Home Behavior 20 Guinea Pig Behaviors You Should Know What Does It Mean

20 Guinea Pig Behaviors You Should Know What Does It Mean


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What Does It Mean When Your Guinea Pigs Do These Things?

Guinea pigs are really fun pets to own and like all animals they sometimes do some interesting things. If you are a new guinea pig owner or you haven’t experienced a certain behavior before, then we recommend that you understand what your cavy is trying to tell you. So here we will explain what it means when your guinea pig does the following:

  1. Licks you
  2. Drinks a lot of water
  3. Starts breathing heavily and quickly
  4. Has a runny nose
  5. Vibrates
  6. Lays on its side
  7. Runs away from you
  8. Chirps like a bird
  9. Nibbles your finger
  10. Pees on you
  11. Doesn’t eat
  12. Starts losing hair
  13. Sneezes and coughs
  14. Has red eyes
  15. Has red feet
  16. Nudges your hand
  17. Keeps biting you
  18. Grinds their teeth
  19. Squeaks quietly 
  20. Jump around

Each one of these behaviors has at least one meaning which you need to know. Some of these things are harmless and others can be a sign that something is wrong. So if you really want to care for your guinea pig read this from start to finish so that you can really understand what they are telling you.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Licks you

There are a number of reasons why your guinea pig licks you. Guinea pigs are similar to cats in that they are obsessed with grooming and lick themselves a lot. Some experts say that if they start to lick your hand then this means they want to groom you as well. They want their owner to be as clean as they are!

Another reason for licking you is because they like the taste of salt. You may not realize it but your skin often has a salty taste and this is appealing to your guinea pig. So they see you as a tasty snack.

On the subject of food, if your hands have been in contact with food that your guinea pig thinks is tasty then they will probably lick your hand. This may actually lead to your cavy actually trying to eat your hand so to avoid this we recommend that you wash your hands thoroughly before holding your guinea pig.

And finally your guinea pig licking you could mean that they are just really happy. They love having you as their owner so they show their affection through licking. Sometimes a guinea pig will squeal when they are happy licking too.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Drinks a Lot of Water

If you notice that your guinea pig is suddenly drinking a lot of water then you need to pay careful attention to this as it is not a good sign. Guinea pigs are not normally excessively thirsty so you need to work out why this is happening.

In a single day your guinea pig will normally drink around 20% of its body weight. If your cavy is exceeding this then it could indicate that they have diabetes. Check to see if they are urinating excessively too as this is another indication of diabetes as are an increase in their appetite or weight loss.

Another major health problem leading to excessive water drinking is kidney failure. If your guinea pigs kidneys are not working properly then they cannot get rid of toxic waste their body’s produce. So to compensate they will drink more. Take your guinea pig to the vet if you suspect diabetes or kidney failure.

Of course the reason for your guinea pig drinking water excessively could be a much simpler reason that is not a major risk to their health. Take a look at where their cage is located. Is it in a particularly hot place? What about the time of year? In the heat of summer your guinea pig is going to drink more to cool down.


  1. Your Guineas Pig Starts Breathing Heavily and Quickly

If you notice signs of tachypnea (rapid and heavy breathing) in your guinea pig then there are a number of reasons why this could be happening. Take a good look at your cavy if they are breathing heavy and quickly and check for other problems too.

It is useful for you to know that a guinea pig breathing rate is much higher than ours. While we will take around 8 to 16 breaths a minute your guinea pig will take between 40 and 150 breaths normally. The average breaths per minute for a healthy guinea pig are 80.

Your guinea pig may breathe heavy and fast if they are anxious about something. They are timid creatures and it doesn’t take much to spook them. If you believe this is the reason then do everything that you can to calm them down.

If your guinea pig seems lethargic and is breathing fast then they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Guinea pigs can overheat quickly so if it is a hot day then this could be the reason.

Your guinea pig could have a cold or a fever which would explain the rapid and heavy breathing. A respiratory infection can cause them to struggle for breath and if they have other signs such as coughing, wheezing, sneezing and a discharge from their eyes and nose then take your pet to the vet.


  1. Your Guinea Pig has a Runny Nose

A runny nose in a guinea pig usually means that they are suffering from a respiratory problem. It is possible for your cavy to catch a cold from you or other humans in the home. They are very susceptible to the bacteria and if you don’t get them treated for this they can die.

