One of the main attractions for getting a pet guinea pig is that the animal is generally calm and friendly. As such, it makes a suitable pet, even for kids. Unfortunately, your pet guinea pig might bite you someday.
If it is young, this might be just a test of its boundaries to know how far you would allow it to go or explore its surroundings. In most instances, this nipping behavior will disappear quickly.
However, in other cases, the biting continues and becomes a cause of concern for most pet owners. The biting can be your guinea pig’s way of communicating something to you.
If you have lived with the guinea pig for long, it might be easy to pick changes that have caused the behavior. For newbies, the behavior is often distressing and might make one regret getting a pet guinea pig.
Below are some tidbits on the causes of biting in guinea pigs, and a few answers to your questions on the behavior.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
Without a doubt, your first question when you encounter a biting guinea pig is the cause of this behavior so that you can appropriately handle it. Below are a few common reasons for this behavior:
– Wrong Handling
Guinea pigs should not be recklessly handled because this causes them to fight so that you are scared into putting them down. The animals love feeling well-supported and secure.
As such, when your pet feels like its feet are dangling when you are holding it, that you are excessively jostling it or that it is perched too high on your shoulder, it will often bite.
Aggression is also common if you pass the animal from one person to another within a short period. Remember that guinea pigs are prey in their natural habitats, and the handling might make them believe they are facing a predator.
One of the leading causes of stress for most guinea pigs is an unsuitable habitat. If the cage is too small, does not have enough hiding or entertainment spots, it might stress your pet.
Other than biting, stress causes a guinea pig to start chewing its cage bars in an attempt to escape. Ensuring the cage is large enough and has enough entertainment to keep your guinea pig occupied will reduce its stress and, consequently, bites.
Noise, unfamiliar surroundings or people and strange activities can also stress a guinea pig.
There are times when guinea pigs, like humans, want to be left alone and will thus become hostile when you try handling them. This is usually when they are feeding, playing with cage mates or, for no reason, do not want to be social.
If you start playing with your pet and it bites you for no evident reason, it might be prudent to leave it alone to calm down.
When pregnant, female guinea pigs often prefer being left alone because of their extra weight. Moreover, they become quite territorial and defensive, more so when they do not feel secure in their hiding spots or their cages are too small.
As such, a pregnant guinea pig will often bite. You can consider separating the animal, but keep its cage close to its cagemates so that it is not so lonely.
When a guinea pig is not feeling well, it will often want to be left alone and might bite when handled. Most guinea pigs contract skin infections that make them very uncomfortable.
Carrying or petting them hence brings a lot of discomfort and pain. These cause the animals to bite so that they scare you into letting them go.
If you notice your pet scratching and biting when you hold it, consider getting a vet’s input.
How to Get Your Guinea Pig to Stop Biting?
Now that you are aware of the typical reasons for guinea pig bites, you can avoid them so that you minimize these instances. Other than this, here are some additional steps to keep your pet from biting.
- Wash your hands before handling the pet to get rid of smells that will make it think you are a snack.
- Pet your guinea pig for a few minutes before you pick it up so that you do not startle it.
- Handle the animal in a soft towel so that it remains cozy and feels secure.
- Provide toys and enough hay for the guinea pig to bite. This also keeps its teeth healthy and short.
- Place your pet’s cage in an area away from noise and commotion to avoid distressing the animal.
How Bad Does a Guinea Pig’s Bite Hurt?
In most cases, guinea pigs will lick or nibble your skin without breaking it. Even so, this nibbling can hurt young kids.
In other cases, the animal might bite down hard on your skin when it feels insecure, irritated or threatened as it looks for an escape route. In this instance, the bite will hurt quite a bit.
Can You Get Sick from A Guinea Pig’s Bite?
Yes. Though rare, there are times when a guinea pig will transmit an infection through its bite when it breaks the skin. Some of the symptoms of an infection include stiff necks, abdominal pain, appetite loss, fever, painful wounds and nausea.
Some of the typical diseases spread from guinea pigs to man include ringworms, LCM (lymphocytic choriomeningitis), salmonellosis and pasteurellosis. If you have been bitten by your pet and notice any untoward symptoms, visit a doctor promptly because some of the infections are fatal when untreated.
As the above information has already shown you, biting is largely a form of expression for your guinea pig. Take time to understand why your pet is biting and act appropriately.
Guinea pigs are vulnerable creatures that need a lot of acceptance and protection, so try to respect their wishes. Some of their habits will take time to learn.
Therefore, take time to understand their behavioral patterns so that you can know the best ways of handling their bites.