Normal Behaviour

The following guinea pig behaviours are normal and should not cause concern:

  • Popcorning (the guinea pig version of a rabbit binkying): Popcorning is the name given when a guinea pig jumps in the air, all four feet leave the floor and sometimes a guinea pig will twist while in the air. The height of the jumps varies from guinea pig to guinea pig. Popcorning is a sign of happiness and guinea pigs with fresh bedding will often popcorn in it. Popcorning is often accompanied with lots of running about and some happy noises. Popcorning shouldn’t be confused with a guinea pig that has skin irritation (possibly from mites), though popcorning can be an alarming sight at first!
  • Eating soft pellets (Coprography): A necessary part of the guinea pig digestive process is Coprography or the eating of soft pellets. These pellets contain essential B Vitamins that cannot be digested the first time around. Guinea pigs can be seen on their back feet and ‘ducking under’ to extract their pellets. Where they are impacted the mass of pellets must be removed and fed back to the guinea pig.
  • Rubbing back end on the floor: This is often seen after cleaning out, the guinea pig drags their back end on the floor scenting the new bedding.
  • A variety of noises: Get to know what noises you guinea pig makes and when so that you are aware of ‘normal noises’. Teeth chattering is a warning noise, a deep low throated purr is often a sign of contentment though can be made when a strange/unfamiliar sound is heard, or one that the guinea pig dislikes (such as the phone ringing). Wheeking is a sound made when food is ‘due’, guinea pigs are animals of habit and quickly learn to expect food at certain times. The guinea pig song sounds just like a bird’s song and can go on for a long time. It has never really been established why certain guinea pigs make the noise.
  • Heaving Hiccups: A noise sometimes made by guinea pigs during eating. Thought to be due to food ‘going down the wrong way’ (the guinea pig is trying to ‘heave’ it back up again. Often associated with the same guinea pig. The noise sounds like a high pitched cough, it is as if there is a force going through the whole body.
  • Milky discharge from eyes: The milky discharge seen coming from the bottom corner of the eyes when guinea is grooming is part of the grooming process and no cause for alarm. Guinea pigs producing fluid that crystalises/doesn’t ‘run away’/or isn’t part of the grooming process should see a vet.
  • The guinea pig song: Sounds just like a bird singing, the singing guinea pig is in a trance like state and seemingly oblivious to all that is going on around. Often it is the same guinea pig that is the ‘singing guinea pig’ with some even doing it regularly.

The best way to learn what is ‘normal behaviour’ is to observe your guinea pigs. Each guinea pig will have behaviour that is particular to them.

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