A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about reasons why a guinea pig might bite or nibble your hand. The post stemmed from a question e-mailed to me by a young girl. A follow-up question from her yielded another dilemma. She wrote, "She has started peeing on me all the time, it's really very annoying. I don't know what to do. I know that they have signals, but she's always biting me or nibbling so I don't know."
Most of the time, guinea pigs are actually quite polite, giving us signals when they need a bathroom break. These signals can include:
- constant fidgeting accompanied by repeated checking of their back ends
- circling around and around on your chest or lap
- constantly repositioning themselves, dropping their rumps on you with an adamant thump
- backing their rumps up to the edge of your lap, shoulder, chest, arms, etc. (in an attempt to pee away from you and them)
- biting or nibbling your hand or fingers (usually when you've missed, or ignored, all other signals)
While wet laps don't occur every time you hold your guinea pigs, they do happen. You can minimize your chances with simple observation and careful timing. Notice when guinea pigs drink a fair amount of water (though guinea pigs who habitually drink a lot of water can be a particular challenge), and give their bodies time to process it before holding them -- or plan on a short session of cuddling. Same goes for pigs who have just eaten juicy fruits or vegetables, like melon, cucumber, and so forth.
Learn, too, each pig's unique clock. I've had pigs who could sit on my lap for an hour or more before the urge hit, and others that get the urge after 20 minutes or so. I've also encountered pigs who had a habit of peeing when they were half-asleep, presumably because they got so relaxed that their bladders let loose but their internal alarms didn't go off. Age can also be a factor; very young guinea pigs haven't learned to "be polite" yet, and the bladders of older guinea pigs are not as resilient as they once were.
In rare cases, with guinea pigs that don't (by nature) like to be held much, the "I gotta pee" alarm seemed like a measure of self-defense, of protecting their boundaries. They didn't want to be held, tolerated it for a handful of minutes, and then triggered the panic button...presumably because they'd learned through experience that the threat of getting peed on was the one thing that would get their human to put them back in their cage or play area.
All that said, no matter how watchful you are, the odds are that you'll get peed on at least once, and probably more. Rather than get soaked, learn to have some cozy sacks or old clean towels handy for lap time. As a general practice, I always have a towel folded up under my pigs. If you want a little extra protection, puppy pee pads are a great investment.
If you've noticed that your pigs have some signals that I didn't list here, please share them. Every pig is different and, thus, so are the warning signals.