Like other furry pet mammals, guinea pigs like to be petted too. However, since they are small creatures compared to your usual pet cat or dog, they need to be handled differently. In this article, you will learn all you need to know about how to pet a guinea pig. It is important to know a guinea pig’s attitude, likes and dislikes, and how to establish trust before you can begin to shower your pet with kisses and cuddles.
A Guinea Pig’s Nature
Guinea pigs are natural prey. This means since they are the ones who are being hunted, they are generally defensive and mistrustful. You will need to challenge those natural guinea pig instincts and establish trust. This requires some patience and a few tricks to get them to trust and eventually see you as a friend instead of a predator.
If you have just brought your pet guinea pig home, give them a week or so to get used to their new surroundings and your presence. Before you begin to know how to pet a guinea pig, it is valuable to establish trust. If you do not, your guinea pig will end up fearing you and could result in a couple of bites on your fingers and for the guinea pig, a lot of stress.
Guinea pigs are naturally social. In fact, in some parts of the world, it is illegal to own only one guinea pig because having a companion is essential to their health and survival. If they do not get enough bonding time, they can become slow, lethargic, and lose their appetite.
How to Establish Trust with a Guinea Pig
Here are some tips and tricks to follow before you begin to know how to pet a guinea pig.
Make sure your guinea pig is comfortable. Pick a quiet area far from other pets or any sort of noisy activity. Sit by your guinea pig’s cage and talk to them. This will help them familiarize themselves with your scent and the sound of your voice. Try putting your hand in the cage and allow them to approach you. Do not force them onto your hand if they are not ready.
Food helps as well. Do not try hand-feeding just yet. After bringing them food a few times, you can try to get them to eat from your hand. This helps them associate you, and especially your hands, as something they do not need to fear. Guinea pigs are voracious eaters, which means food is not just about survival, but enjoyment. Dark, leafy greens and the occasional baby carrot and bell pepper slice make excellent guinea pig foods.
If you think you and your guinea pig are ready for some trust exercises outside the cage, find a clean, spacious, and quiet area for a large exercise pen. You want to make sure there is still an enclosure in case your guinea pig gets scared and runs off. Sit or lie on the floor a short distance from the cage. Open their cage and let them go out on their own and approach you.
The Best Way to Pet a Guinea Pig
The first step in how to pet a guinea pig will is safety. Guinea pigs should always be on a stable surface before try petting them. In their cage, on the floor, or on your lap, are good places. Never place your guinea pig near somewhere they might fall because these quick and skittish creatures can jump or run away without notice.
When you pet a guinea pig, use a single or two fingers and start with slow and gentle strokes. Pet or stroke them in the same direction that their fur grows. You can start by petting their head or under their chin. Keep your first couple of sessions brief, and see how they react.
Avoid touching your guinea pig’s feet and underside. Even their back can be an off-limits zone. It should go without saying you should not surprise your guinea pig with petting. Do not sneak up on them or pet them while they are asleep. If your guinea pig walks away in the middle of a petting session, let them go. Do not force them back to you or chase after them.
Another cuddle session will take place soon anyway because it is actually good for a guinea pig’s health to have plenty of playtimes and social interaction.
If you notice that your guinea pig reacts differently to how they normally do when you pet them, you might want to bring them to the vet. They could have an infection in that particular area, or they are experiencing some other hidden medical issues.
Guinea pigs are adorable and loving companions. It can be easy to get carried away when handling them, but there are correct ways for how to pet a guinea pig. Like with any other pet, establishing trust is key before you begin to regularly pet and cuddle your furry friend. Take the time to follow the right steps that I just outlined, and you will be rewarded with a true friend. Remember that guinea pigs are inherently social, and they will eventually warm up to you. Do not take it for granted as social interaction is essential to your pet friend. Know more about small animals.