do guinea pigs bite

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Published By: Martyn

Do Guinea Pigs Bite

Yes Guinea Pigs do bite, but there is normally a reason why. However, you also need to know whether they are giving you a nibble or an actual bite. There is a big difference.

It can be a bit of a shock if your guinea pig bites you, don’t let it discourage you. You just need to find out why your guinea big had bitten you.

Guinea Pigs are prey animals, so they never bite without reason. They usually bite because they’re scared.

They can bite because of a sudden loud or unknown noise. Although they can also bite because of being somewhere new, dealing with a different Guinea Pig joining the cage or many other reasons.

Guinea Pigs bite because it tells you exactly what they’re feeling.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why guinea pigs might bite and what you can do to prevent it.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

When we first got Molly and Millie, they would often nibble when smelling my hand. This didn’t hurt at all. It’s not very common for Guinea Pigs to bite.

They usually only bite when they need to express something.

Since they cannot speak, how else are you supposed to know if they are not happy about something or scared about a certain situation?

Guinea Pigs usually bite because they need to tell you something…Usually don’t pick me up that way or go away because i’m scared.

Below i’m going to go through the most common reasons as to why guinea pigs bite.

The Common Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Bite

Exploring

Exploring Guinea Pig

You’ll find that as your guinea pigs explore, they may nibble or chew anything thats around them. They also do this when you add something new to their cage. It’s important to know that they do this to learn about them and not to try and damage them.

Guinea Pigs are incredibly clever and used this to find paths around objects they have nibbled to their food. Once they’ve done it they will stop and remember for several months.

Just make sure you do check where we are wondering around. We don’t want to chew something that might be poisonous to us or cause us any harm.

Their Scared

It takes time for a guinea pig to trust someone. If they are scared, they might bite as a way to defend themselves. Guinea Pigs usually give a warning before biting and that is when you need to back away slowly.

You should try and build a bond with them. Give them treats and let them come to you.

Being Alone

Guinea Pig alone

It’s really important that you keep your guinea pigs in pairs. if their alone then they can become grumpy. This could (although not often) make them bite.

If you do have just the one, you should look at bringing them home a friend.

Too Noisy

Its really easy to startle your guinea pigs, even more so when they’ve just come home. When Molly and Millie came home, the slightest noise would make them run into their hideaway.

Sudden loud noises can really scare them. This could result in them biting out of shock. Make sure when you do handle your guinea pig, its somewhere quiet and calm.

Clothing or Jewellery

Lets face it everything is food to your guinea pig right? You might find that they’ll try and nibble or bite any piece of loose clothing or jewellery.

When we first got Millie, she would always try and eat the logo from one of my tops.

It’s often worth removing jewellery that they might try and bite before handling them.

Mites or Other Parasites

Guinea Pigs can get mites and can you imagine how cranky they could get, always scratching away at them.

This could actually make them lash our and bite you, even though they may not mean it. So if they’re scratching a lot, get them to your local vet.

Mites can cause a lot of pain for your guinea pigs, so well worth getting rid of them if they have them.

Smelling Food On Fingers

Guinea Pig Smelling

Guinea Pigs have an excellent sense of smell, it’s one of the things they rely on to get around after all.

So if you’ve just handled food and then picking them up, there is a good chance they can still smell the food on your hands. This could cause them to bite out, since they think there’s food.

Now Molly and Millie do this a lot. I wouldn’t call it a bite, it’s more like a nibble. It doesn’t hurt at all and never breaks the skin.

To prevent this from happening, you should make sure you fully wash your hands before holding them. This will get rid of any of those smells.

Cage is Too Small

The size of the cage is really important, and you should always make sure your Guinea Pig Cage is the right size for the amount of piggies you have. They need plenty of space to move around and explore.

If the cage is too small, they might start to feel cramped up and that could lead to them becoming grumpy. When they’re grumpy, they often bite.

So if you do see your guinea pigs become more territorial of their space, it might be time to upgrade their cage size.

They Need A Wee

When a guinea pig needs a wee and your holding them, they’ll try and let you know. This is because they like to pee in private. They’ll usually squeak or nibble you to tell you. If you don’t get their hints then there’s a good chance they might give you a little bite. Usually a guinea pig will wee ever 10-15 minutes. So bear that in mind when your holding them.

Not Holding Them Properly

No doubt if your knew to caring for Guinea Pigs or they’re only small, you might be nervous about holding them. It’s really important that when you do hold them, that you make them feel safe and secure.

If they dont feel secure then they could get scared and could end up biting out of fear. Gently pick them up around the tummy and support their legs/bottom to make them feel safe.

They Just Dont Like Cuddles

Just like any pet, Guinea Pigs have completely different personalities. Most do like to be cuddled and held, however some just dont like it at all and prefer to be a bit more independent. It’s important to not just pick your guinea pig up as soon as you get them, as they need to time to get to know you and bond with you.

After some time, you’ll learn if they want to be held or just left alone.

Growing Pains

Our Guinea Pigs are like our little babies and just like children, they grow up and test boundaries.

This means they’ll sometimes challenge you and this could include nibbling or biting to try and show their dominance.

The way around this is to focus on rewarding the good behavior and soon enough they’ll no longer do this. It does take a little patience.

Pain

Sometimes our little guinea pigs can get hurt and feel pain, more so if they are older. This could be pain from a bruise, arthritis or from something else.

You might want to keep a track as to when they bite and see if its whilst your stroking the same area. if it is then its possible they’ve hurt themselves somehow and that area is causing pain or discomfort.

If your Guinea Pig bites and you’ve checked all of the above reasons, it might be worth taking them to the vet for a checkup.

Did Your Guinea Pig Bite or Nibble?

Guinea Pig Nibble or Bite

Many people get their guinea pig nibbling and biting mixed up. So its important to learn the difference.

It’s very uncommon for a for a guinea pig to actual bite. Since they are prey animals, you’ll often see them running away than wanting to stay and bite someone.

As already mentioned, if they do bite then there is usually a reason why.

When they bite it is to protect themselves, although nibbling is completely different and is pretty harmless.

Lets compare the two

Nibbling

  • Often feels like a little pinch
  • Usually doesn’t hurt but can depending on where it is
  • Happens often when the guinea pig is happy or excited
  • Used to show affection or concern
  • Often done to try and show dominance
  • Nibbles to learn more about the environment
  • Usually nibbles when something smells like food

Biting

  • Often very painful
  • Uses full force
  • Usually draws blood
  • Done to help guinea pig escape
  • Caused by stress, unhappiness or fear
  • Often a last resort as warning signs not been noticed

Nibbling itself is not a problem, as some guinea pigs do it more than others. When they nibble it usually wont hurt, however you need to make sure that it doesnt go out of control and develop into biting.

More often than not when they nibble, its to show you affection and not because they are stressed or scared.

If you think that your guinea pig is nibbling in a more aggressive manor, you need to keep an eye on them. This could turn into biting.

You need to use positive reinforcement with treats to prevent them from nibbling and use other ways of showing affection.

Like I said though 99 out of 100 times, nibbling is fine and will not result in biting.

What To Do When Your Guinea Pig Bites

It can be hard to know what to do if your guinea pig does bite. (remember its very rare for them to bite in the first place)

First of all, you need to see if the bite has caused you to bleed. Usually little bites or nibbles wont hurt at all.

If however a bite has happened and broken the skin then make sure to give it a good wash. Use a disinfective soap and then allow it to dry.

You normally wouldnt need to worry about infections but if you are concerned then add some antibiotic cream and cover the cut up for a few hours to the rest of the day.

If your guinea pig has bonded with the other guinea pigs then its very uncommon for them to bite each other. This can happen with makes as they try and determine who is in charge.

It would be recommended to take the guinea pig to the vet if they’ve broken the skin.

Train Your Guinea Pig Out Of Biting

Is it possible to train your guinea pig so that doesnt bite? Yes it is, although there is a simplier way.

It might sound obvious but the best way to stop them biting is to not put them in a position where they might bite. Try not to scare them, wash your hands so they dont smell of food and don’t stick your fingers into the cage.

Now you can reduce the amount they bite by building a better relationship with you. Spend more time with them and interact with them. Sooner or later they will be more comfortable with you and wont bite you.

Not only that but you’ll learn more about when they risk biting you, so you can prepare for it.

You can also use positive reinforcement to train them into not biting. You do this by giving them treats when they do something good. It does take time but can be worth while.

FAQ

Does a guinea pig bite hurt?

More of than not, a guinea pig bite wont hurt. They’ll usually just nibble you, which is almost like a pinch. If they feel very scared or annoying (which is very rare), then they could bite hard and this would hurt.

Final Thought

Hopefully this article has answered the question do guinea pigs bite?

Guinea pigs are gentle, lovable creatures that make great pets. They’re easy to care for and typically don’t bite unless there’s a good reason. If you’re thinking of getting a guinea pig, be sure to do your research so you know what to expect. With a little bit of love and patience, you’ll have a new furry friend for life!

Martyn

I started my journey into the wonderful world of Guinea Pigs, when my 5 year old son wanted a pet. We spent many weeks and months deciding what type of pet to get him. This is when we fell down the rabbit hole of Guinea Pigs...

I had so many questions when we first started looking into them. Hours and hours of research has given me the answers. So I wanted to share what I've learned with you, to help you learn more about these amazing animals.

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