Kiss and tell: the meaning behind guinea pig licks
As much as you love spending time with your guinea pigs, giving them tasty treats and cuddles, an important thought may well have crossed your mind:
“Does my guinea pig really love me as much as I love them?”
Unlike most dogs and cats, who let’s face it, are never shy about showing affection for their humans, guinea pigs are a little more reserved when it comes to demonstrating their love.
But why are they so cautious? Quite simply, it’s their survival instinct kicking in. As vulnerable prey animals who are pretty much at the bottom of most food chains, guinea pigs are hardwired to run for cover whenever they sense imminent danger.
This is why many piggies will hurriedly dart for their hidey or burrow under a mound of hay when you approach their cage - yes, even if you’re brandishing fresh lettuce leaves for them!
Sometimes it can seem as though your guinea pig would really rather be left to their own devices, especially when you’ve just adopted them and they’re feeling super nervous about their new surroundings.
However, with time and patience, it IS possible to form a loving bond with your guinea pig. Don’t believe us? Take a look at our ‘20 Best Ways to Bond with your Guinea pig’ article!
It can take hard work and patience to gain your guinea pig’s trust. But once you’ve convinced them that you only want to nurture and protect them, not hurt them, you can start looking out for indications that your piggy returns your affections such as guinea pig kisses!
Can guinea pigs kiss: Why is my guinea pig licking me?
Guinea pigs can kiss. Yes, really! Alright, their kisses aren’t like human smooches, they lack the same muscles we have after all, however, guinea pigs can give their very own delightful brand of kisses by licking and pecking you gently with their lips. It’s so subtle you might not notice at first but if you feel your piggy having a good old lick of your hands as they snuggle on a fleece pee pad on your lap.
Of course, guinea pigs have sensitive noses, so it’s also important to note that your piggy could also be licking you due to a strong scent on your hands. It ultimately will depend on the context! Rest assured, your guinea pig is licking you because they feel very relaxed and comfortable in your presence, and want to show you!
Why does my guinea pig lick and then bite me? Is my guinea pig upset?
Sometimes, guinea pigs may lick then bite you in order to communicate how they are feeling. This is their way of saying that they are uncomfortable and does not necessarily mean that they dislike you! Again, it all comes down to context, just like how the meaning of guinea pig noises may be different depending on your piggie’s body language. When a guinea pig nibbles you, they may be trying to tell you that they are uncomfortable when you are stroking them or, they are trying to tell you that they wish to return to their cage.
Ever wondered about piggy teeth? Take a look here!
Do guinea pigs like to be kissed?
This will ultimately depend on your bond with your guinea pigs! Some guinea pigs may be comfortable with their piggy parents kissing them on their head or cheeks, whereas other piggies may find this uncomfortable. After all, guinea pigs are prey animals, so they may instinctually fear that you might try to nibble on them. Forming a strong bond with your guinea pig can take time, that's why we've put together 20 Best Ways to Bond with your Guinea Pigs.
Can I get sick from kissing my guinea pig?
Kissing your guinea pig is generally safe, however, just like any other pet, it may put you at risk of infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites that guinea pigs and other small pets can carry salmonella, which is a bacteria that can transfer to humans when in contact with feces.
Pregnant or nursing mothers also should avoid kissing guinea pigs as their immune system is particularly vulnerable at the time.
Kissing your guinea pig can also trigger allergies if your immune system is particularly sensitive to pet dander. Check out our article for advice and tips on how to cope with guinea pig allergies.
Washing your hands before and after handling is one of the best ways to prevent infections. It is also important for pet owners to practice safe handling, so that you avoid holding your guinea pigs near your face.
Can my guinea pig get sick if I kiss them?
Guinea pigs can also get sick from us if we kiss them. It is important to avoid kissing your guinea pig when you are sick or are feeling unwell. If you're feeling ill, it's best to limit your contact with your piggies to help prevent the spread of infections or viruses.
Do guinea pigs kiss each other?
Yes, guinea pigs will also lick each other to show their affection! This positive behaviour can indicate that your guinea pigs are well bonded and enjoy each other's company. As social creatures, guinea pigs may lick, nibble or groom one another to communicate that they are happy.
Why do guinea pigs lick themselves?
Just like cats, you may also notice your guinea pigs licking themselves. This is how your piggies perform light grooming - keeping stray hairs in place! When a guinea pig grooms themselves, this is a positive sign that your piggy is feeling comfortable around you.
Do guinea pigs need salt licks?
No, guinea pigs do not need salt licks! In fact, too much salt can be harmful to your guinea pig's health. Guinea pigs are unable to sweat like us, which makes it difficult for them to excrete excess sodium from their body. This can lead to dehydration which increases your guinea pig's risk for urinary stones. Before introducing supplements into your guinea pig's diet, it is important to consult a cavy savvy vet for further advice.
For more information on urinary stones in guinea pigs, check our article, 'Calcium and Guinea Pigs: Everything you Need to Know'.
What other ways do guinea pigs show their affection?
Kisses are not the only way that guinea pigs can show their affection! In fact, there are many other sounds and types of behaviour that can indicate your furried friend is happy:
- Popcorning - this is when your guinea pig jumps and twists into the air when excited.
- Zoomies - when your guinea pig energetically run in circles or zig zags around the cage.
- Purring - purs can be heard when your piggies are extremely comfortable and relaxed when you cuddle or pet them.
- Wheeking - excitable squeaks when your guinea pig sees or hears you. Check out our article for more information on guinea pig sounds and their meanings.
- Climbing - if your guinea pigs climbs over you when you sit with them, it can show just how comfortable your piggy is in your presence.
Bonds don’t come easily - and especially not for naturally nervous little guinea pigs. The truth is that many piggy parents don’t put in the time and effort to gain their guinea pig’s trust. As with all things in life, you get out what you put in!
By being patient and persevering with your guinea pig - as well as offering them lots of tasty green snacks, of course - you can form a close and loving friendship with your furball that will last their whole lifetime.
And as soon as your guinea pig gives you a little kiss, clambers over you during food time or loudly wheeks and performs popcorns when you approach their cage, you will know that it’s all been worthwhile because your piggy well and truly ADORES you.
Aaaaw, we love a happy ending!