Guinea pigs communicate with each other using a range of sounds and behavior to express what they want or how they’re feeling. Throughout the article, we’ll cover what’s normal and what you should look out for when your guinea pigs are interacting with each other. Let’s dive in!
Normal Herd Guinea Pig Behaviors
These are common behaviors that you’ll often see among bonded pairs or herds of guinea pigs. In most cases, these are totally normal, and many of these also indicate a very happy piggy!
Happy Guinea Pigs Love to Popcorn!
Popcorning is a way to express joy and happiness for guinea pigs. It can also be contagious!
You may notice one guinea pig start popcorning, and the others may jump or flick their head in a mini popcorn in response. It’s super cute when this happens!
You may also see a guinea pig popcorn in response to another pig purring and rumble strutting.
Sometimes when one guinea pig starts purring, it will trigger excitement or a burst of energy in another that they let out in the form of a popcorn.
Guinea Pigs Express Happiness Through Little Squeaks
Guinea pigs frequently let out a series of tiny squeaks when they are happy. They may be popcorning, exploring, excited about food, or perhaps they found a new interesting smell to sniff. Guinea pigs may also follow each other around while squeaking softly. This is a sign of contentment for guinea pigs.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Hump Each Other?
Humping is common between same-sex pairs or groups of guinea pigs. Humping is usually a form of dominance. You typically see humping most frequently with males or during intros between new guinea pigs. Females also tend to chase and hump their cagemates more often when they are in heat.
What Does it Mean When Guinea Pigs Purr and Vibrate?
When guinea pigs purr and shake their bodies slowly, this is called rumble strutting. Rumble strutting is a common show of dominance. When it occurs between bonded guinea pigs, the strutter is often trying to reinforce that they are the boss and may be trying to get something they want.
For example, maybe they want to go into a hidey house, and they’re trying to get the other pig to leave by rumble strutting outside the hidey. This sometimes works for them and sometimes doesn’t.
I had a pair of boys consisting of one very bossy Abyssinian and an older, much more passive guy.
My Aby was always rumble strutting, to which the older guy usually just ignored and continued sleeping until the Aby ended his show and decided to sleep elsewhere. Pair dynamics are really funny to observe at times.
Female guinea pigs often rumble strut when they are in heat. They may also try to chase and hump their cagemates. This only lasts for a day or two at a time.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Follow Each Other?
In bonded groups or pairs, you may see your guinea pigs follow each other. This is affectionately referred to as a “piggy train” and it is one of the most adorable guinea pig behaviors.
Guinea pigs often follow the most confident guinea pig around, letting them lead the way. It is common for young guinea pigs to follow older ones around.
Your guinea pigs may also explore together when they have floor time, running to the same spots, sniffing, and finding mischief they can get into! It’s safe to say that your guinea pigs get along well if they do these things.
Another thing you’ll see happy guinea pigs do is sleep near each other. Most guinea pigs do not necessarily enjoy cuddling together when they sleep, but they will still like to be in each other’s presence. These are all signs that your guinea pigs enjoy spending time together.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Groom Each Other?
Mutual grooming is not something that all guinea pigs do. However, if one is very affectionate or nurturing, you may see this behavior from time to time. This typically indicates trust and comfort with each other.
What Does It Mean When Guinea Pigs Sniff Each Other’s Bums?
Guinea pigs sniff each others’ bums as a way of tracking scents, similar to how dogs do.
This behavior is more common when introducing new guinea pigs, but bonded herds can do this too sometimes.
Touching Noses With Other Guinea Pigs
Touching noses calmly with other guinea pigs is seen as a friendly greeting between them. They may also sniff another guinea pig’s mouth to see if they ate anything tasty recently.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Spray Pee At Each Other?
Spraying pee at each other is common with female guinea pigs. It is a way of telling another guinea pig to get back. This behavior is most common when introducing new guinea pigs, but some pairs or groups will do it less frequently. Typically, the better your guinea pigs get along, the less they will feel the need to spray pee at each other.
What Does It Mean When Guinea Pigs Lift Their Head High?
Guinea pigs may do a show of lifting their head high as a show of dominance over another.
For example, one guinea pig might do this when another invades their space. You may see them do this over food at times too.
If both piggies go for a piece of food, they may both jolt their heads up as a way to argue which one should get the food.
Guinea Pig Behaviors to Watch Out For
These behaviors can be normal among guinea pigs, but they can potentially be concerning if they are taken too far. I’ll cover what’s normal and when to take action for each behavior.
Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs to Nip Each Other?
Some degree of nipping or bluff nipping is normal among bonded pairs or herds of guinea pigs. Bluff nipping is when one guinea pig bites at another guinea pig but isn’t actually trying to make contact.
Nipping is a pretty normal form of communication between guinea pigs. They will often do it if their space gets invaded by another guinea pig or as a way to tell others to get away from their food.
This type of nipping is not intended to cause harm to other guinea pigs. I’ve been on the receiving end of these nips on occasion if I step into the cage right beside a guinea pig and catch them off guard.
It’s not in an aggressive manner, and they don’t otherwise have a problem with me stepping in their cage. It’s simply their way of saying, “Hey! I’m here! Don’t step on me!” I can barely feel it through a sock, but it works to get my attention.
These types of nips should not cause harm to other guinea pigs through the fur. If you’re finding bite wounds on one of the guinea pigs, this could be cause for concern. It can also be worrying if one guinea pig is getting targeted or bullied away from eating and drinking.
What Does it Mean When Your Guinea Pig Whines?
Whining is a way for a passive or young guinea pig to say they are not a threat to the other. They may also whine when they want to be left alone or when they’re being chased. This noise is not necessarily a bad thing, provided the other guinea pig doesn’t get excessive about harassing them.
It’s important to watch their behavior and see if the whiner is being bullied away from eating or if they’re getting progressively more stressed.
If your guinea pigs are newly bonded, whining is common. This is a sign that the whining guinea pig wants peace and has no desire to fight or challenge the other. As their bond strengthens, the whining should occur less frequently.
Be sure to provide them with a cage that has ample space and multiple hideys, bowls, and water bottles to ensure that the passive piggy has access to everything they need.
High Pitched Squealing Toward Another Guinea Pig
You may hear a high-pitched squeal coming from your guinea pig’s cage on occasion. This can seem alarming at first, but it is not abnormal in most cases. A high-pitched squeal often happens when two guinea pigs dart into one hidey house with insufficient space for both of them.
If this is the case, the more dominant guinea pig will usually nip or chase their companion out of the space.
The other will often squeal loudly in protest or in response to being nipped, especially if they get a little trapped and can’t get out of the house immediately.
Insufficient space can be different for all pairs. Some closely bonded pairs may be okay with sharing a large hidey, but many guinea pigs will need their own individual hiding places.
This is normal behavior for bonded guinea pigs from time to time. However, if it happens a lot, you may need more hiding places for them.
You can also swap their hiding houses for hideys with multiple exits so they can’t get trapped inside together as easily.
Is It Normal When Guinea Pigs Chase Each Other?
Chasing is not overly common with bonded guinea pigs. However, males may chase each other on occasion. This behavior may be concerning if the pursuer is also lunging and biting at the other. Chasing and humping are relatively normal, but one guinea pig may become stressed or lose weight if they are constantly being harassed.
Females in heat may also chase and hump their cagemates, often accompanied by quiet squeaking or purring. If this is the reason, the chasing should calm down in a day or two.
Chasing can also occur when one guinea pig in the group hits adolescence. The surge of hormones can cause them to stir up the herd dynamic. They may decide to challenge the herd rank, and this can cause chasing and other dominance behaviors all around.
Be sure to keep a close watch on the guinea pigs and ensure they have a spacious cage if this happens. You may also want to let them out for floor time more often, so they have a larger space to work out their issues.
If one guinea pig is relentlessly chasing or you feel they may fight when unattended, you can also put a barrier in the cage between them overnight so everyone can rest.
Guinea Pigs Chattering Teeth At Each Other
Teeth chattering is more common when introducing new guinea pigs. However, bonded guinea pigs may softly chatter their teeth to tell other guinea pigs to give them space. It can happen if one guinea pig is resting and wants to be left alone.
Some guinea pigs also just don’t want others in their bubble. Soft chattering is okay, provided other guinea pigs respect their boundaries. If your guinea pigs start chattering loudly at each other with tense body language, this indicates agitation and a possible fight brewing.
Guinea pigs communicate with each other using a variety of noises and behaviors.
Some of these indicate that your guinea pigs are happy, while others can point to a potentially rocky relationship between your guinea pigs. It’s important to observe their behavior and step in when necessary.
Most guinea pigs enjoy having a piggy friend they can talk to, and it’s quite fun to watch the various dynamics between guinea pigs.
If you want to learn even more about guinea pig behavior and what it means when they talk to each other (and you!), check out the guinea pig behavior page.