guinea pig on lap being petted
One of the joys of life with guinea pigs is lap time, but sometimes that leads to bathroom accidents. iStock.com/danlogan

Pee happens. And if you share your life with guinea pigs and enjoy occasionally sitting with one on your lap, well, at some point you’re likely to get peed on. The simple way to deal with this is by always having your guinea pig sit on a fluffy, folded towel while on your lap. But why do guinea pigs do this? Is it a marking behavior? A sign of displeasure? Just an accident? Why do guinea pigs pee on people?

Don’t Fret, It’s Normal

Animals can’t speak to us, so we can’t ask them why they do what they do. We rely on their body language and other cues to make educated guesses about the reasons behind some of their behaviors. Guinea pigs are known to produce a good amount of urine and feces, and nothing seems to be off limits as a deposit area, even food and water dishes. This being the case, it’s not surprising that guinea pigs might pee on people. When a piggie has to go, a piggie has to go. Just so you know, a high metabolism makes dropping feces a very frequent event. You might escape being peed on, but being pooped on might be inescapable. Note that this applies to out-of-cage time. Overall, guinea pigs usually urinate in the same spot in their habitat, but feces can land anywhere.

No two guinea pigs are alike, however. Some guinea pig caretakers claim that their guinea pigs give them a warning before letting loose on them. This could be involve a certain vocalization or, more likely, body language. Excessive fidgeting, backing up, or suddenly freezing could mean that urination will occur momentarily. Some people work to train their guinea pigs not to pee on them. A basic guideline when holding your guinea pig is to limit lap time to about 15 minutes. Longer than that could be asking for trouble, or should only be done when you are prepared for a urinary accident.

When To Worry

Yes, peeing and pooping is normal. Just because you decide to handle your furry friend doesn’t mean his or her bodily functions can be put on hold. But you should have some idea of the normal quantity of either. If it suddenly seems to change or if your guinea pig seems to be straining or having any difficulty, it’s time to consult your guinea pig-savvy veterinarian.

The Why Behind The Wee

Although elimination is a normal biological process, sometimes guinea pigs also use it for communication. This is a lively topic among internet forums. One Reddit post about it prompted numerous comments from others who had suffered the same wet fate. People who share their lives with guinea pigs report that guinea pigs spray each other when annoyed, startled, or establishing dominance. Probably the main reason guinea pigs pee on people has to do with whether or not they can hold it, but perhaps some of the same reasons guinea pigs spray each other also might hold true with peeing on people. Additionally, if a guinea pig isn’t a big fan of being held, he or she might resort to peeing to get released. Dr. Teresa Bradley Bays stated in her book “Exotic Pet Behavior Birds, Reptiles, And Small Mammals” that in her experience guinea pigs may urinate if stressed, nervous, or frightened.

Finding A Solution

Your guinea pigs are unique individuals. Get to know their personalities and habits. Does one like to drink a lot? Is one a nervous little soul? Does excitement at out-of-cage time make holding one right away too risky? Knowing your companions is the biggest help to understanding them. Once you understand their habits, you can plan activities better. If you think stress, nervousness, fear, or annoyance are causing your guinea pig to pee on you, try to figure out what’s bugging your guinea pig and change it.

Always keep in mind that if ever one of your pals suddenly changes his or her urinary habits and you don’t know of any reason why, consult your veterinarian to rule out hidden health issues.

If peeing on you turns out to just be life as usual for your guinea pig, then just keep fresh towels or fleece handy!

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