Guinea pigs are notorious for staring. They stare at you, other people, other animals, food and objects in their environment. This can be quite unnerving to some people who don’t understand the reasons why this happens.
On average, a guinea pig stares because they’re bored, curious, fearful, or sleeping. Sometimes they stare because they’re sick, want something, or are grieving. If your guinea pig is staring more than usual, you should find out why. Observe your pet to find out what they are doing. Then you can decide if you need to worry.
There’s a lot more to know when it comes to understanding why your pig stares.
Let’s take a closer look (pun intended! ha!) at why guinea pigs stare and into some helpful tips for how you can respond to your pet’s staring.
Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Stare?
Anecdotal evidence shows that it’s normal behavior for guinea pigs to stare. The thing is, it’s hard to tell exactly why your pet stares at you.
Each pig is a unique individual with its own personality and needs. Owners need to get to know their pets to figure out what is normal behavior. If they know, then they can act appropriately when there are problems with their little friend.
Additionally, figuring out why your little friend is staring requires a little detective work. To do this, you need to “read the room” and assess the situation in order to figure out what might be happening that’s making him stare.
Some factors that might cause staring include: noise, certain smells, lack of friends, predators and more.
That said, let’s look a little more closely at why guinea pigs stare.
It’s common for guinea pigs to sleep with their eyes open. In fact, it can seem like your piggie is staring when what she’s actually doing is enjoying a quick nap!
This is a trait to help them survive. Because piggies are prey animals, they can’t afford the luxury of a deep, eye-lid shut sleep. They need their senses at a high level of alertness to detect predators as soon as possible.
So if you see your little friend lying on his side with his eyes open (without blinking), don’t assume that’s he’s dead.
Instead, observe him and watch his little chest to see if it rises and falls.
If he’s still breathing, then your piggie is just asleep!
2. Bored or Lonely
Some guinea pigs stare into space because they’re bored or lonely. Both of these emotions cause depression in your little friends. (Yes, your pet can get depressed!)
In this case, the staring is often accompanied by lethargy. You’ll notice your little friend lying or sitting very still for long periods of time. Sometimes you’ll notice that your guinea pig sleeping for a long period of time. Appetite loss is another common symptom of boredom and loneliness.
To avoid this situation, take steps to make sure that you have a happy guinea pig. Consider providing your little buddies with the following:
- Companionship: Get your piggie a buddy for company. A couple of guinea pigs isn’t that much more work than a single. Piggies are social animals and most enjoy the presence of other pigs. This is especially important for baby pigs who get lonely easily. It is important that your piggies has a friend that is a good match. That way, they’ll get along well.
- Stimulation: Provide a variety of enriching activities. For example, you could install a tunnel system in one corner of the room. Buy a few guinea pig toys. Instead, you can stuff hay into a paper bag or toilet paper roll for your pigs to play in.
- A proper diet: Make sure that your little buddies have huge piles of hay daily and lots of fresh, clean water. The appropriate amount of Vitamin C enriched pellets and vegetables is a must. When it’s snack time, spoil your piggie a little with their favorite food every now and then.
- Exercise: Make sure your piggies have an enclosure with plenty of space to explore and enjoy physical activity. Daily floor time is encouraged, but you need to be careful. Remove things that are bad for them (electric cords, plants, etc.) from the area before they play on the floor.
Guinea pigs are naturally inquisitive creatures. In the wild, they spend much of their time foraging and exploring new areas. They also like to keep an eye on their surroundings.
This is one of the many wild habits of guinea pigs that our domesticated piggies have kept.
Caviars are intrigued by us because they are so different from them. In fact, they’re fascinated by new things in general.
4. Fear and Anxiety
Our piggies have evolved a way to protect themselves from the threat of predators.
At the sign of danger, their natural reaction is to freeze in place and become as invisible as possible. This freeze often includes a stare, either in your direction or off into space.
This behavior protects them and warns their friends of potential danger.
Guinea pigs are small, prey and afraid of new things. They are usually scared when they are in a new home with people they don’t know.
It’s common pig behavior for a pig to freeze and stare when startled. Things that might frighten (and cause your piggies to stare) include:
- larger animals
- a loud noise
- unfamiliar people and locations
- sudden noise
- being picked up
- sudden movements
- being chased
If any of these fear factors are present, it’s likely that your fur baby feels threatened. And a freeze-fear stare is a sure sign that your little friend needs some love and care.
The best way to keep your pet happy is by figuring out what might be scaring them before it gets worse! You can do this surveying the area and observing your guinea pig.
5. Genetic Issues
This is uncommon, but sometimes staring is the result of neurological issues. Some piggies suffer from genetic issues due to inbreeding or improper breeding.
For example, a lethal white can be born. This is caused when you breed roan x roan or Dalmatian x Dalmatian. From this breeding, there is a chance that 1 in 4 guinea pigs born will be a lethal white.
A lethal has many problems. When a lethal white baby is born it may die or it may physical disabilities.
For example, the baby might be deaf in one ear or both ears, blind in one eye, or have other problems.
If you have a lethal white, your little friend is probably staring because she’s blind and can’t see.
6. Want Food
Piggies with a voracious appetite will stare at their owners when they know that the one thing they want in life is not being provided to them on time.
Our little friends aren’t known for their patience when it comes to a meal.
Some pigs stare silently and patiently. Other will bombard their owners with shrill wheeks and stares when snack time or dinner time has come and gone.
If your piggies are on a feeding routine, and you’re late with their veggies, then expect a “How dare you starve us to death?” stare. Sometimes your piggie will stand on her hinds legs for emphasis!
You: Sorry, I’m late for dinner. I had to finish sewing your new fleece liners by hand. But, I have your freshly washed, organic veggies my little smoochie-poos!
Piggies: You’re dead to us.
It’s hard to tell if your piggie is sick. They’re very good at hiding when they’re not feeling well, but they’ll sometimes do things that clue you in.
One of the things they’ll do is stare off into space or stare at a wall. But, not every guinea pig who stares off into space is sick. Look for other signs:
- sitting hunched over and quiet
- a head tilt
- lack of energy
- weight loss (one of the most common symptoms)
- loss of appetite
- discharge from the nose or mouth
- sneezing or wheezing
If you notice a combination of these symptoms, take your little friend to the vet right away. Their health can deteriorate quickly without proper treatment. And an upper respiratory infection (or other illness) can be fatal if they’re not noticed in time.
8. Want Your Attention
Guinea pigs often stare at people because they want attention. Perhaps piggies need to be cuddled, pet, or you should bring them a toy. They behave this way if they’re used to being around humans and have bonded with their owners.
If your pet has not seen you in a long time, it may be staring at you because it wants attention.
When your piggies loses a cage mate or roommate, it’s very likely that they will grieve.
The remaining pig will often stare into space and chirp because she misses her friend. No one understands why this behavior occurs, but it does happen.
Also, many owners have reported that their piggie won’t eat or drink for a few days after the loss of another.
If one of your pigs dies, there are a lot of things you can do to help the other piggies cope with the loss.
The best thing to do is to give a lot of attention to the other pigs. Give them their favorite treats and snacks. It will make them feel a little better because they are sad about losing their friend.
If your pig has lost a friend, it’s usually a good idea to find a new friend for him.
Guinea pigs are very social animals and they need that companionship in order to be happy and healthy, so it’s only natural for them to notice when something is missing!
Frequently Asked Questions About Guinea Pig Behavior
Do Guinea Pigs Recognize Their Owners?
Over time, guinea pigs recognize their owners. Some signs that tell you someone recognizes you is when they come running and greet you. They recognize your voice or the sound of your footsteps. Or they might even know what you smells like.
How Do Guinea Pigs Show Affection?
Guinea pigs show affection by reacting to their owners in a variety of delightful ways, and these reactions communicate the pet’s feelings.
When guinea pigs love their humans, they might nudge them for attention or jump at their feet. They will also rub against you or approach you for a cuddle or grooming.
Their grooming usually involves nipping (or gently biting) your fingers, clothes, or other part of your body.
Your piggie will stare at you, but be completely relaxed.
You’ll also notice that your piggie will respond to your voice by coming when called.
Another show of affection and trust is when your piggie falls asleep on or near you. That only happens if your piggie loves and trusts you completely.
Piggie Stares In a Nutshell
With these nine reasons, hopefully you can better understand why a guinea pigs stare at humans so often.
Guinea pig behavior can be difficult to understand – especially stares.
But, your days of being unnerved by your guinea pig staring are over.
You now know some of the main causes of guinea pig stares as well as the signs and context you should look for to figure out why your piggie is staring.
Some of the causes for guinea pig stares are harmless and normal while others are not.
Use clues in this article to better assess your fur balls’ needs. If they start staring at you (or anything else) more than usual, it could mean that something is wrong.
It might be helpful to contact your vet.
By spending time with your guinea pig, you can be able to notice when their behavior changes from their normal state.
Then you can catch AND fix the problem before it is serious.
Keep an eye out for unusual behavior from your pets to figure out what might be bothering them before it gets worse.