What is Guinea Pig Popcorning? And Why Does Your Cavy Do It?

The first time you see your cavy explode into the air, making all sorts of wheeking and squeaking noises you might be taken by surprise. You might even worry that your guinea pig is having a seizure. Don’t fret, there is nothing to worry about, this is just your guinea pig popcorning. And when your cavy does this, you know that you, as a cavy parent are doing a great job. Because when your guinea pig popcorns she is literally jumping for joy.

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If you’re new to the world of cavies, you may think we’ve lost our minds talking about these cute little critters in the same sentence as popcorn! The good news is we haven’t! The even better news is you’re going to find out all about guinea pigs popcorning, including what it is, and why they do it. And because it’s just so darn adorable to see in action, we’ve included loads of popcorning piggies!

Ready to get started? Cue the ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’, grab a bowl of popcorn (the snack) and be prepared to be amazed!

What is “Popcorning” in Guinea Pigs?

Before we explain in more detail why cavies popcorn, we need to first understand what it is. To be honest, it’s a little hard to explain in human terms.

The closest thing humans do to popcorning is a little dance of joy, maybe on their birthdays or when Santa leaves a load of gifts under the tree. But the human version of popcorning is nowhere near as much fun or as entertaining to watch.

So what exactly is popcorning?

There’s no easy way to explain popcorning if you’ve never seen it before, but imagine your little cavy suddenly turning into a bucking bronco. These quick little hops and jumps can literally come out of nowhere and resemble kernels of corn popping in a pot.

This video explains popcorning in more detail. Take a look!

The best part of popcorning is that you’re never quite sure when it’s going to happen. Your guinea pig could be sitting on some hay and the next thing it’s popping all over the place. Or it could be a little more extreme with zoomies and popcorning in mid-air.

Unsure of what the zoomies are? This Youtube video shows the content of little cavies zooming around their case and popcorning.

Do you know how you squeal for joy when you’re really excited? Well, guinea pigs wheek when they popcorn. To understand what your cavy’s saying, take a look at this guide on how to ‘talk’ guinea pig’

What makes guinea pig popcorning so darn cute?

We think it’s the element of surprise that makes this funny little pop so hilarious. As well as the accompanied squeal or wheek. One minute your cavy is calm and then POP, POP, POP… it’s jumping around like corn kernels in a pot!

guinea pig popcorning

If you’re not familiar with guinea pigs popcorning, the first time you see it happen, you may think your cavy is having a seizure. While popcorning is usually a sign of excitement or joy, a seizure is a sign that there’s something wrong with your guinea pig’s brain function.

When your guinea pig popcorns, you know you are doing a great job as a cavy parent because your cavy is literally jumping for joy. Click To Tweet

This article explains a seizure in more detail and gives you information on what to do and how best to treat it.

Caution – We have included a link to a guinea pig having a seizure. It’s not for sensitive viewers, but it shows the difference between a happy popcorning guinea pig and one that needs urgent veterinary care.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn?

So now we know what popcorning is and what it looks like, but now it’s time to understand why exactly guinea pigs popcorn.

Although popcorning seems like a random reaction, there is usually a reason behind it. On the whole, guinea pigs tend to popcorn when they’re happy or excited.

Did you know you can train your guinea pig to popcorn? If you notice that your guinea pig tends to popcorn when you give it a certain type of treat, try teaching it to associate the behaviour with a treat using a cue word, such as “pop.” Simply say “pop” every time you give the guinea pig that special snack, after a while, it may popcorn on cue when you say the magic word!

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Reasons guinea popcorn when they’re happy

Guinea pigs are intelligent little animals and get used to a routine pretty quickly. Here are a few ways to see your cavy popcorn with delight!

Feeding time

By establishing a regular feeding schedule, your cavy will reward you with wheeks of delight and a lot of popcorning. Timothy hay, nuggets and the occasional special treat is a sure-fire way to get your guinea pig excited before, during and even after a meal.

New environment

A guinea pig’s enclosure needs to be large enough for them to get the exercise they need, as well as forage for food and explore their surroundings. A simple upgrade to a bigger enclosure, a change in their bedding or the addition of a hayrack or wheek wagon is enough to get them popcorning for joy.

Physical and mental stimulation

Just like a child with a new toy, or playing with a parent, guinea pigs love (and need) plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Adding new boredom busters into their enclosure and giving them time out of their hutch will have them popcorning all over the place.

Rotate toys regularly to keep your guinea pigs interested… and don’t put too many in the hutch at once. This can lead to overstimulation and boredom

Most guinea pigs, depending on their age, personality and overall health, will start popcorning when given a new or their favourite treat. So for as much as popcorning, your heart can handle, be sure to spend as much time with them as possible!

Remember, a popcorning cavy is a happy cavy!

Young guinea pigs tend to popcorn more

In the same way teens, tweens and older kids tend to become less interested in new things, so too do adult guinea pigs. While a grunt or groan is an older guinea pig’s way of showing excitement, younger guinea pigs (and children) express themselves with shouts of glee, squeals of delight and some serious popcorning (baby guinea pigs, not children).

Baby guinea pigs have a lot more energy to expend and will show their appreciation with an excited popcorn.

There is nothing, and we mean nothing, in the world as cute as seeing a baby guinea pig or pup popcorning. Take a look at this clip below to see what we mean…

Do Other Animals Popcorn?

All animals, including humans, jump for joy, although it’s not called popcorning. Think of a kid on Christmas day when Santa delivers exactly what was asked for… that gleeful whoop in the air is equivalent to a popcorning guinea pig.

But other animals do it too. Baby goats get their springs on when they’re happy. This is called ‘slotting’ and is by far one of the cutest videos we have ever seen… Take a look at them in action here!

And these…

But popcorning isn’t just for fun. Sometimes when a cavy feels threatened or scared, it will jump to get away from the danger. However, we’ll cover this in another article!

For now, we want to see some videos of your piggies doing the ‘popcorn’ dance. Feel free to leave a comment below, follow us on Facebook, leave a clip on Twitter or share a video on Instagram.

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One Response

  1. Brilliant explanations with great emphasis on space. My trio (mum 5yrs and two daughters 1.5yrs) now have a 10x5ft thermostatically controlled space for night-time and winter.
    They also have your 6x2ft chartwell two tier hutch and run for summer day times. Even the old mum popcorns every day and it’s truly a delight to see all three of them popcorning and zooming
    Thank you for helping to improve these .little souls lives with your blogs and products.

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