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You are watching: What does it mean when your guinea pig vibrates


As a pet owner have you ever wondered, what does it mean when my guinea pig is vibrating?

Guinea pigs are very popular pets because they are known to be happy, docile, friendly, and cuddly.

These delightful creatures do everything they can to communicate with their owners, but some owners do not know how to interpret the actions and sounds of their furry potatoes.

Well, the confusion is mainly because the guinea pigs make the vibrating or shaking motion regularly.

The vibrating motion is made by guinea pigs moving their butts from side to side.

Since cavies are constantly vibrating it can be extremely difficult to know the meaning of the vibrations.

Well, if you are one of those bewildered furry potato lovers, the answers to your question are here.


Why Do Guinea Pigs Vibrate?Guinea Pigs Are Temperature SensitiveWhat Angers Your Guinea Pig?Bullying And Marking TerritoryTouching And Handling Your Guinea PigWhat Scares Your Guinea Pig?Understanding Guinea Pig Vibrations And Vocalizations

Why Do Guinea Pigs Vibrate?

The simple answer is guinea pigs have limited but effective ways to communicate with each other and their owners, so they use a combination of body movements and sounds to communicate.

A common facet of their communication technique is vibrating.

The vibrations are coupled with other behaviors like vocalizations, body tension (or lack of it), and overt physical actions.

Now, lets; examine guinea pig vibrations and their meanings.

Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Vibrate

Guinea pigs vibrate when they are feeling affectionate, angry, happy, scared, sick, alarmed, threatened, annoyed, stressed, cold, and want to mate.

Are all the vibrations the same?

No, you can distinguish between the different vibrations by carefully observing:

What is happening around them when they are vibratingTheir head movementsThe sounds they makeThe amount of tension in their bodiesOther accompanying mannerisms

Guinea Pigs Are Temperature Sensitive

Vibrating After A Bath

If your cavy vibrates a lot when you wash it, it may be cold.

Are you hearing fast short noises coming from it while it’s vibrating?

It’s probably cold.

The cavy will stop vibrating and making those noises when it’s dry and warm.

Think about it, when you are cold you shiver.

Well, shivering is the same as vibrating your body.

Most guinea pig owners report that after they have dried their guinea pigs and wrapped them in a warm towel, the guinea pigs stop vibrating and making rapid short noises.

Vibrating In Their Cages

Guinea pigs cannot control their body temperature.

They can only maintain a healthy body temperature if the air temperature around them is suitable for them.

Cavies normally prefer air temperatures of 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.

If the temperature is too cold, your cavy will start vibrating and vocalizing its discontent.

Also, pet owners should know those furry potatoes can die if they get too hot or are placed in direct sunlight.

When it’s too hot and cavies cannot cool themselves, they may have a heatstroke and die.

The lesson, if you feel hot or cold, assume that your cavy feels the same but more intensely and needs relief from its environmental stress.

What Angers Your Guinea Pig?

What makes guinea pigs angry?

Your cavy can become angry with you if you are taking too long to feed it, being too noisy, or touching its underbelly or butt.

Signs Of Aggression In Guinea Pigs

They normally show their anger by raising their head, turning their head back, opening their eyes wide, and making high-pitched purring sounds.

When a cavy is angry its body will be tense too.

Other signs of anger include teeth chattering, teeth grinding, baring teeth, hissing, biting, fluffing their hair (to make themselves look bigger), and standing on two legs.

Angry animals that fear for their lives or safety will usually try to get away from the threat, and if they can’t, they will attack the thing threatening them.

So, if your cavy’s signs of aggression and/or anger are not respected by you, you may, without knowing, push your cavy to attack you.

How Will It Attack You?

It will try to injure you, generally by biting you.

When your cavy is showing signs of aggression or anger, place it back in its cage or play area and leave it alone.

Before you interact with the cavy again, make sure that it displays signs of being calm and relaxed.

Bullying And Marking Territory

Establishing Dominance In The Cage

When you introduce two or more guinea pigs to each other, look for signs of compatibility, playfulness, and calmness.

If the cavies don’t get along with each other, there may be a fight brewing in their cage.

Before cavies attack each other, one cavy will vibrate and grind its teeth.

If the other cavy doesn’t respect the show of dominance of the disgruntled cavy, then the dispute may be settled with a show of physical force like biting and causing injury.

In such cases as this, separate the guinea pig displaying signs of dominance from the others.

Note, even cavies that have a good relationship may fight from time to time.

