Guinea Pig Behavior: This is How You Understand Your Guinea Pigs

A guinea pig communicates with its conspecifics in a variety of ways. It communicates a lot through spoken language and others through expressive body language. If you observe the behavior closely and interpret the guinea pig language correctly, you can understand your rodents better.

What the Spoken Language of Your Guinea Pigs Reveals

The spoken language of guinea pigs is an exciting thing and is used for communication between conspecifics. But the cute rodents also communicate with humans, for example by squeaking. You probably know it when your guinea pig squeaks demanding – for example when begging for food. A high-pitched squeak, on the other hand, indicates that the animals are afraid or in pain or generally feel very uncomfortable.

You should know the following other sounds of your guinea pigs in order to understand them better and correctly interpret their behavior:

  • Chirping: This sound is similar to the chirping of birds and is repeated rhythmically. In guinea pig language, it means tension or stress.
  • Beeping: This high, low, drawn-out tone is the cry of abandoned young animals. Older animals also sometimes make this sound.
  • Chuckles and murmurs: These sounds indicate that your animals are comfortable.
  • Grunts: When guinea pigs greet each other in a friendly way, they give a grunt.
  • Cooing: Gurring tones are used by the guinea pig to calm itself and its conspecifics.
  • Chattering of teeth: If your rodents chatter their teeth, this sound is a warning to their fellow species. Guinea pigs try to impress other animals with this sound when fighting for ranking.

How Guinea Pigs Behave: Body Language

In addition to the vocalizations, guinea pigs communicate with one another as social group animals thanks to their versatile body language. This body language includes, on the one hand, pure physical signals to the environment, such as the curious straightening of the body in order to explore something. On the other hand, there is body language in combination with vocalizations, for example in the so-called rumba: the courting of the female by the male. This behavior, also known as “pummeling”, involves the male rocking his body back and forth as it moves towards the female, making humming and cooing noises. The hair on the back of the neck is erected and the head is lowered, while the buck stands to the side of the female in heat.

Other important body signals are:

  • Harnessing: a female harassed by a male fends off this with a targeted stream of urine.
    Freeze: If the guinea pig freezes, it is afraid. If the rodents cannot hide or run away when danger is imminent, they lapse into a motionless paralysis of fear that makes their eyes seem to bulge.
  • Sniffing: Since guinea pigs recognize each other by their smell, they sniff each other’s nose and anus to establish contact.
  • Cuddling: Young guinea pigs cuddle up to each other to warm and protect each other. Older animals only show this behavior when they are afraid or when they have too little space in the shelter.
  • Buck jumps/popcorns: A wild running around with buck jumps seems to be a jumping act in guinea pigs when they are comfortable. This behavior usually occurs when the animals are being fed or playing with each other.
  • Yawning: In addition to the normal yawning when tired, guinea pigs also yawn as a sign of inferiority. In ranking battles, the defeated male signals by yawning that it has been defeated.
  • Licking behind the ear: Guinea pigs show a sign of loving care when they lick their conspecifics behind the ear. This behavior can often be observed with sick or anxious animals.
  • Older animals often behave this way towards younger guinea pigs.

Guinea Pig Behavior

Guinea pigs are very social animals, but as a rule, they do not groom each other like many other rodents. And physical contact, which we call cuddling, is not common with you either. Now many owners, especially children, would like to cuddle with your animal or stroke the guinea pig. You pick up the rodent or stroke its head from above. In these cases, a self-confident animal signals to its owner by nudging its head that it does not want to be petted.

Hold a rodent in your arms and it is afraid it will make itself as small as possible so that it offers as little attack surface as possible. If you get guinea pigs as pets, remember that the animals don’t like to cuddle and respect this natural behavior. Due to their pronounced social behavior, guinea pigs are fascinating animals, which give a lot of joy when kept well and can enter into an intimate relationship with people, even if they are not cuddly toys.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *