Guinea pigs are docile and very playful pets but do guinea pigs bite? Yes, guinea pig bites sometimes as a way of communicating and as a defense mechanism.
There are different reasons why your once loving pet suddenly became a biter. In this article, we are going to look at the different reasons or triggers that cause a guinea pig to bite.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
If you experience occasional biting from your pet, it might be that they are trying to tell you something, but if the biting is constant, then it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Here’s a couple of situations you might get bitten by a guinea pig;
Read Also: How to Know if Your Guinea Pig Likes You
Before handling your guinea pig, you want to make sure your hand is properly washed. It shouldn’t smell like food, or your guinea pig is going to mistake your fingers for its next meal.
Also, if you have other pets like a cat or dog, you want to also wash your hand thoroughly after playing with your other pet before handling your guinea pig. Guinea pigs have a very strong sense of smell, so each scent all carry an instinctual effect, which is biting.
Also, carrying your guinea pig around the house might not be okay for your pet because they get a sense of insecurity when they have their legs midair (I mean, who wouldn’t?), and this might kick in the biting defense mechanism.
Guinea pigs can sometimes suffer from skin diseases like itching and mites; this can make the guinea pig very uncomfortable, so trying to lift up or pet a guinea pig suffering from diseases like this will cause the guinea pig a lot of pain, resulting in it biting you.
There are different parasites responsible for these skin diseases, and they present themselves through a couple of symptoms. If ever you notice your guinea pig scratching their body and tries to bite you whenever you try to carry them, take your guinea pig to a vet checkup as soon as possible.
3. Improper Grooming
Trying to bathe some guinea pigs can get them upset, and because they don’t enjoy bating, they might end up biting you.
If you have a long-haired guinea pig, your pet may bite you when you try to brush their hair because the tough nature of the hair makes it quite difficult to comb.
You also need to be mindful of the type of shampoo you use in cleaning your pet because sometimes these shampoos might be too strong and cause irritation on the guinea pig’s body.
Read Also: Best DIY Toys For Guinea Pigs
4. Removing Them From Their Cage
Guinea pigs are prey animals, and they like to hide in their living quarters to be protected from predators.
This instinct is still present in most of our guinea pigs, and they tend to feel more secure inside their cages than out, so you may find your guinea pig biting/nibbling on you after been removed from their cage for a long time.
Also, if there are loud noises, it’s best you put your guinea pig back into its cage because the loud noise can make your guinea pig become stressed.
Also, nobody likes being moved while they sleep, so do not ever move your guinea pig while it’s taking a nap.
5. Nature’s Call
It takes an average guinea pig’s bladder about 15 minutes to 30 minutes to get full. So your guinea pig has to take a leak every 15-30 minutes, so if you are holding your pet longer than that and it gets nature’s call, your guinea pig might nibble or bite you.
This is because guinea pigs usually like to pee in one place and might even bite you harder if you didn’t get its message. Trying to put your guinea pig back into its cage after a certain interval, so your pet can relieve its bladder.
6. Trying to cuddle
Just like humans, guinea pigs all have different personalities, and while some might like to be petted or cuddled, some won’t.
Some guinea pigs have a “no-pet” zone, which is areas they don’t like being pet, especially like their rumps. Petting a guinea pig who doesn’t want to be pet or petting a guinea pig in the wrong place might get you bitten.
This is often confused with the pain factor, but with the proper investigation, you will be able to tell the real situation.
Also, if your guinea pig wasn’t properly handled by its previous owners, they may be very timid and scared when they are picked up for a cuddle or petting.
This can make the guinea pigs try to defend themselves by biting. So after adopting a guinea pig, take enough time to allow the guinea pigs to get to know you and start by handling them for a short period of time and try to gain their trust with kindness and care.
Younger guinea pigs are known to be more curious and tend to nibble on their humans when they are trying to express something.
But with time, this biting behavior fades away as the guinea pig matures.
8. Living Conditions
How well your guinea pig is being taken care of is also a cause of biting. If you have a single guinea, no matter how affectionate you are as a human, your guinea pig will still feel lonely and start chewing the bars of its cage and even bite when held.
If your guinea pig just started biting, try and check for other signs of loneliness and try to get your guinea pig a companion.
9. Show Of Dominance
Male guinea pigs, especially the non-neutered ones, may try to show their dominance by biting more than females or neutered male guinea pigs. The only solution to this is to get your guinea pig neutered, although it is not a guaranteed solution.
How To Stop Your Guinea Pig From Biting
Try placing your guinea pig’s cage in a quiet area because loud voices or noises can cause your guinea pig to become stressed and start biting.
When your guinea pig is out of its cage, reduce the sound of the tv, keep all other pets out of the room and remove anything that might be a source of loud noise that can threaten your guinea pig. Always try to offer your guinea pig a pleasant experience so that it associates you with that feeling.
Read Also: Do Guinea Pigs Like Mirror?
Give Your Guinea Pig Time
After bringing your guinea pig home, do not expect it to become warm with you immediately. It’s going to take a while for the guinea pig to get used to its new home, cage, and everything. Do not start playing with the guinea pig immediately; keep its cage open and allow the guinea pig to explore.
