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What Does It Mean If My Guinea Pig Is Vibrating? (Any Dangers?)

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Tim Rhodes

As a pet owner, have you ever wondered why is a guinea pig vibrating?

Guinea pigs are very popular pets because they are happy, docile, friendly, and cuddly.

These delightful creatures do everything they can to communicate with their owners, but some owners do not know how to interpret the actions and sounds of their guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs moving their butts from side to side make the vibrating motion.

Since cavies are constantly vibrating, it can be extremely difficult to know the meaning of the vibrations.

Well, if you are one of those bewildered guinea pig lovers, the answers to your questions are here.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Vibrate?

The simple answer is guinea pigs have limited but effective ways to communicate with each other and their owners, so they use a combination of body movements and sounds to communicate.

A common facet of their communication technique is vibrating.

The vibrations are coupled with other behaviors like vocalizations, body tension (or lack of it), and overt physical actions.

Now, lets; examine why guinea pigs vibrate and what does it mean.

What Are the Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Vibrate?

Guinea pigs vibrate when they are feeling affectionate, angry, happy, scared, sick, alarmed, threatened, annoyed, stressed, cold, and want to mate.

Are all the vibrations the same?

No, you can distinguish between the different vibrations by carefully observing:

  • What is happening around them when they are vibrating
  • Their head movements
  • The sounds they make
  • The amount of tension in their bodies
  • Other accompanying mannerisms

Are Guinea Pigs Temperature Sensitive?

Vibrating After A Bath

If your guinea pig vibrates a lot when you wash it, it may be cold.

Are you hearing fast short noises coming from it while it’s vibrating?

It’s probably cold.

The cavy will stop vibrating and making those noises when it’s dry and warm.

Think about it, when you are cold you shiver.

Well, shivering is the same as vibrating your body.

Most guinea pig owners report that after they have dried their guinea pigs and wrapped them in a warm towel, guinea pigs stop vibrating and making rapid short noises.

Vibrating In Their Cages

Guinea pigs cannot control their body temperature.

They can only maintain a healthy body temperature if the air temperature around them is suitable for them.

Cavies normally prefer air temperatures of 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.

If the temperature is too cold, your guinea pig will start vibrating and vocalizing its discontent.

Also, pet owners should know that guinea pigs can die if they get too hot or are placed in direct sunlight.

When it’s too hot and cavies cannot cool themselves, they may have a heatstroke and die.

The lesson, if you feel hot or cold, assume that your cavy feels the same but more intensely and needs relief from its environmental stress.

What Angers a Guinea Pig?

What makes guinea pigs angry?

Your guinea pigs can become angry with you if you are taking too long to feed them, being too noisy, or touching their underbelly or butt.

What Are the Signs Of Aggression In Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs normally show their anger by raising their head, turning their head back, opening their eyes wide, and making high-pitched purring sounds.

When a cavy is angry its body will be tense too.

Other signs of anger include teeth chattering, teeth grinding, baring teeth, hissing, biting, fluffing their hair (to make themselves look bigger), and standing on two legs.

Angry animals that fear for their lives or safety will usually try to get away from the threat, and if they can’t, they will attack the thing threatening them.

So, if your guinea pigs’ signs of aggression and/or anger are not respected by you, you may, without knowing, push your guinea pigs to attack you.

How Will a Guinea Pig Attack?

It will try to injure you, generally by biting you.

When your guinea pigs are showing signs of aggression or anger, place it back in their cage or play area and leave it alone.

Before you interact with the cavy again, make sure that it displays signs of being calm and relaxed.

How Do Guinea Pigs Mark Their Territory?

Establishing Dominance In The Cage

When you introduce two or more guinea pigs to each other, look for signs of compatibility, playfulness, and calmness.

If the cavies don’t get along with each other, there may be a fight brewing in their cage.

Before cavies attack each other, one cavy will vibrate and grind its teeth.

If the other cavy doesn’t respect the show of dominance of the disgruntled cavy, then the dispute may be settled with a show of physical force like biting and causing injury.

In such cases as this, separate the guinea pig displaying signs of dominance from the others.

Note, even cavies that have a good relationship may fight from time to time.

You need to monitor them and their fights because a minor spat should not result in physical harm or even biting.

If one of your cavies is attacking the other one, the cavy being attacked is in danger and stress.

Think about it, do you want to stay in a place with someone who may bite and hurt you at any time?

My guess is no, you wouldn’t stay somewhere that was dangerous or unpleasant.

So, don’t make your guinea pigs suffer because their cage-mate is bullying them.

