13 Strange but Common Guinea Pig Behaviors Explained In-Depth

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Guinea pigs are social and affectionate animals.

And because of their jolly, happy and fun nature, these fluffy creatures make great pets.

Even though you’ll always see them smiling and excited, guinea pigs are known to carry different emotions and behaviors, each one expressed differently.

Does your rodent friend keep running and hiding from you?

Does your guinea pig keep itself occupied in its own thoughts?

Or maybe your it dances around like a maniac?

Well if that’s the case, your guinea pig is healthy and content.

You may find guinea pig behavior to be pretty strange, but for a guinea pig, these acts are absolutely normal, reflecting their healthy state of mind.

Strange but Common Guinea Pig behaviors

For a human, it is not easy to understand non-verbal cues produced by their pet friends.

Although, geniuses like guinea pigs are born with an ability to clearly communicate their emotions, needs and wants through non-verbal cues but not every pet owner can understand them.

If you own a guinea pig, here are some behavioral patterns that may seem a bit strange to you but are absolutely normal:

1. Popping like a popcorn

Guinea pigs look super-duper cute when jumping up and down.

For many, their excitement may seem quite common, but upon a closer look, you’ll observe a certain pattern in their jumping that not only is hilarious but unique in its own way.

Their signature move includes running, jumping in the air, landing on their four legs, jumping up high again and landing with their faces turned the other way.

Because their moves look like “popping popcorns”, hence labeled as “Popcorning”.

Why do they dance around?

Whenever a guinea pig is super happy or excited, they jump up and down to showcase their enthusiasm and emotions.

2. Guinea Pigs sleep with their eyes open

You think your guinea pig is a hefty thinker?

Always staring in blank space while lost in its own world?

Well, then you’re surely in for a surprise!

Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes wide open.

Yes, even when taking quick catnaps, these little buds do not close their eyes.

Why?

This is because guinea pigs are prey animals, carrying a natural instinct of hunting and survival.

Keeping their eyes open all the time gives them a sense of alertness.

If you own this adorable pet who now closes its eyes for quick catnaps, it means this little buddy feels safe and secure around you.

But that’s not the only weird guinea pig behavior relating to eyes and eyesight. It’s considered by some that Guinea Pigs can’t see normally. Here’s my detailed article on whether guinea pigs see in color or not.

3. The Guinea Pig squeal

It can be a bit irritating if your guinea pig’s squeaking all the time.

Unlike pigs, they have softer squeals but guinea pigs definitely squeal A LOT!

Although, guinea pigs are prey animals which should make them as quiet as possible, they are the total opposite of it.

Each squeal that they produce is meant to express a different emotion.

When they are hungry or like a foodtype that they are being fed, guinea pigs squeal as loud as they can, displaying excitement and joy.

And when they want to be petted, rubbed and loved, they’ll lie down making softer guinea pig squeaking sounds paired with bodily vibrations so you can know what needs to be done!

Guinea pigs are HERBIVORES who love eating vegetables and hay.

If your experiencing sharp and shorter guinea pig squeals, know that it is in pain and needs to be taken to a vet immediately.

4. Guinea Pigs Play Hide and Seek!

Because the hunting instinct is wired inside their brains with some kind of a long-lasting glue, guinea pigs have a habit of running away and hiding.

Even before you’re able to take one step further, they’ll run away and hide in a jiffy, leaving you standing there in shock.

When living in the wild, open forests, guinea pigs are usually preyed on.

Their small sizes make them an easy catch and so, with an urge to survive, these piggies run away and hide.

If you try getting closer to your friend and he runs away, do not stress out because this is absolutely normal for it to do.

5. Marking Territory

Like many other animals, guinea pigs pee on the floor for marking their territory.

Rather a marked territory of your guinea pig, signaling other animals to stay away.

These rodents may be smaller in size but are very particular about their property.

When they feel comfortable about a certain place, they make lines around it, marking it as their own so no other animal dares to enter into their personal space.

6.    Responding to danger

Was there a strange noise outside the house?

A loud thud? Or banging on the door?

In times like these when humans become super alert, guinea pigs too become vigilant.

There natural instinct of preying comes in handy and they freeze upon hearing an unfamiliar noise.

They stand still and become immobile so that the hunting animals move right past them, without notice.

Move a little and you can be dead in the wild!

This is why even guinea pigs that you adopt as pets are bound to act like these when they feel unsafe and threatened.

