Learning to understand our pets is always an interesting experience.
Adult guinea pigs are extremely social and energetic, making them some of the most entertaining animals to own.
Why are these animals sometimes seen running around their cage without much explanation?
As a general rule, your guinea pig runs around its cage due to stress, excitement, illness, or a fight for dominance. In most cases, your pet is running to release happy energy. Watch out for warning signs such as aggression, weight loss, personality change, and more which may signal a more serious issue.
To truly understand why your pet cavy is running laps around its cage, you will need some context information.
We will take a closer look at the most common reasoning for these fluffy animals turning into track stars.
The happiest reasoning for this energetic guinea pig behavior is a case of zoomies or popcorning.
This is very similar to when cats and dogs suddenly feel the need to run around the house and play.
Our cavies are simply smaller versions of our cats and dogs when they come down with a case of the zoomies.
A happy guinea pig with the zoomies often wants to play with its fellow cage mates and owners.
If you have guinea pig toys on hand, your pets will certainly enjoy being let out for floor time to interact with you and burn off their energy.
Zoomies generally last for short periods and are considered one of the normal behaviors to expect from your cavies.
If your pet experiences the zoomies regularly, you likely have an energetic cavy who gets extremely excited to play with you.
Of course, this is one of the reasons they need plenty of space.
Too little cage space limits their ability to burn off this stress, resulting in more pent-up energy and more potential issues.
A good cage size is 15′ sq ft per cavy.
Popcorning is another common reason for cavies to run around their wire cage.
Similar to the zoomies, popcorning involves an exciting cavy running around enjoying life.
The difference between these two celebratory laps is the jumping and skipping involved in popcorning.
This is repeated repeatedly, making it appear as though your pet has turned into a fluffy piece of popcorn bounding around its cage.
It’s adorable to watch them get excited about their favorite guinea pig food.
Your pets’ hind legs will propel them with sudden movements around their enclosure.
Popcorning is an excellent form of natural daily exercise happy guinea pigs will get on their own.
If your cavies are popcorning or running around with a case of the zoomies regularly, you should know you have a couple of very happy pets.
Another positive reason your pet cavies may be running laps around their guinea pig cages is simply for exercise.
These animals enjoy physical activity and mental stimulation.
Some of them like physical activity to essentially train themselves in their enclosures by running around and burning off steam.
Some light softballs are a great addition for your pets to push around and run after.
Other options are ramps and exercise wheels.
Adding ramps for your piggies to run up and down will not only add obstacles to their exercise course but also add an extra room to their enclosure.
All guinea pigs need a clean source of freshwater every day.
If you have a pair of extra active cavies, it is a good idea to have an extra water bottle to ensure both pets have access to water at any given time.
Let’s move on to one of the more serious reasons for running in circles.
In some cases, one of your piggies will run circles around the other.
This is an attempt to establish dominance within their community.
If you notice one of your pets is running circles around the other, there is nothing to worry about.
Dominant behavior isn’t as common with females.
Female cavies often live together in harmony, but there is almost always a hierarchy established among them.
If you keep two or more cavies in the same enclosure, you will almost certainly notice one of your pets has established itself as the alpha piggy.
The final two common reasons for a cavy running laps around its cage are slightly more concerning than the ones we have previously mentioned.
The first of these is stress.
Stress in a cavy is often expressed by running laps around the enclosure.
This may be caused by a perceived threat, such as a dog or a cat outside its cage.
Cavies are naturally prey animals, so their instinct is to run away from predators as quickly as possible.
A sudden environmental change may also cause stress.
Some animals are more sensitive than others, so a sudden change of scenery may initially cause panic.
When cavies are running stress-induced laps, they become less aware of their surroundings.
In most cases, this stress will wear off once your cavy realizes it is not in any danger.
However, this realization does not always happen easily.
If you notice your pet is running around its cage frantically, do your best to calm the situation and soothe the animal.
When a cavy dies, and the cage mate does not have the opportunity to view the body and accept closure, it will assume its friend is lost.
Many owners who have had a cavy pass away while at the vet report their surviving pet running around the enclosure searching for its deceased friend.
In cases where it is possible, allowing the surviving animals to view the body allows them to say goodbye, gain closure, and understand he/she is not coming back.
Although it may seem unusual, this is one of the best things for owners to do.
These animals can sense death and process what has happened.
It is also common to take a favorite blanket or toy and rub the scent of the passed cavy on it.
This gives your surviving pet a security blanket to grieve with.
The final reason your cavy is running circles around its cage is due to illness.
When these animals develop fur mites, a common side effect is running around to rid themselves of the mites.
Cavies suffering from fur mites will also likely suffer from intense itches, fur loss, or a greasy, unnatural appearance.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from fur mites, you will need to consult with a professional.
Your vet will be able to diagnose and treat fur mites in your pets and will advise you on how to properly disinfect the enclosure.