You must have seen your guinea pigs licking themselves frequently, with few questions in mind: why do guinea pigs lick everything, and is it something to worry about? I did some research about the same, and here is what I have learned.
There are three main reasons why guinea pigs lick themselves, Grooming, Bonding, Hierarchy. Guinea pigs groom their fur by licking it. Apart from that, they also establish their social harmony were the subordinate guinea pig will lick the dominant one. Guinea pigs also show their bonding by licking their owners.
Typically, guinea pigs lick in an attempt to groom themselves. However, grooming is done for more reasons other than this. And this action done by guinea pigs is not, particularly for grooming. It is used to express their love and to communicate socially among themselves.
Guinea pigs lick excessively due to boredom or any hidden sickness. It mainly happens when guinea pigs give all their attention licking at only one specific spot, and with continuous grooming, their fur gets dampish.
Guinea pigs who are not sufficiently stimulated will tend to show negative behaviors that include unnecessarily licking at one spot. It can lead to bacterial skin disease as fur remains wet at all times. Parasitic or fungal infections can also happen due to excessive licking.
Do guinea pigs lick themselves?
Guinea pigs require to clean themselves, and they do so by licking. Though to be clean is not the only cause guinea pigs lick for, there are more other reasons for it.
Guinea pigs are very attentive and particular about cleaning themselves. The dedication of guinea pigs to be clean through grooming is compared to how cats groom themselves regularly. Guinea pigs do their grooming segment many times in a day.
As per studies, guinea pigs are friendly animals with their partners. So, they do groom each other sometimes. It is also a means of communication for them.
And since guinea pigs are very sociable animals, so if they are kept without any companion, they can turn lonely and upset.
Guinea pigs also express their love through grooming by licking, gentle pushing, and nibbling. Guinea pigs will groom their ears and face through licking their paws, and this mechanism will also help them groom at those unreachable spots.
Sometimes they may seek help from their partners to groom at these problematic spots. It will show the signal of good bonds and how well they are living together. Your guinea pigs might demand you to caress and groom them as well.
Unlike some other animals, guinea pigs can not vomit to get hairballs out of their stomach and keep the digestive passage clear. So, if your guinea pigs groom excessively then there is a risk of gastrointestinal blockage due to the hairball.
Hairballs can be checked by regularly brushing your guinea pigs. Additionally, being sure that their diet consists of a lot of hay in it, the fiber in hay is essential for guinea pigs’ gut movement.
Through grooming one another, guinea pigs show love and attachment.
It is a kind of friendly interaction and essential procedure for their family groups that is either among you and your guinea pigs or between themselves.
Constant grooming and petting segments comfort guinea pigs and guarantee the relationship among both sections.
Younger guinea pigs groom each other just similar to their mothers. Grooming is also vital for maintaining social ranking orders in the group living together.
Guinea pigs licking each others eyes
Guinea pigs are friendly and also maintain absolute social hierarchies. Showing dominance and subservience is quite a normal vast interconnection burrows of guinea pigs.
Subordinate guinea pigs bow down their heads in front of dominant guinea pigs before they lick the eyes and ears of submissive ones.
Showing love and friendliness through licking each other is a common way for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs will also lick their partners to seek attention.
Guinea pigs licks its cage
Seeing your guinea pigs licking their cage can be something to be concerned about. It seems not much to worry until and unless they start nibbling at the cage bars. This action is harmful because it can injure the teeth and gums of your guinea pigs.
Your guinea pigs can lick their cage similar to other objects they lick- to show love. They might like the taste of it, enjoy licking it, or licking up the leftover food and treats.
There might be a 4th reason behind it, and that is the smell of another guinea pig if you have, or the cage of another guinea pig used to live in that early.
So if your guinea pig discovers any smell like this then you will notice your pet:
- Trying to eliminate and replace it with their scent.
- Grooming the metal, not the other guinea pig.
If you observe your guinea pigs licking their cage, remember that any cleaning product on the enclosure is toxic for guinea pigs.
Maybe, use of any natural cleaner to clean the cage can be a better option.
Guinea pig licking you
Guinea pigs will lick your face not only to clean it but to show deep affection for you. Through grooming your face, your guinea pigs will accept you as the dominant member of their family.
If your guinea pigs are licking your fingers or hands, they want you to pet them. These guinea pigs might be believed as of dominant nature, particularly if they push their heads into your hands demandingly.
If you have any makeup on your face, do not let your guinea pigs lick your face.
Putting on makeup on your face is safe does not mean that it would not lead to any adverse effects on your guinea pigs if they intake it.
It is hard to stop your lovely guinea pigs from kissing you, but precautions are better than cure.
Guinea pig licking other things
Guinea pigs also show fondness through licking furniture, for them licking your things and home is as equal as grooming you.
Either this whole behavior could be possibly unplanned, or your pets may start licking a wall, floor, be it anything you are standing on to groom you.
It could also include blankets, sofa or pillows.
Few specific surfaces raise some risks while behaving in such a manner. Guinea pigs can intake carpet fibers, cloth, tablets, or other nondigestible things.
It becomes more complicated when guinea pigs try to eat all in one time and then regularly show this habit.
Chemicals used in cleaning floors are also harsh, and any leftover of these chemicals eaten by guinea pigs can cause particular sickness.
Guinea pig licking clothes
It certainly means your guinea pigs are trying to groom you but not differentiate between your skin and clothes.
The appearance might be different, but your clothes contain a strong scent of you.
Your skin and your clothes seem one and same to your guinea pigs. That can also add your bed sheets and covers.
Guinea pig excessive licking
Physical damage, parasitic or fungal infections are the signals of too much licking.
If you observe your guinea pigs are giving attention to licking at one spot, especially, clearly check that spot. Are any cuts, scratches, bruises, or any other injury other?
Uncontrolled licking can also develop barbering, which means pulling and chewing of fur.
That is quite normal in female pregnant guinea pigs who are getting ready to give birth. Even in spayed guinea pigs, this behavior is observed.
Skin health issues
Skin issues have many symptoms, and one of them is too much licking. This issue could be both a symptom and a cause of many illnesses and infections. These include:
Licking can make these infections even worse. So it is much better to take your guinea pigs to a vet. The treatment will be decided depending upon some medical chances.
Also read: 25 Common health issues in guinea pigs
When guinea pigs are not stimulated enough they search for ways to use all of their built-up energy. They may get into the habit of licking and grooming too much.
Also read: 25 boredom buster ideas for your guinea pigs
Swallowing their fur excessively can lead to the formation of inner blockage. Be sure that your guinea pigs are well motivated to prevent becoming bored and destructive.
Licking unnecessarily can leave the wet gathering moisture on it. Even half-permanent moisture can cause irritated skin and fur falling. And if not treated wisely, it can turn into a bacterial infection.
Guinea pigs usually lick to show love and fondness. These ‘things’ could be anything like the owner, another guinea pig, objects around the home, and even furniture.
It might sound weird, but your guinea pigs assume your belongings as your substitutes. For instance, they will lick your blanket just to show love via grooming even though they are not grooming you.
Guinea pigs groom themselves by licking, and this will be done many times in a day because they love being clean.
Grooming among guinea pigs is a friendly behavior to show fondness and making relationships.
Dominant guinea pigs lick the eyes and ears of other guinea pigs when they put their heads down to show signs of subservience.
Too much licking is both signals for boredom making guinea pigs destructive and the presence of any health issue.