If you’re a new guinea pig owner, you may be alarmed to see your new pet shaking. However, guinea pigs shake for all sorts of reasons, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Shivering and shaking can occasionally indicate a problem. However, shaking can also be completely innocent.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons guinea pigs may shake, as well as what you should do about it.
The 5 Reasons Guinea Pigs Shake
1. Being Cold
Just like people, guinea pigs may shake or shiver when they are cold. You should be able to rule this factor out based on the temperature of the room. If the temperature has dropped, they are likely just cold. Consider moving them to a warmer location. While a little bit of cold is not typically harmful, you don’t want your guinea pigs to be too cold for too long.
Plus, it is simply more comfortable for them if the temperature is suitable.
Guinea pigs can also shake when they are scared or anxious. This can be due to loud noises or significant changes in their environment. If they were just adopted, shaking is probably a sign that they’re a bit stressed by the change. Often, the best thing you can do is make them comfortable and wait them out. Usually, the guinea pigs will calm down over time.
Guinea pigs can handle a little bit of acute stress. So, don’t worry too much if fireworks are going on outside. However, long-term stress can cause health problems, just like in people and other species. If your guinea pig seems fearful often, it may be because their tank set up is not sufficient. Ensure they have plenty of places to hide and aren’t exposed to high amounts of stimulation.
Of course, some guinea pigs are more fearful than others. Sometimes, it is merely a temperament thing.
3. Showing Happiness
Confusingly, guinea pigs can also shake when they are happy. They can “popcorn,” which involves guinea pigs jumping up and down very quickly. They do this when they are happy and content. This can be confusing since they also shake when stressed.
However, you can usually tell based on their other behaviors why they are shaking. For instance, if they are trying to hide or are “frozen,” they are probably stressed. If they are otherwise acting happy, the shaking is probably just another way to show you their contentedness.
4. Sick or Unwell
There are some diseases and disorders that can cause shaking. This includes the parasite called guinea pig mange. This parasite causes pain, shaking, and twitching. This requires treatment, though it is usually not serious. However, it can be very uncomfortable for the pet.
5. Showing Dominance
When a guinea pig shakes its butt, it makes a small rumbling noise. They do this to exert dominance over other guinea pigs. If your guinea pig is shaking at other guinea pigs, it is likely trying to exert dominance over the other pet.
How to Stop Your Guinea Pig’s Shaking
Usually, you don’t need to stop your guinea pig’s shaking. Shaking is simply a sign of something else, which may or may not be bad. You may not necessarily want to stop your guinea pig’s shaking. However, if your guinea pig’s shaking is a sign of something more serious, there are some ways to stop it.
1. Lower the Amount of Stimulation
If your guinea pig is often stressed, then you may need to lower their stimulation amount. A lot of smaller things can stress out guinea pigs. For example, the sounds from being near a TV can be very unsettling and keep them on high alert. This can cause shaking often and regularly.
Move your guinea pig somewhere a bit quieter, and consider lowering the amount of handling you’re doing.
2. Contact a Vet
Your guinea pig may have a deeper problem that is causing the shaking. If your pet has other symptoms or seems to shake at random times, contact a vet. Parasites are the most common disease that causes shaking. However, there are some other issues as well. Furthermore, diseases can cause stress and may put your guinea pig on edge, which may cause fearful shaking more easily.
It is always better to be safe rather than sorry when dealing with our pet’s health.
3. Add More Hiding Places
Sometimes, our guinea pigs are simply more skittish than others. They may require more hiding places to feel comfortable or may prefer a quieter area of the house. In this case, consider adding more hiding places and cozy bedding that they can burrow into. It may be exactly what they need to feel more relaxed in their cage.
Now you know the main reasons why guinea pigs shake. Thankfully, shaking does not necessarily mean an emergency. But it can indicate something is wrong. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on those situations and what you can do about them.
Featured Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock