Why Do Guinea Pigs Knock Over Their Food Bowls? (Explained Here)

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Say you’ve come to check how your guinea pig is doing, and you notice that their food bowls are turned over. Is this normal? Why do piggies knock their food bowls over?

Guinea pigs knock over their food bowls because of a couple of reasons – ranging from them being hungry to being bored or just wanting attention from you. It could also be because they prefer eating their food scattered on the floor (since they are natural foragers).

Sure, it can get messy, but you need to know that it might not entirely be because they want to be little stinkers. Keep reading to get the details about (and more) why your guinea pigs knock over their food bowls.

a guinea pig trying to explain why he knocks over food bowls

And if you’re getting frustrated already, don’t worry – you’ll also get some information on ways to stop your guinea pigs from knocking over their food bowls. Put on your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

If you’re in a hurry and just want to bowl flipping chaos to STOP, check out these two, affordable TIP PROOF bowls.

1. Bored

Guinea pigs are naturally playful and curious animals. They’re also very social.

(If you didn’t know, now you do. You’re welcome.)

Because of how playful and social they can get, it’s easy for piggies to get bored. Cavies require steady and regular playtime (preferably from another piggie when possible), showers of love from their owners, and consistent entertainment to be happy and lively.

Think of them like little children – boisterous, energetic, and annoyed when told to sit still. They need to be entertained with appropriate toys and experiences.

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This means that your guinea pigs can knock over their food bowls when they get frustrated. It might seem silly, but, yes…it’s a thing.

Other signs that show your guinea pig is bored include:

  • Chattering their teeth
  • Making whining sounds
  • Chewing on cage bars
  • lack of appetite
  • Showing general disinterest towards normal activities

Reasons why your guinea pigs get bored are as follows:

  • Being left alone inside the cage for most of the day
  • Less social interaction with other cavies and owners
  • No variety in their diet (bored with the menu)
  • Lack of toys and items to play with and chew on

To prevent your guinea pigs from getting bored, you can:

  • Give them toys (rotate them every week or so)
  • Let them run around and play in a large open space
  • Introduce new items into their cage on a regular basis
  • Allow them to eat food with different tastes
  • Give them more free play out of their enclosure

2. For Fun

Since guinea pigs are naturally playful, it’s not surprising that they knock over their food bowls…for fun.

For some piggies flipping their bowl over (or even flipping their house over) is one of life’s greatest joys. Depending on your guinea pigs’ personality, this might be something they do every now and then or all the time.

You might be thinking: Well, how do I discipline my piggy when they do something bad?

Uh, you can’t.

Piggies don’t understand punishment – it just confuses and frustrates them – and it makes them scared of you.

They learn better through positive reinforcement, such as treats or verbal encouragement.

Once they make a mess with their food bowls, simply clean it up and move on (or maybe use one of the tips below to prevent it from happening again).

an infographic that explains why guinea pigs knock over food bowls

3. Bowl Is Too Small Or Light

The type of bowl you’re using for your guinea pig’s food is also a factor. Lightweight bowls (like the plastic ones) are easy to knock over.

Obviously, using a heavier bowl (like ceramic-based ones) is a solution. However, some guinea pigs can knock these over (Superman, did you lose your guinea pig?)

Another solution to this problem is to purchase specific tip-resistant bowls designed by companies. These bowls have a base that protrudes from the bottom of the bowl.

4. Chasing Each Other

When guinea pigs are playing, they tend to chase each other around. This can lead to them accidentally knocking over their food bowl.

If you have more than one cavy, try to provide enough space for them to play without having to worry about running into their food bowl (or anything else for that matter).

Having a large enough enclosure is better for their overall health and happiness anyway.

5. Food Issues

When your guinea pig is ravenous, they tend to knock over their food bowls when they’re diving in for a meal.

Here’s a couple other tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • But, there’s other reasons If you find that your guinea pigs are always hungry and constantly knocking over their bowls, try giving them a bit more food at each mealtime. But, remember that you shouldn’t feed more than a cup of veggies per day for each adult cavy.
  • Some people think that piggies want to eat their food off the floor. Pigs are natural foragers, so maybe they’re trying to tell you that they want their food to be placed on the ground instead of in a bowl. In this case, you can try scattering their pellets and vegetables around the floor of their enclosure for them to eat.
  • You might also want to check if they are getting enough hay. That’s should be the main part of their diet. Not having enough of this essential food can lead to guinea pigs feeling hungrier than normal.
  • It can also be because they’re starving (I use that term loosely) and you gave them food that they don’t like (and yes, some piggies will cop an attitude about it).

The easiest way to solve most problems is by feeding them on a regular schedule and by feeding them a balanced diet. This way, they know when to expect their next meal and won’t get as hangry (a cross between angry and hungry) AND they’re not bored with the menu.

6. To Get Your Attention

Another ridiculous reason your guinea pig will knock over their food bowls is to get your attention.

(It’s almost like babysitting little kids, right?)

And it doesn’t matter if they just ate or if the bowl is full of food, sometimes your piggies just want your attention.

Punishing them for this behavior won’t work, as I’ve said before. Instead, try giving them more attention when they’re not misbehaving. This could mean spending more time playing with them or simply talking to them.

If they know that knocking over their food bowls will make you come to their cage and connect them, they will do it – just for the fun of it.

(Don’t pull your hair out in frustration. Just make sure that they’re not actually hungry or that the bowl isn’t too light.)

7. To Rearrange the Cage

Guinea pigs are prone to rearranging the items in their cages. It’s almost like tapping into their inner interior designer, right?

Your little pet can knock over their food bowl just because – wait for it – they don’t like the spot it is in.

So, they push it, turn it around, and do everything they can to get it into the position they prefer it to be.

Aside from being a little DIY project for them, it can also be like a game for them.

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Do Guinea Pigs Knock Over Their Bowls On Purpose?

a guinea pig making a sarcastic comment about why they knock over food bowls

Some guinea pigs knock their food bowls over on purpose – especially if they’re having fun, they don’t like the way their food is served, or they’re trying to get your attention. However, sometimes they could just be playing around and accidentally knock it over.

There’s a variety of reasons why your guinea pig might be knocking over their food bowl, but the most common ones are that they’re hungry, trying to get your attention, or playing.

How to Stop Your Guinea Pigs from Flipping Their Bowl

It can get frustrating having to constantly return your guinea pig’s bowl back to its original position. ( I mean, who has time for that?)

Here are a couple of tips to try:

1. Attach Bowl to Cage

You can prevent your guinea pig from knocking over their food bowls by attaching their food bowls to their cages.

You can do this by using Velcro.

Velcro is self-adhesive, and it can be safe from being hazardous to your little pet as long as you put the Velcro on the side where they can’t reach it and chew on it.

If you opt to use Velcro, you’ll need to place some on the parts of the bowl and cage that work best for your cage setup and then stick it all together.

2. Ergonomic Dish

Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with things. The goal is to have people and things interact as safely and efficiently as possible.

The same can be said for your little pet. Some specifically designed bowls are made to prevent your guinea pig from knocking over (or even accidentally tipping ) their food bowls.

First, you can get a tip-proof bowl (here’s a good one that should make it a bit more difficult for your piggies to tip over their food bowls). These types of bowls are made specifically to keep the food in the bowls and your little pets from knocking their food out of the bowls.

They’re made out of different materials, and they do a good job of keeping food in the bowl and off the floor.

You could also invest in a corner-shaped bowl – they are usually made out of ceramic. They help when your guinea pig shifts its weight on one side of the bowl, preventing them from knocking them over.

A simple DIY method is to get a corner-shaped bowl at home but safe to be used by your guinea pig.

3. Scatter the Food on the Floor

Since guinea pigs are natural foragers, you could scatter their food on the floor when you want to feed them. This’ll make it more like how they would eat in the wild, and it’ll be more interesting for them.

However, the problem with this is the food going to waste since your fur babies might not finish eating it all. (But, hey, at least they’re getting some exercise.)

4. Use a Gravity Bin Feeder

A gravity bin feeder is an ingenious design that only dispenses food as your guinea pigs eat it. This is basically for use with guinea pig pellets.

(Here’s another affordable bin feeder that clips to the side of the cage.)

It has a hopper on top that’s filled with food, and as your guinea pig eats the food in the bowl, more food is dispensed.

This is an excellent way to stop them from flipping their bowls because they can’t – it’s so huge that they’d have a hard time turning it on it’s side.

Now, the only thing with this is that your piggies are only supposed to get a tablespoon of pellets (and 1 cup of veggies) each day. So, you can do two things:

  1. Only fill the hopper with enough pellets for a day. At the very least, your piggies won’t be able to easily flip over the gravity bin.
  2. Buy an electronic one that you can program to dispense a certain amount of pellets at a time.

Can Two Guinea Pigs Share a Food Bowl?

It’s possible for two guinea pigs to share a bowl, but it all depends on the guinea pigs’ feelings toward one another. Sometime a highly dominant piggie won’t want to share food with the less dominant one, and this can lead to fighting.

Cavies can be protective (AND territorial) of their belongings – and they don’t have a problem with fighting or their stuff either. That’s one of the reasons it’s recommended to have two of everything (food bowls, huts, chew toys, etc) when you get a pair of piggies. Two of everything decreases the odds of a fight breaking out.

If you have two guinea pigs that are getting along really well, then sure, they can share a bowl. If not, it’s best to get two bowls and put them in different parts of the cage so each piggie has their own space.

Wanna Give Your Piggies
the 5 STAR Treatment?

Stop getting dirty looks from your piggies, because you forgot to do something for them...AGAIN. These colorful, chore charts will help you keep track of when to feed your fuzz butts, clean their cages, and much more. 

FREE

Wrapping Up

While guinea pigs have a tendency to knock over their feeding bowls, there’s simple ways to keep this behavior under control.

From switching up feeding patterns to changing feeding bowl styles, numerous alternatives are available.

So, don’t get frustrated about always having to turn the feeding bowls over or clean up. Instead, use the pointers provided in this article, and you’re on your way to reducing that from happening.

As an extra act of goodwill, you can also share this article with other guinea pig parents that you know so they can also learn more about why do guinea pigs knock over their food bowls and how to stop it.

Guinea Pig Flipping Over Food Bowl. (n.d.). Mackenzie. Caring For All Pets. https://www.caringforallpets.com/guinea-pig-flipping-over-food-bowl/

Are Your Guinea Pigs Bored: What Are The Signs? (n.d.). Guliana. Pocket Sized Pets. https://pocketsizedpets.com/are-your-guinea-pigs-bored-what-are-the-signs/

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