One part of your guinea pigs language is biting, and it’s important to understand the signs that lie behind a bite. Guinea pigs don’t bite because they hate you or out of pure anger, usually there’s an underlying reason, and it could be an alarming one. It depends on the context though, and we’ll try to fill you in on the different reasons why your guinea pig bites you in this article.
Guinea Pigs Are Neither Aggressive nor Fierce Animals
Before diving into the different reasons why guinea pigs bite you, it’s important to understand this:
Guinea pigs are not aggressive nor fierce by nature.
They won’t jump at you and sink their teeth into your skin out of nowhere, in fact, they won’t even bite you hard unless you’ve ignored all warning signs and manage to startle the little creature in such way it has no other options than to bite you hard.
It may still hurt a lot though, especially on the feelings, when your little furball bites you by surprise. But rest assured, it doesn’t just do so out of nowhere, guinea pigs aren’t aggressive nor fierce by nature, and there’s always an underlying reason why they choose to bite.
1. Mistaking Something as Food
Guinea pigs smell, lick and nibble on things to understand what it is.
If you stick your finger in front of it, it will usually start sniffing it, and try licking it. This is completely normal, and guinea pigs usually do this as a sign of trust, but also because they’re curious by nature and wants to see if it’s edible or not.
One of the main reasons why guinea pigs bite, is because they mistake your finger, clothes or hair as food. They are also rodents, and it lies deeply in their nature to chew and gnaw on anything they come across.
Don’t be frightened if your guinea pig bites you, but try to understand their signals so you’re prepared and know what kinds of situations that lead to biting. It can easily be prevented, if you take note of the behavior leading up to a bite.
With that being said, guinea pigs usually don’t bite very hard in situations where they “sample” your finger, clothes, or hair.
2. Feeling Uncomfortable
If you’re holding your guinea pig in a position it finds uncomfortable, it may bite you to let you know that it doesn’t like it.
Other signs of discomfort includes teeth chattering, whining/moaning, as well as purring.
In this situation your guinea pig will most likely start biting your clothes or whatever is nearest, hold on, and lift its head up.
We have one guinea pig that’s always biting out of discomfort, and she always does it the same way: Biting in the t-shirt or in a finger, then lifting/pulling it up by raising her head.
This is quite common for guinea pigs to do, and if you experience this, try holding your guinea pig differently or put it back in its cage.
3. Needs to Poop or Pee
Some guinea pigs are not comfortable to poop or pee anywhere, and they’ll usually make you aware of this by teeth chattering whenever it has to go.
If you fail to understand its signals, it may start nibbling and/or biting your finger as a final sign of “warning” before the inevitable happens and you get peed or pooped on.
Guinea pigs will usually not bite you hard in situations like these, but depending on how thick your skin is (kids’ skin can be quite thin), it may be able to draw a tiny bit of blood.
4. In Pain
If your guinea pig is in pain and you try picking it up, it may give out a nasty bite. If you’re unaware of the reason behind the bite, make sure you check your guinea pig thoroughly and look for any signs that could cause it to feel pain.
This is especially important, if your guinea pig isn’t usually biting, so make sure you’re aware of these signs and call a vet for proper medical advice if you’re unsure about why it’s biting you.
Due to the fact that guinea pigs are prey animals, they’ll feel extra vulnerable when they’re in pain or ill. Therefore they’re more likely to bite you, simply because they feel vulnerable and want to be left alone.
If you’ve ever tried sticking your hand near your guinea pig and they happened to not notice it, their reaction might surprise you. Some guinea pigs will immediately bite you before escaping, but most guinea pigs will just run away and start teeth chattering.
I’ve only been bitten once by a frightened guinea pig, and I can honestly say it was my own fault for reaching into the cage while she wasn’t aware, and she then quickly bit my arm and left a pair of bloody marks on my skin.
Again, the biting is a FINAL resolution, and most guinea pigs won’t go this far unless they’re completely frightened and/or startled by something you do, even when it was 100% unintentional.