Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn?

You get a guinea pig for the first time and are so excited about learning their behavior. You soon realize they love to eat and are extremely gentle creatures, but all of a sudden, your pig will jump in the air, and you are stunned! What on earth is that? This is what pet owners call “popcorning.” It does not mean that they eat popcorn per se, as this is dangerous to their health, but we will tell you what it means down below. 

Why do guinea pigs popcorn? Popcorning is essentially a way that guinea pigs joyfully express their emotions. Without warning, they seem to jump in the air in a quick and fast way, just like how corn kernels pop, hence the word “popcorning.” Do not be frightened if this happens, as this expresses guinea pigs being satisfied.

Although we know the answer to our specific question, it is important to note a few things, such as what exactly is popcorning, if cavies do it if they are upset, and what kinds of precautions and tips can we make to help them become both happy and content with their lives. Being happy, in return, causes your fur baby to popcorn. Keep reading to find out more information.

 

What Is Popcorning?

Most guinea pigs owners already know that they are not known for climbing, as they are grazing animals, but it does not necessarily mean they cannot jump. In fact, cavy’s can jump anywhere between 10 to 20 centimeters, as they like to climb on top of their dens, and love to run up steps and ramps, but not too many, because of their body structure.

Although guinea pigs burst for joy, it is most commonly seen in younger pigs but can be shown in older animals. You will see a guinea pig leap for joy without much of a warning. How it looks is like a kicking and twisting motion. A better visual will be like a bucking bronco or if someone is doing a poor job at jumping on the pogo stick, where some cavies will jump straight into the walls.

Guinea Pig 3

How Can I Get My Guinea Pig To Popcorn?

Seeing a domestic cavy popcorn is extremely adorable. You wish you could see it all day, whether it be wanting to capture the memory with your camera phone or simply observing their happy behavior. But alas, this is not the case, and they will do it on their own time.

It is important not to force this behavior on your guinea pig, as this may cause aggression within them, but there are a few ways to encourage this way of acting with these few simple yet effective hacks: 

  • New toys: Providing enough stimulation for your guinea pig will, in return, make them extremely giddy. They love their toys, especially new ones, and like to explore. If you have more toys than they can handle, try swapping them out once in a while to allow a different experience at every turn.
  • Tasty treats: Giving your guinea pig a cup of fruits and vegetables a day ensures a much happier and more content animal. Not only this, but they are going to be much healthier from this. Just be careful not to give them too much, as it can cause diarrhea. If you notice this in their stool, give them fewer treats a day until you find that median. 
  • Playing and interacting: Allowing your guinea pig to roam around an enclosed area, talking to them, picking up and holding them, and petting them encourages this behavior, and you will see more of this action from them.

 

Why Does My Guinea Pig Not Popcorn?

One day, you see that your pig is leaping for joy left and right, and all of a sudden, you notice they are not doing it anymore! What could be the cause of this, and is it a bad thing?

If they do not do this activity, do not start panicking. It does not necessarily mean that they are unhappy. Maybe you have one pig with high-energy levels, and one does not care as much. Just note that some guinea pigs are more energetic than others, and they may not want to. In other cases, it may be because they are getting older and do not have the same enthusiasm as they used to.

Although this may be the case for some pigs, they can show their happiness in a few ways, such as with a purr, their bottoms are stretched out while relaxing, sleep with their eyes closed, or kiss you by gently nipping you with their bottom lip.

 

Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn When Scared?

Popcorning in domestic cavies is usually because they are happy, but it has been known that they may do this if they are overstimulated, fearful of something, or maybe stressed out.

Make sure you know the root of the issue here — is your cat or dog staring at them too much? What high noises may they have heard, like the vacuum or a loud television? Usually, if they make frightening shrieks, try to hide immediately, or wide-eyed, these are all signs of your guinea pig feeling upset.

To go a bit further on this subject, here are some ways to make sure your cavy is not getting too stressed out:

  • Make sure they are in a quiet place.
  • Offer shelters to hide in, even if no threat is truly available. Guinea pigs are prey animals, so being out in the open may make them feel that something could grab them from thin air at any second.
  • Give them items to chew on. Chew toys made for cavies are designed to help them relieve anxiety. Not only this, but their teeth are often growing, so having something to gnaw on provides a better sense of comfort and is good for their health.
  • Keep plenty of hay out for them. If guinea pigs are hungry enough, they may show aggressive behavior towards one another. This also encourages burrowing, grazing, and foraging.
  • When introducing something new, take it slow. Your fur baby will be hesitant about something new at first, whether it be a new food, a new companion, or a toy, make sure you introduce them slowly. Avoid introducing a female to another lady guinea pig with babies, as they may become aggressive to them.

 

How To Tell The Difference Between a Seizure and Popcorning

When your guinea pig popcorns, it will be a quick movement that allows them to land back on all fours. But in other cases, they may be having a seizure, which is rare. More often than not, they may have a skin parasite called trixicara cavis. Some ways to tell if they were to have either one of these happen to them are:

  • Head jerking.
  • They start to twitch.
  • Cries out.
  • Falls to one side.
  • Waving their legs in the air

 

Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn In The Wild?

It is crazy to think that guinea pigs originated from the wild, as many other animals have. One of the questions that may interest you is if they popcorn in the wild. On the contrary, domestic cavies know how to jump into the air, but this is still a sign of happiness. 

Although we are not quite sure how this came to be, it may have been a signal to send to their other friends showing they are relaxed and safe. Other animals have similar calls showing they are ecstatic, such as chinchillas, bunnies, and horses. 

 

Final Thought

Popcorning is not a sign that guinea pigs need to eat popcorn, as it is bad for them, but they show you how ecstatic they are with their surroundings, spending time with you, and the type of food they are getting! Just remember that if you have a pig that does not do popcorning, do not worry, for this may be normal behavior for them, but if you are blessed with a cavy that does this, make sure to not take it for granted, and have fun watching them do it while it lasts! 

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