Guinea pigs are kind small pets that love playing and socializing. They are rarely aggressive making them common family pets especially in families with young children.
However, just like with other friendly pets e.g cats who can scratch, guinea pigs have a way of expressing their irritation by biting. And that’s the topic we’ll be looking at today.
Do guinea pigs bite?
Yes. Guinea pigs bite. They may bite each other or bite humans. When they bite, they do it to communicate something but sometimes it’s all accidental and they don’t even mean to bite.
When they bite intentionally, it’s usually because they are agitated, irritated, or frustrated. On the other hand, unintentional bites usually happen when you are hand feeding them and they bite your finger mistaking it for food.
Reasons why guinea pigs bite
Guinea pigs will bite you because of several reasons which we’ll look into.
Guinea pigs may bite you as you try to lift them from their cage. This is because they are afraid.
When you lift them, they will not be able to tell how far from the ground they are and whether you are going to drop them or not. This fear can make guinea pigs bite when they are lifted.
When they want to urinate
It’s advised to hold guinea pigs for a maximum of 15 minutes each. This is because they have a fast metabolism that makes them want to pee or poo frequently.
When guinea pigs begin nibbling you as you hold them that means that they need to go for a bathroom break. If you don’t seem to get it they may bite you out of frustration and may even pee or poop on you.
When you take them out of their cage
Sometimes when we are taking out guinea pigs from their cages, we tend to do it whether they want to or not. They could run and hide but we’ll still reach out to get them from their hideout.
Maybe they were comfortably eating or wanted to take a poo then you distracted them, even you wouldn’t be so pleased with such invasions of privacy. If they run to hide and reach a corner where they can’t escape from, they could bite your hand.
We love petting our pets and they enjoy it too. Some though will never get used to that kind of love and they won’t like being petted so they will bite you when you try to do it.
Even if they love being petted, guinea pigs will have preferences of how they want you to do it and where you pet them. Always pet them in the direction of hair growth and avoid places like their tummies.
If guinea pigs are new, they may bite you whenever you try to touch them as a form of defense. They are not sure what your intentions are.
Until they learn to trust you, they will be wary of you because to them, you could be another predator out to harm them.
Guinea pigs may easily bite you when you are grooming them. This is because they don’t usually like water or bathing.
The shampoo you are using on them could also irritate their skin or they could feel pain as you brush their hair. Either of these reasons could make them bite you as you try to keep their hygiene up to standards.
Mites and skin conditions
Mites and skin conditions in guinea pigs will make them itch frequently. This makes them uncomfortable and uneasy.
They could bite you as you try to touch them because of the severe itchiness or they could unintentionally bite you as they are scratching themselves.
Guinea pigs live in hierarchical order from top to bottom and they usually fight to establish dominance when they first meet. The fights are natural so they are not serious but when they are they will scratch and bite each other.
They could even chew each other’s whiskers off. You should always separate them from serious fights.
Is it painful when guinea pigs bite you?
Yes, when guinea pigs bite you it can be painful if they do it hard. Sometimes they can bite to the extent where the bite looks like a cut and blood is drawn.
However, most guinea pig bites are just nibbles or soft bites that are not painful. (But they can be painful to little kids).
How to stop guinea pigs from biting you
Biting is not something guinea pigs usually do unless they make it a tendency. First, identify the reason for the bite.
If they did it due to the reasons listed above, that’s okay. If not, try to find out what could be wrong. You could even talk to a vet if you can’t figure it out.
Ways to Stop the bites are:
- Let your guinea pig go if they want to go.e.g back to the cage, to pee, etc.
- Avoid having their cage in a noisy and hot place. This brings about stress in guinea pigs.
- Let your guinea pig get used to you first if you just brought them home. You can offer them treats to increase trust.
Are guinea pig bites dangerous
No, guinea pig bites are not dangerous. They are small nibbles to communicate something or little hard bites if they don’t like something.
However, there are some risks associated with guinea pig bites in certain circumstances. If skin breaks, some infections could be transmitted.
Signs of infections
Guinea pigs can transmit infections and diseases like pasteurellosis. Always watch out for signs like:
- Painful wounds.
- Skin infections.
- If severe, the infection can spread all over the body and affect the nervous system.
What to do if bitten
Guinea pig bites are not usually fatal even if blood is drawn. If the bite is not serious, find the cause to avoid later bites.
If there is a cut:
- Wash hands with soapy warm water.
- Clean wound with alcohol to kill bacteria and prevent any infections.
- Bandage the cut.
It should heal after a couple of days.
You should see a doctor if:
- The bite wound is red, swollen, warm, and painful.
- Your last tetanus shot was over five years ago.
- Pet was in an outdoor cage or came into contact with wild animals.
Guinea pig bites are usually harmless painless nibbles. Sometimes they’ll even bite your finger if you taste like something they eat or you have a salty taste in your hands.
Be careful when hand-feeding your guinea pig to avoid unintentional bites and always wash your hands after handling them.