Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite? How to Stop Guinea Pigs From Biting?

Guinea Pig showin teeth-ready to bite

Popular among first-time pet owners, guinea pigs are personable small little creatures. They make a great choice for first-time pet owners, both adults and kids. Perhaps you are planning to gift your kid a guinea pig on his coming birthday, and you were wondering, do guinea pigs bite?

Guinea pigs generally have a calm demeanor, but they may bite on certain occasions. Though guinea pig bites don’t hurt, it can be perplexing for guinea pig owners, especially young children who don’t understand why their fluffball might be biting them. Therefore, knowing why guinea pigs bite and what can you do to stop your guinea pig from biting you could be very beneficial.

So, if you have been worried about your guinea pig bites, continue reading as we are going to discuss all about guinea pig bites: Why do guinea pigs bite you, and how to get your guinea pig to stop biting you.

Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

Yes, guinea pigs can bite—more of a nibble than a bite. But you need not worry, as guinea pig bites do not really hurt. Guinea pig bites usually don’t even pinch through the skin. In some instances, however, guinea pigs are able to pierce through the skin and cause a wound. If you have a guinea pig bite wound, you should thoroughly wash the wound and cover it with a sterile bandage after it gets dry. It will heal on its own, but if redness oozes from the wound, you should see your doctor as it could be a sign of an infection.

Now that we know guinea pigs can bite let’s find out why guinea pigs bite.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

While there is no way of telling for sure why guinea pigs bite, there are some common reasons that are believed to trigger guinea pigs to bite. Below we are going to discuss some of the common reasons a guinea pig may bite, along with useful tips on how to stop guinea pigs from biting you.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?How to Stop Guinea Pigs From Biting?
The Guinea pig is scaredWash your hands before handling your guinea pig
Guinea pig needs to peeThe flood of your affection and excessive handling is irritating your piglet
The Guinea pig is trying to wear down its teethDon’t do anything that may startle or instill fear
Guinea pig is exploringThis is natural rodent behavior
Guinea pig is asserting dominanceLet your guinea pig take a trip to the litter box
Guinea pig is hungryOnly handle your guinea pigs when its tummy is full
provide a constant supply of hay to your guinea pigSeparate your fighting guinea pigs and provide more hides and feeding pots in the cage
Guinea Pig is sickLook for other signs of sickness and take your piglet to a vet
Guinea Pig is stressed and uncomfortableIdentify and remove the stressor and give your guinea pig some space
Guinea Pig is lonelyGet your guinea pig a cage mate
Guinea pig wants you to put him downThe Guinea pig is in pain
Guinea pig is in painKnow how to hold a guinea pig properly, don’t squeeze him too tight
It’s not your guinea pig but the hormones bitingSpay or neuter your guinea pig if you are not planning on breeding them

Your Fingers Smell

If you are not washing your hands before holding your guinea pig, there is a huge chance that he may start nibbling on your fingers, especially if you have been eating something like strawberries. Guineas love strawberries, so they are going to nibble on your fingers to get a taste of them.

Similarly, if you have been petting your cat or dog before lifting your guinea pig, your guinea pig might try to stay away from you. With your hand smelling of cats or dogs, if you pick up your guinea pig, he will bite you. In this case, he will be biting to get away from you as he is scared of the predator’s smell on you.

How Can You Stop It?
If you don’t want your guinea pig to bite your fingers, you should thoroughly wash your hands before you go hold with your guinea pig. You should also note that most soaps contain different fragrances that may make your fluffball confuse your hands with food. Therefore, you should continue trying different soaps, and when you find the one that stops your guinea pig from biting, you should stick with it. You can also wash your hands without any soap to get rid of the food smell.

Guinea pig Might Have To Pee

If you are handling your guinea pig, all is good, and out of nowhere, your guinea pig startles you by nibbling your fingers; you should know that he might have to use the bathroom. Your guinea pig is nibbling to communicate that he has to go and does not want to relieve himself in your hands. So, if your guinea pig bites, you should take your cue and take him back to his cage. If he goes straight to his litterbox, you will get your answer about why your guinea pig was biting you.

Learn how often do guinea pigs pee.

Guinea pig sniffing hand of his handler--ready to bite
How Can You Stop It?
If a guinea pig’s bite is a signal that he needs to use the bathroom, you should return your guinea pig to his cage without wasting any time. Otherwise, you will be promoting your guinea pig to stop signaling and relieve himself wherever he feels the urge—do this once or twice, and your guinea pig will flush all the lessons he learned during his litter training sessions down the drain. In the future, to prevent your guinea pig from biting you for this particular reason, you can try handling your guinea pig after he has been to the litter box.

