Nibbling You: Why Your Guinea Pig Does It

Guinea pigs interact with the world differently from humans, and nibbling is perfectly natural rodent behavior. If your cavy occasionally nibbles your skin, you don’t need to hire a piggy psychologist or worry that it is plotting to eat you. Reasons can range from sheer happiness to needing to use the bathroom, so understanding the cause will make life more comfortable for everyone.

Guinea pigs commonly nibble their owners to show affection. In the same way bonded piggies groom one another, the behavior indicates that the animal feels safe and comfortable. Other reasons may be to get your attention or because you smell nice. Nibbling can also signal that the cavy is ill.

The soft tickling sensation of your piggy’s adorable little face nibbling your skin needn’t be cause for concern. However, it is a good idea to be able to interpret the cause so you know exactly what your pet is trying to communicate and respond appropriately.

Why Does My Guinea Pig Nibble Me?

Gentle nibbles are a way that cavies communicate. They can be showing you that they are relaxed, accepting you into their cavy squad, or that they are a bit scared and would prefer to return to the safety of their cage.

How to interpret nibbling depends on the context. If you have a baby piggy, you can expect that, like all babies, it will want to taste and explore everything with its mouth. An older animal that has never nibbled your fingers before may be letting you know something is wrong.

Let’s take explore the six reasons why your cavy may seem obsessed with nibbling your skin:

Six Reasons A Guinea Pig May Nibble You

There are many reasons that your guinea pig could be nibbling your skin. Always go through all the possible causes each time it happens, as a loving piggy showering you with affection could quickly change into an animal that wants to be put down to use the bathroom.

1. It Is Showing Affection

The most common reason that piggies nibble their owners is because they love them. Nibbling is their equivalent of butterfly kisses, and they may nuzzle and groom their special human in a similar way as they interact with other guinea pigs.

Gentle, contented nibbling means that your furry pet is not afraid of you and is comfortable having you close. Grooming a partner is also a way cavies build social bonds, so nibbling may be your pet’s way of letting you know you have been accepted as an honorary piggy.

2. The Pet May Need To Urinate.

Guinea pigs have tiny bladders and often need to urinate every 15 minutes. That’s 96 times a day! Nibbling may be a way to get your attention and give you a signal that it wants to be put down.

Cavies prefer to urinate in private in their own space, which is a great feature of these small animals. If you have been cuddling your piggy and it becomes restless and starts nibbling you, it may be trying to tell you its bladder is full.

3. Your Fingers Taste Good.

If you have been preparing food, your guinea pig may want to try some of the delicious taste lingering on your fingers. They may also lick and nibble other parts of your body to taste the saltiness of your skin.

4. It Is Exploring Its Environment.

Cavies are rodents, meaning they spend a lot of time nibbling and chewing on things. Nibbling is one way to find out what’s around them, and since being around you means that they are outside their cage, they may just be checking out all the unfamiliar smells and tastes.

5. It May Not Be Feeling Good.

If a guinea pig that has never nibbled your skin before suddenly starts, it may be letting you know it is uncomfortable or in pain. Any sudden changes in behavior should be checked out by a veterinarian.

6. It Could Be Afraid Or Uncomfortable.

Cavies are remarkably placid prey animals that prefer to freeze or hide rather than attack when they feel threatened. They may feel uncomfortable if they feel cornered or held incorrectly and nibble frantically, hoping to be released.

When adopting a new piggy, it is especially important to give it time to settle in and adjust to its new environment before attempting to handle it. Unfamiliar visitors could also frighten them, which could result in anxious nibbling.

Should I Let My Guinea Pig Nibble Me?

Gentle piggy nibbles are usually your pet’s way of bonding with you through grooming. It is letting you know that it feels safe and comfortable around you.

There is no harm in letting your guinea pig lick or nibble your skin if it is a gentle grooming gesture and you are both enjoying the time together. Always check the context of the nibbling, as nibbling could also be a desperate attempt to let you know it is hungry or needs to use the bathroom.

Some guinea pig owners are uncomfortable with the idea of their piggy licking and nibbling them. It can be hard to forget that piggies consume cecotropes, otherwise known as poop, even though it isn’t exactly the same thing.

If you prefer not to receive kisses from your piggy, ensure that your hands never smell like food by washing them before interacting with your pet. Also, always keep a tasty nibble stick close at hand. That way, you can gently redirect the nibbling to something appropriate without hurting its feelings – after all, nibbling is usually a way of showing you that you are loved.

Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

Biting is a very different action from gentle nibbling. Fortunately, guinea pigs rarely bite humans, so there is no need to be concerned that a cavy that loves to nibble your skin is tasting you before it takes a big bite!

Common reasons why guinea pigs bite mainly relate to rough treatment, fear, and mistaken identity. If your fingers smell like tasty freshly cut carrots, and your piggies are especially hungry, they may accidentally bite due to being a little over-eager.

If your guinea pig bites rather than gently nibbles your skin, check the following:

  • Is the cage big enough? Being kept in a small cage can quickly lead to frustration and cage rage.
  • Does it have a companion? Piggies are herd animals and don’t fare well on their own.
  • Are the animal’s teeth in check? Biting may be a symptom of overgrown, uncomfortable teeth.
  • Check the mood in the cage. Stress from being bullied can result in an angry, moody piggy.
  • Add some stimulation activities and provide plenty of food.

Remember that any animal that is sick or in pain is more likely to bite to avoid further discomfort. It is essential to rule out possible health issues if you have a highly reactive guinea pig that bites.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why a guinea pig may nibble you. It is a method of communication, and owners need to be able to interpret the behavior to respond appropriately. Nibbling is most often a sign of affection or an attempt to groom you, but it may also be because you simply smell irresistible to your cavy.