Why Do Guinea Pigs Vibrate, Shake, And Shiver? (And What To Do)

It can be scary seeing your guinea pig vibrate, shake, or shiver. What does it mean, you’re thinking? Is it a good or a bad thing? In this article, we’ll have a look at the different types of guinea pigs’ vibrations, shakes, and shivers and talk about the causes. We’ll give you some tips on how to prevent or deal with these situations and answer some of your most burning questions!

Why Do Guinea Pigs Vibrate, Shake, And Shiver And What Does It Mean?

There are four main reasons why your guinea pig is vibrating, shaking of shivering: Fear, Cold, Joy, and Sickness.

Distinguishing between these 4 types highly depends on the situation, but it’s actually quite easy! Let’s have a look at the situations during which it occurs and figure out what does it mean.

Joy

If your pet is vibrating whilst

  • cuddle/playtime
  • eating
  • interacting with other guinea pigs

this is likely to be a good sign of a happy guinea pig. This is often accompanied by purring:

Why Do Guinea Pigs Purr and Shake

As opposed to other variations described in this article, the combination of your guinea pig purring and shaking/vibrating is generally a good sign. Like cats, guinea pigs often purr when they are happy and content, this is likely to be accompanied by their whole body shaking.

Think of it as if your pet simply can’t contain their excitement! You must be doing something right, whether that it is giving them their favourite snack, toy, or they’re simply happy because they get to see you!

Sickness

Is your pet in its cage and you noticed it’s shaking? Do you notice it barely moving or not moving at all, likely remaining in one place? Is it shaking for a longer continuous period of time, or often for shorter periods? It is likely to be sick. Observe closely for other behaviors such as:

Guinea Pig Shaking and Not Eating

Like humans, sometimes guinea pigs can be feeling a bit unwell. Make sure the room is not too hot or cold and that your guinea pig has everything it needs, such as fresh water and snacks you know it enjoys, to encourage its appetite.

Observe your pet and if this behaviour prevails for a day or more, or your guinea pig continues shaking for a longer period of time, take it to the vet as soon as possible. In this case, it is likely to be sick and might need professional help and/or medicine.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Shaking and Twitching

If your guinea pig is twitching, this is a very serious behaviour, and your pet needs to be taken to the vet immediately. This behaviour is usually caused by a mite – a parasite – which is burrowing into your guinea pigs’ skin, which is causing pain and extreme itchiness. This in turn generates seizure-like behaviour, when your guinea pig is in a trans-like state trying to scratch the itch.

The mites are often caught from a previously contaminated bedding or other guinea pigs. There’s not much you can do to successfully prevent this, however, if you interact with your guinea pig daily, you’ll be able to catch this before it becomes a problem.

Other symptoms include scratching often, hair loss, weight loss, loss of appetite, or loss of balance.

This condition can be easily treated by anti-mite sprays, powders, or injections, but these need to be prescribed by a vet upon closer examination of the pet.

Why Does My Guinea Pig Shake His Head

There can be many reasons why your guinea pig shakes its head. For example, it can just be your guinea pig popcorning or being playful with a friend or a toy. But the most worrying reason is an ear infection. Does your guinea pig shake its head often? Do they tilt their head to one side? Does it rub its head against the cage or other things?

In this case, take it to the vet as soon as you can. Your guinea pig may have ear mites or an ear infection, which can be very dangerous if left untreated. Let alone it feels very uncomfortable!

Fear

Fear or anxiety can have a powerful impact on your guinea pig. It can also be dangerous as it increases their stress levels which is a strain on their little hearts. It can be caused by being in unknown environments, loud noises, fast movement unknown or predatory smells, other guinea pigs present in the cage or interacting with humans.

It’s important to do everything possible and take every precaution for your guinea pig to feel safe and secure. The first step is figuring out what is scaring your pet and removing this variable.

This can be everything from positioning the cage in a quieter area or not allowing other pets in the room. And lastly, if your guinea pig is roaming outside, sometimes just putting it back into its cage can help it calm down.

Also, if your pet got scared by a loud noise, talking to it in a low calm voice or feeding it a snack helps to calm it down. If you’re well bonded with your pet, cuddling with it can also help the situation.

But Why Does My Guinea Pig Shake When I Pet Him?

If your guinea pig shakes when you pet him, it is likely to be scared of you. Do not worry, this can be fixed easily. Maybe you could check out this article about building a bond with your guinea pick (link), but here’s a quick recap:

Guinea pigs are prey animals, so they need to constantly be observing their surroundings, especially paying attention to fast-moving objects and loud noises. So, the best way not to freak your guinea pig out when approaching it is to speak to it in a low calm voice and move slowly.

Next, make sure your pet knows you mean no harm and bribe it with snacks! A great tip is to let your pet eat from your hand first, before attempting to touch it. That way it can choose to approach you and its own or move away again when it starts feeling uncomfortable.

