A Guide to Guinea Pig Behaviour

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

07 October 2015

Guinea pigs are funny and sweet little creatures and make such cute and charming pets for adults and children alike! As long as you have the right hutch for them, a fresh supply of food and clean water and just the right amount of care, love and devotion, cavies, as they are affectionately known, will be a great animal companion.

Guinea pig behaviour is varied, interesting and entertaining! They use movement and squeaks to express themselves and by looking at these these behaviours you will better understand your little guinea pig and their needs.

Look out for the following guinea pig behaviours in your cheeky cavy, and use our guide determine what it is your guinea pig wants, needs and is feeling.

five guinea pigs

Popcorn

This aptly named guinea pig behaviour is when your gorgeous little cavy will leap and bound about, moving their head rapidly and sometimes kicking out their back legs. They move with such vigour, much like a popcorn kernel popping, hence the name!

This funny and entertaining guinea pig behaviour is due to sheer joy and happiness, so there is no need to be alarmed. Guinea pigs will display ‘popcorning’ when something pleases them and brings them joy. If you meet a cavy and they display this behaviour, it means they are social and would make a great companion! Have a stickybeak here to read up on other things to look for when meeting your new best piggy friend!  This could be food, a new toy, a clean cage or you coming to say “hi”! There really is nothing more heart warming than seeing your guinea pig jump for joy when you approach their cage.

Begging

Much like a dog can be taught to ‘beg’, cavies too can display a begging guinea pig behaviour by standing on their hind legs and making a small squeaking noise, which translates to “give me food!”

guinea pig begging

Stretching

A guinea pig will stretch out its back and front paws away from their body and accompany this movement with a big old yawn, just like us humans do, moving and wriggling their body about until they are content and comfy.

When a guinea pig stretches they are really just trying to make themselves more comfortable, generally before nap time. They will often display this behaviour and yawn whilst being petted and may even drift off into guinea pig dream land.

Yawning

As mentioned previously, guinea pigs do love a good yawn! They yawn by opening their little mouth as wide as it will go, showing their front teeth and often tapping them together. Yawning and stretching generally go hand in hand, so you will often find your guinea pig stretching out and yawning at the same time.

Guinea pigs will yawn for one of two reasons. Firstly, a yawn will come on as your furry little friend is getting ready for a kip or is feeling relaxed. They may also yawn as a way of showing their teeth at another cavy. Don’t be alarmed by this behaviour though, as it is their way of showing dominance in a non-aggressive way. Piggies love company, so it’s best to get them a little friend to cuddle up to. Have a scratch at this article for some golden advice on getting more guinea pigs!

guinea pig yawning

Licking

It seems like cheeky little cavies are a lot more like dogs than first thought! Guinea pigs will often turn their heads to lick one another or, if you’re lucky, lick your hand!

Guinea pigs will often lick one another as a way of grooming each other. Not all guinea pigs will lick humans, but when they do it is generally because they quite fancy the taste of salt on our skin. However, many guinea pig owners believe this is their cavies way of showing affection - piggy kisses!

So next time your guinea is jumping around, leaping and bounding, you'll know it’s just because they are so overcome with joy to see you, and not a cause for concern! And when they yawn in your arms, you aren’t boring them, they’re just so incredibly content and cosy from your comforting touch! One thing's for sure, guinea pigs need a safe and comfy home to perform all of these adorable behaviours! Scurry over and have a peek at our Piggy Pen, our Piggy Parlour and our Piggy Paradise and give your cheeky cavies a great place to call home!

Sources and further reading

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