It will get to know all the hiding and resting spots, and once the guinea pig becomes relaxed, immediately place an exercise pen around the cage on the floor quietly and allow the guinea pig to explore.
You can also go ahead and place fresh greens and veggies at the cage door and outside the cage; this will serve as a motivation and reward for exploration.
To get your guinea pig to become familiar with you, try sitting close to the cage without engaging the guinea pig, then place some treats or veggies inside and wait till the guinea pig comes to get it before trying to pet it.
Once the guinea pig reaches for the treat, you can put in a finger inside the cage to allow the guinea pig to become familiar with your scent.
Then just sit quietly next to the cage so that the guinea pig can get to know you. Because guinea pigs are very sensitive to loud noise, it is recommended you only try to hang out with your pet during quiet times.
Do not try to pet your guinea pig against its will, and even it allows you, make physical contact for only a short period of time. Only pet the guinea pig for a couple of seconds at a time. Do not try to pick up your guinea pig until it is comfortable in its setting and with you petting it.
When you need to pick up a guinea pig, try to lift up from underneath the chest and up just a couple of centimeters before dropping it back down.
When picking up your guinea pig, always start by using one hand to pick it up from underneath its chest and use the other hand to support its hindquarters.
You want your guinea pig to feel completely supported, so it doesn’t become insecure about its safety. If, after picking up your pet and It gets agitated, immediately put it back into its cage before it starts biting/nibbling you.
If you have kids, it is also important that you teach your kids how to carry the guinea pig too. Sit your child on the floor with a towel or a cuddle cup and hand them the guinea pig.
The towel or cuddle cup will act as a protective barrier between the child and the guinea pig. Your child can then start petting the guinea pig gently and allow the guinea pig to wander away so it does not feel trapped.
You can have your child wear gloves for safety and once the guinea pig starts feeling uncomfortable or starts biting, tell the child to put it down immediately.
After a few months of living with the guinea pig, you and your family members should have become familiar with the guinea pig, and you should be able to tell its personality.
If none of the other tips seems to work, you can use treats to reinforce good behavior in your guinea pig. To do this, when your guinea pig seems to be biting to seek attention, try to ignore it for that moment and come back to pet it when it’s calm.
Do not use treats to “bribe” your guinea pig into stopping its biting because it’ll associate biting with treats, and you don’t want that.
Never Hit Your Guinea Pig
Do not try to hit your guinea pig into stopping its biting. It may injure the guinea pig and may lead it to try and defend itself, which means more biting.
Although when a guinea pig bites you, it may activate some instincts that may cause you to want to hit your guinea pig but don’t do it, instead try to find the cause behind biting.
What To Do if your Guinea Pig Bites You
Although the bite of a Guinea pig bite can sometimes hurt, most times, your guinea pig just nibbles at your hand without breaking the skin, but this might be hurtful to kids.
But if the guinea pig is really stressed or irritated or probably held for a long time with a full bladder, they may bite hard and break the skin, which can hurt you.
Also, if you were bitten during the feeding process, this might be really painful because the guinea pig will bite really hard on the finger, considering it part of its food.
So when feeding your guinea pig, you have to be very careful because even though Guinea pigs have a reputation for being calm and docile, they can sometimes get stressed out and become aggressive, which can result in biting.
However, like every other animal bites from guinea pig poses a risk of transmitting infection when their bit break the skin, and here are some of the symptoms of an infected bite:
- Fever, Inflammation in certain areas.
- Stiff neck
- Loss of appetite
- Headache & muscle aches
- Nausea & vomiting.
- A painful wound or skin infection
- Itchy skin, cracking of the skin, redness, ring-shaped rash.
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain
There are also some common diseases that can be spread by guinea pigs to a human:
Salmonellosis, Ringworm, Pasteurellosis, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), Campylobacter, etc.
At the notice of any of the above symptoms after a recent guinea pug biting, seek medical attention immediately. Some infections spread by guinea pigs can be fatal and requires immediate treatment.
How to Treat A Guinea Pig Bite
As stated earlier, Guinea pigs carry infections like salmonella, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), and these infections can be transmitted to humans through biting, so there are some safety measures to follow after being bitten by a guinea pig.
If the bite did not break the skin, you do not need to worry; simply wash the bitten area or your hand with soap and water after handling your guinea pigs because their saliva may contain certain diseases that can infect humans too.
However, if the bite broke the skin and drew blood, then you might need to treat it differently.
If the bite creates only a tiny cut, you can salvage the situation by
- Washing your hand and bitten area with soap and water.
- Then use some rubbing alcohol to clean the wound to prevent infection.
- You can also use some Neosporin for quick recovery and apply a bandage.
- If the wound is a large cut or you keep bleeding even after hours of the biting, you should seek medical help.
Also, If you start feeling some burning sensation or severe pain in the skin or if the bitten area feels stiff even after few hours of bandaging the wound, then you would need to visit the doctor.
Read Also: How to Spoil Your Guinea Pig
Although the answer to the question do guinea pigs bite is yes! There are different ways you can use in preventing a guinea pig from biting you.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with the various ways you can prevent your piggies from biting you and also what to do if they eventually bite you.