Guinea pigs are one of the most kept family pets around the world. Many pet stores and websites recommend them as a beginner’s pet or child-friendly pets.
But there are a few things that we might want to know about guinea pigs before we get one and we have children in our home. The first question that struck my mind was, Can guinea pigs bite my children or hurt them?
Do Guinea Pigs bite? Yes, Guinea pigs can bite you sometimes. Most guinea pigs have a sweet and docile personality, and they will not bite you unless they have a good reason to do so. Although young guinea pigs often nibble at you to communicate something but this is something familiar in their learning phase.
When kept in groups guinea pigs can sometimes chew on each other hairs.
Sometimes they might even fight and bite each other. Such behavior is because each one of them likes to show their dominance to the other one.
Except for this, there might be certain situations when they can bite their owners as well.
Guinea pigs cannot communicate verbally with us, so sometimes they nibble at us or even bite us to communicate about their feelings.
There might be something that your guinea pig is not enjoying, or something they are offended with or something that is bugging them, which can initiate such biting behavior in them.
If your guinea pigs bite you occasionally, then there might be something they are trying to say, and we must try to understand the same.
But if they are biting you all the time, then it might be a problem that we should look to resolve soon.
Now for this, we must first learn about why do our guinea pigs bite or nibble us?
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Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
Guinea pigs don’t bite you until and unless certain situations are initiating the behavior.
These situations can vary from one guinea pig to another, and we must understand the same so that we can stop them from biting us next time.
Handling Our Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs do not like being carried around in our house or somewhere else.
Guinea pig wants to feel comfortable and secure and having their feet in mid-air often gives them a sense of insecurity initiating a biting behavior in them.
Your guinea pigs might also bite you if they feel they are being mishandled or held in a certain way they didn’t like.
If they are feeling insecure when you are carrying them around, they might bite you to communicate that they are not feeling good about it.
Guinea pigs usually nibble their owners under these circumstances, but if they are too much stressed out due to noise, fear, etc. then they might end up biting you hard.
They want to Urinate
Guinea pigs have a high metabolism rate. What does that mean? Guinea pig usually averages about 15 minutes to 30 minutes before they need to relieve their bladder.
So, if you are holding your guinea pig and they want to pee, then they will start nibbling you.
If you do not respond for the same, they might bite you a little hard or even might pee on you in some cases.
Also, Guinea pigs often get litter trained, and they like to always pee on the same spot.
Please put your guinea pig back in their cage after certain intervals to avoid such biting behavior by your guinea pigs.
Get back to their cage
Guinea pigs often get attached to the cages they live in. They feel secure in there. Sometimes your guinea pigs might nibble you when they are with you out of their cages for a long time.
Even in the wild, they like to hide and get back to their living place after some interval so that their predators cannot catch them. This behavior is still visible in some form in our guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs might also want to get back in their cages when they are stressed out due to some loud noise like a lightning storm, Some loud music, Someone shouting loudly, or various other reasons.
They might want to get back in their cage and hide in their hiding space so that they feel secure and be normal again.
You definitely don’t enjoy being dragged out of your bed while in sleep. So, the same applies to our guinea pigs as well.
Skin diseases like mites, skin itching, etc.
Some parasites often cause these diseases, and they can cause severe discomfort to our guinea pigs.
Petting, carrying around, or even the one suffering from such disorders can cause a lot of pain and discomfort; thus, they might bite you to escape from the hold.
If you see any signs of guinea pig scratching their body along with nibbling at you whenever you try to old them, then these diseases can be the cause.
I suggest that you visit a vet on an immediate basis if you find these symptoms in your guinea pigs.
You can read more about mites and other diseases from this article by VCA.
Guinea pigs might get irritated when you are trying to bath them. Some guinea pigs might bite you because they do not enjoy bathing and getting wet at all.
Sometimes, the shampoo we use to clean our guinea pig might be too strong for them and can cause skin irritation in them which might be another reason for them to bite you.
I had also seen some long hair guinea pigs biting their owners when they were trying to brush the hair of the guinea pigs.
Long hair guinea pigs are tough to care for and are not recommended for beginners.
