If you love to be a pet owner and would love to own an unaggressive yet cute pet, get one or two guinea pigs. Cavies are shy, tame, and unaggressive animals. It is almost impossible to imagine one biting you. But if your cavy loves to gnaw at your flesh, you might wonder: why is my guinea pig keeps biting me? And what can I do to stop it?
Here’s the deal:
Cavies don’t bite unless they are provoked. So, if your guinea pig is biting you, you need to check what you are doing wrong and stop it! Cavies are very intelligent rodents but while a dog will warn you with a growl when you are doing something wrong, a guinea pig might just bite you. If your guinea pig is biting you, you are most likely provoking your pet, making him feel insecure, threatened, and stressed.
If you are in a similar situation and would love to stop your guinea pig from biting you, you are on the right page. So, keep reading and learn how to stop your cavy from becoming a flesh-tearing animal.
Further Reading: “Why Does My Guinea Pig’s Pe Smell So Bad?“
Why Does My Guinea Pig Bite Me?
While it is rare for your guinea pig to bite you, sometimes it could bite as a form of communication or a sign of aggression. It is rare for guinea pigs to be aggressive. However, dominant male cavies have more aggressive traits.
Additionally, if your hands smell like food, your guinea pig will try and take a nip of it. Imagine you smelling a delicious MC Donald’s burger, irresistible, right? Exactly! Cavies are not as intelligent as human beings, and they might just bite your hand.
Besides, one thing that’s common with pet parents is: they love to hold their animals. However, most cavies hate this bonding process. If you love carrying your pet all the time, your pet might bite your hands.
Yet, your pet could love being held and still bite you sometimes. That’s most likely because you are carrying her the wrong way. You could be squeezing her small stomach or choking her. In an attempt to tell you to stop, your guinea pig will bite you.
Lastly, if your cavy bites your hand, it could be unintentional. But how? Imagine your pet has itchy skin, and your hand is in the way. Your pet could mistakenly bite you in an attempt to scratch that spot. So, your cavy bit you just because your hand was in its way.
If you want to understand in detail how to best bond with your pet, you must understand its feelings. Please go ahead and read this article. I have a section there about guinea pig’s feelings and how to bond with them in the best way.
Further Reading: “How To Get A Guinea Pig Come Out Of Hiding?“
Do Guinea Pig Bites Hurt?
Guinea pigs bite hurts, YES. They can bite you hard and it can even cause you immense pain. Guinea pigs usually will not bite you so hard as they will just nibble or lick you without hurting your skin, but sometimes, it can be a hard bite, yes.
If you see your guinea pig stressed, trying to find a hide whenever you give him food, be patient, it just a period of bonding. Don’t push him to the corner. If your guinea pig will feel insecure, threatened he might bite you hard and it can certainly hurt your skin.
Another common reason is that your guinea pig thinks your fingers are a kind of food and he mistakenly bites your fingers so be very careful when you give him food from your hands as you might get a ‘good’ bite from your cavy. I would recommend also not letting your children feed your pet, especially in the beginning until’ our cavy feel at home.
To conclude, guinea pigs bite hurts but usually these cavies will not bite unless they feel threatened and insecure. Our job as their new parents is to let them feel relaxed and calm all the time.
Further Reading: “Why Do Guinea Pig Squeak?“
How Do I Stop My Guinea Pig From Biting Me?
Here are some practical ways to stop your guinea pig from biting you:
Wash your hands after feeding them
If your pet has been biting your fingers because they smell like food, the only way to stop it is to wash your hands. To prevent your pet from treating your hands like juicy leaves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap before holding her.
Hold your pet properly
Since you have learned that squeezing your cavy is uncomfortable, make sure you hold your pet correctly. Also, avoid flaunting your hands on her mouth whenever you carry your cavy. Better still, place your hands on her sides and delicately maintain your grip there.
Further Reading: “Can The Father Guinea Pig Be With The Babies?“
Introduce yourself to new pets
Cavies don’t feel secure in new environments. They usually bond with their parents and when they are adopted are more scared than ever. Instead of imposing your presence on your new pet, introduce yourself gradually. That way, she can feel more secure with you and wouldn’t bite you when you hold her.
