Guinea pigs are very expressive animals and have a wide range of behaviors they use to communicate.
A guinea pig may chirp or jump around when excited or growl when angry or frightened.
Your cavy may nudge you with its head or lick your finger as a sign of affection.
Some guinea pig owners may even notice their pet staring at them.
So why does your guinea pig stare at you?
Guinea pigs will stare for various reasons, including boredom, curiosity, or fear. Sometimes a guinea pig is simply sleeping with its eyes open, appearing to stare. A staring guinea pig may also be suffering from illness or grief.
If your guinea pig is staring at you, it is essential to find the cause to rule out any serious issues such as disease or genetic abnormalities.
As long as your guinea pig is determined to be healthy and happy, staring is considered harmless behavior.
Keep reading to learn more about why your guinea pig is staring at you and when the behavior might indicate a problem.
Is It Normal Behavior for a Guinea Pig to Stare?
It is entirely normal guinea pig behavior to stare, although it may take some time to figure out why it is happening.
The reasons may not be obvious if you are a new guinea pig owner.
Once you have monitored your cavy’s behavior for some time and formed a bond with your new pet, you will understand what is considered normal and when you may need help.
Having your guinea pig stare at you may be unnerving, especially for a new guinea pig owner, but the animal is likely communicating with you.
Something may be wrong, or your cavy is simply wanting more attention.
Why Guinea Pigs Stare
A guinea pig stare does not always mean something is amiss, but it is important to pay attention in case of a more serious problem.
Most of the time, staring is nothing to worry about as it is a common behavior of guinea pigs.
However, if your cavy is also acting lethargic or seems to have lost interest in its food, there may be an underlying illness to blame.
Provide your cavy with a clean, low-stress environment, a balanced diet, clean water, and some exercise to keep it healthy.
If you suspect your guinea pig is suffering from illness or disease, seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Below are some of the most common reasons for a guinea pig to stare at you.
In the wild, guinea pigs are prey animals, so they are always on alert for nearby predators.
This constant state of alertness affects a cavy’s sleeping habits, and the animal has learned to adapt by sometimes sleeping with its eyes open.
If you notice your cavy lying on its side with its eyes open and not blinking, do not panic and assume your pet is dead.
Watch your guinea pig for a few moments to ensure it is still breathing.
If you see your cavy’s chest rise and fall, the animal is very much alive and is just sleeping.
Guinea pigs are most active at dawn and dusk, and it is not uncommon for them to take several brief naps throughout the day.
When a cavy frequently sleeps with its eyes open, the animal may not feel completely comfortable in its environment.
Be sure to place your pet guinea pig’s cage in a calm area of your home, away from loud noises or constant movement, and provide your pet with plenty of hiding spots in the enclosure.
Once your cavy feels more secure in its personal space and realizes it does not always have to be on high alert, it will not feel the need to sleep with its eyes open all the time.
Related Reading: Guinea pig nightmares and sleep habits.
Boredom or Loneliness
The animal may be bored or lonely when a guinea pig is staring into space and sitting still for long periods.
Boredom and loneliness often cause a cavy to become depressed, and it may lose interest in food or sleep.
To avoid these behaviors, consider getting a friend for your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are social animals and benefit greatly from having another cage mate to play with.
A couple of guinea pigs are just as easy to care for as a solitary one, and they will enjoy each other’s companionship since they are herd animals.
You also need to provide your cavy with plenty of enriching activities, such as daily floor time or some toys in the cage.
Feeding your pet a nutritious, balanced diet and ensuring it gets plenty of exercise will help prevent boredom and depression and result in a happy guinea pig.
Guinea pigs like to explore their environment, and they may stare if they become fixated on something new they have never seen before.
Encourage your cavy’s curious nature by providing it with new ways to explore.
Hide some treats for your guinea pig to find, or place a stuffed animal in the cage to see how it reacts.
Fear and Anxiety
When a guinea pig becomes frightened, it is instinctual for the animal to freeze in place and stare.
A cavy displays this fear reflex to avoid drawing any attention to itself and warn other herd members of any potential danger.
Your guinea pig may be frightened by larger animals, loud noises, sudden movement, heights, or unfamiliar places and people.
A guinea pig will also stare at you if it hears a loud sound to see how you react.
Keep other pets like cats and dogs away from your cavy’s enclosure and avoid sudden movements or noises to minimize your pet’s fear and anxiety.
Providing a distraction for guinea pigs prone to being afraid helps prevent them from getting too stressed or anxious.
An animal hideout in the enclosure will also make the cavy feel more secure by having a safe space to go whenever it gets scared.
Very rarely, a guinea pig’s stare may be due to a genetic abnormality, such as blindness.
Lethal white cavities, usually the result of mating a roan or Dalmatian, are often born deaf or blind.
A blind guinea pig is likely staring because it is unable to see.
These genetic defects may be almost completely avoided with proper breeding practices.
If you have been late feeding your cavy its favorite vegetables, you have likely had the animal staring at you until it gets what it wants.
You may even hear an occasional squeak from a hungry cavy when it knows it is time to eat.
Guinea pigs thrive on having a regular feeding routine because they are creatures of habit, so it is best to have a schedule to avoid getting stared at when it is time for food.
Further reading: Why can’t guinea pigs eat cooked vegetables?
Guinea pigs are good at hiding when they are not feeling well, so if they start staring into space frequently, you need to observe their behavior for signs of illness.
Some common signs your cavy is not feeling well include:
- Sitting hunched over
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
- Sneezing or wheezing
- A change in bowel habits
- A high-pitched squeak
If you notice staring combined with any of the above symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.
Upper respiratory infections or gastrointestinal issues may be fatal if not treated promptly.
Related: Do guinea pigs have eye boogers?
Your guinea pig may stare at you simply because it wants your attention, especially if it has bonded with you.
If you come home from work to find your cavy staring you down, it is likely because your pet craves some affection or playtime with you.
Many guinea pigs do not enjoy being picked up, but they enjoy being held.
Be gentle with your cavy and hold it close to your body, so it feels more secure.
Aim to spend quality time with your cavy at least once a day, so your pet gets the attention it needs and forms a closer bond with you.
If your cavy has lost a cage mate, it will likely grieve for several days.
You may notice your guinea pig staring or chirping, and it may even refuse to eat or drink.
Be sure to give your remaining cavies lots of extra attention along with their favorite food or treat to help cheer them up.
For a solitary guinea pig, getting a new cage mate will help them avoid any feelings of loneliness or sadness.