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Can Guinea Pigs Get Hiccups? (Causes & What To Do)

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Tim Rhodes

Have you ever seen or heard your guinea pig’s hiccups?

If you’re looking for a docile, adorable, and unobtrusive pet, guinea pigs might be perfect for you.

Guinea pigs are very fun-loving, intelligent, and quick-learning pets.

The official or scientific name of guinea pigs is Cavia Porcellus and ‘Cavia porcellus’ means small pigs.

They belong to the family Caviidae and have close biological similarities with capybaras, chinchillas, and porcupines, and hamsters, that’s why they are also named ‘cavy’.

Their body shape gives them ‘a pig-like appearance, but they are not pigs, they are mammals and tailless rodents at the same time.

In this article, I’ll share the causes and simple solutions for guinea pig hiccups.

Why do Guinea Pigs Get Hiccups?

Hiccups are common problems for guinea pig owners.

Every guinea pig suffers from hiccups at some stage of its life.

It’s very important to learn about the causes and treatments of hiccups.

Here I’ve mentioned some causes and simple solutions for guinea pig hiccups.

Most of the time, hiccups are caused as a response to blocked nostrils of guinea pigs.

With a balanced diet, love, proper care, and management, guinea pigs can live a healthy life.

Guinea Pig Breeds and Their Hiccups

There are many domestic breeds of guinea pigs and all of the breeds suffer from similar kinds of hiccups.

But they are mainly divided into two broad categories: long hair breeds and short hair breeds.

The short hair breeds are more friendly and domestic as compared to long hair guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs can get heart strokes in high temperatures.

That’s why don’t let your piggy play outside in summer.

Domestication of guinea pigs

It is found that guinea was domesticated approximately 2000 BC in the Bolivian region and Peru.

Back then, they were only kept for food.

In the 17th century, guinea pigs were used as experimental animals for research purposes.

Even in the modern era, guinea pigs have been used as test subjects for diabetes, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

Guinea pigs are cute, sweet-tempered, and shy little creatures.

If remained unnoticed, hiccups may cause severe health problems.

Guinea pigs have a total of 258 bones and they have 20 teeth to masticate their food.

When Do Guinea Pigs Have Hiccups?

The average life span of guinea pigs is between 6-8 years and they can suffer from hiccups at any day or stage of their life.

Like humans and animals, guinea pigs are also susceptible to diseases and health conditions.

Hiccupping in guinea pigs is one such condition.

Hiccups are mostly linked to the feeding habits of the pigs.

Guinea pigs excrete white fluids from their eyes to wash.

An interesting fact about guinea pigs is that they navigate with the help of their scent marks.

What is Hiccup?

A Hiccup is a very common condition in guinea pigs.

Mostly these hiccups are related to food.

Every time a guinea pig eats speedily, its diaphragm muscles get disturbed and close its vocal cords.

So, when the pig breathes out, a “hic” sound is produced.

The hiccups in guinea pigs are similar to human hiccups.

Normally, these hiccups are not harmful and disappear in a few moments.

But if the hiccups do not end, it’s an indication of severe health problems.

What Are the Causes of Hiccups in Baby Guinea Pigs?

Baby guinea pigs are cute, small, and shy rodents.

They need your attention and love to make a good relation with you.

In the beginning, they feel insecure and behave as prey according to their instinct.

Sometimes, baby pigs eat quickly due to the fear of losing their food.

This causes rapid contraction of diaphragm muscles and results in hiccups.

Hiccups are an involuntary and short-term problem for baby guinea pigs.

But if they continue for longer, it’s a signal of serious health concerns.

What Are the Causes of Hiccups in Pregnant Guinea Pigs?

Female guinea pigs are named sows.

The pregnancy period of sows comprises 70 days.

Baby pigs are called pups.

Hiccups are very common in pregnant female guinea pigs.

During their pregnancy phase, they make hiccupping sounds.

While giving birth to pups, their hiccups increase.

In this phase female guineas continuously move their heads up and down.

The complete birthing phase may take 20-50 minutes and hiccup in pregnant females is also an indication that the birthing session is about to begin.

Once the birthing session ends, and new pups have emerged, the hiccupping of mama guinea pigs will stop.

Is There a Link among Behavioral Changes, Depression, and Hiccups?

Guinea pigs are very receptive to sound especially loud noises.

Due to such noises, they might feel threatened and it may cause depression.

Guinea pigs are vocal pigs and they express themselves through making different voices.

These expressions include screaming, peeping, chirping, and purring.

They express their happiness by jumping up and down.

This jumping sign is an indication of pure joy and is referred to as ‘popcorning’.

For proper management of guinea pigs, guinea pig owners should learn about these expressions.

What Are the Causes of Hiccups in Adult Guinea Pigs?

Male guinea pigs are called boars and boars are vocal and energetic rodents.

There are many reasons for hiccups in adult guinea pigs.

Learning about these causes is very important for guinea pig lovers and guinea pet owners.

So, let’s learn about different reasons for hiccups in adult guinea pigs.

Fear of losing food and hiccups

Adult guinea pigs are attractive, intelligent, and large.

They adapt according to their surroundings and love to eat.

Sometimes they might get afraid of you and start eating quickly.

Like guinea baby pigs, adult guinea pigs will eat quickly under the fear of losing their food.

This eating habit causes tremors of diaphragm muscles and ends up in hiccups.

These hiccups will end naturally within a few minutes.

But if they do not stop, it is a signal that your pig is suffering from a severe health problem.

Gastrointestinal Problems and Hiccups

Gastrointestinal blockage severely damages the intestine and affects the normal function of digestion.

Poor diet, mental stress, illness are common causes of gastrointestinal stasis.

Most adult guinea pigs suffer from gastrointestinal stasis.

In this condition, the food and water can’t pass smoothly from the intestine.

Gastrointestinal stasis slows down the rate of food absorption.

It also causes weakness and mental stress which may cause hiccups.

Respiratory Issues and Hiccups

Respiratory or gastrointestinal issues are common in adult guinea pigs.

The most common respiratory disorder is called snuffles.

When sick guinea pigs try to breathe, the inhaled air enters the stomach and causes irregular convulsions of diaphragm muscles.

This further causes frequent hiccups.

In adults, healthy guinea pig hiccups may continue from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Respiratory Infection

Adult guinea pigs have a strong immune system.

They can deal with mild respiratory infections without any difficulty.

But severe infections cause irreversible damage to internal organs.

Upper respiratory infection also causes hiccups.

While suffering from a respiratory infection, a guinea pig will refuse to eat, sneeze frequently, show laziness and suffer from difficult breathing and hiccupping.

If your pig is showing any of these symptoms then you should worry about your pig’s health.

Digestive Problems and hiccups

Digestive disorders are one of the main causes of hiccups in guinea pigs.

Blockage of the digestive path and intestine is a severe problem for guinea pigs.

This obstruction causes frequent hiccups and damages the digestive system of a guinea pig.

While suffering from such problems, guinea pigs refuse to eat, are unable to remove their waste, and touch their diaphragm.

If not treated properly, gastrointestinal stoppages affect the normal activity of the digestive system and may kill your guinea pig silently.

Hiccups Caused by Diet

Diet is the most important factor to consider for the health of your guinea pigs.

There are different types of food that guinea pigs like to eat.

Adult guinea pigs eat timothy hay, and raw and fresh fruits, and vegetables.

But certain foods are harmful and sensitive for your guinea pig and can even be toxic to your pet.

They cause an imbalance in the digestive tract of a guinea pig.

These foods distress the normal health status and also cause hiccups.

Always feed guinea pigs with vegetables, hay, or a nutritionally balanced diet.

Make sure to feed your pet with guinea pig pellets that contain vitamin C.

Hiccups caused by Mental Stress

Mental health plays a pivotal role in the growth and normal functions of the body.

Hiccups are not directly associated with mental stress.

But under different circumstances, mental stress influences the behavior of guinea pigs which may cause hiccups.

Insecurities about food, feeding and playing routine, feeding habits, and housing environment are some of the factors that affect the mental health of guinea pigs.

For example, under the fear of losing food and predators, guinea pigs feel insecure and eat quickly.

This eating pattern blocks the intestine and causes hiccups.

When lonely, they become frazzled and depressed.

Therefore, be careful and never leave your guinea pig alone.

What to Do For Guinea Pig Hiccups?

Normally, hiccups are not detrimental to your piggy’s health and disappear within minutes.

If the hiccups continue for hours, it’s a warning sign that your pig is suffering from a potential health disorder.

At this point, you should call your vet.

High fiber diets are best for guinea pigs

The gastrointestinal tract of guinea pigs can only digest fibrous food.

Guinea pigs can’t produce vitamin C in their bodies.

The high fiber diet smoothly passes throughout the GI tract and is digested quickly.

But guinea pigs can’t digest dairy and meat products.

These products upset the normal function of the digestive system and cause hiccups.

Avoid feeding unsuitable foods like meat, cabbage, beans, chocolates, or potatoes.

Guinea pigs love to eat fresh vegetables, hay, and green leaves.

Hay and green leaves are rich sources of fiber and strengthen the immune system of guinea pigs.

But make sure the vegetables, hay, or green leaves are fresh and soft.

High Sugar Diets are Harmful to Guinea Pigs

Young guinea pigs love to eat fruits, sweet food, or high sugar diets.

But these foods are harmful to their health.

Fruits like mango, apple, and strawberries are high in sugar.

Guinea pigs like fruits and eat quickly and this causes hiccups in guinea pigs.

These fruits cause gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea in guinea pigs.

Avoid feeding starchy diets and fruits.

Avoid Sudden Diet Changes

Quick diet changes can affect the digestive function of guinea pigs.

Sudden diet changes cause enterotoxaemia, constipation, or gastrointestinal stasis.

Diet changes also affect feeding behavior which may result in hiccups.

Guinea pigs take 2-5 weeks as an adaption period for the new diet.

Provide Fresh Water 24/7

Water is essential for digestion and metabolic activity.

Always provide clean and fresh water.

Dehydration causes gastrointestinal and digestion problems and affects the intestine.

Digestive problems may cause hiccups.

That’s why clean and fresh water should be provided 24/7.

Regularly check the body temperature of guinea pigs.

The change in body temperature is an indication of poor health conditions.

The optimum body temperature of guinea pigs is 99-103 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature changes directly affect the stress level and eating behavior of guinea pigs.

Reduce Stress

As prey animals, baby guinea pigs react suddenly to any change in their surroundings.

Therefore, sudden changes in temperature, loud music or noises, and environmental changes can affect your guinea pig’s health.

Mental stress can also affect their feeding habits and digestion.

High-stress levels cause hiccups and gastrointestinal issues.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a good relationship are essential factors for keeping your guinea pig healthy.

Routine Cleaning of Pig Cage

Routine cleaning is an important factor for the growth of your piggy.

Unhygienic conditions provide a favorable environment for ticks and flea growth.

It also promotes bacterial growth inside the pig cage.

These bacterial populations cause digestive and gastrointestinal problems.

Digestive and GI problems not only affect the health but also cause hiccups in guinea pigs.

Regularly clean the water bottle, food bowl, sidewalls, and flooring of the pig’s cage.

Clean the cage with a vinegar solution, twice a week.

Make a Friendly Relationship With Your Pig

Guinea pigs love cuddling.

They also like to play with their partners.

But excessive handling can irritate the guinea pigs.

Never carry your guinea pig for hours.

Avoid touching their nose, as it may scare your piggy and affects its breathing.

Gently Push the Diaphragm to Stop Hiccups

Guinea pigs can’t remove the gas from their stomach.

You can handle hiccups by softly pushing the diaphragm.

You can easily find the diaphragm between the heart and liver.

Gently, place your fingers on the diaphragm and push it.

This will remove the air from the diaphragm and may stop hiccups quickly.

If the belly is hard that means your guinea pig is suffering from serious problems.

Exercise Reduces Mental Stress

Guinea pigs are small but energetic rodents.

They stay active for up to 20 hours and only sleep for 5-6 hours daily.

Due to this active routine, they need high-quality and nutritious food and clean water to meet their metabolic requirements.

A safe and playful environment is also necessary for their growth.

Nutritious feed, clean hosing, and regular exercise are essential for the growth of guinea pigs.

Exercise, games, and funny activities help in reducing the mental stress of guinea pigs.

These activities improve your relation with your pig.

Regularly 20-30 minutes of exercise help pigs in relaxing and improve their immune system.

Exercise is not directly linked with hiccups.

But it reduces stress, improves immunity, digestion and reduces hiccups.

What Do New Guinea Pig Owners Need To Know?

As a guinea pig owner, you should learn about your guinea pig’s behavior, dietary needs, and how to spot health problems in your guinea pigs.

Sudden weight changes are an indication of a serious problem.

Guinea pigs rub their cheeks across objects and leave a specific smell to mark these objects.

This smell helps guinea pigs to find their way, food, and home.

Therefore, guinea pig owners need to transfer old toys and bedding to new cages or pet houses.

Guinea pigs are gregarious and like to live in groups.

Guinea pigs have prey instincts and they spend most of their time hiding.

Make sure to provide them enough space to hide.

Guinea pig hiccups are not a serious problem for owners.

Normally, hiccups end within 5-10 minutes.

But if the hiccups don’t end after hours then it’s better to call your vet.

You should observe their eating and behavioral pattern and act according to changes.

Final Thoughts

Any unusual change includes screaming, freezing or sudden shivering indicates that your piggy is suffering from a serious health problem.

Similarly, sickness, runny nose and eyes, hard belly, reduced appetite, low weight, and hobbling are symptoms of serious health matters.

If your guinea pig refuses to eat or drink that means something is wrong with your pet.

Difficulty in breathing, skin abnormalities, watery diarrhea are also matters of serious concern.

If your guinea pig shows any of these symptoms, you should call your vet.

Guinea pig hiccups are as normal as human hiccups, except when they go on for a few hours, you need to see the doctor.

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