Biting can be a worry or a problem for new owners, especially those with small children. However, there are some very different issues lumped together under the broad umbrella of “biting”, sometimes with fatal consequences for the poor, misunderstood and not appropriately handled guinea pig that is dumped back to a shop or a shelter with a euthanizing policy for not adoptable pets - which is what any guinea pig labelled as a "biter" is inevitably classed at by the non-piggy savvy. At the very best, those guinea pigs are usually and unfairly condemned to a solitary life. The good news is that the vast majority of incidents can be worked around with some understanding of what is going on and why a guinea pig is "biting". As you become more experienced with guinea pigs, you learn how behave around them and biting of whatever sort is usually no longer a problem. Serious defence bites - On edge, spooked or cornered Bites in defence are instinctive, split of the moment ones by a guinea pig that is usually already on edge and feeling threatened. The guinea pig is literally defending its life. These bites are deep and can permanently damage your hand or – very, very rarely – even kill another guinea pig if they hit a vital spot. There are some contexts where you are more likely to be at the receiving end of one of these bites. The trick is to avoid creating situations that can trigger defence bits and to not put your hands where a guinea pig can get at them. Here is more information on guinea pig instincts and how you can mimic guinea pig behaviours to tell them in their own language what you want from them: How To Understand Guinea Pig Instincts And Speak Piggy Body Language - During cuddle time It is a common mistake by new owners that they assume that an apparently placid guinea pig is happy with being cuddled and is therefore safe with a child. As discussed in the link above, these seemingly “quiet” guinea pigs are in fact deeply frightened and are just unresponsive in order to be left alone by a bored predator. In that situation, a sudden movement, laugh, scream or just noise can trigger a defensive bite. It also advisable to not pull a new guinea pig out of his hidey. Train them to come into a tunnel or a little walk-in cardboard box or hidey with a bottom instead, if necessary with a little veg treat at the far end. How To Pick Up Your Guinea Pig Settled young guinea pigs are usually vocal and squirmy. They don’t sit quiet for long when they are still babies! Please do not let your children handle and cuddle any guinea pigs until they are confident and responsive, and always only under close supervision. Remind your children to move slowly and to speak softly. Be aware that your child may drop or throw a biting guinea pig as an instinctive reaction to a bite! Children And Guinea Pigs - Age Appropriate Interaction And Responsibilities. - During bonding Bonding is a classic time for defence bites when newly introduced guinea pigs are still on edge and are feeling cornered or spooked. This is the reason why we recommend to stage introductions always in a neutral area instead of putting a new guinea pig straight into the cage of another one. We also strongly recommend not have any hideys with just one exit or any nooks and crannies where an underpig can be pinned down in the first days while the guinea pigs sort out the hierarchy. - During fights NEVER go between seriously riled up or fighting boars with your bare hands! Please keep an oven glove or a towel handy during introductions or while your boars are going through their hormonal teenage months. A fair number of bites in boar fights are actually made in defence, not as a deliberate aggression. Unlike in their normal habitat, pet guinea pigs can’t just get out of the other boar’s way, so the smaller the space, the higher the risk of fights between hormonal sub-adult boars that are not character matched. Your sudden interference is perceived as a thread by a guinea pig that is already very much on edge. More information on how to minimise the risk of boars fighting and what to do if they get into trouble: Boars: A guide to successful companionship. Boars: Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?