7 Simple Reasons Your Guinea Pig Is Running Around Like Crazy

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Is your guinea pig running around like crazy? Is it driving YOU crazy? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But, you might be wondering why your guinea pig is running around so much.

If your guinea pigs are running around like crazy it usually means they’re happy. But it can also be because they’re scared, bored, lonely, or sick. A happy guinea pig will run around and popcorn when they’re excited. If they run around manically and scratch at themselves, they might have mites, too.

a guinea pig wondering why he is running around like crazy

So while it’s hilarious to watch your fuzz spud run around and be silly, there’s also times you should be worried.

In this article, I’ll reveal both the positive and negative reasons for your little friends to be running around. Keep reading to learn what makes your piggie run wild! 

1. Happy Or Excited

Unless you’re a natural cavy whisperer, you might sometimes wonder if they’re actually happy. Well, if they’re running around all hyper this is the best of signs. 

You might also have noticed your piggie suddenly leaping into the air like a popcorn kernel. This little jump of joy is known as popcorning. Some things that can excite your furry friends into a crazy running sesh or popcorning are:

  • Yummy treats
  • A clean or brand new cage
  • New toys
  • You!

If your guinea pigs are running around popcorning, you can rest easy knowing they’re happy as can be. Even if it wakes you up at night. 

2. Burning Off Energy

Guinea pigs are very active creatures. Running a few (hundred) laps around the cage is how they release their excess energy. 

Exercise is important for your piggies’ health. Allow them to roam free from time to time. Preferably in a safe outside environment or in a room that’s easy to clean.  

Young piggies will run around left, right and center if they’re healthy. When they get older however their energy levels decrease. Even if they’re happy, an older piggie will not run around as much as a youngster. They might switch out popcorning for naps. 

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3. Loneliness

Guinea pigs are some of the most social animals out there. If they don’t have company they can get lonely and restless. Just imagine being alone for most of the day in the same old boring room with no one to bother. That’s why it’s advised to always adopt at least two piggies.

If your furry friend is alone for too long they can start to show behaviors like: 

  • Skittishness
  • Depression
  • Crying out for attention
  • Rattling things or chewing on the cage

If you have a lone piggie and are thinking about getting another. Make sure you have a large enough cage for them. It’s also best to only keep guinea pigs of the same sex together, unless you want a litter or two. 

4. Playing With Each Other

If your fuzzball has a buddy, they will also keep each other active. They enjoy chasing each other around the cage and challenging each other for the best snacks or napping spots. 

They can also be rough with each other. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your guinea pigs are playing or fighting. These are the behaviors you can see in playing versus fighting guinea pigs.

Playing: 

  • Chasing
  • Humping
  • Sniffing

Fighting:  

  • Biting 
  • Hostile lunging 
  • Wounding each other

To prevent any fighting, it’s best to introduce your piggies in a neutral territory and to make sure that their personalities are compatible. If your fur babies start fighting, you may have to separate them. 

an infographic about why guinea pigs run away like crazy

5. Boredom

What, do guinea pigs get bored? Of course, they do! 

As you know guinea pigs are very social animals, but they are also quite clever. If they don’t get to explore or express themselves through play, they will get bored. 

A bored guinea pig does have some similar behavior to a bored child. These include: 

  • Whining
  • Growling
  • Hissing
  • Chattering teeth 
  • Indifference to normal activities (like food or playtime)
  • Less active

Being stuck in a cage without enough interesting toys or space to run around is one of the main reasons guinea pigs get bored. They can also get bored from lack of social interaction with other piggies or their owners. 

There are many things you can do to prevent your furry friends from getting bored. The most important thing of course is to give them lots of love and attention! 

6. Scared / Nervous / Suddenly Startled

Guinea pigs are nervous by nature, which isn’t strange when you think about it. If most animals are out to get you, it’s only natural to be a bit skittish. 

If your piggie behaves in these ways, they might be scared or anxious.