Building trust can be a slow process, but at the end, there is a worthy reward in the form of a beautiful friendship!

Cold

The most obvious reason why your pet is shaking is that it’s simply too cold!

The ideal temperature for guinea pigs is between 18 and24 degrees Celsius. Anything below that is simply too cold for them.

Keep this in mind especially if you’re keeping your guinea pig outside, in the barn or in rooms in which you do not live, such as the office etc. In these situations, it’s handy to keep a thermometer near the cage and check regularly to make sure it’s not too cold!

Besides turning the heating up or placing the cage in a warmer or higher spot, here are a few tips to ensure your pet is never cold:

  • Insulate the hutch or den and make sure the entrance is not positioned upwind.
  • Make sure there’s always extra hay for your guinea pig to snuggle in.
  • Clean the cage more often to prevent the bedding from getting and/or staying to wet.

You can also purchase a snuggle pad, a type of a pet pad, which can be heated in the microwave and then put in the cage for your guinea pig (or any other tiny pet!) to snuggle with.

It lasts warmed up several hours, is reusable, and completely pet safe! A top tip is to position it under your guinea pig’s bed in one of the huts, so it created a perfectly warm and cosy nest.

If you need to warm up your guinea pig ASAP and don’t have a snuggle pad lying around, you can also wrap it in a small soft towel or a blanket and cuddle it.

We wouldn’t recommend using a hairdryer unless your pet is used to it, as it can generate unnecessary stress.

FAQ

Why Is My Guinea Pig Vibrating After a Bath

Guinea pigs are not adapted to swimming or getting wet, so each time they are bathed is likely to be very uncomfortable for them. If your guinea pig is vibrating or shaking during or after a bath, it is likely to be cold and/or stressed.

But there are a few steps you can take to minimise or completely prevent this:

Does Your Guinea Pig Need A Bath?

Washing is more often than needed can cause unnecessary stress. One factor that can influence this is the kind of bedding used. For example, using cloth or fleece may seem softer and more comfortable to use, however, it also retains moisture better.

Often guinea pigs don’t use a specific spot as a toilet and pee everywhere, including their dens, and then continue to lie in it. As a result, they get dirty more often, whereas if paper bedding or pellets are used, the moisture doesn’t remain on top and your guinea pig stays cleaner for longer.

Clean cages at least once a week, more often if you use fleece of cloth as bedding.

Now, when it comes to the actual bathing, try to make this process as quick as possible. Your guinea pig is likely to be in a new unknown environment, so we don’t want to stress it for any longer than we have to.

How To Give Your Guinea Pig A Bath?

The ideal temperature should be the same as the room temperature. Test it on yourself and make sure it feels comfortable.

Use shampoo specifically made for guinea pigs or similar pets, such as rodents. Using shampoo made for humans is not recommended as it contains a large number of unnecessary chemicals and added perfume, which can irritate your guinea pig’s skin, nose, or other areas.

Be careful not to get the shampoo into its eyes, ears, mouth, or nose.

Make sure to be as gentle as possible and pause or stop completely if your guinea pig is fighting you or hissing. It’s better to try on another day when your guinea pig may be in a better mood, rather than pressure it in a stressful situation.

Drying Your Guinea Pig

After a bath, it’s important to dry your guinea pig before returning it to its cage. The best way to do that is to wrap it in a towel and maybe you can cuddle it for a bit whilst it dries. Do not rub the towel as not to hurt your pet. It can also be very uncomfortable!

If your guinea pig is restless or fidgeting you can put it back into its cage and then position the cage in a warm place for an hour or so, to allow your guinea pig to dry off in a warm environment.

If your guinea pig is accustomed to a hairdryer or not scared of loud noise in general, you can try to use a hair drier on the lowest settings and form a few feet away. The best way to do this is to position your hairdryer on the floor and place your guinea pig nearby to allows it to approach on its own. At the same time, it’s able to leave when ready to do so, so it doesn’t get too hot or even burned.

Recap

There are 4 main reasons why your pet is shaking, shivering, or vibrating:  Joy, Sickness, Fear, and Cold. They’re easy to recognise based on the situation and other symptoms or sounds your guinea pig is making. But don’t worry, they’re usually not serious and can be dealt with easily!

Before panicking, ask yourself a few simple questions about your pet:

Is it in the safety of its cage? Is the cage in a quiet area, in a room that has a temperature of at least 18 degrees Celsius? Does it have everything it needs such as food, water, and hay? Is it purring or making happy noises? Or is it clicking its teeth or hissing?

But if you can check all the boxes and your pet seems to have everything, yet it continues to shiver or shake for a suspiciously longer period, take it to the vet. They’ll be able to examine it closer and get the help it might need.

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