One of the key concerns that people have when they are thinking of keeping guinea pigs as pets is knowing whether these domesticated rodents bite or not.
Those who are already aware that these pets may resort to biting their keepers are often curious as to what may be the potential causes of this phenomenon.
This article will explore some of the reasons why your pet may bite and how to reduce these occurrences in order to achieve a healthy companionship with your furry friend.
- Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
- Why Does My Guinea Pig Bite Me?
- Does a Guinea Pig Bite Hurt?
- What Should You Do If Your Guinea Pig Bites You?
- How to Train a Guinea Pig Not To Bite
Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
Yes. While it is uncommon for these pets to bite, they may do this to communicate fear, pain, or discomfort. In most cases, a guinea pig’s bite is a harmless nibble arising from mistaking your fingers for food or trying to groom itself.
All guinea pigs, including babies, may bite. However, the pups are less likely to bite, and even if they do, the pressure will likely be light, and the injury is rarely serious.
Why Does My Guinea Pig Bite Me?
Guinea pigs may bite for many reasons, ranging from reacting to being bullied, stress, illness, and accidental nips to mistaking your fingers for food. They may also bite when they feel threatened or attempt to assert dominance in the cage.
Guinea Pig Is Stressed Out
A cage in a noisy environment, sensing predators around, infestation with mites, and sickness may all cause stress in a guinea pig.
Should you shove your fingers into the cage or attempt to handle them when feeling heightened stress levels, the pet may lash out and bite.
Fidgety and Want To ‘go’ (mishandled)
If you continue holding and petting a guinea pig that would like to be set down, it may react by biting you. This often occurs when your pet is uncomfortable in your arms or has been held too long and needs to go back down to play.
Your pet may also bite to communicate to you that it needs to poop or pee and that you may need to put it down and let it handle its business.
They Are in Pain
Since a guinea pig does not have the ability to talk verbally, biting may be a means for it to communicate its pain and discomfort. If you hold them too tightly, they may feel uncomfortable and squirm around to be set free.
Guinea pigs may also get a little aggressive when they have sores or wounds on their bodies and bite when petted.
Guinea Pig Feels Threatened
A guinea pig that feels threatened may also react to this state by lashing out. This may happen when you interfere with their feeding or pooping.
When their space gets cramped up or there are too many in one cage, they may also feel threatened and become aggressive. They may also feel unsafe when predators roam near their cages, and their natural defense instincts may cause them to bite you.
Accidentally Nip You
Sometimes the pet might be trying to nibble on their own fur and skin, and in the process, they may accidentally bite you. Guinea pigs tend to nibble on themselves to remove fleas in case they are infested or just as a means of self-grooming.
Accidental nips are rarely serious or deep.
Your Guinea Pig Thinks Your Finger Is Food
This is a common occurrence when the guinea pig is hungry and mistakes your fingers for food. It is more likely to occur if you just came from touching food with appealing aromas and went straight to petting your piggy.
It may be a good indicator that you need to improve the supply available to it in the cage, and perhaps vary the types of food you provide it with.
Dominance by Biting
To establish a hierarchy within the cage, guinea pigs may sometimes resort to biting each other. If you happen to shove your fingers or hand into the cage in such moments, you may just be caught in the crossfire.
Non-neutered males are more likely to assert their dominance by biting compared to sows.
Does a Guinea Pig Bite Hurt?
This depends on whether it is a gentle nibble or a deep, outright bite.
Out of their 20 teeth, guinea pigs have incisors that are strong enough to cause deep, painful bites which can leave a puncture on your skin. incisors are the long, frontal sets of teeth on their lower and upper jaws that are most visible to you.
It is interesting to note that the teeth of these pets continuously grow and elongate and if left unchecked, may cause severe bites. If the bite is due to aggression stemming from pain or fear, it will likely be hard, and you may feel pain from it.
For the most part, though, the nibbles are gentle and harmless and stem from accidents rather than direct attacks from your pet.
What Should You Do If Your Guinea Pig Bites You?
When a guinea pig bites you, it is important not to hit it back as this may encourage more aggression. You might want to set it down and allow it to calm down before attempting any further physical contact.
Whether the bite was a hard or light one, you may want to wash the area with soap and running water. If it is just a small scrape, applying antibacterial ointment is advisable.
If the piggy sunk its teeth a little deeper and there is severe bleeding, you need to quickly wash the wound with soap and running water, then immediately apply pressure to the puncture with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.
It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to assess the wound and determine if you may need antibiotics or a tetanus shot.
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How to Train a Guinea Pig Not To Bite
For you to train your guinea pig not to bite, you need to understand the reasons why it lashes out, and then use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. Reducing the causes of aggression will go a long way in keeping it calm.
For instance, stress and loneliness can be reduced by locating the cage in a nice environment without noise and pairing it with a partner.
Providing sufficient food and water in the cage as well as chew toys for them will also keep them healthy, active and relaxed.
It is also important to allow friendliness to grow between you and your pet gradually.
Talking to them gently and lightly petting them behind their ears will allow them to get accustomed to your presence, and they will be more receptive to being held.
You might also introduce treats while bonding with them, and to reinforce positive behaviors when they are petted.
Do guinea pigs bite their owners?
Yes. Even though this is quite uncommon, guinea pigs may bite their owners. This may be accidental, or as an intentional attempt at protecting itself.
For the most part, the pet may gently nibble on you as it tries to groom itself while you are holding it. Nevertheless, hard, puncture bites are also possible.
Can you train a guinea pig not to bite?
Yes. Training ideally involves alleviating all causes of stress in your pet that causes aggression in them and reinforcement of positive behavior.
Should I be worried if my guinea pig bites me?
Yes. However, you need to be able to differentiate between a gentle nibble that is fairly harmless and a hard bite that may need a trip to a doctor.
For a gentle nib, washing the area with soap and warm water may be all that is necessary. For a deeper, puncture wound, you may need antibiotics from a doctor to prevent infections.
Why is my male guinea pig suddenly aggressive?
Aggression may result from a desire to assert dominance in the cage, hormonal surges, or stress within its living environment.
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Even though guinea pigs may bite their human owner, this is an uncommon occurrence and may often be accidental. In most instances, the bite is nothing more than gentle nibbling which requires no serious medical intervention.
However, it is important to note that even though it is rare, infections like rabies and tetanus may result from a guinea pig bite.
A bite that breaks the skin and causes a puncture wound and bleeding should not only be washed and bandaged but may need to be checked out by a doctor.
The good news is that guinea pigs are generally docile and friendly, and when kept in a stress-free environment, will rarely lash out and bite.
It is possible to train your guinea pig to reduce its chances of biting you by maintaining a safe living environment for it, learning safe ways of petting it, and using positive reinforcements for good behavior.