I once saw my pet shaking and asked myself: why is my guinea pig shivering? Sometimes, we see our cavies doing rather peculiar things.
Other guinea pig owners might have experienced this behavior as well. Luckily, I did my research and found out that there are scientific reasons why.
The four factors that make your cavy shiver are joy or excitement, fear or anxiety, cold temperatures, and sickness. These trigger a response within their bodies that makes them shake slightly or violently.
This article will further discuss why these factors make your guinea pigs shake and how you could eliminate the harms that some may bring.
Keep on scrolling to know more!
Why Does Guinea Pig Shiver?
So, why is my guinea pig shivering?
Guinea pigs are small, making them the prey in the wild, yet equipped with natural responses that make them survive.
However, these traits are still prominent despite them being domesticated. Shivering is one of those fight-or-flight responses that a cavy possesses. Here are four reasons why they do so:
#1. Joy or excitement
Have you tried petting or holding your cavy, and you could feel them “vibrating” on your hand? That is a sign that your piggies are highly comfortable with you!
Sometimes, we tend to think that their shivering means that they’re terrified of us. I even remember how scared I was when I first held my cavy, Ginger, and he vibrated like a mobile phone!
Thankfully, it is only a sign of affection that is highly similar to the purring of cats.
Moreover, your guinea pig could also shiver while copulating with other cavies. Often characterized by their hips’ excessive movement, intense shaking during mating periods is typical among guinea pigs.
Cavies also tend to get excited when they acknowledge the presence of their favorite toys or a delicious meal nearby. The vibrate-stop repetition is a clear sign that your pet is contented, calm, and enthusiastic. Plus, it makes them even cuter if you ask me!
To keep this positive “vibration” response, a cavy owner should provide the utmost care for their guinea pigs. Their comfort and quality of life should be prioritized and emphasized every day.
#2. Fear or anxiety
Shuddering and violent shivering is a usual fight-or-flight response of animals when they are in danger.
Guinea pigs are fully equipped with this biological response, which could also be accompanied by always looking around and teeth-gritting/biting.
When they feel that people or animals around them are threatening them, cavies tend to shiver in fear. If there are no organisms that they think are harmful to them, past traumatic experiences could trigger this response.
For example, a cavy who’s accidentally choked by a white towel may shudder when they see one.
Furthermore, their anxiety by loud noises and bright lights show because their ears are sensitive to these stimuli, making them scared and shake aggressively.
You could calm them down by limiting their contact with other species and removing all possible stimuli that could be traumatic for them.
Also, eliminating any noise and bright light sources could be helpful. Giving them treats could also keep them chill, too! Here are some guinea pig treats that your cavy might love.
#3. Cold temperatures
Mammals shiver when exposed to a low temperature.
It is a form of bodily response, and it stabilizes internal temperature, which extends the activity period of an organism despite the cold. It also keeps them alive and breathing as well.
Guinea pigs are no exception to this rule. The surrounding temperature should be adequate for them to thrive in (65-75°F).
Any temperature lower or higher than stated could lead to heatstroke, respiratory system failure, or hypothermia in worse cases.
Moreover, bathing your guinea pigs could also expose them to these abrupt environmental changes, making them shiver afterward. It would be best if you kept them comfortable and warm at all costs.
You could limit their shivering and neutralize the temperature by putting your guinea pig on a towel soaked with warm water before bathing them.
Next, use lukewarm water to clean their overall body.
Finally, dry them using a warm towel and a hairdryer on the lowest possible setting.
Lastly, position their homes where there is less draft, and the surrounding temperature is warm for them. Make sure to keep the temperature every time to lessen any possible fluctuations that could harm your pet.
When a nasal discharge or watery eyes follow your cavy’s shivering, chances are your guinea pig is sick because of a cold or any respiratory disease.
This shivering is different from the ones mentioned above since a disease symptom commonly accompanies it, and it makes a cavy visibly uncomfortable.
Aside from respiratory illnesses, ear infections and mites could also make your pet shiver due to discomfort.
In worse cases, this shivering, combined with twitching, could become a form of seizure that could significantly affect your guinea pig. This roots from brain damage or any severe internal problem within your cavy. Such serious problems can lead to your guinea pig’s death.
If you encounter any of these problems, immediately seek veterinary help. Never try to self-medicate and assume “possible illnesses” that your cavy could be having.
What if my guinea pig is shivering all the time?
Constant shivering can sign a mild symptom of seizure or a severe disorder that your cavy could be experiencing. If you think that your guinea pig’s shaking is getting out of hand, immediately seek help from a veterinarian.
How do I stop my cavy from shivering?
Shivering is a normal biological response for guinea pigs. