As a general rule of thumb, female guinea pigs go into heat for about a day every 2-3 weeks. Some females show several very obvious signs when they are in heat, while others are very subtle and hard to tell.
Only intact female guinea pigs can go into heat. Males and spayed females do not have a heat cycle. Males can breed anytime, but females can only get pregnant when they are in heat.
Guinea pigs can show many different signs when they are in heat, but you will likely not see much of a change in behavior if they live alone. Most of these behaviors are displayed toward other guinea pigs, so you are not likely to notice anything different if they do not live with others.
What Sounds Do Guinea Pigs Make When in Heat?
When a guinea pig is in heat, you will generally hear them purring more than usual. This is typically accompanied by swaying their hips and walking slowly around other guinea pigs.
You may also hear more noise from the other guinea pigs in the cage. Guinea pigs in heat tend to cause more commotion than usual, including chasing or mounting their cagemates. This often triggers others to whine or chatter their teeth at the offender in an effort to get them to stop.
Rumble strutting is where a guinea pig purrs and shakes slowly from side to side as they walk. Guinea pigs typically do this to show dominance or to attract a mate. It is more common for males, but females can also rumble strut during introductions with new guinea pigs or when in heat.
Some guinea pigs rumble more than others, particularly the more dominant members of the herd. In bonded female-only groups, you most often hear rumbling when one is in heat.
While popcorning is a normal behavior for guinea pigs when they are happy, you may notice an increase in popcorning when your sow is in heat. Females often rumble for a minute or so and then start popcorning a little bit.
Not all females do this when in heat, but it seems to be brought out more by the rumble strutting. You may also hear small happy squeaks while the piggy is popcorning.
3. Mounting Other Guinea Pigs
Mounting or trying to hump other guinea pigs is also common for a female in heat. Females will get more hormonal and often try to hump other females or even neutered males if they live with one.
You may also see a female arching their back or sticking their rump in the air around other guinea pigs.
4. Chasing Their Cagemates
Females in heat are generally more active and often try to chase their cagemates around, usually rumbling or trying to mount them. This can cause quite a ruckus among their companions and often leads to an increase in bickering throughout the herd.
You’ll often see the more dominant members of the herd start chattering their teeth at the offender and more passive pigs running away or trying to spray pee at the chaser’s face.
5. General Grumpiness
In addition to the other behaviors, you may see an increase in grumpy or moody behaviors from a female in heat. She may nip or chatter her teeth at others for seemingly no reason, or get offended when one walks too close to her.
She may also get bossier, or more touchy about her space. Sometimes they will harass others or push them out of a hidey house for no real reason. These behaviors can vary depending on the individual.
6. Conflicts Within the Herd
Sometimes small conflicts can erupt as a result of the increased grumpiness and harassment of an in-heat female. Sometimes you’ll have more than one piggy in heat at the same time, which can often double the chaos.
Other guinea pigs in the herd may take offense or get tired of being chased or mounted. This can result in an increase in rumbling, nipping, chasing, and teeth chattering from all the pigs. Some will also spray pee at the one causing trouble.
In some cases, a more dominant guinea pig may take offense to a more passive member of the herd going into heat. Guinea pigs sometimes take the rumble strutting and humping as a challenge for rank, and this can cause a bit of back and forth between them.
Most of the time, they can sort out their issues amongst themselves. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them just in case. If the bickering escalates, you may want to stick a divider between them for a few hours or a day to let them cool off on their own.
7. Sensitive to Touch
A guinea pig’s behavior doesn’t typically change much in their interactions with people. Usually, you will only see a change in behavior when they are communicating with other guinea pigs.
However, some guinea pigs can become more sensitive than usual to being touched when they are in heat, particularly around their rump area. They may purr, act jumpier than usual, or even potentially nip at your hand if you touch them in a sensitive area.
Female guinea pigs come into heat quite frequently, typically every 2-3 weeks. Some guinea pigs are much more obvious when in heat, while others remain rather indifferent or show very subtle signs.
Guinea pigs generally show calmer behavior during their heat cycles as they age. Over time, their energy calms down and heat cycles become more irregular.
If you notice your guinea pig showing the above behaviors more often than every 2-3 weeks, it’s a good idea to take them to a vet for a checkup. Female guinea pigs often experience hormonal imbalances when they have ovarian cysts, and this can cause them to act like they are in heat much more often than they should.