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Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Pet? Guide With Infographic

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Guinea pigs are social and affectionate animals, but they’re not always the easiest animals to pet due to their skittish nature and instinctive wariness. That said, many guinea pigs do enjoy being pet, especially around their ears and forehead and under their chin.

Some guinea pigs are more likely to run away when you try to pet them. This doesn’t mean they dislike you; it’s just their uncertainty about something that they’re not used to. Recognizing your guinea pig’s body language will help you determine whether your guinea pig enjoys being pet.

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Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Pet?

In the wild, guinea pigs often live in groups of five to 10 and will sometimes form a larger colony of several different family groups. They are highly social animals and love to interact with each other and their owners. As prey animals, though, they are naturally wary of anything unfamiliar or different that might be dangerous.

Most guinea pigs love to be pet and will even ask for attention whenever they see you. Others might be warier about the action, and you’ll need to teach them how to enjoy your affection.

hands holding guinea pig
Image Credit: Dmytro Vietrov, Shutterstock

How to Tell If Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Pet

Depending on your guinea pig’s history and personality, some may find petting sessions more enjoyable than others. If you have a timid guinea pig, they’ll likely be warier about being pet than a more confident animal. It’s your job to make petting sessions as enjoyable as possible, and knowing whether your guinea pig enjoys being pet is the first step.

There are a few ways to tell whether your guinea pig enjoys being pet or would rather you leave them alone. Here are the behaviors to watch for.

1. Body Language

Guinea pigs might not be able to speak the same language that we do, but they have ways of communicating. Their body language can tell you a great deal about how they’re feeling and whether they enjoy something that you’re doing.

If they run away or freeze, they’ve likely been taken by surprise or feel threatened. In this case, it’s better to wait until they’ve relaxed before trying to pet them.

When your guinea pig enjoys being pet, they’ll likely approach you on their own. Some guinea pigs will also climb on you when you’re sitting in their playpen on the floor. They’ll be relaxed and playful, and if you’re truly trusted, they might even fall asleep on you.

2. Licking

They might not seem like animals that spend much time licking themselves or each other, but guinea pigs keep themselves clean just like cats do. Licking is used for grooming purposes and showing affection to other guinea pigs. Sometimes, your guinea pig will lick your fingers too. It’s their way of showing appreciation for your presence and how much they think of you.

female cuddles with guinea pig
Image Credit: Ocskay Mark, Shutterstock

3. Vocalization

A surprising thing about guinea pigs is the amount of noise that they make. For prey animals, they are incredibly talkative and will make sounds to talk to you and their guinea pig friends. The amount of noise that they make and the reasons for each sound depend on their personality.

Many guinea pigs will respond to being pet by purring. Unlike the gentle, rumbling noise made by cats, a guinea pig’s purr sounds like a soft squeaking or whistling sound and might be joined with body vibrations to show their contentment.

They’ll also be sure to warn you if you’re getting too touchy. A low-pitched purring and restlessness can sometimes mean your guinea pig has had enough.

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Where Do Guinea Pigs Like to Be Pet?

All guinea pigs are individuals, and their favorite spots to be pet might vary. One might like having their ears scratched, while another might prefer your attention on their chin. Always make sure you’re stroking your guinea pig with their fur and not against it.

Most guinea pigs like to be pet in these areas:
  • Along their back
  • On their forehead
  • Under their chin
  • Behind their ears

While these areas are common favorites, your guinea pig also has places that they would prefer you not touch at all. Their rear end and belly are both areas to avoid. You should also pay attention to any signs of discomfort to make sure you’re not causing your guinea pig pain.

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Why Is My Guinea Pig Scared of Being Pet?

Sometimes, your guinea pig will meet your attempts to pet them by running away or freezing. When you just want to give your favorite furball some love, their fearful reaction can be heartbreaking and worrying. However, this response can be a result of a few things.

Most often, your guinea pig simply isn’t used to being pet. You need to consider their history and whether their previous owners were interested in spending time with them. A rescue guinea pig may have had bad experiences with petting in the past and is wary about being hurt again.

Also, pay attention to what’s going on before you try to pet your guinea pig. If the kids are making more noise than usual or the dog is barking, your guinea pig might be frightened by all the noise. While your presence might help them realize that they’re not in danger, you shouldn’t drag them out of their hiding spot if they’re scared. Wait for them to emerge, and reward them with a petting session then.

Where you’re petting your guinea pig can make a difference too. Most guinea pigs dislike having their rear or belly scratched. They’re prey animals, and these areas are sensitive places that a predator would happily take advantage of. If your guinea pig is nervous, keep your hand where they can see it, and pet their head or under their chin.

Can You Teach a Guinea Pig to Enjoy Being Pet?

If you’re new to guinea pig ownership, you might not realize that they can be trained. In fact, they’re intelligent animals and can learn several tricks, including how to come when called, jump through hoops, and even return to their home on command. With time and patience, you can teach your nervous guinea pig how to enjoy cuddles too.

To do this, you’ll need to pay close attention to your guinea pig’s reactions. As soon as they start showing signs of distress, stop and try again the following day. You want to make petting sessions enjoyable and not a cause for stress. Talk softly to your guinea pig, and make sure they know that you’re there before trying to pet them.

Plenty of treats will help. Before you start, figure out your guinea pig’s favorite snacks, and let them nibble away as you pet them. With enough sessions, your guinea pig will learn to associate petting with their favorite food.

Be prepared to spend a great deal of time teaching your guinea pig, as they’re not the easiest animals to train. Most of all, take it slow, and start by only petting your guinea pig for a few seconds at a time to allow them to adjust.

guinea pig licking human hand
Image Credit: Lipatova Maryna, Shutterstock

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Friendly, smart, and social, guinea pigs are fun and adorable. Many of them also love to be pet around their ears, back, and under their chin. Some guinea pigs, however, prefer not to be touched at all.

The most important thing is to create a positive experience when you pet your guinea pig. With time, patience, and their favorite treats, you can teach your guinea pig to accept and enjoy your affection.

See also: Do Guinea Pigs Like Music? Vet-Reviewed Science & Info!

Featured Image Credit: Shschus, Shutterstock

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