  • Hiding
  • Shivering
  • Playing dead
  • Being aggressive and/or baring their teeth
  • Running around their cage on repeat 

Sometimes your piggie can seem startled out of nowhere. Usually, it’s because of loud noises, careless people, or that there’s a predator nearby.

What your piggies think of as predators aren’t always something like an unwelcome snake or rat in the house. It can also be your dog, rabbit, or sometimes a small child. 

To make sure your fur babies feel safe in their home environment, you may have to keep children or other pets away from them. 

7.  Sick With Mites

If your guinea pig is running around almost possessed, it might have mites. 

There are different kinds of mites. Some don’t affect the skin but cause hair loss and some burrow into the skin. Guinea pigs may get mites from: 

  • Other guinea pigs
  • Contaminated bedding
  • Dirty cages

Stress and a weakened immune system makes your little friend more likely to get mites.  

If your furry friend has mites it might start running around the cage, almost like they’re having a seizure. Apart from running around, these are the symptoms you should look out for: 

  • Hair loss
  • Itching 
  • Inflamed skin
  • Weight loss
  • Low energy

If you suspect your piggie has mites, call the vet straight away.

If your fur baby doesn’t get the right treatment, they can get seizures and even die if it becomes too severe. 

How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig Is Stressed?

You know your guinea pigs is stressed when you notice them hiding more often, refusing to eat or to be held, barbering themselves excessively, and acting hyperactive. Some guinea pigs chew the bars of their cage when they’re stressed.

If you notice any of these behaviors in your piggies, you’ll need to watch your fur baby closely and take steps to help them feel less stressed.

Possible causes of stress in guinea pigs can include things like other loud pets or children in the home, sudden changes in their environment or routine, or even poor living conditions.

How Can I Help My Guinea Pig Feel Less Stressed?

If your guinea pig is stressed, the best thing you can do is to be gentle and patient with them. It’s hard to be a little fur potato in a big world, you don’t know who’s out to get you. 

But, you’re not without help. Some to tips to help your piggie feel less stressed include providing a more enriching environment, or making changes to their living situation. If your piggies are being bullied by other animals in the home, you may need to separate them or re-home one of the pets.

You see, if your furry friend seems stressed all the time, the cause is usually one of the following: 

  • They don’t feel safe in their home environment
  • They are frequently exposed to stress factors (other animals, loud kids, etc.)
  • They have experienced trauma in the past 

This can often be the case when adopting a new guinea pig or a rescue. New pet parents, you’re not alone in having stressed-out piggies.

But, what does the average pet parent do with stressed out piggies?

To find out what pet parents do when their fur babies are stressed, I surveyed 94 guinea pig owners.

I found out both new pet parents and veterans have problems with their piggies being stressed. This also applied to both baby piggies from the pet shop and older rescues

The guinea pig owners I surveyed were happy to share both their experiences and advice with other worried pet parents. Here’s the breakdown of information that I gathered:

  1. 32 out of the 94 pet parents (34%) thought bonding with your piggie was the best way to make them feel calmer. 
  2. 23 (24% ) pet parents said that providing more hiding spots for the piggies helped
  3. 12 (13%) suggested getting a friend for the stressed piggie if they were alone
  4. 15 (16%) said to just keep calm and give it time. 

Some advice I want to highlight from the survey are: 

  • Many pet parents suggested hand feeding, talking to them, being around them, and short but frequent cuddles.
  • Providing enough hay came up as especially important. Both for food and hiding. 
  • Covering parts of the cage with a blanket came up as a way to make them feel safe. As well as providing other kinds of hiding spaces, such as tunnels and cardboard houses. 
  • Another tip to make them feel calmer with you was: sitting on the floor and letting them roam free around you. 
  • Some guinea pigs warmed up to their owners within days while others took months or even years. 

One of the pet parents I surveyed had heard guinea pigs would be easier to tame if she got two, but this was not the case for her. Even after a year, they still trigger each other. One of them gets startled at her slightest movement and the other one goes savage.

So you can show your piggies love and give them a safe environment. Still, it’s no guarantee they’ll become calm and cuddly.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad sign. All piggies are different, some are cuddly and some are just well…divas. You can’t choose your guinea pig’s personality.

