Handling Guinea Pigs

One of the greatest joys of owning these animals is in handling them. There is something deeply satisfying in cradling those wonderfully warm, cob shaped bodies in your lap or in the palms of your hands. When they respond, as many of them do, with a deliciously low throated purr as you find the particular spot that they like having scratched or stroked, it is a moment of shared satisfaction. To have an animal acknowledge the pleasure that you are giving to it must be, for any animal lover, the very zenith of delight.

However, like all good things, there are certain limitations, or rules to follow if both piggy and person are to keep their relationship on a happy footing. First and foremost, no matter how you may adore a particular guinea pig, if it makes it clear after a few weeks that your feelings are not reciprocated, leave it alone. There is nothing as tiresome as a persistent but unwanted suitor. In time it may have a change of heart but if it doesn’t you will have to resign yourself to admiring it from a distance.
A Crested Cavy

There are some guinea pigs, thankfully few, who simply do not like to be handled at all. Respect their wishes and leave them to their own devices.

Remember the golden rule in guinea pig keeping. ‘The right way, the wrong way and the guinea pig way?’ and it is the latter that must always be obeyed. With this in mind try and wait for the pig to come to you in it’s own good time. So many times I have taken in hutched guinea pigs who’s only experienced of human handling were either a hand occasionally throwing food in or hauling them out for a weekly change of bedding material. The most nervous of all have been those that were owned by small boisterous children who were not properly supervised. I hate to think what they went through!.

Whenever such animals arrive I make a point of putting them into a pen with as many other guinea pigs as possible. In the pack they feel more secure and gradually they will take their cue from their companions. It works along the lines, of ‘Oh they don’t seem to be afraid of that pig human thing, perhaps I needn’t be.’ Don’t ruin it’s increasing confidence by reaching in and picking it up too soon.

Ignore the advice of some large animal welfare organisations about not over handling guinea pig. With vast majority of guinea pig the more you handle them the better it is for both piggies and persons.

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