Use positive reinforcement to correct biting
Give your pet treats whenever she doesn’t bite you. That way, you would teach her that she’s doing the right thing by taking her teeth away from your skin. And here’s the crucial part: Never spank your pet! Never!
The most important thing in order for your guinea pig not to bite you or someone from your family is to have a calm guinea pig and not an aggressive one by making your cavy feel secure and relaxed all the time.
Further Reading: “Can Guinea Pig Eat Banana Peels?“
Why Is My Guinea Pig Aggressive To Me?
Naturally, cavies are non-violent animals. The US National Library of Medicine, while reporting this research explains that they are “docile animals and they rarely bite”. Nevertheless, dominant male cavies are the more aggressive ones. So, your cavy could be aggressive to you because it is a dominant male cavy.
While behavior like your guinea pig biting you could be a sign of aggression, it could also mean something entirely different. For example, it could just be because you handled her the wrong way. Also, depression, stress, and health problems could cause aggressive behavior in cavies.
If it seems more than normal, meaning you try doing your best to make your cavy calm and happy, fulfilled all that we talked about here, and still, your pet just doesn’t stop biting you, I suggest contacting your local vet for professional advice.
I advise you also to read this article where I explain in detail about guinea pigs’ feelings and how exactly we should bond with them.
Are Guinea Pig Bites Dangerous?
Fortunately, guinea pigs, (unlike ferrets), are at low risk of carrying rabies. They definitely can cause infections and you should treat a guinea pig bite as you would treat a general infection over your skin.
Notice, that if you don’t know exactly your guinea pig history, and your wound seems severe I would advise you to approach some professional assistance.
You should think in the long term about how you stop your guinea pigs from biting you and more importantly, your children.
Further Reading: “Can Guinea Pigs Get Worms?“
What To Do If A Guinea Pig Bites You?
If your guinea pig bites you, the first thing to do is check how deep the bite is. A nibble shouldn’t make you bleed. However, if the bite is deep, disinfect immediately with an antibiotic ointment. Also, keep an eye on the wound to make sure it is healing. But if you are experiencing a throbbing pain after being bitten, see a doctor immediately.
According to the CDC, bites from small mammals could transmit diseases such as Pasteurellosis. Hence, if you are in pain or the bite area swells or becomes tender, get medical help. However, most times, cavies nibble instead of bite.\
Further Reading: “Can You Use Cat Litter For Guinea Pigs?“
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite Each Other?
Cavies have a hierarchy where there is a dominant male. Dominant male cavies sometimes get aggressive to exert their authority. So, if you own two dominant male cavies, they will fight occasionally. Thus, dominant male guinea pigs might bite each other while fighting.
You know what happens when there isn’t enough room to share, right? If you own two cavies and keep them in a small cage, there is a high possibility that they’ll compete or fight for space. While cavies don’t have fists to fight, they certainly have their teeth. Thus, your guinea pigs would bite each other if they compete for space.
Improper sex grouping
Male cavies compete for the female ones. Research proves that male cavies are more aggressive when paired with only one female cavy. If you own two male cavies and just one female cavy, your male pets will fight over the female pet. And while fighting, they will bite each other.
I suggest you also read my article about ‘introducing a new friend for your cavy’ where I explain in detail what are the best sex grouping for cavies living together.
In general, guinea pigs are sweet rodents and will hardly if ever bite you. However, if it does happen and you want to stop your guinea pig from biting you, it is essential to be very patient with your pet. There is always a reason why it’s happening. Cavies are intelligent. However, they don’t learn commands and verbal communication like dogs do. Yet a mutual understanding between both of you could correct any weird behavioral pattern.
Most importantly, if you own many cavies, it is essential to know their individual nature. That can help you discern the ones that like being held from those that don’t. So, hold only guinea pigs that like petting. Lastly, respecting your pet’s territory will go a long way to stop your pet from biting you.