Guinea pigs make for fun pets full of personality. If you haven’t had the pleasure of keeping one before or even if you’re a veteran pig parent, you might notice some behaviours that you don’t fully understand.
They’re quirky little critters and part of keeping them happy and healthy is learning about what they’re trying to communicate with you. Guinea pigs use a range of different ways to communicate. They use their body language, they can be very talkative when they want to be and they will even lick your hands when you interact with them once they know you well enough.
Why does my guinea pig lick me?
Just like kisses, a guinea pig licking you is a sign of trust, affection and a form of bond building. They may not kiss in the traditional sense but they do show affection and bond with each other through grooming. When your guinea pig is licking your hand, they are essentially grooming you and making sure you’re nice and clean.
Guinea pigs won’t just tend to any old stranger or another guinea pig they don’t know so it’s a good sign that you have bonded well with your furry friend and they trust you enough to let their guard down. While licking you, they can’t perform other behaviours like keeping an eye out for predators so it really is an act of trust to prioritise giving you a bath over anything else.
Some guinea pigs are more affectionate than others so if the behaviour isn’t normal for them, they could be licking you for a slightly different reason, especially if they’re licking your hands. If you have recently prepared food then you may have the taste of it left on your hands so they’re just getting in a cheeky little taste of whatever food you were handling. If it’s not love, it’s probably their love of food making them want to lick you!
How do guinea pigs show affection?
Guinea pigs show affection in a number of different ways, both to each other and towards you. Once you get to know their individual personalities you will be able to understand when they’re giving you their love and affection. It’s like every guinea pig has their very own love language but they all still mean they trust you and you’ve bonded well.
While they might be using their teeth, a bite and a nibble are very different gestures. If your piggy is biting you, they are asking for more space and very clearly telling you to leave them alone. Nibbling your hands can be their way of exploring their surroundings and making sure you’re not giving them an extra snack but it’s also an action linked to grooming. Any time your guinea pig grooms you, it’s a sign that you’re part of their little family and they’re helping you get nice and clean.
You may think that guinea pigs are chatty all the time but when they’re scared they’re usually quiet. When a guinea pig is frightened their prey instincts kick in and they’ll tend to hide away and be as silent as possible. If you are greeted every day by lots of chirps and excitable little noises, they are happy to see you. It could be you or the breakfast you’re bringing them but either way, they’re happy to see you.
A guinea pig that trusts you will want to be with you. As an honorary member of their family, they will want to spend quality time with you. This might mean climbing all over you or tucking into your nap for a snooze. A guinea pig will never nap if they feel unsafe so choosing to spend time with and sleep on you is truly an honour. They are sociable animals so once you’ve bonded with them they will want to spend lots of time with you.
How to build a bond with your guinea pig
If you want to get your guinea pig to show you love in their own way, sometimes all it takes is time. They won’t generally start showing affection to you until they know and trust you. Keeping your pets safe and happy with a diet that meets their needs is a great way to earn their trust. Hand feeding them is a great way to earn their trust as they learn that you bring them lots of good things. Giving them exciting new toys and things they can enjoy and interact with will also help. It’s all about building up a positive association with your company. Next time your guinea pig licks you, grab a brush and groom them right back and turn the gesture into a grooming session that goes both ways!
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