You need to monitor them and their fights because a minor spat should not result in physical harm or even biting.

If one of your cavies is attacking the other one, the cavy being attacked is in danger and stress.

Think about it, do you want to stay in a place with someone who may bite and hurt you at any time?

My guess is no, you wouldn’t stay somewhere that was dangerous or unpleasant.

So, don’t make your cavy suffer because its cage-mate is bullying it.

No Butt Touching!

Male and female cavies do not like being touched on their butts.

Male cavies will become very upset when touched on their butts because touching their butts is a show of dominance by you.

Touching And Handling Your Guinea Pig

How Should You Touch Your Cavy?

Your furry potato will appreciate you gently stroking its back, nose, or head.

It will also love you even more if you feed it a yummy snack while you gently stroke it.

Chasing And Grabbing Your Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs, as prey animals, are very sensitive to their environment and threats to their safety.

If you grab or chase your cavy, it may become angry with you because your behavior imitates the actions of its natural predators.

Holding Your Guinea Pig

Do you enjoy carrying your cavy around or holding it close to you?

If you hold your cavy for more than five to ten minutes, your cavy may become very disagreeable or even angry.

Guinea pigs are prey animals that live on the ground.

They are poor climbers, jumpers, and not tough enough to safely survive falls from great heights.

So, cavies want to be on solid ground, able to find shelter, and able to run away from you.

When you hold them for long periods of time or hold them in the air without their feet touching a solid surface, they may become frightened and angry with you.

Play with your cavy under conditions that help your cavy stay relaxed and comfortable.

For example, you can play with your cavy for about 30 minutes if you play with it in its cage or on the ground.

Carrying Your Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs can become fearful when you are carrying them around in your arms or hands.

The animals are very small and the distance from your hand, chest, or arm to the floor is really big to them.

So, if you notice that your cavy starts vibrating and vocalizing negatively whenever you carry it around, then you should work to build up your cavy’s affection and trust.

When the cavy really trusts you and knows that you won’t let anything happen to it, the bad vibrations will stop.

What Scares Your Guinea Pig?

New Surroundings

Your guinea pig may vibrate and vocalize when you first bring it home and while it’s getting used to you and its surroundings.

Cavies, like people, become uncomfortable and fearful in unfamiliar places and around people they don’t know.

As your cavy becomes more comfortable and feels safe and secure in your home and with you, it will stop vibrating out of fear.

If your cavy is feeling uneasy in its new surroundings, you can help it adjust by providing it with a companion, places to hide, and lots of toys.


Guinea pigs are social animals and prefer to be with other guinea pigs.

You can hasten your cavy’s acclimation to you and its environment by giving it a companion.

Two or more cavies living and playing together are happy cavies.

Things That Stress Your Guinea Pig

Cavies can be stressed by many things around them.

The list of potential stressor includes:

Unwanted touchingLoud noises (e.g., vacuum cleaners, objects falling on the floor, screaming)Dirty cagesPredators (e.g., dogs, cats, birds)Companion animals (e.g., rabbits, hamsters, mice)

Being touched or petted when it does not want to be touched or petted by you or someone else.

So, if your cavy is shying away from you, or even running away from you, when you try to pet, stroke, touch or approach it with your hand, you are stressing it out.

Just think about it.

If someone keeps touching you after you have told them not to touch you or that you don’t like it, you would be stressed too.

Serenity Is Happiness

Furry potatoes prefer quiet, calm, predictable environments.

These kinds of environments help them feel safe, secure, and relaxed.

So, if your cavy’s environment is full of loud noises, potential predators, unfriendly cage-mates, or its cage is dirty, it is seriously stressed out.

Stressed cavies don’t popcorn or rub noses with other cavies because stressed cavies are unhappy.

Unhappy guinea pigs will vibrate and vocalize (e.g., shriek) their distress.

If your furry potato is vibrating and shrieking, carefully observe its environment and remove the stressor.

Other Signs Of A Stressed Guinea Pig

Do you want to know some more obvious signs that your furry potato is stressed?

Well, if you observe your cavy vibrating and making sounds but still aren’t sure if it’s stressed, look for these physical signs of unhealthy cavy behavior:

Reduced appetiteSleeps too muchLethargicDepressedLosing hairAvoids interacting with youHides a lotAnxiousOverly temperamental/moodyChews the bars on its cage

If you are still unsure about why your cavy is showing signs of being happy, it’s time for a visit to the veterinarian.

Grumpy Guinea Pigs

Although guinea pigs are known to be happy, gentle creatures, they can also be grumpy.

