Do guinea pigs bite is a common question asked by both new and existing guinea pig owners. No matter how experienced you are, the first time your guinea pig bites you can cause quite a shock. It’s hard not to be curious about why your furry friends are biting you. There are actually multiple reasons why guinea pigs bite. These range from the typical to the harsh reality of what your guinea pig is trying to tell you.
Find out more:
- Basic Guinea Pig Behaviour
- What Biting Means
- Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Bite
- Do Guinea Pig Bites Hurt?
- How to Treat a Guinea Pig Bite
- Don’t Take It Personally
Basic Guinea Pig Behaviour
It can be easy to forget that your beloved pet guinea pigs aren’t able to always tell you what they need. Get used to the various verbal cues your guinea pig exhibits. Wheeking for food, bashing the bars and squeaking for attention all become part of your caring routine after a while.
However Guinea pigs are not only very vocal creatures, but they are also very expressive in other ways. From the simple nose nudge to the back of your hand to encourage you to keep stroking them, to the more obvious paw slap when they have had enough attention and are ready for adventuring.
Often biting, nipping or nibbling is simply an extension of another way of them communicating with you.
If you want to learn more about guinea pigs behaviour check out our guinea pig behaviour guide.
When A Guinea Pig Bites You What Does It Mean?
Since we can now view guinea pig biting as an expression form of behaviour, it’s important not to take the bite personally. The bite does not mean that your guinea pigs do not like you, love you or need you around. They are simply trying to tell you something.
It is now essential to work out what it is that your guinea pigs are trying to tell you. Below is a complete list of the reasons why your furry friend is nipping, biting or chewing on you.
Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Bite
Stress or Fear
If your guinea pig feels afraid, stressed or scared the easiest and quickest way to let you know is using its teeth. It’s important to note that guinea pig bites will never be aggressive. There is a multitude of stressors that can affect your guinea pig such as loud noises, other pets in the room, being held by a stranger and severe changes in temperature.
Always assess the environment in which your guinea pig is in when it gives you a quick bite to attain if they are feeling afraid or stressed.
Provide Toilet Breaks
Many guinea pig owners are surprised to discover that guinea pigs need to urinate every 15 minutes. If your enjoying some seriously long cuddle time and your piggie starts nibbling you, then it’s probably a big warning it really needs the toilet!
Guinea pigs will start fidgeting first when they need the toilet and will attempt to go off your lap. If these subtle hints are ignored then your little piggie will start nibbling you to let you know it really needs to go!
If you often like to spend long amounts of time cuddling your piggie (Our guinea pig Chocolate loves being cuddled for a hours!) then invest in some pee pads. They are perfect for lap time, playtime and even when toilet training your guinea pigs.
Injury or Illness
A poorly guinea pig will show various signs of ill health (find out more here) and most ailments will be picked up during your guinea pigs health check. However, injuries and illnesses can still be missed.
If your guinea pig is squealing or biting when you touch are certain part of their body, chances are they aren’t feeling too well. We recommend placing your guinea pig back into their hutch or cage whilst phoning the vet. Ensure they have fresh water, food and plenty of hay.
Feeling in Danger
Guinea pigs are prey animals which means they survive by running and hiding when they feel in danger. If a guinea pig isn’t able to hide away then its last resort is to bite.
Ensure you always handle your guinea pigs with care and respect. Young children need to be supervised and other animals need to be kept safely away from your guinea pigs.
Ensuring their hutch or cage has plenty of hiding places so they always feel helps decrease the chances of your piggie feeling in danger.
It’s actually very common for guinea pigs to nip and bite when they are hungry. It can be very easy for them to mistake a hand that’s held food for actual food itself!
Guinea pigs have an excellent sense of smell so keep your hands clean before handling them.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive noses and a dirty cage can seriously affect their well being. Keeping a clean and tidy cage is essential for happy, healthy guinea pigs.
Ensure their hutch or cage is a great place to live by providing fresh water, tasty food (in a non-tip bowl) and plenty of hay. Provide tunnels to hide in, toys to chew and some tasty treats every now and then.
Do Guinea Pig Bites Hurt?
Surely one of the most important questions if you are a new guinea pig owner! Generally speaking no, guinea pig bites do not hurt. In reality, they barely even break the skin.
They feel more like a small pinch or scratch as opposed to a full-on bite. Guinea pig bites are more nips or nibbles.
The exception to this is if you have a very aggressive or distressed guinea pig. There will always be other warning signs which would indicate clearly that you should not be holding this guinea pig (or at least put it back in its cage)
How to Treat a Guinea Pig Bite
If you are familiar with guinea pig behaviour (learn about it here) then chances are you will easily be able to avoid a bite from your piggie. There are of course times when you are confused with food and a little nip happens!
No special treatment is required to treat a guinea pig bite. Simply wash the area that has been bitten, if the bite has broken the skin then apply some antiseptic spray and keep a watch for any signs of infection.
Don’t Take It Personally!
Please don’t hurt or harm your guinea pig if they bite you. They are only trying to tell you that something is wrong. Your guinea pig obviously feels comfortable enough to let you know when it needs your help and that’s actually a really good sign.
Remember when you first brought your guinea pigs home and they were so scared and easily startled? Now they are so comfortable they are able to give you a little heads up (or rather a nip) when they need your help. Feel free to comment below with any questions or stories about your guinea pigs or comment on our Facebook Page.