Guinea pig behaviour

It is extremely important that we understand what our guinea pigs are trying to tell us for a variety of reasons, the most important of which being signs of ill health and also indications of aggressive behaviour that could lead to injury.
However, it is also beneficial to identify when your guinea pig is happy so that you can tailor your care routine to maintain and improve their happiness. They can’t speak to us and tell us how they feel, so we need to learn and understand them through the wide range of behaviours they use on an everyday basis.

Happy and Contented Behaviour

A relaxed and contented guinea pig will go about their daily business and show their happiness to anyone who cares to watch.

  • Popcorning
  • Rummaging
  • Squeaking – Happy
  • Vibrating
  • Whistling

See the A-Z Glossary of Behaviours below for detailed explanations.

Companion Behaviour

Guinea pigs will display companion behaviour toward both human and guinea pig if they are happy and comfortable.

  • Grooming
  • Licking
  • Squeaking – Happy
  • Vibrating

Dominant Behaviour

You will see dominant behaviour present in all pairs and herds, and from both sows and boars. Dominance is usually displayed between boars because they are territorial creatures by nature, however a particularly bossy sow will also make a show of dominance toward other guinea pigs.

  • Circling
  • Facing off
  • Mounting
  • Nose in the air
  • Rumblestrutting
  • Squeaking – Agitated
  • Scent marking
  • Teeth chattering

Separating Angry Pigs

The separation of angry guinea pigs should be done quickly and carefully to stop the guinea pigs from fighting, and to avoid being bitten yourself.
Guinea pig bites are extremely painful and they can be quite serious, such as the time I was bitten in the palm of my hand and had to see the doctor. He gave me a tetanus injection and put my arm in a sling for a week.
You should use a blanket or towel to quickly place over one of the guinea pigs, and then once the guinea pigs have disengaged, swiftly pick up the guinea pig in the towel to remove them from the situation. Once this point has been reached it is highly unlikely the guinea pigs will live together again.

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