When Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
Think about when you act out. It's likely the same for a guinea pig. If you're sleepy, surprised, angry, unwell, or over-exhausted, you might get crabby. For a guinea pig, this translates to little nips to say, "Leave me alone, please!"
Other common reasons for nipping include carrying the piggie for too long (this feels unstable to them), needing to go potty while you're holding them, cuddling the pet without proper full body support, or when being petted against the flow of their fur. A nip might also happen if a pig tries to taste the salty remnants of potato chips on your fingers! Note: Wash your hands before and after handling your pets.
Although guinea pigs are pack animals, and like having you in their "herd", they can get overstimulated and feel stressed. When you notice this, give your pet space and respect to avoid getting bit.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite Their Cage?It's not uncommon to see a guinea pig nibble on cage bars when feeling lonely or in need of something. Take a peek around the cage. Is the water bottle empty? Is the bedding soiled? Your piggie might simply be asking for attention to clean up his home. Or, the pet might remind you it's the usual time for feeding or cuddling on the couch -- and doesn't want you to forget! Guinea pigs are natural chewers to keep their teeth healthy and reduce overgrowth. Did you know guinea pig teeth grow much like our fingernails and need routine trimming (or chewing!) to stay short? Be sure your pet has access to chew toys (like Kaytee Apple Orchard Sticks) and plenty of timothy hay in his cage, otherwise, he might rattle those bars often to file his teeth.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite Each Other?Guinea pigs might also bite other piggies in their habitat or during a playtime visit. Why? Guinea pigs can't say "Back off!" like we can, so they ask for space by nipping or squealing.
Your guinea pig might nip at his friends if they are the same sex. It's not uncommon for two male guinea pigs to bite at one another to show dominance over shared space. For this reason, house two male pets separately and carefully monitor them during playtime.
If you have more than one piggie living in a habitat, be sure they each have their own spaces within the cage. Try adding a few Igloo Hideouts, Natural Tree Trunk Hideouts, or Critter Cuddle-E-Cups.
How to Avoid Being Bit by A Guinea Pig
Always approach the pet with kindness. A soft, gentle tone in your voice and slow hand movements toward the animal are appreciated. During playtime, handle the pet securely with two hands or allow him roaming time on a stable surface like your warm lap or a playpen away from the drooling dog. Again, when the pet is nervous or scared, they are more likely to bite.
Think of the piggie like a child. Create a safe, secure play space and approach activities with calmness, not yelling or using erratic hand movements.
Pay attention to your guinea pig's communication and respond accordingly. If the pet is backing away from you, squealing or startled, yes, you might get bit when reaching out. Nipping is your pet's way of telling you something is bothering him. Simply observe and you'll be able to manage your pet's needs like the pro pet parent you are!
Purdue University, Care of Guinea Pigs
https://vet.purdue.edu/vth/files/documents/Care of Guinea Pigs.pdf
Cavy Spirit, Working With Biting Guinea Pigs
Squeaks & Nibbles, How to Stop Guinea Pigs Chewing on Cage Bars