How Soon Can You Hold Your Guinea Pig?

Baby animals tend to warm our hearts, especially when looking down at a new pet you’ve welcomed into your homes. 

However, it’s not always safe to handle animals when they’re very young. 

So, you might wonder, “How soon can I hold my guinea pig?” 

After a guinea pig gives birth, the baby guinea pigs will need at least a week to mature before handling. Even after this milestone, guinea pigs require a gentle hand when handling and when they don’t want this attention.

To form the best bond with your guinea pig, it’s best to make sure your guinea pig feels safe and comfortable around you. 

Read on, and we’ll cover the basics of when and how to start safely handling your guinea pig.

how soon can i hold my guinea pig

How Long Should I Wait to Hold My New Guinea Pig? 

If you have a guinea pig who just gave birth to a litter, don’t hold the baby guinea pig right away. 

While they may look small and adorable, they also need to grow and develop before you start handling them. 

While it’s tempting to get a headstart on the bonding process, don’t attempt to handle them in the first week of life. 

If you’ve just purchased an adult guinea pig and they’re new to your home, it’s best to follow the rules similar to the waiting period for a newborn guinea pig. 

You can also read our post about the appropriate age for guinea pigs to leave their mother for more information.

This is because they’ll need an adjustment period to adapt to their new surroundings. 

Since these rodents are prey animals, they tend to get anxious. 

As such, it’s a good idea to let them acclimate to their new surroundings before attempting to hold them. 

Wait a couple of days before holding any guinea pig in a new environment.

This doesn’t mean not interacting with your guinea pigs at all! 

It’s a good idea to take some time to chat with your new friend while they’re still in their cage. 

Remember, do so gently. 

The idea here is to get your pet used to your voice and presence even before you’re allowed to pick them up. 

This is another adjustment period to get your pet used to you and the environment around them. 

Do Guinea Pigs Like to be Handled? 

This question doesn’t have a single answer. 

After all, just like people, different guinea pigs will have different preferences. 

After all, they each have unique personalities. 

For the most part, once they’re more comfortable with you, a guinea pig will likely enjoy being held under the right conditions. 

New guinea pigs probably won’t feel as comfortable in your hands at first. 

You’ll have to earn their trust and affection first. 

If you notice your guinea pig starts to follow you around, eat from your hand, or even climb on you, it’s a pretty good indicator your pet wants a bit of affection! 

Even if a guinea pig usually likes to be held, they may not want it if they’re unwell. 

Additionally, give guinea pig mothers who just gave birth time to recover before you attempt to hold them. 

The birthing process is hard on them, and they need time to rest and heal. 

In general, pay attention to signs your guinea pig doesn’t want to be held or has had enough of the attention. 

If they start to chirp in a high-pitched voice, wriggle away, or move to get away when you reach for them, it’s best to give them some space. 

How to Pick Up a Guinea Pig Without Scaring It

Guinea pigs are social animals, but they’re also rather nervous. 

When you’re moving to initiate contact with a prey animal like this, you want to make sure you don’t scare them. 

Once your guinea pigs have settled in, baby guinea pigs have developed enough, and you’ve gotten them accustomed to your voice and scent, take some time to pet them. 

Make sure the guinea pig is used to your touch before picking them up completely. 

Every cavy is different; some even liked to be scratched!

Check out our guide on scratching and petting guinea pigs.

It’s even an option to speed your friendship by offering your guinea pig some treats as you get to know one another. 

Once you’re ready to pick them up, it’s good to wait until your cavy is naturally in a crevice or corner of their guinea pig cage. 

The last thing you want is to chase your pet around before picking them up. 

This will help the animal trust you more.

To comfortably lift your guinea pig, you’ll want to make sure you cup your hand beneath them. 

Don’t lift them too quickly, and make sure they’re fully supported from where you’ve scooped them from under their stomach to avoid scaring them. 

Most importantly, if you notice your guinea pig struggling or exhibiting nervous behavior, it’s best to back off. 

This way, you’re showing respect for your pet’s boundaries and what they’re comfortable with. 

Plus, forcing them to work through this fear will only make the experience stressful rather than positive.

How to Hold a Guinea Pig

First and foremost, start holding your guinea pig sitting down on the floor. 

This will offer a bit more security if your cavy tries to wriggle away, and it’s less scary for them to not feel so high in the air as they get used to being handled.

In starting to handle your guinea pig, you scoop them under their belly with one hand. 

As you pull them out of their cage, it’s best to add a second hand as soon as possible. 

Here, the idea is to keep your guinea pig happy and safe by offering ample support. 

It’s good to choose a posture to offer plenty of support when holding a guinea pig. 

As for your hands, use one hand to support their back legs and use your other hand to cup their chest. 

While you want to hold them gently, don’t hold them loosely. 

Of course, you want to use a comfortable grip for them, but you want them to feel supported and secure. 

As for your pet, if they’re interested in the attention, they will likely settle in your arms and allow you to pet them for a couple of minutes.

Can You Hold a Guinea Pig On Its Back?  

When picking up a guinea pig, don’t flip them over on their backs. 

Always keep your pet upright, keeping their feet parallel to the floor. 

For one, this is a far more vulnerable position for your pet to sit in, and, as such, they’re less likely to get comfortable and feel safe. 

You’ll also want to stay close to the floor if your cavy tries to make an unexpected break from human contact. 

On a more medical side of things, it’s a good idea to keep cavies upright to avoid damage to their backs. 

Like you, bad posture can cause discomfort and even damage guinea pigs if you aren’t careful. 

Since these animals have particularly sensitive spines, maintaining this proper posture when you hold them is an important step to take. 

Can You Hold a Guinea Pig Too Much?

Yes! As we’ve said, guinea pigs are nervous animals, and they need time to themselves. 

However, the exact amount your guinea pig enjoys being held will likely depend on their personality once they’re used to you. 

This is why it’s so important to keep an eye out for signs of distress during these guinea pig bonding times. 

If your pet starts to struggle, moves to get away, or starts making sounds of distress, it’s best to put them back in the enclosure.  

Otherwise, you’ll stress these gentle animals more than you intended to. 

You’ll also need to look for any signs of distress before you pick them up. 

If your guinea pig tries to get away when you reach for them or otherwise acts unhappy, they probably don’t want to be handled right now.

How Often Should You Hold Your Guinea Pigs? 

Again, this question doesn’t have a single answer. 

The amount of attention your pet wants can vary depending on their preferences and personality. 

For example, if you have a pet who loves and wants frequent contact, owners can cuddle them for a little bit every day or on a fairly regular basis. 

Still, just because they’re comfortable being held often doesn’t mean you won’t need to watch for signs of distress. 

Conversely, some guinea pigs don’t enjoy contact quite as much. 

For cavies who enjoy occasional contact, only hold them when they show signs of interest. 

Remember, even if your guinea pig isn’t interested in cuddling or being held in your hands, you aren’t out of luck. 

There are many other methods available to bond with your pet, from talking to them to offering treats to win their affection. 

It’s all about learning about your pet’s personality and determining which activities they prefer during your bonding times. 

Related: Can You Sleep with Your Guinea Pig, or Is It Too Risky?