to this gentle approach. As the days go by your guinea pig will recognize your voice and whistle and approach the door of the cage for a treat or a scratch on the head or under the chin. The guinea pig is a shy creature with an inbred instinct to scurry for cover and hide from whatever startles it. All prey animals are born with this protective behavior. Always speak gently to announce your presence to your guinea pig and avoid the quick fright you can give it with a sudden grabbing motion. A guinea pig that is napping and is suddenly grabbed could suffer heart failure.

To pick up your guinea pig you first put one hand around the shoulders to gain control. Slide your other hand under the body of the animal to provide support. Lift your guinea pig against your body, making it feel secure and protected. Once cradled in the correct manner your guinea pig will feel safe and less likely to struggle. Never squeeze your guinea pig around the middle or allow the body to dangle. This can cause internal injury to the animal. Bruised lungs and livers are caused by imporper handling. A guinea pig that is dropped often suffers from broken legs and/or teeth or intestinal rupture. If young children are to hold your pet make sure the child is seated close to, if not on, the floor in case the animal is accidently dropped.

Remember, the more you handle your guinea pig in the correct manner the more secure your animal will feel. Security and comfort are key factors for a healthy, calm guinea pig. If your guinea pig has confidence it will reward you with friendliness. Patience and persistence with any animal will almost always carry its own rewards.

Helpful Hint:  Place a towel on your lap when sitting and holding your guinea pig. This provides you with protection against "accidents". As you get to know your pet you will recognize the signals it gives when it feels the need to relieve itself. You can then place the guinea pig back in its cage for a "time out".

Carrying the Cavy


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