No Butt Touching!

Both female and male guinea cavies do not like being touched on their butts.

Male cavies will become very upset when touched on their butts because touching their butts is a show of dominance by you.

How to Touch and Handle a Guinea Pig Pet?

How Should You Touch Your Guinea Pig?

Your guinea pig will appreciate you gently stroking its back, nose, or head.

It will also love you even more if you feed it a yummy snack while you gently stroke it.

Chasing And Grabbing Your Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs, as prey animals, are very sensitive to their environment and threats to their safety.

If you grab or chase your cavy, it may become angry with you because your behavior imitates the actions of its natural predators.

How to Hold a Guinea Pig?

Do you enjoy carrying your guinea pig around or holding it close to you?

If you hold your guinea pigs for more than five to ten minutes, your pets may become very disagreeable or even angry.

Guinea pigs are prey animals that live on the ground.

They are poor climbers, jumpers, and not tough enough to safely survive falls from great heights.

So, cavies want to be on solid ground, able to find shelter, and able to run away from you.

When you hold them for long periods or hold them in the air without their feet touching a solid surface, they may become frightened and angry with you.

Play with your cavy under conditions that help your guinea pigs stay relaxed and comfortable.

For example, you can play with your cavy for about 30 minutes if you play with it in its cage or on the ground.

How to Carry a Guinea Pig?

Guinea pigs can become fearful when you are carrying them around in your arms or hands.

The animals are very small and the distance from your hand, chest, or arm to the floor is big to them.

So, if you notice that your cavy starts vibrating and vocalizing negatively whenever you carry it around, then you should work to build up your guinea pigs’ affection and trust.

When the cavy trusts you and knows that you won’t let anything happen to it, the bad vibrations will stop.

What Scares a Guinea Pig?

New Surroundings

Your guinea pigs vibrate and vocalize when you first bring them home and while they are getting used to you and their surroundings.

Cavies, like people, become uncomfortable and fearful in unfamiliar places and around people they don’t know.

As your guinea pigs become more comfortable and feel safe and secure in your home and with you, they will stop vibrating out of fear.

If your cavy is feeling uneasy in its new surroundings, you can help it adjust by providing it with a companion, places to hide, and lots of toys.

Loneliness

Guinea pigs are social animals and prefer to be with other guinea pigs.

You can hasten your cavy’s acclimation to you and its environment by giving it a companion.

Two or more cavies living and playing together are happy cavies.

What Stresses a Guinea Pig?

Cavies can be stressed by many things around them.

The list of potential stressors includes:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Loud noises (e.g., vacuum cleaners, objects falling on the floor, screaming)
  • Dirty cages
  • Predators (e.g., dogs, cats, birds)
  • Companion animals (e.g., rabbits, hamsters, mice)

Being touched or petted when a guinea pig doesn’t want to be touched or petted by you or someone else.

So, if your guinea pig is shying away from you, or even running away from you, when you try to pet, stroke, touch, or approach a guinea pig with your hand, you are stressing it out.

Just think about it.

If someone keeps touching you after you have told them not to touch you or that you don’t like it, you would be stressed too.

Serenity Is Happiness

Guinea pigs prefer quiet, calm, predictable environments.

These kinds of environments help them feel safe, secure, and relaxed.

So, if your guinea pig’s environment is full of loud noises, potential predators, unfriendly cage-mates, or its cage is dirty, it is seriously stressed out.

Stressed guinea pigs don’t popcorn or rub noses with other guinea pigs because stressed guinea pigs are unhappy.

Unhappy guinea pigs vibrate and vocalize (e.g. shriek) their distress.

If your pet guinea pig is vibrating and shrieking, carefully observe its environment and remove the stressor.

What Are the Signs Of A Stressed Guinea Pig?

Do you want to know some more obvious signs that your guinea pig is stressed?

Well, if you observe your guinea pigs vibrating and making sounds but still aren’t sure if they are stressed, look for these physical signs of unhealthy cavy behavior:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Sleeps too much
  • Lethargic
  • Depressed
  • Losing hair
  • Avoids interacting with you
  • Hides a lot
  • Anxious
  • Overly temperamental/moody
  • Chews the bars on its cage

If you are still unsure about why your guinea pig is showing signs of being happy, it’s time for a visit to the veterinarian.

Grumpy Guinea Pigs

Although guinea pigs are known to be happy, gentle creatures, they can also be grumpy.

If your guinea pigs feel comfortable with you, there is no problem with the food and water, it’s warm, and there are no bothersome loud noises or predators, yet your guinea pigs are still vibrating and making unpleasant sounds, then you have a grumpy cavy.

No worries, the bad mood won’t last long, your guinea pigs vibrate with happiness, seek your attention and affection, and play with their toys.

Happy Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs love to spend time with their owners, cuddle with them, be petted by them, and be near them.

If your cavy is not showing any signs of fear, stress, anger, or moodiness, and is vibrating and purring or murmuring, you can assume that it’s happy.

The happy vibration is marked by a lowered head, closed eyes, and a low-pitched purring sound.

The happy vibration is the one all guinea pig owners love.

Mating: Invitations And Acceptance

Male guinea pigs vibrate and rumble when they want to mate.

In other words, to attract females, male guinea pigs vibrate and emit low sounds.

If a female is interested, she may vibrate and even snuggle up to the male of choice and move her hips back and forth so he knows she’s interested in coupling.

What Sounds Do Guinea Pigs Make?

Squealing

Vibrations with high-pitched squeals or squeaks signal fear or alarm.

Cavies make this sound when they feel threatened, uncomfortable, or are distressed (e.g., in pain).

There is an exception, cavies squeal when they want attention too.

Thus, you must be aware of what is happening to and around your cavy before you assume that your pet is fearful or in a state of distress.

Chattering/Grinding Teeth

Vibrations accompanied by chattering or grinding teeth are the cavy’s way of communicating aggression, anger, and/or dominance.

Wheeking

Guinea pig wheeking sounds like a whistle.

If you see your guinea pigs wheeking and vibrating, feel free to celebrate having a happy, relaxed pet that may be trying to get your attention and some affection too.

Purring

Have you ever heard of a cat purr?

Congratulations, you can now identify a cavy purr too.

Cavies make deep purring sounds when they are calm, relaxed, and happy.

To make sure that the purring is a sign of happiness, observe the guinea pig’s body.

If it’s relaxed, head down, and calmly doing its thing, then it’s happy.

However, if your pet guinea pig is vibrating and its purr is high pitched, check if its body is rigid.

A cavy exhibiting these characteristics is experiencing negative emotions like stress, fear, and/or anger.

Rumbling

Have you ever seen a male cavy near a female cavy and heard him make a surprisingly deep purring sound while vibrating and swaying his hips?

That sound is a rumble!

Male cavies rumble when they want to attract the romantic interest of a female.

The rumble and swaying hips are like a sexy man singing his heart out while advertising his physical desirability to a woman at the club.

Shrieking

If you hear a loud high pitched sound that makes you fearful, it is your cavy shrieking.

Guinea pigs vibrate and shriek because they are distressed and in need of assistance from you.

When you hear a cavy shrieking, carefully observe it and try to remedy the problem that is vexing it.

Cavies may shriek because they are in pain, feel threatened, sick, or otherwise distressed by something.

Hissing

A vibrating, hissing guinea pig sounds like a hissing cat.

The hissing sound signals, anger, aggression, or annoyance.

Whining

Their whining is like a plaintive squeak.

It’s their way of complaining that they are not happy about something that is going on around them.

Murmuring

Vibrating and murmuring are done to show genuine affection for the person or animal being murmured at by the cavy.

Female cavies murmur at their babies too.

Chirping

The only sound that cavies make that may not be accompanied by a vibrating body is chirping.

The cavy chirp is quite similar to the chirp of a bird.

The meaning of chirping isn’t known and when it’s done the cavy might lie very still, like it’s in a trance.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pig vibrations may indicate danger, environmental stress, fear, illness, irritation, anger, desire to mate, and grumpiness.

The vibrations can be understood and correctly interpreted if the pet owner carefully observes the animal’s vocalizations, body tension, head movements, and any other physical actions that may accompany the vibrations.

Pet owners should be concerned and pay attention to their vibrating cavies when the vibrations are not accompanied by sounds and behavior that indicate that guinea pigs are happy or mating.

It’s important to be aware that anything that stresses, frightens, irritates, anger, or otherwise causes guinea pigs to be unhappy may threaten the health, safety, and life of a guinea pig.

For example, guinea pigs can die if they become overheated, are seriously injured by predators (e.g., dogs and cats), or are having health problems that require a veterinarian’s assistance.

While caring for pet your guinea pigs just be aware of their comfort and the things that make them feel safe and secure in their environment.

Your awareness of the meanings of your guinea pig’s vibrations and vocalizations and its surroundings will enable you to understand and communicate with your fur baby.

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