Guinea Pig is Scared

Guinea pigs get scared pretty easily. If a guinea is scared or is being bullied by his cage mate, it may resort to biting to protect itself—it may bite other guinea pigs or whoever comes close. Similarly, if a stranger picks up the guinea pig, he may bite as he does not recognize the face. Guinea pigs are fleeting animals. So, when they feel trapped, they will try whatever they are capable of to free themselves. If you have picked up your guinea pig way too high from the floor, or you picked up your guinea pig while it was sleeping, there is going to be some nipping and biting.

scared guinea pig hiding in corner of his cage
How Can You Stop It?
In this case, you can stop your guinea pig from biting by not handling your guinea pig when he is scared or stop doing anything that would make him scared. For instance, do not pick up your guinea pig when he is asleep as it would startle him, and he may confuse you for a predator. Similarly, if your guinea pig is not comfortable with heights, ensure that you are seated when handling your guinea pig.  If the guinea pig is new to you, don’t try to handle him right away; give him some time to familiarize.

Guinea Pig is Exploring

Guinea pigs are curious little creatures; they love to explore new places. And like all rodents, they usually chew or nibble on things in their environment. You might have even noticed your guinea pig nibbling on a new toy or guinea pig hide that you put in his cage. This is not a behavioral issue as the guinea pig is not really trying to destroy the item; rather, it is only trying to learn about it. Nibbling is their usual way of learning about new things.

Guinea Pig exploring with a magnifying glass
How Can You Stop It?
There is no way to stop it as it is weird but a normal guinea pig behavior. If you are concerned about your guinea pig, you should make sure that when you let them out of their cage to explore a room or lawn, there is nothing poisonous to guinea pigs. Once your guinea pig has familiarized itself with the environment, the nibbling will stop.

Guinea Pig is Showing Dominance

Guinea pigs are social beings and would warm up to a new guinea pig in minutes, but like other animals, they also go through a phase in which they try to assert their dominance over other guinea pigs. To show dominance, they may chase the guinea pig around the cage or may even bite them if the other guinea pig is standing up to the asserter instead of running away.

Guinea Pigs fighting
How Can You Stop It?
If you see your guinea pigs fighting or chasing each other in the cage, you should immediately intervene and separate them before things get dirty. If guinea pigs are fighting after a toy, you should give your guinea pigs more exciting toys. Similarly, if they fight over food, you may want to feed them separately. You may also want to place new hides in your guinea pig cage.

Guinea Pig Is Wearing Down Its Teeth

Guinea pig teeth keep growing throughout their lifetimes, and overgrown teeth could be harmful to guinea pigs. Therefore, guinea pigs are always chewing on something to wear down their teeth to normal size. If your guinea pig does not have a constant supply of hay to nibble on to wear down his teeth, he may find other things like your fingers or bars of the cage to bite on. Check out my article on Why do guinea pigs bite their cage?

Guinea Pig Showing His Teeth
How Can You Stop It?
In this case, you simply have to ensure that your guinea pig has access to a constant supply of timothy hay. Nibbling on hay would wear down your guinea’s teeth, so he won’t feel a need to chew on your fingers or anything else.

Guinea Pig Is Hungry

Guinea pigs love eating and are always looking forward to their mealtime. So, if it is mealtime and you have fed your guinea pig, you might get to hear your guinea pig purring or making other noises to tell you that he is hungry and waiting for the meal. But if you decided to pet and held him instead of offering him food, you might get nipped at. Guinea pig mistake syour hands for food and thus bite at them to satiate his hunger.

Person hand feeding a strawberry to a guinea pig with a cookie sitting nearby on a white sheet
How Can You Stop It?
It is simple, never handle your guinea pig when he is hungry. You may try to schedule guinea pig handling sessions after guinea pig mealtimes. Besides, before handling your guinea pig, you should always wash your hand to get rid of the smell of fruits or veggies that you might have been handling earlier. This would reduce the risk of guinea pigs mistaking their hands for food.

Guinea Pig is Sick

When we are sick, we want to be left alone; we don’t want to eat anything or play with any toy. Similarly, when our piglets are feeling unwell, they also want to be left alone. So, if your guinea pig is under the weather and you try to pick him up or forcefully feed him, he may nip at you to tell you that he wants to be left alone.

If you have been handling your guinea pig for ages and he has never bitten you before, you should know that something is wrong with him. You should take your cure and leave your guinea pig alone. You may also want to observe your guinea pig for signs of sickness and take him to a vet; if the signs of sickness don’t disappear.

Sick guinea pig
How Can You Stop It?
If poor health is making your guinea pig bite you, you should leave your guinea pig alone as you might be further aggravating the pain. Other than that, the best thing would be to take your guinea pig to a vet for an immediate checkup. The vet will rule out the possibility of a chronic illness after running some tests and will get your piglet on track to good health. Until your guinea pig is normal again, you should avoid handling your guinea pig, according to the vet’s recommendations.