You might also read our article on Do guinea pigs smell? and how to keep our guinea pigs clean.
Not all guinea pigs like to be petted. Some guinea pigs love to be cuddled and petted while others don’t.
There are some guinea pigs who don’t want to be petted at some particular places like their rumps. If you try to do so, then you might get bitten by your guinea pigs.
Sometimes people confuse this biting behavior with mites, but that’s not the real cause.
The real reason for the biting was getting petted at the wrong place. We must keep this thing in mind while handling our guinea pigs.
Curiosity, Learning in young age
Young guinea pigs often nibble their owners when they are trying to express something to their owners.
Young guinea pigs are curious about everything they see, and you will find them nibbling around everything.
It can be your finger when you are trying to feed them, and It can be your hand when you are petting them or anything else.
Their behavior of nipping often fades away once they mature. But some guinea pigs will continue to bite even after maturity.
Such biting behavior might be the result of improper feeding, Improper housing, or improper care.
Does Guinea pig bite hurt?
Yes, Guinea pig bite can hurt you sometimes. Most of the time, you will find your guinea pig just nibbling at you and licking you without breaking the skin.
Although the nibbling can hurt small kids; in general, it’s not that hard.
But sometimes if your guinea pig gets irritated and stressed out due to specific events, they do bite hard and break the skin; this can hurt you for sure.
There have been some cases of hand-feeding when the guinea pig bites the fingers, considering it part of the food. Such bites can be really painful ones in some cases.
It is recommended to let be very careful while feeding your guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are in general very calm and docile, but sometimes they can get stressed out and aggressive, which can result in a hard bite.
How To Stop Guinea Pigs From Biting?
Although biting is not the usual behavior of guinea pigs. Some guinea pigs do make it a regular habit in some circumstances. First, let us see what should we do if they bite you occasionally.
The first thing we must do if they nibble or bite us is to understand why did they do so. Guinea pigs are very docile animals, and they will not bite you unless and until they have a reason to do so.
Now the reason for biting maybe they have mistaken your hand with food while hand-feeding them. Another reason can be not handling them properly.
Another reason can be due to fear or stress due to something. In any of the above circumstances, we must first understand the reason for biting and fix the issue immediately.
When the guinea pigs bite, you leave them back in their cage and see what they do next. If your guinea pig runs to hide or pee you got your answer that they wanted to get back to their cage.
Else, you can test by offering them some food and see if they are stressed out by something or acting normal once you have figured out their reason for biting then its quite easy to fix.
What to do if your guinea pig has developed a biting habit?
There may be some situations where the guinea pig has developed a biting habit.
For example, say your guinea pig is afraid of your hand and starts biting your finger as soon as you get it near him.
Such practices are commonly seen if you get a new guinea pig and try to start handling it from the very first day, and they develop a fear of your hand.
In such cases, we must take a different approach so that your guinea pig does not bite you again. We must develop a good bond with our furry little pet and win his trust.
Stop Guinea pigs from biting?
First of all, try to place their cage in a place where there is not much noise and the temperature is stable in that area. Guinea pigs often get stressed out in noisy situations and where the temperature is unstable.
Secondly, we must let our guinea pig get comfortable with their new environment. After you get your guinea pig to leave them alone for a few days, do the daily maintenance and let them acclimate to their cage and environment.
The third step would be to introduce yourself after a few days to your guinea pig. This step is very critical.
If you go too fast, you may not develop a good bond with your guinea pigs.
In this step, you need to slowly sit around near your guinea pigs cage and talk to them very slowly. You are trying to converse with them, so they get used to your presence and your sound.
Now that you have made a bond with your guinea pig, you must try to hold them and keep them in hold for short intervals. This shall ensure they get used to your hand.
You can also give them treat to encourage good behavior. By rewarding on every excellent response and not rewarding bad ones will make them understand what’s right and what’s wrong.
You will be surprised to know how fast they catch things up. Never even shout at your guinea pig or try to hit them. Doing so will make the fear in them grow bigger and will lead to more biting.
If you work your way slowly and make a good bond with your guinea pigs, then you might help them overcome their biting habit and make an excellent companion.
Are guinea pig bites dangerous?