7.    Stand Up High

Guinea pigs have certain likes and dislikes when comes down to food.

They’ll stand up on their hind legs, sniff the food and proceed to it only if it smells good.

Yes, for a size that small, guinea pigs can be very choosy about what they are being fed.

Although with all the fur on their body, it is hard to see them standing on their legs.

But if you find them sniffing looking a little taller, this is what they do when being fed something new.

8.    He Means Business

Walking down stiffly on his legs while making chattering sound, your guinea pig means clear business with you!

They may look cute and innocent but can be easily annoyed.

These little rodents are short-tempered and can attack if irritated or disturbed.

If you see your pet piggy making chattering noise, simply move away!

When they clench their teeth, make a guinea pig hissing sound and stiffen their bodies, they are all set to attack.

So next time, you’ll know when to run away!

9.    Getting a Taste of You

Most animals lick their owners to show affection.

Well, what else can one expect from them?

Similarly, when guinea pigs are in an “awe” of their owner, they’ll hop on them and lick them out of love.

But, not every time!

Sometimes they lick just out of their habit of tasting everything in their reach.

And so, in case they bite you a little, consider yourself shockingly delicious!

10. Guinea Pigs Eating Poop

Ugh! Sounds disgusting, right?

But here’s the kicker:

Eating poop isn’t abnormal guinea pig behavior.

Guinea pigs are herbivores who survive on hay, vegetables, and fruits.

Even though they have a strong gut, yet not every vegetable protein can be digested by them

When they poop, most of the waste and nutritional resources come out of their body rather than being absorbed.

The act of guinea pigs feeding on their own droppings is called “Coprophagia”

So, why ask for more food when you can gain enough nutrients from the body waste itself?

If you see your guinea pig feeding on its own poop, do not consider it crazy as for him, this strange behavior is fairly common.

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11. Self-Grooming

Imagine having a pet with minimum to zero grooming cost?

Sounds awesome, right?

Guinea pigs are pets that know the art of self-grooming.

If you find them standing on their hind legs, licking their fur, simply take a back seat and let them be.

They do this to keep themselves clean, hence, saving you the time, effort and money of course!

Why spend hundreds of dollars on cats and dogs when you can have a well-groomed, super adorable and playful guinea pig as a pet?

12. Fidgeting Guinea Pigs

A while ago, your guinea pig seemed to be enjoying being held and all of a sudden, it has become impatient.

If you see your little friend fidgeting, moving his head impatiently, let it go.

Release the hold and let him jump off.

Prolonged holding and rubbing can make guinea pigs uncomfortable!

And at time, fidgeting is just another way of them signaling “bathroom time”.

Do think that your pet has gone crazy all of sudden or will break its neck, just let your grip lose and let it do its “thing”, whatever it may be.

13. Keeping Your Guinea Pig Healthy

Running around either inside the cage or in your lounge is completely normal for a guinea pig.

Not every time are they trying to hide from you!

When you see your pet running at a full speed inside its cage, this simply means it is trying to stay healthy and fit.

These little piggies are fitness freaks that cannot stay still.

If they do not have a toy or wheel to play with and burn their energy, you’ll find them making quick laps to keep off a few calories.

So, if your furball doesn’t have a toy to play with, choose one from our list of the 31 most awesome Guinea Pig toys.

No, your pet has surely not lost its mind, neither is this abnormal guinea pig behavior, simply running around all day is a part of your guinea pig’s exercise routine.

Do Guinea pigs Love Being Petted?

When you own a pet, you wish to develop a strong, never lasting bond with it.

Like most animals, guinea pigs are friendly and social by nature.

 

Although, they adapt to the new environment easily but may not trust you completely with them.

Even though it may take some time for you to tame your pet guinea pig, but at the end of the day, they’ll welcome you with all warmth and love.

Once these rodents know of who you are, they’ll jump into your laps, lick you and ask to be petted.

But, wait!

Handle these little fluffy friends with care.

Grip them a little harder or rub them longer than they ask for, and they’ll turn evil!

All set to bit you, so if you start hearing that chattering sound while petting them, leave them immediately!

Apart from this, guinea pigs are easy to care for.

Is your Guinea Pig Stressed?

Sudden changes in the environment can make a guinea pig uncomfortable.

If you see your pet being restless, annoyed and irritated all of a sudden, know that it is stressed out.

