By Shannon Cauthen
I’m scared to pick up my guinea pigs. I’m afraid I will hurt them. What is the best way to pick up and handle guinea pigs?
It is ideal to approach your guinea pig low and slow. Guinea pigs are fearful of things coming from above. This is a hardwired response. They fear birds of prey that swoop down on them, not unlike a hand moving from above. So get down at their level of sight, and remember that guinea pigs do not see in front of their noses.
Move your hand slowly in front of your guinea pig’s eyes to signal that you are about to pick him up. Also, remove the house each and every time you interact with your guinea pig to signal to your pet that it is time to play together. When you are done, place the house back so that it signals that playtime is over. Offer a treat of a piece of carrot or yogurt drop after playing. This helps your guinea pig anticipate this reward when your time together is over. Be consistent when offering treats to get specific reactions and responses.
To pick up your guinea pig, gently take your hand and push the guinea pig into a position where you can comfortably slide your hand under his belly. Some cages will only permit you to do this one handed, so once you have him at a point of comfort and safety, remove him from the cage. Place your other hand in position to hold his back while the hand removing the guinea pig cups the bottom. Place the guinea pig’s bottom in the palm of your hand so his head points toward your elbow with the majority of his body resting on your forearm. In some cases guinea pigs will attempt to jump out of your arms and back into the cage either as you are passing the cage or returning the guinea pig to the cage, if so it would be ideal to return them to their cage bottom first.