No, in most cases your guinea pig bite will not be dangerous. Most of the time, you will only find your guinea pig nibbling at you. Even if they manage to bite you hard, then it might be something like having a tiny cut.
But sometimes your guinea pig might bite you hard, and it may cause you to pain. Sometimes there are other risks associated with a bite which we shall learn below.
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What Will Happen If A Guinea Pig Bites You?
Even though small mammals like guinea pigs are less prone to spread many diseases you still need to be aware of how to take proper care of your guinea pigs and be mindful of the diseases it may carry.
Please note: I am not a medical expert who can give you the specific treatment or advice, but this is what I have learned in several years through research, and I am sharing the same with you all.
Although in most cases guinea pigs with nibble you but, they sometimes they bite you and break the skin then there can be some infection which they can transmit through such bites. We must look for the following symptoms of the viruses:
- Fever, Inflammation in certain areas.
- Stiff neck
- Loss of appetite
- Headache & muscle aches
- Nausea & vomiting.
- Painful wound and any sort of skin infection
- Itchy skin, redness, cracking of the skin, ring-shaped rash
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain
Here are some of the most common diseases spread by guinea pigs to a human:
Salmonellosis, Ringworm, Pasteurellosis, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), Campylobacter, etc.
If you find any of the symptoms mentioned above then it is best to visit a doctor on an immediate basis.
There are some infections that can widespread in the body and can be fatal for life if left untreated for a long time.
How Do You Treat A Guinea Pig Bite?
Guinea pigs are species belonging to small rodents that have been domesticated over past years. But sometimes just like other rodents, they do carry infections like Salmonella, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), etc.
Sometimes these viruses can spread to us through guinea pigs saliva and urination.
So, we must be very careful after we handle our guinea pigs. Although I am not a medical person myself still, I can suggest to you all with what I have learned with my experience. Here is what you need to do.
If Guinea pig bites lightly:
If your guinea pigs are nibbling at you, then you needn’t do anything because in most cases they will not break the skin.
Just make sure you wash your hand with soap and water after handling your guinea pigs or whenever they nibble at you as their saliva may contain certain diseases which can infect humans too.
Guinea Pigs Bite Breaks The Skin or drew blood:
If your Cavie ends up biting you hard and breaks the skin and drew blood, then you might need to treat it differently.
If the bite is just like a tiny cut, then you can manage it yourself by following the steps below:
- First, wash your hand with soap and water.
- The second step is to use some alcohol and clean the wound and prevent infection.
- The third step would be to use some Neosporin to help recover fast
- The fourth step would be to slap a bandage for a day or two, and you must be good to go.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop even after few hours of biting, then it would be best to visit a doctor.
But, there might be certain situations in which we might need to visit the doctor.
There have been some cases of the infection being reported after guinea pig broke the skin and drew blood.
If you feel some burning sensation in the skin or if you feel severe pain or the affected area feels stiff even after few hours of bandaging the wound then it would be best to visit the doctor in those cases.
Why Does My Guinea Pig Bite Her Cage?
Guinea pigs can be seen biting their cages very often. There can be many reasons for the guinea pigs to bite their pen.
Some of the common reason for guinea pig biting their cage can be:
- The cage is too small for your guinea pig.
- Guinea pigs might not have enough stimulation and exercise.
- Lack of enough food can be another reason for guinea pig biting their cages.
- Guinea pigs can be lonely if not kept in a pair or group. Some guinea pigs tend to get aggressive and might start biting their cage and the owners in some cases.
- Sometimes, your guinea pig might get very excited about something; this can also lead to your guinea pig biting their cages or even nibbling your hands if they are in your hold.
Can You Get Rabies From A Guinea Pig Bite?
No, In any general scenario, a guinea pigs bite cannot get rabies to human beings. But if you find any unusual behavior in your guinea pig that has bitten you, then it would be advised to seek medical help both for your guinea pig as well as you.
According to the CDC data, Small creatures like squirrels, rodents, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rabbits, and bunnies are never observed to be infected with rabies in general.
Any bite caused by these animals does not carry a risk of being infected with rabies until and unless there is a wide-spread of this virus in the area.