If you own a pet guinea pig then one of the behaviors that may come of a surprise to you is when they vibrate. But why do guinea pigs do this and what does it mean? Is it positive or should it be something to be concerned about? Here is what the research says.
So, why do guinea pigs vibrate? Guinea pigs vibrate as a way to communicate. They vibrate for both positive and negative reasons and it is largely context dependent. It is therefore important that you monitor the situation and the current mood and well-being of your guinea pig to understand the cause and how to effectively respond.
Vibrating is a strange and peculiar behavior and it’s one that you are going to want to better understand as a guinea pig owner.
Let us now take a closer look to help you understand how to respond if you notice this happening from your pet cavy.
Vibration In Relation To General Guinea Pig Behavior
Every guinea pig is different, but anyone who is used to owning guinea pigs can tell you that certain sounds and behaviors communicate different things.
Guinea pigs are prey animals, so they tend to be skittish and fearful when you first bring them home.
They will freeze at the slightest sound, or run away, they may even avoid eating until certain noises have ceased or until you have left the room.
It may take some time before your cavy learns to recognize and trust you.
When they are happy, it’s another story.
Some guinea pigs will popcorn, this is something that younger piggies tend to do to show excitement.
But older guinea pigs express happiness in other ways, examples of which are appreciative sounding purring, squeaking, being playful with fellow cavies as well as their owner.
If your guinea pig is angry, some ways they’ll express this is by chattering their teeth, purring in an angry manner, hissing, and showing their teeth, they can do this to other cavies and humans.
These are clear-cut signs of aggression.
You might be surprised to learn that some cavies vibrate and naturally, you may be wondering, why they do this.
Let’s explore, in detail the reasons why guinea pigs vibrate.
What Does Vibrating In Guinea Pigs Mean?
When some owners notice their guinea pigs vibrate for the first time, it’s natural to be alarmed, but vibrating is very much context-dependent, sometimes it is positive, other times it can indicate something is up.
They Are Calm
If you are petting your guinea pig and it vibrates this generally means that your cavy is relaxed and is enjoying being petted.
When vibrating guinea pigs are very happy they may make high tweeting sounds as well.
They Are Frustrated
When a guinea pig is annoyed and doesn’t like something you are doing (if you are being too noisy or not fast enough with their food, for instance), they might make deep, groaning vibrations.
Deep vibrations might also be a way for guinea pigs to signify higher social status when other guinea pigs are present.
They Are Scared
For some guinea pigs, vibrating signifies fear, you will notice subtle tones that sound rapid and clipped.
In Response To Their Environment
Guinea pigs may vibrate in response to cold temperatures, or if they are getting out of a bath, this type of vibrating will sound quite similar to fearful vibrating.
When this happens, make sure that you dry your guinea pig thoroughly and carefully with a towel.
When Seeking To Mate
Some male guinea pigs make vibrating sounds when looking for females.
These vibrations generally have a lower register than the other ones they make.
Females that are responsive to the male’s advances will vibrate in turn to show their interest and may show other signs, like cozying up next to their love interest and swinging their hips.
Of course, this may not occur in guinea pigs that have been neutered.
Is Vibrating A Good Or Bad Thing?
Vibrating can be a good or bad thing, depending on the context and other behaviors being displayed.
From the point of view of you, the owner, vibrating does help you to get an insight into your guinea pig’s current state.
You must learn to judge the different vibrations by distinguishing a happy vibration from an angry or fearful one.
If your cavy is new to your home and you notice that they are vibrating a lot, they may be doing it out of fear.
This is because they do not know you or their new environment.
The only way to make them feel more at ease is by spending more time with them and providing a companion.
Cavies love the company of other guinea pigs and they enjoy playing together.
Guinea pigs are naturally very social animals and do not do well alone.
It’s also imperative that you provide plenty of toys in the cage and around your home to keep them occupied.
Noises can easily frighten guinea pigs, especially ones that are new to your home, so keep the noise levels down.
Allow your guinea pig to get used to you gradually, being as gentle as you can.
When you pick up your guinea pig, hold them close to your chest and give a gentle cuddle.
This will show them that you are his friend and that they can trust you.
Sometimes new guinea pigs won’t eat in front of their owners, if you notice that your guinea pig doesn’t eat in your presence, leave them alone and this will likely resolve the issue.
If your guinea pig is already accustomed to you but makes deep vibrations every so often, you may notice that they do so because you’re not fast enough with providing food, or they’re just in a generally bad mood.
Do not be alarmed, guinea pigs are generally very happy creatures, and when they are angry or annoyed, it doesn’t last for very long.
Guinea pigs like to be warm, so make sure their environment is warm to avoid vibrations.
Humans tremble in the cold, so do guinea pigs in response to cold temperatures.
If you bath your guinea pig, dry them immediately and thoroughly afterward, and don’t allow him to be exposed to the cold air after a bath.
- Safe and soothing warmth
- Non-electrical; simply heat up in your microwave
- Plate-size pad easily fits under your pet's bed
- Provides up to 10 hours of safe and soothing warmth
- Non-toxic thermapol compound
Rest assured that if your guinea pig is vibrating when you’re petting them, they are very happy. Continue doing what you are doing.
No further action is needed.
It’s wonderful for a pet owner to hear and feel happy vibrations and know that the guinea pig is happy and well looked after.
This is the only kind of vibrating that you want to see in your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are fun to watch mainly because they are very cute and idiosyncratic.
Getting attuned to what your guinea pig likes and doesn’t like can be a fulfilling and enriching experience as you gain insight into their world.
As you become used to their sounds and behaviors, it’s like learning a different language and it just requires a little sensitivity on your part to understand what it is that they are communicating to you.
Once a guinea pig is happy, they will generally stay happy.
Getting them there is all about optimizing their environment.
So you need to ensure you are providing good quality food, companionship, activities, warmth, and comfort.
This is ultimately all guinea pigs need throughout their lives.
If you take the necessary steps to make sure that they are content and comfortable in your home, you will find that negative vibrations will lessen over time.
Wondering what other behaviors your guinea pig displays may mean? Then check out my guides below:
- Why Does My Guinea Pig Run Away From Me?
- Why Does My Guinea Pig Lick Me?
- Why Is My Guinea Pig Biting Me?
- Why Do Guinea Pigs Chew On Their Cage?
- Why Does My Guinea Pig Stare At Me?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.