If you have just purchased your first guinea pig and notice that it seems to be biting you or the objects in its cage, it’s common to have questions about why your pet is exhibiting this behavior and what you can do to stop it. Do guinea pigs bite? What does it mean when guinea pigs nibble on your fingers? Keep reading as we tackle these questions and show you how to figure out what’s going on with your guinea pig.
Before We Start
Do guinea pigs bite? Yes, but you should know that its bite will not harm you. A bite from a guinea pig will rarely break the skin, and it’s more of a nibble than a bite. It can be startling to have a guinea pig suddenly begin gnawing on your finger, but there is no danger, and these pets are even safe for children.
The 6 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Bite
While no one is sure exactly why guinea pigs bite every time that they do it—or why any pet does the things that they do—there are good theories backed up by strong evidence.
Your guinea pig is a rodent, and like all rodents, it learns more about its environment by chewing (nibbling) things. It will often nibble on any new objects that you place into its cage—not to destroy them, but rather to learn about them. It will also nibble on things to learn its way around your home, and it can use this system to learn complex paths to food, and it will remember them for several months.
2. Food Smell
If your pet continuously nibbles on your fingers when you pick it up, even after it has had time to get to know you, there is a chance that you smell like food to it. Guinea pigs love fruits and vegetables, and if you have recently handled some, your pet might smell it on you and start to nibble.
If your guinea pig is a baby or a stranger is handling it, there is a good chance that it feels uncomfortable and needs time to adjust. In the meantime, it might do extra nibbling to learn more and to convince you to put it down.
4. Bathroom Need
If you often handle your pet and feel that it knows who you are, it could just need to use the bathroom if it suddenly starts to bite you. Your guinea pig will try to warn you that it needs to use the restroom before it relieves itself in your hands. It’s important to learn this signal so you can return them to their cage in time to prevent an accident.
One of the more serious reasons your guinea pig might start to nibble on you is that it’s frightened. Since these pets are fleeing animals, they will only bite when feeling trapped or pushed into a corner.
If you have handled your guinea pig for years and are sure the biting that you are experiencing is something new, it could be that your pet is not feeling well. Nibbling is a primary way to communicate, as you know from it telling you when it needs to use the bathroom. It will also tell you if it’s not feeling well.
The most likely reason your pet is nibbling/biting is that it is simply exploring its environment and learning how to get around. If you have just placed something new in its cage or in its regular path, it will need to explore that. Guinea pigs will not hurt you, and you should not be afraid to let it nibble on your finger to bond with you and to let you know when it needs to use the bathroom.
We hope that you have enjoyed this look into this strange behavior and what you can do to stop it. If you have learned something new and your friends are wondering if guinea pigs bite, please share this guide!
Related Guinea Pig Reads:
- Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak? 9 Reasons for This Behavior
- Male vs. Female Guinea Pig: The Key Differences (With Pictures)
- Why Is My Guinea Pig Shaking? 5 Possible Reasons
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay