What does it mean when a guinea pig jumps around? Well it can mean a number of things and they are not all bad. You may have heard the term “popcorning” before which describes how a guinea pig jumps around sometimes. This is quite a natural activity for your guinea pig to take part in so there is no need for alarm.
They are Running and Jumping because they are Happy
Your guinea pig will naturally jump around because they are happy. As humans we will “jump for joy” if something exciting happens to us and it is the same for your guinea pig. This kind of jumping is very cute to watch as your guinea pig will perform a range of little jumps quickly.
Your guinea pig can popcorn from a standing position or they can start jumping around while they are in the process of running. Sometimes you will notice your cavy squeak while they are jumping and even change direction. If you have seen a bucking bronco before then often your guinea pig jumping can look like this!
The name “popcorning” comes from the suddenness of the jumping activity. When you see your guinea pig do this for the first time you may actually think that they are having some kind of seizure.
A happy guinea pig will often run around in circles changing direction a number of times. They will usually leap around as well as run if they are happy or excited. Maybe they have just spotted that you have a delicious treat for them and they just cannot contain their excitement. Young guinea pigs tend to “popcorn” more than older guinea pigs.
But there is no need for concern as this behavior is entirely natural. Just be sure to check that your guinea pig seems to be in control of the jumping around and that they are not jumping continuously without stopping.
Other Reasons for your Guinea Pig to Jump around
Your guinea pig will normally be in a happy mood when they are jumping around. But sometimes they can do this for other reasons. A guinea pig needs a lot of exercise and popcorning is a way that they can get it.
They are Popcorning for Exercise
Even though you do your best to provide the largest possible guinea pig cage, and also allow your guinea pig to roam around your room sometimes, it is not always enough for some. They could be addicted to fitness and want to jump around as a way to stretch their legs and expend some of the energy that they have.
It is essential that your guinea pig gets as much exercise as possible. So as long as the jumping around is not indicating anything negative then let them do this as often as they want to.
They Jump around because they are scared
If your guinea pig is running fast and jumping this can mean that they are afraid of something. Guinea pigs are sensitive creatures and it doesn’t take much to scare them. If your cavy has suddenly become scared then they can start to jump around. Usually they will do this in irregular patterns if they are scared.
Listen out for any squeaking sounds while your guinea pig is jumping. You may not know what has frightened your guinea pig because it can be so many different things. If you have moved your guinea pig cage to a new location then this is very likely to make them afraid. A noise from outside that we take for granted can scare the life out of your cavy.
Most guinea pigs are not thrilled about visiting the vet and you may see your precious pet start to popcorn when they arrive in the vet’s office. Other things such as thunderstorms can frighten your guinea pig, so get used to telling if your cavy is happy or scared through their jumping around.
If you believe that your guinea pig is running and jumping around because of fear then watch them closely. When a guinea pig is frightened they tend to disregard everything else that is around them. They may start to bounce of their cage walls and injure themselves. If you have more than one cavy then they can injure them too as well as themselves.
In a frightened state your guinea pig is likely to run and jump around until they are exhausted from doing this. Rather than being a fun activity it becomes out of control so it is usually straight forward to tell the difference in the behavior.
Running and Jumping may indicate a Health Issue
Your guinea pig may have a health issue which is making them jump around a lot. If they have mites then running fast and jumping could be a way for them to relieve the suffering. There are other symptoms of fur mites that you can check for if you suspect they are causing the jumping:
- Your guinea pig is itching a lot
- They have lost weight
- Clumps of fur are missing
- They have dry or greasy patches of skin
If you think that your guinea pig is running and jumping around because of a health problem then you need to take a trip to the vet. Don’t wait too long to get your cavy some medical attention as things could get worse.
Other Guinea Pig Behaviors to watch out for
Running and jumping (or popcorning) is not the only interesting behavior that your guinea pig can exhibit. There are a number of other things that they tend to do on a regular basis and it is important that you understand what they mean.
Your Guinea Pig runs away from you
This can be a heart breaking experience for you but it is usually nothing to worry about. You put your hand in the cage and try to pick up your guinea pig but they run away. They didn’t do that last time and this confuses you.
Well a guinea pig running away is a natural thing for them to do. Don’t get too sensitive over this. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you anymore. When guinea pigs live in the wild they get used to running away from predators. If they don’t act quickly in the wild then it can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Sometimes when you pick up your guinea pig they will escape through your hands and run away. This is a protection mechanism for them and in the wild they can escape from the clutches of predators.
Your Guinea Pig just Freezes
Always remember that your guinea pig is a timid and highly sensitive animal. If some sudden noise or movement scares them they can just freeze. It can be a response to something they hear, see or feel.
Why do they freeze? Well by remaining completely still they are protecting themselves from predators because they believe this will make them invisible to them. Most predators in the wild go after moving targets so this makes a lot of sense.
If you have more than one guinea pig then one of them may freeze to warn the others that danger is around the corner. Of course your guinea pigs are living in the safety of your home so there is no real danger to them. But they don’t know this and it is an instinctive response.
You may see your guinea pig motionless in their cage and appearing to be continuously staring. This doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. You see a guinea pig doesn’t blink or close their eyes very often even when they are asleep.
So if you notice that they are not moving and appear to be staring they are probably just having a nap. On the flip side of this if you see your guinea pig sleeping with their eyes closed this is often a sign that they feel completely happy and safe in their environment. This is a good thing of course but may not happen at all. It’s all about fear of those predators.
Your Guinea Pig Stands Up
Even though your guinea pig has very tiny legs that are difficult to see at times, they will stand up on two feet sometimes. This is very cute to see and they will normally do this because they are curious about something.
Your guinea pig may detect a smell that interests them for example. So they stand up on two feet to get a better sense of where this smell is originating from. You will sometimes see your guinea pig standing up because they want to see something more clearly.
You can make your guinea pig stand up by teasing them with treats and other food. Hold the treat so that it is just out of reach while they are standing normally. They will have to stand on two feet to access the treat.
Rejoice in your Guinea Pig Pocorning
If your guinea pig is running and jumping around through happiness and excitement then this is something to rejoice. Although it is more common in younger guinea pigs, adults can jump around as well. Remember that a younger guinea pig is lighter than an adult so they are likely to perform higher leaps.
Some guinea pig owners refer to this jumping in the air as “pogoing”. The scientists have named it “pronking” but we think that “popcorning” is a much cuter term to use. While it is not possible to directly train your guinea pig to popcorn, you can encourage them to do it by being a good owner.
You want them to be happy and this will encourage them to run and jump around. So make sure that you give your guinea pig a variety of different foods to eat, ensure that they have enough water, have a large enough area to play in and a clean environment. When your guinea pig is happy they will tend to be healthy and jump around for joy.