Guinea Pig Behaviour – What are they doing?

Photo by Eden Kaye

To make out how a guinea pig is feeling is not only understood by the sounds that they make but by their behaviour/body language to. Like humans and other animals, guinea pigs also behave in various ways. You may be looking at your piggie and looking perplexed at what it is doing.


Jumps up with its back end in the air. A sign of happiness, being fed hay or vegetables for example. Just an overall satisfaction with its current surroundings. It certainly is a great joy to see them jumping about all over the place.

Bar Biting

They are trying to get your attention and are begging for their food, if they are in a hutch with metal bars. Also, can mean loneliness or boredom of being in a tiny cage.


Guinea pigs will very rarely bite, but when they do it is saying that they are feeling in danger by your actions or even another guinea pig is really upsetting it. They can bite when they misunderstand of thinking your fingers or toes are food, you need to make sure you wash your hands before touching them.

They may bite their fur because of mites, which is extremely uncomfortable, as you can imagine.

Stop fidgeting

They want to not be held anymore or just don’t want to at all.

Frozen in time

Illustration by abbylat on Pixabay

A loud or sudden sound that they don’t like and are thinking it is a predator. It’s a natural instinct just to stay completely still and boy can they look like a statue when they are. A vibrating sound will follow as part of the freezing. They are trying to be invisible like harry potter did with the invisibility cloak, until they feel that the apparent danger has passed. Usually it will last over a couple of minutes and then go back to being completely normal.

Runs and hiding or just runs away

A frightened guinea pig will run and hide from hearing sounds that they find scary. They will run away to avoid being picked up, but eventually may get used to it.

Heads in the air

Both will hold heads up in the air facing each other, with their teeth showing, which means a physical fight or chasing will start. Place a towel over them if a violent fight begins and this will confuse them. Then quickly split them up or if it is just chasing, make a clicking sound with your tongue and use your hands and this will make it stop.

One guinea pig can go right up to the other and with its nose make the other move its head up as much as it can. This is a sign of domineering, saying I am boss.

A tossing up of the head is saying it is being annoyed from getting stroked, so just stop.


Similar to a cat, guinea pigs can suddenly have lively moments, where they will run around very quickly for a little time. They sure can run as fast as Usain Bolt. This behaviour is just to use some of that unused energy up.

A bit of sniffing going on

A sign of wondering what is going on by sticking their head up in the air. You may be talking to them from a distance, that can make this happen. Also, a short sniff along with a chattering of teeth and running away signifies that a guinea pig is falling out with the other, saying back off and leave me alone.

Scent marking

Will rub certain parts of their body like cheeks or hind ends on items to mark territory. Another way is they will drag their bottoms along the surface that they are on, like a fleece flooring over a little area.


If you are holding them, they want to be put back down again to go to the toilet or just have had enough of being held. They will nibble at clothing or if being held in a fleece cosy, nibbling inside this.

Need a nap now

                             Photo by Pezibear on Pixabay

Only sleep for up to four hours a day in fits and bursts throughout. Also, can mostly have eyes open when sleeping, but will close if feeling very comfortable and are safe with its surroundings. You can see when they are dreaming, because their eyes will slightly flicker about and legs may move a little. If also feeling relaxed will spread their bodies out when having a snooze.


Are very clean animals and always constantly looking after their appearance and being hygienic. I would say they clean themselves similar again to cats. Standing on its back legs will start in a motion to clean with its front legs around the head and down with the tongue. Over time, trust will develop and they will even start to clean by you, when sitting in with them in a playpen.

Lick your face off

They won’t actually lick your face off. But may lick your skin for the salty taste or could be showing affection. I personally have not experienced this a lot and you may find this to be the same.


Just not their usual selves, may be sulking in a corner and not moving about for ages. See if they perk up by offering some fresh hay or veg. If they continue to be depressed, then it is worth a trip to the vets to see if their is a major problem with them. Guinea pigs will hide illnesses so well, that is very hard to work out what is wrong with them. It is a natural instinct of there’s, but certain signs can be seen like not drinking or eating and may show up in the poops.


A normal display of behaviour and you will see a lot of this. Just a need to scratch, but if you are seeing too much of it, then they may have mites that need eradicating. You need to give a check over their skin to see what is going on.

Eating own droppings

Will move its head down to the bottom and place a specially formed pellet into its mouth to eat. This process is called coprophagia and the pellets are made up of vitamin c. It has to be re digested again to break down from the food it has eaten before.

Give us a stretch

Will stretch out which shows signs of relaxation and being comfortable with its environment. Obviously will be stretching after being sat or lying in one area for some time or when feeling tired.


Either gender will start mounting onto the back of each other. A sign of being amorous and will happen mostly in the summer months, because of the warmer weather. It really is not unusual to see males performing on their own gender and the same for females, it is something they can’t help. But obviously males get females pregnant this way, so in this way it is normal.


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