Just like other pets such as cats and dogs, you might have noticed that your guinea pigs like to lick your fingers, hand, or face.
You might also have seen them licking themselves or another guinea pig. But what does it mean when a guinea pig licks you? Well, your guinea pigs licking you is a sign of love and affection.
This may seem a little strange to you when you experience it for the first time, but it is perfectly normal – so you shouldn’t worry or fret!
What Does It Mean When A Guinea Pig Licks You?
There are different reasons why guinea pigs lick their owners but for the most part, it’s usually a sign of trust, love, and affection.
If a guinea pig is not comfortable or distrusts you, you won’t find them licking you. So this is an occurrence/interaction that most new owners or strangers will probably experience.
Unlike most other pets, guinea pigs may take a longer time to adjust to their new owner and surroundings. But you can always tell when a guinea pig becomes comfortable with its environment or even bonds with you.
A guinea pig that is yet to trusts its owner, will reject being held and try to back away, hide, sometimes they may nibble or bite, when trying to escape.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the reasons why guinea pigs lick their owners:
1. Sign of Affection
If your guinea pig starts to lick your hand, the most common reason is that they are happy and content to be with you. This is a way they try to show their appreciation and love.
They might also make some squealing noises as they lick you, this is also a positive sign.
2. They Are Trying To Groom You
Guinea pigs love to groom themselves as well as others, when they extend this gesture to you, it also most likely a sign of affection.
If your guinea pigs happen to wee a little as they groom you, this means that you are lucky and is currently receiving the full guinea pig spa treatment.
3. Licking Up Salt
If you recently handled food or have bits of food stuck to your hand and you try to pick up your guinea pig, they might lick your hand and try to lap on the food smell.
This might also be due to the salt on your skin, and your guinea pig is trying to have a quick snack
Should You Be Scared Of Your Guinea Pig Licking You?
It takes guinea pigs quite a while to get used to their new surroundings and family. So, as the owner, you need to do all you can to ensure that your guinea pig feels safe with you and in the company of others.
It is also recommended to always house two guinea pigs together as opposed to one as they are sociable creatures.
The location of your guinea pig’s enclosure is also something you want to do thoughtfully, ensure that they are placed in an area that isn’t totally dead silent but not too noisy either.
The room they are placed in should be kept at the right temperature with adequate natural lighting. Gaining a guinea pig’s trust takes a lot of work and patience but it will eventually pay off.
Allow your guinea pig to get comfortable with you at their own pace so they can approach you on their own and isn’t afraid to show you their true self.
A guinea pig showing you its tongue or licking your hand is a great indicator that they accept and trust you and do not feel threatened by your presence.
Whether your guinea pig is licking you because they like the taste of your skin or because they are comfortable with you, there are both good signs and should be regarded as such.
However, you may enjoy having your guinea pig lick your hand; because some owners find it cute while others find it strange. So If you happen to not enjoy having your fingers licked by your guinea pig, it may be something you don’t want to happen regularly.
It might be highly disappointing to have your newly adopted guinea pigs be scared and wary of you but you just need to give them time to adjust to their new environment.
During this adjustment phase, your guinea pigs will spend most of their time observing and watching you from their hideout. In order for a bond to be created between a guinea pig and its owner, there have to be lots of patience and understanding on the owner’s part.
So, when your guinea pig licks your hand, as a sign of affection it should be received as a huge compliment even if you find it strange.
How To Stop A Guinea Pig From Licking You
If you find it strange or you are not comfortable with your guinea pig licking you, you may try to look for ways to stop it, although it is possible, it is not usually recommended as licking is a common behavior and natural trait for guinea pigs and they do so for a reason.
Stopping your guinea pigs from licking could be difficult and problematic as licking is a form of interaction not only between the guinea pig and its owner but also between guinea pigs themselves.
A guinea pig Licking your hand is an indicator that they accept you, It basically a way of them telling you that they love you, so stopping them from doing this might break the bond that you have painstakingly built with them.
If you are not comfortable with your guinea pig licking you or you find it strange, you can try to reduce how frequently you handle your pet.
If you notice your guinea pig sticking out their little tongue, you can try to offering a toy to them to play with instead.
There’s a variety of natural wooden chew toys you can get online or in pet shops for guinea pigs. However, you need to ensure that the materials the toys are made out of are safe and natural and also have exciting shapes.
Your guinea pig can chew, bite, lick, and play with these toys anyhow they desire to keep themselves busy and entertained. Creating a source of distraction will help to minimize the licking behavior.
Also, ensure your hands are properly washed before you try to handle your pet Especially after handling food. The smell of food on your hands may cause a guinea pig to lick you.
Only Use a gentle hand soap that is odorless, avoid using strong smelling hand soaps as they are usually made with harsh chemicals that might also make your guinea pig lick your hand.
For a more natural remedy, you can try rubbing a little lemon juice on your hands; lemon has a bitter smell which will help to deter your guinea pig from licking your hand.
Lastly, try to analyze your guinea pig’s diet. Although licking doesn’t have a direct connection with a guinea pig’s diet, it might be an indicator that the diet is low in certain minerals, like sodium.
You should have a talk with your vet so they can advise you on the best-recommended diet for your guinea pig; high-quality pellets should make an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet.
You should also reduce the amount of fruit you offer your guinea pig as well as it could cause mineral imbalance when they are fed too much fruit.
Other Ways To Tell If A Guinea Pig Likes You
There are different ways guinea pigs show affection and the methods are unique to your guinea pig’s personality.
Once your guinea pigs stop trying to hide from you or they no longer freeze when you come into their presence, then you should know that a close and trustworthy bond has likely been created.
When your guinea pig becomes confident in your presence and they are no longer shy to be their true selves around you, you should know that your piggy loves you.
A guinea pig who loves you may also yell at you for their food, sleep in your presence, eat out of your hand, or simply approach you.
Aside from licking, here are some other ways guinea pigs show affection:
You may hear your guinea pig squeal when they are feeling happy or excited. But they can also make a similar sound when they are in pain.
So you should check on your guinea pig when you hear them squealing to ensure that they aren’t in pain, although you might be able to tell the difference between happy and unhappy squealing.
Popcorning is a natural response trait in guinea pigs, they leap up in the air, and it is quite spectacular to watch. They do this when they are very happy about something.
When you hold your guinea pig very close, they may nuzzle their heads against your hand. This behavior is also seen in cats as well.
If your guinea pig is being held in a way that they like, they may let out a little purring sound, this sometimes sounds like the purring of a cat.
Hearing a guinea pig purr is very soothing, and it indicates that your guinea pig is very relaxed.
Guinea pigs lick for a couple of reasons, it could be a sign of affection if they lick you, they also lick themselves or other guinea pigs as a way of grooming and to keep themselves clean.
So, if your pet just licked you and you are wondering what does it mean when a guinea pig licks you, you shouldn’t worry or fret, it is perfectly normal.