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Thread: Incessant Shirt Biting?

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    Cavy Slave MysticalMysty's Avatar
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    Incessant Shirt Biting?

    It's been a while since I posted on here, wow. I'll just hop straight into it.

    Abby, a 6-ish month old guinea pig that we've had since she was six weeks old, has always been a shirt biter. None of her littermates have ever bit at our shirts and we have no idea what it stemmed from. We thought it got better, but now she's doing it more than ever before. It makes it so hard for us to give her lap time because she just bites and tugs at the fabric relentlessly. Abby is an absolute sweetheart and we love her to death, but we can never have her on our laps. She mainly tugs at the neckline, though she does bite at anything she can grab. We have shirts that are ruined from this. At first, I wasn't too worried because I thought it was just nerves, but we've had them (our guinea pigs) for a few months now and none of her sisters have ever done this. I'm worried that the fabric could harm her when ingested, mainly. But she's also bitten us quite hard and my chest is littered with scars. What led me to post this was that (maybe too much information?) she was biting at my shirt today and ending up biting down extremely hard on my nipple, causing it to bleed. I'm just worried that it might be something serious.

    Thanks for any and all advice.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Does she bite at things when she's in the cage, or only when she's being held?

    Does she scratch and bite at herself? Mites can make a pig mighty cranky.

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    Cavy Slave MysticalMysty's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    Does she bite at things when she's in the cage, or only when she's being held?

    Does she scratch and bite at herself? Mites can make a pig mighty cranky.
    She only bites at the shirt when we hold her. Sometimes she'll bite on the bars in the cage, but all of our pigs do that when they want attention.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    I'd try sharply telling her no and offering her a bit of food instead. But the habit may be very hard to break if she's been doing it for several months.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Quote Originally Posted by MysticalMysty View Post
    Thanks for any and all advice.
    First of all, I agree with @bpatters......as I usually do. I would look at a biological/physiological issue that is causing the behavior to become more frequent. I can't give you any absolute solution, but I can share what has worked with my Chip.

    I acquired Chip at 6 wks. old and he was a big-time biter. Chip is a high-strung, nervous and energetic little thing and at times I almost gave up on him. I knew where he came from and had seen his environment and to my knowledge there was no way he could have been abused. He was briefly caged with another slightly older cavy who was a biter and that was the only thing I could see in his past.

    I don't like to physically discipline my cavies, but I reflexively "boffed' him on the nose when bitten hard.....especially when he bit my nipple a couple of times. I so seldom raise my voice at my boys that it became a way of controlling them. Usually a sharp "no" will cause them to stop a behavior. But back to Chip. He is now 2 yrs. old and has finally learned the difference between a nibble and a bite. His cagemate, Sparky, likes to groom Chip and Chip wants to return the favor but tends to bite Sparky's ears rather than groom gently. He only bites me if I cause him pain while cutting his nails. I too have shirts with bite marks in them.

    You call her "Abby"? Is she an Abyssinian? If so, they are often extremely bright, energetic, athletic......and willful. We call it "Abbytude".

    Do you have the patience to work with Abby? We actually have become quite fond of Chip as he is his own little "person". We bring our boys out every night for lap time and many times we just couldn't deal with Chip's hyperactivity and he was left in the cage. But, we have persisted and enjoy seeing how he is becoming more trusting with time and patience. His latest behavior change is that he will sometimes lick us incessantly......far more welcome than biting.

    Cavies tend to bite when they are angry or frightened. And, remember that since they have little dexterity with their front paws (unlike cats), the world is explored with the mouth. I really can't tell you HOW to stop the biting......only that her behavior can possibly be modified.

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    Cavy Slave MysticalMysty's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Quote Originally Posted by spy9doc View Post
    I really can't tell you HOW to stop the biting......only that her behavior can possibly be modified.
    Thank you so much for the feedback. Her name is Abigail, but we call her Abby. She's a short haired pig. I do have the patience to work with her; I am schooled online and therefore I am home constantly. I definitely won't physically discipline them, but I will try to do it vocally. Thank you!

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    Cavy Champion Guinea Pig Papa's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Pooper used to bite my shirt, when I was holding him and he wanted to go home. I would say, You wanna go home, Poopy? And he would start to bite my shirt. I actually have a couple of pictures of him with my shirt bunched up in his teeth as he pulled on it. May sound strange, but I have a lot of shirts now with "Poopy holes" in them that I treasure greatly. I can't bring myself to get rid of them.

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    Cavy Slave MysticalMysty's Avatar
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    Re: Incessant Shirt Biting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guinea Pig Papa View Post
    Pooper used to bite my shirt, when I was holding him and he wanted to go home. I would say, You wanna go home, Poopy? And he would start to bite my shirt. I actually have a couple of pictures of him with my shirt bunched up in his teeth as he pulled on it. May sound strange, but I have a lot of shirts now with "Poopy holes" in them that I treasure greatly. I can't bring myself to get rid of them.
    From all your stories about him, I can tell that Pooper was a sweetheart.

  9. "Thank you, MysticalMysty, for this useful post," says:


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