Why Is My Guinea Pig Shaking / Shivering / Vibrating?

Is your guinea pig shaking or shivering?

Don’t be alarmed, as guinea pigs can shake or vibrate their bodies for multiple reasons.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with your cavy.

A guinea pig can shake its body to display stress, happiness, anger, excitement, dominance, and more.

Let’s study all of the reasons why guinea pig shakes in detail!

Why Do Guinea Pigs Shake /Shiver /Vibrate?

Here are seven reasons why a guinea pig might start shaking on vibrating its body:

It’s Feeling Cold

Guinea pigs are warm-blooded animals that need heat in icy, cold weather. If they feel cold, they will start shaking or shivering just like humans do when they feel cold.

The cold temperature causes their muscles to move involuntarily, shaking their bodies.

Even though a little bit of cold is alright, don’t let your pet stay too cold for too long.

So, don’t let your fluffball’s coat fool you into thinking that it won’t feel cold.

If the temperature has dropped considerably and your guinea pig is shivering, it’s best to provide it warmth right away.

Move your guinea pig to a warmer setting with the ideal temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, make sure to assess the environment and keep your guinea pig warm.

When you bathe your pet, make sure to dry its body instantly with a fresh towel so that it doesn’t feel too cold or catch a chill.

Put it in your lap in a room with a stable temperature so it can feel warm. Just don’t expose it to too much heat by putting its enclosure in direct sunlight or near a radiator.

It’s Experiencing Fear

A guinea pig or cavy might also shake when feeling fearful or anxious.

Remaining hyperalert and feeling anxious or afraid comes naturally to guinea pigs since they’re prey animals.

Many things can scare a guinea pig and incite this involuntary reaction. These triggers include:

  • Unfamiliar spaces
  • Loud noises
  • Being held improperly
  • Bigger animals that can be their predators
  • Being handled aggressively or when they’ve shown signs of reluctance
  • Being held up too high
  • Changes in the environment

Depending on your cavy’s temperament, it might get scared and stressed easily.

When you think your guinea pig is afraid of something, make it feel comfortable and wait for it to calm down.

Don’t pick it up, and let it stay inside its hiding spot so it can feel safe. Make sure your cavy doesn’t suffer from long-term stress, as it can cause health issues.

If your guinea pig is often fearful, you might need to change the location of its tank. Make sure it has enough hiding spots to feel safe and not exposed.

If your guinea pig is getting scared of new sounds, thunderstorms, and extra stimulation, cover its cage and sit next to it to make them feel less afraid.

Create a secure environment for your cavy to relieve its anxiety.

It’s Feeling Happy

On the flip side, a guinea pig might also shake or vibrate its body when it’s too excited or happy.

When your cavy feels particularly happy to see you, it will vibrate to let you know how content or glad it is.

It can also shake out of excitement upon seeing its favorite treat or toy. It might also vibrate its body if it’s enjoying your company and the game you’re playing with it.

Other signs suggesting a guinea pig feels happy around you include your pet falling asleep in your lap and snuggling up to you.

However, if your cavy starts shaking and tries running away, it’s probably scared.

You need to create a secure bond with your guinea pig to make them feel comfortable around you.

This way, your guinea pig will jump around or “popcorn” and feel content around you.

Also, don’t hold your pet for more than 10 to 5 minutes, as cavies don’t like being cuddled for long.

You don’t want its happiness to turn into fear and annoyance by holding them forcefully. 

It’s Asserting Its Dominance

A guinea pig will also shake its body if it wants to assert its dominance over another cavy.

It’s part of their behavioral development, and it’s their way of claiming to be stronger than the other guinea pig.

Your guinea pig might shake its buy and make a small, rumbling sound to assert its dominance over other guinea pigs.

It’s fairly common amongst male guinea pigs who are prone to fighting with each other.

It’s Feeling Angry

 A guinea pig can also shake from anger at being forcefully petted.

In such an instance, the shaking will be accompanied by chattering teeth or a hissing sound.

It means you’ve pushed your guinea pig to the brink. If that happens, carefully put the cavy back in its enclosure.

Keep your distance and let the guinea pig calm down. This way, you can ensure that its fight or flight response has been subdued and that it’s no longer hyper-vigilant or frustrated.

If you don’t put your cavy back, it might think that it has to defend itself from you, which might cause it to bite you.

However, it’s super rare for guinea pigs to bite since they are gentle and meek creatures.

It Wants to Mate

Often, male guinea pigs produce slow, gentle vibrations throughout their bodies to attract female guinea pigs.

They might also make a low-pitch sound to follow the shaking.

Other signs of courting include strutting around the female and hip swaying. Boars will continue to do this even after getting neutered.

Some female guinea pigs might also exhibit this behavior.

If your male guinea pig or boar was recently neutered, wait at least six weeks after the procedure before putting it with its female companions.

Otherwise, the male might impregnate the female guinea pigs.

Also read: How Often Do Guinea Pigs Mate?

It’s Not Feeling Well

If you have made sure that your guinea pig is not shaking due to the reasons mentioned above, then you might need to consider that it’s not feeling well.

Your pet might have a fever or other health issues.

So, if you cuddle up with your guinea pig and notice his body vibrating, look for other signs of underlying sickness and pain.