Check to see if your guinea pig has any other symptoms such as a breathing problem or a cough. Always take a runny nose seriously and get your guinea pig to the vet as soon as you can. The vet can treat colds and other infections with antibiotics.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Vibrates

A vibrating guinea pig is not always a bad thing. It can actually mean that your cavy is happy and is purring like a cat does. A guinea pig will often signal their happiness and contentment by vibrating and making deep noises. If you are petting your cavy and they vibrate this will certainly mean that they are happy.

On the downside a guinea pig may vibrate because they are feeling scared. A fearful vibration usually generates a rapid “clipped” sound. Guinea pigs don’t like being cold and this can cause them to vibrate as well. The cold vibration sound often sounds similar to the fear vibration sound.

If your guinea pig vibrates with a lot of deep noise this usually means that they are annoyed about something. This might be something you are currently doing or if they live with other cavies then one of the others may have upset them.

Finally a male guinea pig can vibrate when they are trying to court a female. This is a kind of wooing vibration which have a lower sound than the others. If a female guinea pig wants male attention they can sometimes vibrate too.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Lays on its Side

This is an interesting behavior. If your guinea pig lays on its side a lot but otherwise seems healthy then it can be something that they just like to do. It will tell you that your cavy feels safe and relaxed in their surroundings.

Laying on their side can also indicate that your guinea pig is sick. In this case you need to check for other symptoms such as lethargy, breathing issues, weeping eyes, a runny nose and so on. If your guinea pig shows no signs that they want to get up then take them to see the vet.

If your guinea pig lays on its side it could also mean that they are feeling too hot. Feel the temperature of your cavy and if they are hot then take them to the vet. A guinea pig can also lay on their side if they are afraid. Normally they will roll over on their back if they are really scared.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Runs Away From You

If your guinea pig runs away from you then there is no need for alarm. This might devastate you but you need to understand that guinea pigs living in the wild have many predators. Your guinea pig may think that you are a predator and therefore run away to escape. Usually after a while they will stop doing this as they get used to you.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Chirps Like a Bird

Believe it or not your guinea pig can make a chirping sound similar to that of a bird. Nobody really knows why guinea pigs do this with some of the experts claiming this is an indication of happiness and others claiming it can be a sign of stress. It is not something that you should be overly concerned about.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Nibbles your Finger

If your guinea pig nibbles your finger then it can mean a few things. They may be anxious about something and it is their way of telling your that they are scared. It can even mean that they are annoyed about something. Maybe you are stroking or holding them in a way that they don’t like, and the nibbling is telling you to stop this immediately.

A nibbling guinea pig may need to go to the bathroom and they are letting you know that you need to put them down so they can do this. If the nibbling becomes intense then this usually indicates fear. Try to calm them down in this situation.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Pees on You

If you are holding your guinea pig and they pee on you then there is no need to panic. Your cavy cannot tell you that they need to relieve themselves and if they need to go then they will. Even if a guinea pig is potty trained they may still do this. If they really need to do it then you will get wet.

Some guinea pigs will actually give you a sign that they need to pee. They may freeze suddenly or fidget excessively. If you see these signs then put them back in their cage. Don’t hold your guinea pig for longer than 15 minutes otherwise you could be in for a peeing accident.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Eat

If your guinea pig doesn’t eat this is not a good sign. It is usually a symptom of something that is wrong with your cavy. There are a number of diseases that can cause a guinea pig to lose their appetite including infections, liver disease, dental disease, kidney disease or even cancer.

You must take your guinea pig to the vet straight away of they stop eating. The vet can examine your cavy thoroughly and perform radiographs and blood tests. Before you get to the vet ensure that your guinea pig is drinking water. If they don’t want to drink then do everything possible to encourage them. You can add a nutrient solution to their water too.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Rolls Over

If your guinea pig rolls over then this can mean a few things. It can actually be a sign that they are happy and content and they are just expressing this. Another reason could be that they are itchy. If the rolling around is pretty frantic then they could have a mite problem and you will need to visit the vet for treatment.

A scared guinea pig may roll over on their back. Check to see if anything is scaring them and try to calm them down. Loud noises will scare a guinea pig and so will sudden light changes. If they are frightened then they should return to normal after a while.


  1. Your Guinea Pig is Losing Hair

If you see that your guinea pig is losing hair then you need to take a good look at them. Bald spots on your cavy can mean that they have a fungal infection or are suffering from mites. You can treat these by using a special shampoo.

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Sometimes a guinea pig will lose hair behind their ears and this should not alarm you too much. If hair loss occurs elsewhere then you need to investigate. Ask your vet to look at your cavy if you see hair loss in other places.

Guinea pigs will sometimes chew off their own hair. If you have more than one cavy then they can chew off each other’s hair. They may do this if they are not getting the right amount of roughage so give them plenty of hay. It can happen through boredom as well.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Sneezes and Coughs

A guinea pig can occasionally sneeze just like we do and this is nothing to worry about. If the sneezing is occurring often then this could mean they have an infection or an allergy. Coughing along with sneezing usually indicates a respiratory infection and you will need to take your guinea pig to the vet as soon as possible.

If there is no coughing but consistent sneezing then this usually means an allergy. They may have a reaction to something in the home. Think about something that you introduced into the home recently. We recommend that you have a vet look at your cavy. Any kind of respiratory problem that goes untreated could kill them.


  1. Your Guinea Pig has Red Eyes

Some guinea pigs naturally have red eyes. This is not something to be alarmed about. A lot of people believe that if a guinea pig has red eyes it means that they are blind. This is not true at all. It is just that their eyes have a different pigment color to other guinea pigs and does not mean that they are suffering in any way.

If the red eyes of a guinea pig disturb you then do not purchase one, or adopt one, that has this color eyes. There is no real reason why you should feel this way. A red eyed guinea pig is going to behave in the same way as a cavy with different colored eyes. Some people believe red eyed guinea pigs are evil. This is total nonsense.


  1. Your Guinea Pig has Red Feet

If you notice that your guinea pig has red feet then this can be an allergy or a symptom of a serious health issue “bumble foot”. What type of flooring does your guinea pig run around on? Some cavies are allergic to carpets and other types of fibers which may make their feet red. Soap used to clean cage floors can also cause allergies.

Some guinea pig cages have wire bottoms and this can lead to your cavy getting bumble foot. Bumble foot can also develop if your guinea pig is not getting sufficient vitamin C in their diet or their diet is not as good as it should be. If the red feet persist then get your cavy to the vet for a checkup.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Nudges your Hand

Your guinea pig will nudge your hand in different ways to tell you something. If the nudge feels affectionate then your guinea pig is telling you that they love being with you and are very happy. This can happen when you are petting your cavy.

If the nudge is more aggressive then your guinea pig is telling you that they are not happy with what you are doing. You might be stroking them in a way that they don’t like, or in an area they don’t appreciate. Sometimes this more aggressive nudge is a signal that they need to take a bathroom break.


  1. Your Guinea Pig keeps Biting you

There are a few reasons while a guinea pig will bite you. One of the most common reasons for biting is if they are scared. Your guinea pig might not actually like you holding them at all and this could make them frightened. In this case they will keep biting you until you put them down.

If you are not holding your guinea pig properly and you are causing them discomfort or even pain they will probably bite you until you adjust your holding position. Another reason for biting could be hunger. If they are hungry and smell something on your fingers they might try to bite your hand thinking that it is food.

Biting could be part of your guinea pigs makeup. Some guinea pigs are a lot more social than others. If your guinea pig is not thrilled about you taking them out of the cage and holding them then they could bite you as a result.


  1. Your Guinea Pig Grinds their Teeth

There are a number of reasons why your guinea pig will grind their teeth. It could actually be indicative of a serious health problem so you need to look carefully at them. Guinea pigs can have dental problems which makes it difficult for them to eat.

Your guinea pig could be sick. If a cavy is not feeling right sometimes they will grind their teeth to show this. Normally there would be some other symptoms too such as weight loss. Get your guinea pig to the vet quickly if you believe that they have lost a lot of weight.

The teeth of a guinea pig are always growing and they need the right foods and other things such as chewable toys to keep them ground down properly. Your cavy may well grind their teeth if the grinding down process has not worked as it should. If you suspect a dental issue then ask your vet for advice.

See the Top 3 Things Guinea Pig To Chew On

If your guinea pig has a digestive problem then they can grind their teeth. Problems with food digestion can cause a guinea pig to eat too much of the wrong food and then start to suffer from stomach pain.

Finally a guinea pig may grind their teeth and make a chattering sound at the same time. This is telling you that they are angry or annoyed about something. If you keep more than one guinea pig, this grinding and chattering often means that two cavies are about to fight each other.