How to Pick up a Guinea Pig Properly

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Guinea pigs are fragile animals and should be treated as such.  They have delicate bones and if they are dropped, it could cause serious injuries. 

 They can jump and wiggle so you need to make sure that you have the proper hold on your guinea pig before you even attempt to pick them up.  This article will also cover how to hold them and how to return them to their cage properly.

Picking up Your Guinea Pig Properly

When approaching your guinea pig, make sure that you do so from the front so they can see you coming.  This will help to alleviate fear and nervousness when you go to pick them up if they can see you first.  Picked up suddenly, even if properly, may startle them and cause them to squirm and wiggle.  This could cause you to accidentally drop them.

Start talking to them gently and then slowly put your hand inside the cage so they can sniff your fingers and hand, familiarizing them with your scent.  After doing this bonding thing for a few minutes, it is time to pick your guinea pig up.

The first thing that you want to do is slide your hand underneath their stomach and cup it gently.  Make sure that you are not squeezing or holding them too tight.  If you squeeze or hold them too tight, this could prevent them from breathing or bruise them

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The next step is to provide spinal support.  Cup your guinea pigs behind and then lift them gently off the ground.  Slowly turn it and hold it against your chest.  You want to make sure you have one hand supporting its bottom and the other hand on its back.

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Only children over the age of ten or adults should carry a guinea pig because they like to squirm and need to be held gently.  A young child may not have the ability to do this.  If you have a nervous guinea pig, you should make sure you are holding them securely.

Support them by restraining one of their front quarters.  If your guinea pig likes to nip or bite, hold them securely so they feel safe and try not to give them an area where they can bite you.

How Soon Can You Handle a Guinea Pig?

If you have just brought your guinea pig home you should wait at least a week so they can get settled into their new home.  If they have been to the veterinarian for an operation, ask your veterinarian how long before they can be handled.

If you have a pregnant guinea pig, you should not handle then at all for a month before they give birth and then for a few weeks afterward.

Holding Your Guinea Pig Properly

 After learning the proper way to pick up your guinea pig, it is only natural that you are going to want to hold them.  When holding them, make sure that they are close to your chest.  Hold them with both hands but make sure that you are not holding them too tight.  It will also give your guinea pig the warmth of your body and you may find an opportunity for a quick cuddle.  

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If your guinea pig is not used to being held, they may struggle the first few times to get down but when they let you cuddle for a few minutes, talk to them softly and gently so soothe out any fears they might have.

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How to Return Your Guinea Pig Back to Its Cage

When you are returning your guinea pig back to its cage, do not toss them inside or keep them just above the cage waiting for them to hop out of your hands.  It is an important part of handling them for you to let your guinea pig know you are done holding them and putting them back in the cage.  

Lower your guinea pig slowly into their cage with their bottom first.  This will help to prevent them from making a mad dash into their cage.  If they cannot see where they are going then they will usually not jump out of your hands.  You want to be in complete control and putting them in butt first it helps to prevent them from getting hurt by jumping out of your hands.

If they start to squirm do not release them until they stop.  Hold them firmly but gently a few inches off the floor of the cage.  Once they stop squirming, you can place their feet on the cage floor and release them, but only if they are still.


  • After learning the proper way to pick up and hold your guinea pig, you will need to make sure that you teach your friends and family how to do this.
  • When small children are handling guinea pigs, they should sit on the floor so if they should accidentally drop them, it will not be a long drop to the floor.
  • You should only hold your guinea pig for 10-15 minutes at a time because after that length of time the guinea pig will want to go to the bathroom
  • Make sure that you wash your hands before and after you handle your guinea pig.  This will help to ensure that you are not transferring any germs or bacteria to your guinea pig.  This will also remove any smells of food.  They have a great sense of smell and if they think your hand is food, they may nip or bite you.
  • You need to make sure that you are supporting their back legs so they do not hurt their backs.
  • Always make sure that you have a hand under their chest with the other hand supporting their butt.
  • It takes patience to be able to learn how to handle and pick up your guinea pig properly.
  • After picking up your guinea pig and while holding them, you could give them a small treat.
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