If your cavy is comfortable with you, there is no problem with its food and water, it’s warm, and there are no bothersome loud noises or predators, yet it’s still vibrating and making unpleasant sounds, then you have a grumpy cavy.

No worries, the bad mood won’t last long, and your pet will again vibrate with happiness, seek your attention and affection, and play with its toys.

Happy Furry Potatoes

Guinea pigs love to spend time with their owners, cuddle with them, be petted by them, and be near them.

If your cavy is not showing any signs of fear, stress, anger, or moodiness, and is vibrating and purring or murmuring, you can assume that it’s happy.

The happy vibration is marked by a lowered head, closed eyes, and a low-pitched purring sound.

The happy vibration is the one all guinea pig owners love.

Mating: Invitations And Acceptance

Male guinea pigs vibrate and rumble when they want to mate.

The males will vibrate and emit very low sounds to attract females.

If a female is interested, she may vibrate and even snuggle up to the male of choice and move her hips back and forth so he knows she’s interested in coupling.

Understanding Guinea Pig Vibrations And Vocalizations


Vibrations with high-pitched squeals or squeaks signal fear or alarm.

Cavies make this sound when they feel threatened, uncomfortable, or are in a distressed state (e.g., in pain).

There is an exception, cavies squeal when they want attention too.

Thus, you must be aware of what is happening to and around your cavy before you assume that your pet is fearful or in a state of distress.

Chattering/Grinding Teeth

Vibrations accompanied by chattering or grinding teeth are the cavy’s way of communicating aggression, anger, and/or dominance.


Guinea pig wheeking sounds like a whistle.

If you see your cavy wheeking and vibrating, feel free to celebrate having a happy, relaxed cavy that may be trying to get your attention and some affection too.


Have you ever heard of a cat purr?

Congratulations, you can now identify a cavy purr too.

Cavies make deep purring sounds when they are calm, relaxed, and happy.

To make sure that the purring is a sign of happiness, observe the guinea pig’s body.

If it’s relaxed, head down, and calmly doing its thing, then it’s happy.

However, if your cavy is vibrating and its purr is high pitched, check if its body is rigid.

A cavy exhibiting these characteristics is experiencing negative emotions like stress, fear, and/or anger.


Have you ever seen a male cavy near a female cavy and heard him make a surprisingly deep purring sound while vibrating and swaying his hips?

That sound is a rumble!

Male cavies rumble when they want to attract the romantic interest of a female.

The rumble and swaying hips are like a sexy man singing his heart out while advertising his physical desirability to a woman at the club.


If you hear a loud high pitched sound that makes you fearful, it is your cavy shrieking.

They shriek and vibrate because they are distressed and in need of assistance from you.

When you hear a cavy shrieking, carefully observe it and try to remedy the problem that is vexing it.

Cavies may shriek because they are in pain, feel threatened, sick, or otherwise distressed by something.


A vibrating, hissing cavy sounds like a hissing cat.

The hissing sound signals, anger, aggression, or annoyance.


Their whining is like a plaintive squeak.

It’s their way of complaining that they are not happy about something that is going on around them.


Vibrating and murmuring are done to show genuine affection for the person or animal being murmured at by the cavy.

Female cavies murmur at their babies too.


The only sound that cavies make that may not be accompanied by a vibrating body is chirping.

The cavy chirp is quite similar to the chirp of a bird.

The meaning of chirping isn’t known and when it’s done the cavy might lie very still, like it’s in a trance.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pig vibrations may indicate danger, environmental stress, fear, illness, irritation, anger, desire to mate, and grumpiness.

The vibrations can be understood and correctly interpreted if the pet owner carefully observes the animal’s vocalizations, body tension, head movements, and any other physical actions that may accompany the vibrations.

Pet owners should be concerned and pay attention to their vibrating cavies when the vibrations are not accompanied by sounds and behavior that indicate that the cavy is happy or mating.

It’s important to be aware that anything that stresses, frightens, irritates, anger, or otherwise causes a cavy to be unhappy may threaten the health, safety, and life of the guinea pig.

For example, guinea pigs can die if they become overheated, are seriously injured by predators (e.g., dogs and cats), or are having health problems that require a veterinarian’s assistance.

While caring for your cavy just be aware of its comfort and the things that make it feel safe and secure in its environment.

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Your awareness of the meanings of your furry potato’s vibrations and vocalizations and its surroundings will enable you to understand and communicate with your fur baby.