Guinea pig is stressed and uncomfortable

Like a scared guinea pig, a stressed and uncomfortable guinea pig is more likely to bite you. Guinea pigs feel stressed for various reasons ranging from fights with cage mates, too small guinea pig cage, competition for food and mate, predators lurking nearby, loud noises, a change in environment, etc. Handling guinea pigs in such conditions may result in nipping and biting. if your guinea pig seems to be uneasy and stressed. you might be knowingly or unknowingly tickling your guinea pig and he might not be liking and thus is nibbling to get you to stop the tickling.

silver rex guinea pig stressed
How Can You Stop It?
If your guinea pig seems uneasy and stressed, instead of trying to handle and cuddle it. You should try to identify the stressors and remove them. By handling your guinea pig in such a condition, you will be making it worse and adding to his stress level.

Guinea Pig is Lonely

Guinea pigs are social animals, and though they would make do living alone, it is strongly recommended that you always keep them in pairs. If you had a pair of guinea pigs and one of them dies, you might find the other one biting his cage. While novice guinea pig owners may confuse guinea pig biting cages with destructive behavior, you should know that the guinea pig is only trying to communicate that he misses his fellow and is lonely without him.

alone guinea pig on autumn leaves
How Can You Stop It?
To stop your guinea pig from biting the bars of its cage, you can try offering him new toys to keep him busy. And if that does not work, you might have to bring him a new cage mate. You can also try to fill the gap by making yourself available for your guinea pig. You can try to have more frequent interactive sessions with your guinea pig.

Guinea Pig Wants You to Put Him Down

No one likes a clingy person. Like children get annoyed when you are being overly affectionate, our piglets also get annoyed when they are being held and cuddled for long times.

There is no doubt that guinea pigs love to interact with their loving owners; however, too much handling can be irritating for guinea pigs. So, guinea pigs might bite the handler when handled for a long time. By biting, they try to convince their owners that the interactive session needs to end.

close up of a young boy holding guinea pig
How Can You Stop It?
If your guinea pig only bites you when you handle them for a long time, then you can easily stop your guinea pig from biting by limiting the guinea pig’s lap time. You should never cuddle and play with your guinea pig continuously for more than 30 minutes. For the best outcome, you can keep the interactive sessions short but make them more frequent.

Guinea Pig Is In Pain

Guinea pigs are fragile pets; they need to be handled with great care and caution. If you hold them too loose, they may flee away, and if you hold them too tight, you might end up squishing their leg or their internals. If your kid does not know how to hold a guinea pig properly and is squeezing the piglet too tightly, there is a huge chance the piggy would nip at your child’s hand to tell him that he is getting hurt and to free himself of the pain. Therefore, if your guinea pig is biting you, you should make sure that he is not in pain.

scared guinea pig in pain
How Can Your Stop It?
Just learn how to hold your guinea pig properly and make sure that your guinea pig is not in pain. Hold your guinea pig close to your chest while sitting on the floor, and make sure that you are not squeezing him too tightly. If you are holding your guinea pig just fine and he is still nipping at your hand, you should check if he has an injury and your touch might be making it hurt.
infographic showing where do guinea pigs like to be petted

It’s Not Your Guinea Pig But the Hormones

As guinea pigs reach puberty by the age of two to three months, they experience a whirlwind of hormonal changes, which may cause behavioral changes in guinea pigs. So, male guinea pigs are more likely to bite their owners during this stage due to their high testosterone levels. If two male guinea pigs are housed together, they may start biting and fighting during this stage. Similarly, female guinea pigs are on heat; they become less social. When experiencing hormonal tumult, guinea pigs become less tolerant of handling.

How Can You Stop It?
You cannot stop your guinea pig from experiencing hormonal changes. What you can do is spay or neuter your guinea pig if you do not want to breed them. That said, it is not assured that neutering or spaying affects guinea pig aggression. But it will surely help contain the uncharacteristic mood swings of your guinea pig.
Never Punish your Guinea Pig For Biting!
Put yourself in your guinea pig’s shoes and consider this: if you had to pee; you were scared for your life; your handler was causing you pain, you were hungry, and there was no sign of immediate meal, what would you do? You will probably take some desperate measures like giving your handler a bite and fleeing. So, never punish your piggy friend for biting you.

Final Verdict: Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

Aggression is not in guinea pigs’ nature, so there ought to be a good reason if your guinea pig is biting you. Usually, guinea pigs bite their owners to tell them they need to pee, are hungry, scared, sick, stressed, lonely, or in pain. A Guinea pig can bite your hands if they mistake them for food. Moreover, guinea pigs may bite to assert dominance, discourage unwanted attention, or when they are experiencing hormonal changes.

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