Understanding guinea pig behaviour
Guinea pigs might be small, but their personalities are not! Gentle and lively, and definitely full of life, understanding guinea pig behaviours will help you have a great relationship with them.
Guinea pigs are generally very friendly pets who rarely bite or scratch. Have you noticed your guinea pigs jumping up and down? Or seen your guinea pigs zooming around their housing? When they are excited guinea pigs run and jump straight up and down, turning 90 degrees in a move known as popcorning!
However, their behaviour can change if they feel scared or stressed. Guinea pigs are prey animals so are always on the look out for potential dangers and like to have a safe space to retreat to when they feel threatened. When they do feel unsafe, they can become aggressive or hide away, and occasionally guinea pigs can bite. This is very rare, and a great way to keep your guinea pigs feeling safe is to provide them with plenty of tunnels and hiding places in their housing. For more tips on this, check out our housing guide.
Guinea pigs like to play, so make sure there are plenty of toys in their housing. This is also good exercise and important for their physical health. Guinea pigs are also natural foragers, so a great way to keep them entertained is to hide food. For example, hide some Excel Nature snacks in their Excel Feeding Hay. This not only makes sure they’re eating lots of tasty hay, which is good for their health, but also encourages their natural foraging behaviour, keeping them entertained.
Some other guinea pig toys you can try are:
- Hidey holes and houses
- Treat balls
- Forage cubes
- Wicker balls
- Lots of tasty feeding hay to munch on!
Guinea Pig Glossary
Ever wondered what guinea pig sounds mean? Our small animals have their own language and different guinea pig noises mean different things. This can tell us a lot about what our pets are thinking or feeling.
When your guinea pig squeaks, take notice of the type of noise they’re making. The well known ‘wheek-wheek’ is a sign of excitement or a way to locate their piggie house mate. While guinea pig wheeking is quite common and a good sign, the less common high pitch squeak is often a response to a threat. When this happens, it’s important to find out what is upsetting them and seek to resolve it.
If you guinea pig purrs this is a way to tell you they are content and chilling out. When your guinea pigs are exploring, you’ll often hear a short ‘putt-putt’ as they go about their daily business.
Are guinea pigs nocturnal?
Guinea pigs are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn. However, did you know guinea pigs are awake for up to 20 hours a day?
This means your guinea pigs need constant access to food and water in their housing, as well as safe hiding places and toys to keep them entertained, day and night. Providing them with an exercise area, with tubes and tunnels, plus deep areas of hay for them to forage and nibble on whenever they would like is important to keeping your guinea pigs happy and healthy.
Top Training Tips
Guinea pigs are very intelligent and can be taught some handy tricks, including coming when their name is called and learning to talk to you (in their own guinea language)!
We’ve compiled some top tips to help you train your guinea pigs:
- Teach one trick at a time
- Repetition is key! It might take three times, or thirty – each guinea pig is different
- Take treats to train – reward them with a small treat when they get it right
- Relax and have fun! Training is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your pet