When it comes to expressing their emotions, these hairy rodents may not be vocal about it but can clearly convey through their body language.

on occasions when your little piggy is lazy, low on energy, not hungry and irritable, remember to check for any recent environmental changes that may have taken places.

Although guinea pigs are good at adapting to new surroundings, but sudden changes can make them restless, scared and stressed.

Too much stress can make them fall ill to an extent that you might have to seek medical help.

This is why, people owning guinea pigs at the moment, and should work hard to maintain their environment with which they are familiar with to avoid stress and annoyance.

The Hunger Move

Forgot feeding your shaggy partner?

Worry no more because guinea pigs will never let you miss out on their feeding time.

These clever rodents when hungry stand on their hind legs and sniff their surroundings, indicating they are hungry.

Feed them hay, freshwater, and some pellets and they’ll be content.

Remember, feed them food items rich in vitamin C because, for guinea pigs, their bodies cannot produce this vitamin itself.

Without which, you won’t have a healthy pet for your companionship.

Is it necessary to understand Pet Guinea Pigs Body Language?

When you bring in a pet, you wish to develop a great bond with it.

A bond where love and trust is shared mutually.

But with animals especially guinea pigs, creating this bond is not only time taking but requires great efforts as well.

Although guinea pigs are social animals, but it may take them a little time to trust you with them.

These rodents are prey animals who are meant to live in the wild and survive, and so when trying to be tamed or petted, guinea pigs may feel threatened and react.

In order to gain its trust, observe and learn the behavior of your pet.

Understanding what the guinea is trying to communicate through its behavior and body language will help makes thing easier for you.

If you see the cute rodent dancing inside the cage, the first thought that’ll strike you is to feed it.

Or maybe it just wishes to urinate?

Guinea pigs like chatting with fellow rodents.

Guinea pig chirping and purring sounds show they are relaxed and happy with their friends.

Behavior can help ease out things, making you more capable of taking care of your guinea pig.

Abnormal Guinea pig Behavior: When to worry!

If your guinea pig has all of a sudden started behaving weird, it is time to observe him.

Abnormal behavior may include excessive chewing, producing grunting sounds, hiding away or not feeding properly.

Watching such behavioral changes in your pet can be quiet alarming.

These symptoms actually hint towards the little rodent being unconformable with the current environment.

Has there been a new person in the house?

Does the guinea pig feel distressed and lonely?

Did you include something new in its feed that is upsetting its stomach or may he does not like it at all?

Behavioral changes need to be monitored closely or else the consequences can be disturbing.

Once you get hold of the cause that is “triggering” the guinea pig’s abnormal behavior, try improving the situation and making the animal comfortable.

Remember, guinea pigs can be easily triggered at slightest of environmental changes including the entrance of a new house member or a noise.

If so is the case, try making them familiar with the new entrants, tame them and make them feel comfortable.

Conclusion

Guinea pigs are smart, social animals and overly active.

Even with no words to express their thoughts, they can be quite vocal about what they want.

It may take you some time to develop a bond with your friend but once you achieve it, the love definitely lasts for infinity.

If you plan on adopting cute little guinea pig soon, remember to be a close observer of their behavior because their body language tells a lot about their feelings, state of mind and needs, making it easier for you to take care of them.

Related Questions

Do guinea pigs bite and scratch?

Not every time! Mostly, guinea pigs are known to be very friendly and social creatures who love being surrounded by people. They have a happy-to-go nature but if irritated or held with tightly for long periods of time, they do become angry and bite.

So, if you want your guinea pig to remain calm and content, handle it with care!

Can guinea pigs understand what you say to them?

Guinea pigs are quick learners. They may not understand the words you use but are quick at learning gestures and noises.

Like whenever it is time to feed them, ring a bell or whistle so that within a span of a few days, they’ll know what the noise indicates. Associate certain gestures and noises with things that you want them to do and they will learn, once familiar with it.

How to know if your guinea pig is in pain?

A guinea pig may suffer from an illness or problem long before it is visible. If there is a change in its normal behavior like all of a sudden it has lost its appetite, is low on energy and is making chattering or whining noises, know there is some problem.

If things do not seem to improve over the period of a few days, take your guinea pig to a vet so that the problem can be assessed by a professional and treated accordingly.

References

https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/fun-interesting-facts-about-guinea-pigs.html

https://www.thesprucepets.com/guinea-pig-vocalizations-and-body-language-1238882

https://animals.mom.me/guinea-pigs-mark-territories-6906.html

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