Here are some signs your cavy might be sick:

  • Wheezing
  • Hair loss
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infection
  • Eye or mouth discharge

If your guinea pig is suffering from any of these conditions, take it to the vet right away.

It’s because cavies are notorious for their health deteriorating really quickly when they’re not feeling well.

Make it a habit to groom your guinea pig often so that you can tell if your little pet is sick or injured.

Pay close attention to its cage floor or litter box for signs of diarrhea or a lack of droppings.

It might be suffering from an internal illness that you have no idea about. For instance, if your guinea pig is only shaking its head, it might be suffering from a painful ear infection.

It can prove to be a life-threading disease for them if it’s not treated timely.

If you suspect an ear infection, you need to rush your pet to the vet for immediate medical assistance.

A guinea pig will also shake and twitch in pain if it has Guinea pig mange. It can be uncomfortable for your pet, but with the right treatment, it can be fixed.

A cavy will also shiver due to fever and cold body temperature. In such an instance, you will need to cover it will a clean, soft blanket. If your pet cannot eat or is refusing to eat, don’t force-feed it.

Instead, take it to the vet to determine the cause, give them the right medicine, and follow a treatment and diet plan. Keep them hydrated at all times.

A guinea pig will also vibrate its body from irritation due to having itchy fleas or mites. Your guinea pig might shake its body to get rid of them and the itchiness. 

The vet might give you a medicated soap bar and advise you to bathe your cavy with it.

You will also need to keep your pet’s environment clean to protect them from fleas and bacterial infections.

How to Determine Why Your Guinea Pig Is Shaking

You need to figure out why your guinea pig is shaking to ensure that the reason isn’t negative or injurious to its health.

You don’t want to ignore the shaking and cause more stress to your pet.

The reason why it’s tricky to determine the cause of a guinea pig shivering is that they shiver for various reasons, as mentioned above.

They can shiver when they are upset or happy.

A possible solution to counter this is to use the RAC method, in which the R stands for reaction, the A stands for antecedent, and the C stands for Conclusion.

The RAC method can help you collect information and visual cues to come to a reasonable conclusion about your cavy’s particular behavior.

RAC Method

This trick uses observation, analysis, and conclusion to understand a guinea’s behavior.

“R” in the RAC method refers to reaction, which basically means the guinea pig’s action you witness, aka shaking/shivering or vibrating.

“A” denotes antecedent, which points towards the incident that happened right before your fur friend began moving.

For example, you introduced your pet to your friend, making your little fellow uncomfortable. The result? They begin vibrating.

So now, when you think about the why behind their reaction, you will know that it’s not a positive one and that your sidekick must be startled or uneasy seeing a new face.

Lastly, “C” describes the conclusion you derive from your observation and analysis, which in the above example would be that your tiny companion isn’t too excited to meet a stranger, prompting you to take them to someplace familiar, aka safe.

The RAC method is a quick and straightforward approach to determining what a piggy pal may be feeling with respect to the latest event that transpired.

This method works best if you have a basic understanding of cavy behavior.

Your knowledge, combined with your observation of your guinea pig’s reaction and your assessment of the situation, will help you quickly determine the cause of their shivering or vibrating.

How to Keep Your Guinea Pig from Shaking or Shivering?

Typically, you don’t need to stop your guinea pig from shaking or vibrating its body. It’s especially true when the shaking is due to happiness or as part of the courting ritual.

However, if the shaking is due to external or internal negative circumstances, you can certainly make the following changes to make your guinea pig happy:

Limit the Stimulation Your Guinea Pig Receives

If you feel that your guinea pig is often stressed, you will need to study its environment. If its cage or enclosure is in a crowded area of the house, move it to a quiet place.

Don’t keep the enclosure near a window to protect your pet from excessive heat and outside sounds. Don’t keep it near a TV either as it can upset your cavy.

Find a relatively secure corner of the house to keep the enclosure. Add more than one hiding spot in the enclosure. Keep cozy bedding inside to ensure your cavy can burrow into it.

It will help your pet feel safer in your home, with their enclosure acting as the most secure part of the house for them.

Visit a Vet

If you think there’s a health-related reason behind the shaking, take your guinea pig to the vet right away.

Don’t delay the visit since your guinea pig might be suffering from a severe health condition.

You will need professional medical assistance and treatment to help them get better. Proactively taking action can help you save your pet’s life. Even if there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Protect Them from Your Other Pets

If you happen to have other bigger pets, such as a dog or cat, in your home, you need to keep your guinea pig away from them. They will need to feel protected.

Even if your other pet doesn’t harm them, seeing them will activate your guinea pig’s prey animal instincts, making them shiver involuntarily and remain stressed all the time.

So, keep them in a safe environment, away from your other pets. It will ensure that your guinea pig remains happy and safe instead of feeling anxious all the time.

Offer a Cozy Environment and Ample Food & Water

Lastly, make sure your guinea pig isn’t feeling cold by offering it a cozy enclosure. Keep the space clean, warm, and secure to keep all diseases, colds, and threats at bay.

Moreover, offer it sufficient food and water to keep it happy and healthy. Water will also help regulate your pet’s body temperature.

Final Thoughts

A guinea pig can shake due to multiple reasons, including fear, happiness, aggression, sickness, cold, excitement, and more.

Use the RAC method to determine the cause of your pet’s shaking to keep it safe and healthy.

Other articles you may also like: