So, do guinea pigs bite? Yes, your sweet, fluffy cavy can bite you.
But guinea pigs don’t bite often, and when they do, it’s usually a nibble or nip. So, don’t be too alarmed if your cavy nibbles your fingers.
Guinea pigs bite to tell you something. It might be that they are injured, stressed, or unhappy.
Guinea pigs might also bite or nibble while exploring. But the most common reason for cavy bites is fear.
Let’s explore these reasons in detail!
Why Your Guinea Pig Might Bite You?
Here are some reasons why your cavy might bite you:
Exploration & Curiosity
Guinea pigs are a type of rodent, and like all rodents, they will learn about their environment and adjust to it by chewing on things.
Your cavy will nibble on the objects in its cage and things in your home.
It might also cause your pet to nibble on your finger. Think of it as your cavy’s attempt to understand you.
Introduce it to new things to nibble on so it stays away from your fingers!
Guinea pigs require lots of space, stimulation, and the company of other cavies.
If your cavy’s needs aren’t being fulfilled, it might cause it to become unhappy and stressed.
It will result in your guinea pig feeling anxious and uncomfortable, causing it to bite you. Your cavy might also show reluctance to come out of its hatch.
You Smell Like Cavy Food
If your guinea pig consistently nibbles on your hands and fingers when you pick it up, it might indicate they smell like cavy food.
Guinea pigs love veggies and fruits, and if you’ve recently peeled, chopped, or eaten them, your cavy might smell them on you and start nibbling your fingers.
Similarly, if your guinea pig is feeling hungry and you’re holding its food too close to your finger, it might bite you accidentally.
So, keep your fingers away from their food to prevent this from happening.
Guinea pigs need to be handled with care and patience. You cannot force them to cuddle with you. They need their space and the time to adjust to human touch.
If that doesn’t happen, they might resort to biting to convince you to put them down.
Does your guinea pig start getting fidgety if you hold it in your hand for too long? Well, a possible reason for that could be that it needs to relieve itself.
Guinea pigs need to pee every 15 minutes.
If you are holding your cavy when it needs to go, it will try to signal you to let it return to its cage. Your cavy biting you might be its way of telling you it needs to pee.
As prey animals, guinea pigs have survival instincts that compel them to run and hide.
And if that’s not a possibility, their next line of defense is to bite. It’s why your cavy might bite you when feeling afraid.
If your guinea pig is feeling defenseless and cornered, handle it with care. Spend time with your cavy to make it feel safe and secure, making it less likely to bite out of fear.
Signs of feat include squeaking more than the normal amount, shivering, teeth grinding, etc. Notice your cavy’s body language before picking it up.
If you’ve just adopted your guinea pig, give it time to settle into your environment. Giving it space will keep it from feeling scared, enabling it to explore its surroundings at its pace.
Pain or Illness
If your guinea pig has never bitten you and has suddenly developed this habit, it might be a cause of concern. Your cavy might not be feeling well.
Since cavies cannot communicate with us otherwise, nibbling is their way of communicating their feelings to us. If your guinea pig is in pain, it might nibble your finger to let you know.
If your guinea pig nips or nibbles you for no apparent reason and appears to be a bit unwell, take it to the vet right away.
They will perform a complete health checkup to determine the issue.
If your typically happy cavy suddenly nips you, it might be suffering from an irritating and painful skin condition.
Cavies are prone to fungal infections, mites, lice, and ringworms.
Often, when grooming itself, your cavy might try to bite its lice or mites and accidentally nip you.
If that happens, take your cavy to the vet to treat its condition, which can prove to be fatal.
How to Stop Your Guinea Pig from Biting You
Here are some tips you can use to prevent your guinea pig from biting you and your kids:
Handle Your Cavy with Care
As a rule of thumb, always be super patient and careful when handling your cavy.
Take out the time to learn its likes and dislikes. Make sure to give it the time to adjust to your touch before picking it up.
Never force your guinea pig to cuddle with you. Don’t hold your cavy while it’s trying to eat its food or play inside its cage.
Always Wash Your Hands
If your guinea pig is prone to biting or nibbling, you certainly don’t want your hands to smell like cavy prey or food. So, wash them thoroughly before petting your pet.
This way, they will not associate your fingers with the scent of food.
You will also need to wash your hands if you have animals that can act as guinea pig predators in your home.
For instance, if you have cats and dogs, wash your hands before petting or handling your cavy.
Otherwise, it might smell them on you, causing it to panic in fear and bite you.
Let Your Guinea Pig Pee in Peace
If you’ve had your guinea pig for a while, try understanding its peeing cycle. This way, you will be less likely to pick it up when it needs to relieve itself.
Moreover, if your cavy resists your touch, let it remain inside its cage.
Don’t try to engage with it by running its fingers through the hutch, as it will annoy or stress it out.
Give Your Cavy Ample Space
Even though guinea pigs are small animals, they need a lot of room to play in, roam around, and explore.
A spacious cage or hutch will keep your cavy happy and stress-free.
So, make sure to invest in a large hutch for your cavy. Also, add lots of toys, hiding spaces, and tunnels to the hutch to make the place more engaging for your guinea pig.
Don’t Forcefully Pet Your Cavy
If you want your cavy to remain calm, don’t pick it up forcefully.
Be particularly careful about not picking your cavy up from a corner of its cage, especially when it’s reluctant.
It might drive your pet into defensive mode, causing it to bite your hand. Instead, handle your cavy only when it’s willing to be held. Always pick it up from the center of the cage.
Invest in Regular Vet Visits
If you want to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy, take it to the vet regularly.
Proactive care and treatment will keep your cavy from developing serious illnesses and keep potential pain at bay.
It will also help you address any behavioral concerns before they get out of hand and cause your cavy to become unnaturally aggressive.
An experienced vet will provide you with the required treatment plans. They will also teach you the appropriate ways to handle your pet to keep biting at bay.
Reward Good Behavior
If your guinea pig bites you, keep yourself from reacting negatively. Instead, put your pet back in its cage, and come back to it once it has calmed down.
Don’t give it attention right after it bites you.
Instead, teach it to behave well and reinforce positive behavior by giving a snack or treat and a cuddle (if your cavy likes to cuddle.)
Limit Your Contact
You will need to give your guinea pig the time to adjust to its surroundings.
Teach your kids to give it the space it needs to maneuver in its cage freely. Limit their contact with the cavy.
Slowly attune the cavy to human touch by petting it with your fingers.
Pick it up for a limited time and then slowly increase that time based on how comfortable your guinea pig appears to be.
Does a Guinea Pig Bite Hurt & How to Treat It
Typically, a guinea pig will not bite you forcefully. It will only nibble or nip your finger.
However, if you ignore all warning signs, your cavy might bite you aggressively.
When that happens, here’s what you can do to treat the wound:
- If your cavy’s bite has broken your skin, you must clean the wound with some water and soap.
- Use an antimicrobial ointment on the wound site to keep bacteria from accumulating and causing an infection.
- If you see blood oozing out to the site, use a clean cloth or a bandage to apply pressure on the wound.
- If the bite isn’t bad, use plaster to keep the wound from bleeding.
- In case of serious wounds, head to a GP as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
Guinea pigs are usually pretty docile, but they might nibble on you to tell you something.
If your guinea pig bites you, consider the reasons above and follow the tips to keep your cavy happy and healthy!
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