Guinea pigs can lick their owners for a number of reasons, but they mostly do so as a display of affection.
Like dogs and cats, guinea pigs use licking to appreciate their caretakers.
This means if you find your little one dragging their tongue across your skin, then chances are they like you.
However, a cavy’s licking may not always be so endearing and full of love. A piggy pal can sometimes slurp their owner’s skin for rather peculiar reasons, like tasting the salts on skin tissues.
As piggy parents, it’s essential to know all the possible reasons behind a guinea’s licking so that one can take countermeasures to stop the pet.
Is Licking Normal In Guinea Pigs?
Licking is often associated with dogs, cats, and some wild animals. But those are not the only species to have such a habit.
Guinea pigs also tend to service their human companions with their tongue, which can seem a little troubling to pet owners unaware of such a tendency in guineas.
Although licking in guinea pigs is pretty unheard of, especially if you haven’t interacted with one before, it is not unusual or an action to fret over.
For a creature as adorable as a guinea pig, licking can strike as a strange behavior; however, it’s not.
If you are a first-time piggy parent, you are likely to come across your piggy wetting you up with their tongue.
When that happens, don’t panic because doing so is common among cavies.
That said, to remain calm when you see your cavy companion licking, knowing why they do such a thing can be helpful.
Why do Guinea Pigs Lick Their Owners?
As mentioned above, there are several reasons why your little bun-bun might lick you, but the most common of them all is PDA.
Public Display of Affection
If you have ever had a canine companion, you would know how they love to lave up human skin (of course, when it belongs to their owner).
And even if you don’t have any experience with dogs or any other four-legged companions, you must have either seen or read about the said behavior in dogs.
Dogs love nothing more than to douse their human companion in slobber to showcase their affection for their friend.
Similarly, guinea pigs would quite frequently (not as much as dogs) lick their owners and convey their love.
So, when you find yourself at the receiving end of piggy drool, don’t worry; instead, enjoy the moment because it signifies the bond you and your little one have.
The human skin tastes salt because of the eccrine glands in it that release different secretions, namely sebum and sweat, tasting of salt.
As a result, our epidermis tissues are quite salty.
This saltiness of the human skin can appear tempting to guinea pigs, forcing them to give their owners’ skin a lick every now and then, or however often they crave the savory flavor.
So, many times when guinea pigs are licking their human caretakers, it’s not PDA but rather an attempt to satisfy their taste buds.
As disturbing as it may sound, your skin is super tasty, especially for guinea pigs.
Therefore, when you are being licked by your piggy pal, don’t straight away assume that they are showing love because they might just be feeling snacky.
Snack Session No. 2
Besides the saltiness of the human skin, guinea pigs are attracted to the food taste, sometimes left after a person has made or tackled food.
However, that only happens when either your piggy pal ends up getting a taste of your hand or smells the scent of food on your skin.
Either way, you will be licked!
You must be wondering that the food aroma on your skin needs to be too intense for your piggy pal to pick up on it, but that’s not necessary, thanks to the incredibly sharp piggy olfactory senses.
Guinea pigs have unbelievably sharp smelling abilities, which is why they smell even the most unnoticeable traces of food flavor on their owner’s hands.
So, to avoid being your cavy companion’s snack, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling or cooking food.
If possible, wear gloves when picking up your furry friend to eliminate your chances of giving off food smells.
It’s a known fact that pretty much all animals use their tongues to groom themselves.
But what’s a lesser-known reality is that animals don’t only lick themselves to clean but also those close to them.
In simple terms, animals lave at each other’s fur to clean one another.
This means animals don’t just lick themselves for grooming but also other animals whom they love.
So, when a pet wants to appreciate its owner, it may groom them by licking, and guinea pigs are no different in that regard.
Besides cleaning themselves up through licking, your piggy pal is likely to groom you because they like you and want you to be as clean as they are! So thoughtful, right?
Do you know what that means? It means that your little one may be thinking of you when lapping their tongue all over your skin if they have developed a liking for you.
And even if they lick you for the sake of the salty flavor of your skin, it’s nothing to be sad about because guinea pigs only do so with human companions they trust!
Cavies can be immensely untrusting and take their time warming up to new faces.
But once they get well-acquainted with someone, they will become quite comfortable, so much so that they will start to lick the person before them for salts.
Long story short, you don’t need to be disappointed even if you think that your sweet pie is licking you wet for food.
In most cases, when a piggy pal licks its owner, it’s either due to love, food, or simply fun.
So, generally, you don’t need to worry when your cavy companion licks you.
However, if the clicking is accompanied by nibbling and squeaky sounds, then your fur child may be in pain.
Since pets don’t have a language to communicate with their owners, they develop their own ways to convey their feelings, and licking with nibbling is one of those ways.
When cavies are experiencing discomfort, they lap their human companion’s skin with their tongue, along with nibbling to notify their owner.
So the next time your piggy pal is licking you, be alert to pick up on any nibbling attempts as you may miss those.
Although nibbling is not hard to miss, it can be mistaken for something else, such as tickling resulting from licking.
Therefore, you need to pay attention to your little one’s teeth movements when they are wetting you with their tongue.
That said, interpreting an action meant to display discomfort becomes easy when there are strange sounds involved.
If you hear sharp noises along with continuous licking and nibbling, know that it’s time to call the vet.
And if you are still not sure whether or not your tiny fellow is in pain, reach out to the vet because seeking professional guidance is never a bad idea.
It may be hard to guess that guinea pigs follow a hierarchal system of dominance and subservience just by looking at their sickeningly adorable faces.
But believe it or not, that is true.
The guinea group has a hierarchy that every member follows religiously and establishes it using their tongue.
When living in families, guinea pigs often lick each other to show love or groom one another.
However, in some cases, licking is used to give respect and establish order within the community.
In simple terms, the leader of the guinea clan is to be respected by all, which is why all lower cavies will lick their superior.
Similarly, when cavies are domesticated, they start to look at their human companion as a leader and resultantly lick them.
As a human, you may not know that you are being respected as a superior when your piggy pal is licking you, but more often than not, that can be the case.
If your cavy companion only licks you while they are friendly with other family members as well but do not lap anyone else, the chances are that they see you as the head of the clan.
Can You Stop Your Guinea Pig From Licking?
As individuals, some piggy owners may appreciate licking while others may not.
If you belong to the latter group, perhaps you can use a trick or two to keep your little one’s tonguing habit under control.
The easiest way to avoid being covered in cavy drool is not picking up your pet much. You don’t need to hold your pet to show your love for it.
If you take care of its needs without being too touchy-feely, you can still be a good piggy parent.
Next, give your piggy pal chew toys to satisfy their desire to lick you or others who may not like it much.
Lastly, distract your cavy companion whenever they seem to be gearing up to lap your skin with their tongue.
Licking in guinea pigs is as normal as eating, sleeping, and playing.
If you are witnessing said habit of your fur buddy for the first time, no need to worry.
You can either distract them or enjoy a lovey-dovey moment between you two.
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