Some will be your calm cuddle buddy for life and others will scurry away to their hideouts when you walk in. All you can do is love them regardless of who they are. 

Why Is My Guinea Pig Running Around And Jumping?

If your guinea pig is running around and jumping, it’s likely because they’re excited or happy.  It’s called “popcorning”

If your little fuzz spud is running around and jumping in irregular patterns, they could be scared. It might be hard to tell this behavior apart from excitement. In addition to running and jumping, a scared guinea pig might also make high-pitched squeaks. 

This is a common behavior amongst guinea pigs when they find themselves in a new place. So don’t be alarmed if they act this way when going to the vet for example. 

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Why Does My Guinea Pig Run When I Try To Pick Him Up?

Your guinea pig runs when you try to pick him up because he doesn’t trust you yet – and he’s scared of being picked up. Guinea pigs are prey animals.  So, guinea pigs are genetically hardwired to run away when bigger creatures approach them.

Like in any new relationship, you have to build trust with your piggie. A great way to do this is with food! It’s also important to show them a lot of attention, even if they don’t want to be held. Don’t force it, let them come to you in their own time. 

Most guinea pigs don’t like cuddling for too long, always respect their boundaries. Be gentle when you pick up your little friend and hold them properly

Why Does My Guinea Pig Jump When I Touch Him?

If your piggie jumps at your touch, you could either have startled him, or he might just be excited to see you. If your fuzzball is popcorning when you touch him and doesn’t run away, it usually means he’s happy. 

If you think the jump is more of the skittish kind, you might have to build up some trust.

  • Be calm and approach your piggie slowly.
  • Stay on their level, don’t hover over them.
  • Talk to them in a soft voice and offer them treats.

With time and patience, your guinea pig will learn to trust you. As long as you take the time to earn it, that is.

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Final Thoughts

Running around like crazy, jumping high into the air, and being skittish are all pretty normal behaviors for a guinea pig. 

Some piggies are more nervous or reserved than others. This is a matter of natural instincts and personality. A running and popcorning guinea pig is usually a happy guinea pig. But sometimes it can be a sign of stress or sickness. 

If you learn their normal behavior, it will become easier to tell if something’s wrong. Whether your furry friend runs and jumps out of fear or joy all depends on the context. 

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Caring for your senior Guinea pig | Small pet select. (2021, October 1). Small Pet Select Blogs. https://smallpetselect.com/caring-for-your-senior-guinea-pig/

Fur mites in Guinea pigs. (2010, July 21). The Best Pet Health & Care Advice from Real Vets | PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/exotic/conditions/skin/c_ex_gp_fur_mites

How to hold a Guinea pig safely. (n.d.). Saving pets, Changing lives – PDSA. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/how-to-hold-a-guinea-pig-safely

Oxbow Animal Health. (n.d.). Oxbow animal health. https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/why-does-my-guinea-pig-run-away-from-me

Stressed Guinea pig? How to spot the signs | 9 ways to calm your cavy | Home & roost. (2021, July 24). Home & Roost. https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/stressed-guinea-pig/

What does it mean when a Guinea pig runs around really fast? (n.d.). Pets on Mom.com. https://animals.mom.com/mean-guinea-pig-runs-around-really-fast-11074.html

What exercise and environmental enrichment do Guinea pigs need? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-exercise-and-environmental-enrichment-do-guinea-pigs-need/

Why do Guinea pigs popcorn? – A Guinea pig Popcorning guide. (2021, November 3). Guinea Pig Hub. https://www.guineapighub.com/why-do-guinea-pigs-popcorn/

Why does my Guinea pig Jump when I touch it? (2021, December 6). Fur, Wings, & Scaly Things. https://furwingsandscalythings.com/why-does-my-guinea-pig-jump-when-i-touch-it/

Why your Guinea pig is running around the cage. (n.d.). Oddly Cute Pets. https://oddlycutepets.com/why-your-guinea-pig-is-running-around-the-cage/

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