It is a well-known fact that all-in-all guinea pigs are gentle and friendly animals. But, of course, there can be situations when even the most docile animals lose their temper.
Why guinea pigs bite their owners? There are plenty of reasons why guinea pigs will bite their owners. Usually, this happens when something is wrong with guinea pigs physically or when they are scared. The guinea pig could be feeling some sort of pain or maybe it needs to pee but you are holding it for too long. These are just some of the reasons why your guinea pig has already or could bite you in the future.
The main thing that you have to bear in mind is that, in the majority of cases, if the guinea pig bites you then there is something wrong with them. And you, as a great owner, have to know how to fix the situation and ensure that your guinea pig feels safe and comfortable.
With our 9 reasons why guinea pigs bite their owners, this won’t be a problem. Let’s start!
9 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Bite Their Owners
1. Your Guinea Pig Is Scared
One of the most obvious reasons why a guinea pig might bite – the little thing is simply scared of something. And the chances are high that the subject evoking fear in the guinea pig is you!
If you have had the guinea pig for a while, then it might start biting you, if you have been constantly mishandling it. It goes without saying that the guinea pig would be afraid of the human that had made the fluffy ball suffer from pain.
But what can you do, if you had just gotten the guinea pig and it immediately started biting you? Well, the little one might simply need some time to get used to you. Make sure that the guinea pig remembers your voice and smell and only after that attempt to handle it.
But there might be another scenario. If you got the guinea pig from a shelter, for example, you have no idea about what the guinea pig had to face in the past. It could have been hurt by different people.
Unfortunately, even if you spend a lot of time trying to become friends with a guinea pig that has a psychological trauma, there is a chance that it simply won’t ever be able to fully get rid of the fear.
2. The Guinea Pig Is Feeling Pain
Another reason that we may immediately consider is – pain. The instant reaction of a guinea pig to pain is, of course, aggression and biting. The guinea pig might have a bruise or some strains that will hurt once you try to handle it. Moreover, sick or extremely tired guinea pigs might have their whole body aching. That’s certainly not the best time to try and cuddle with your beloved pet.
By the way, your guinea pig might be having a toothache. Did you know that the teeth of a guinea pig grow throughout their whole life? That’s why it is essential for the guinea pig to always have something to chew on. Otherwise, malocclusion might develop. A state that causes a lot of discomfort and pain. Your guinea pig might also be suffering from arthritis, a state that can also cause a lot of pain.
Anyway, if your cavy had never bitten you before and you know exactly how to handle the guinea pig – you better pay a visit to the vet, as the reasons for the biting might be health-related.
3. Your Guinea Pig Might Simply Need to Go to the Toilet
Guinea pigs need to go to the toilet. A lot. On average, guinea pigs need to ‘go’ every 15-20 minutes! In case you have been handling the guinea pig for quite a while, it might start to try and wiggle out or even bite you.
At first, it might be a light bite that you wouldn’t even want to pay attention to. But bear in mind that if you won’t let your guinea pig empty its bladder the second bite will surely be harder.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Be Litter Trained?
4. You’re Handling the Guinea Pig the Wrong Way
This is an essential thing that every guinea pig owner has to learn. You should know exactly how to handle your guinea pig so that it feels comfortable. So make sure to do your research.
However, there are a few other general rules. All guinea pigs like to feel secure. In case you are holding the guinea pig loosely, it will let you know that it’s not feeling safe.
By the way, some cavies don’t like being held high above the ground. They are also not fond of walking up and down the stairs with you. There are guinea pigs that even hate simply walking around the house with you. So make sure to pay attention to the reaction of your pet every time you handle it.
5. Mites and Parasites
Secondly, mites certainly do itch. And the only way a guinea pig can try and ‘scratch’ itself is with the help of teeth. In such a case, the cavy didn’t intend to hurt you. It was simply trying to bite its own body to try and get rid of the itching.
The thing with parasites is that it is practically impossible to spot those with a naked eye. Of course, there are other symptoms that your guinea pig will have. But, anyway, a trip to the vet is a must in such a case.
6. Noise Pollution
This one, once again, has to do with the poor little things getting scared. Loud and unexpected noises can frighten the guinea pig a lot.
If you try to handle your beloved guinea pig during a thunderstorm or whilst someone else decides to clean the house with a vacuum cleaner – you might end up getting bitten.
Simply let your guinea pig get back to the cage so that the little fellow can hide in its house until everything is safe and sound again.
7. Your Guinea Pig Has Mistaken You for Food
Yep, even such things can happen. Remember to wash your hands every time before handling your guinea pig. And not just for health reasons.
8. The Guinea Pig Just Wants to Be Left Alone
If you have been a guinea pig owner for quite a while, you certainly have already figured out that they have extremely strong personalities. Yes, they are just like us, humans. Some like to ‘party’, others need a bit more time on their own.
Once you adopt any pet you should get used to the fact that the animal is certainly not a toy. And its interests should be taken into consideration at all times.
You might want to handle and cuddle with the guinea pig badly, but the guinea pig may simply not be in the mood for it. And the best thing you can do, as a great owner, is leaving the fellow alone for a while.
9. Guinea Pig Needs More Space
Does it look like neither of the reasons mentioned above suits your particular situation? If you still have no idea why your guinea pig bites? Then you might want to get a bigger cage for your beloved pet. Even though guinea pigs are small animals, they still need quite some space to be able to run around and play.
If the cage is too small for the guinea pig, it might start getting grumpy. If you can’t decide on what guinea pig cage you want to get take a look at our detailed guinea pig cage buying guide.
What Should You Do, If Your Guinea Pig Bites Other Guinea Pig?
Now you know exactly what to do if your guinea pig bites you. But what measures can you take if one of the guinea pigs attacks the other one from time to time?
In general, experts recommend getting girls (sows), if you decide to adopt more than one guinea pig. They are certainly going to live in peace and love. A girl and a boy (boar) might also work great together. But in case there are a few boys – then there can be problems.
The fights usually occur when the males try to prove to each other who is the boss. One boar might end up giving up and there will be no fight. But if the guys start biting one another – it’s a dangerous situation. The only thing you can do is separate the guinea pigs.
Make sure to leave them in different rooms for at least a night. Later on, you can start placing two cages next to each other so that the boys get used to the smell of one another. Also, consider buying a bigger cage where both of the cavies could live in peace.
Now you know for sure why guinea pigs bite and what you should do in such an unexpected situation.
The biggest piece of advice that we can give is that if you can’t spot any obvious reasons why your guinea pig started biting – it is always better to pay a visit to the vet. Just in case.
List of Sources
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Boehmer, E., Crossley, D., Objective interpretation of dental disease in rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas, Schattauer, 2009.
Meredith, A., Skin diseases of rodents, Companion Animal Practice, 2016.
Ando, R., Watanabe, C., Vocalization response used for evaluation of pain-related behavior in guinea pigs, Nihon Yakurigaku Zasshi, 1998.
Bino Sundar, S. T., Harikrishnan, T. J., Bhaskaran Ravi Latha, Gomathinayagam, S., Srinivasan, M. R., Ramesh, S., Incidence of fur mite infestation in laboratory rodents, Journal of parasitic diseases, 2017.
Sachser, N., Lick, C., Stanzel, K., The environment, hormones, and aggressive behaviour: a 5-year-study in guinea pigs, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 1994.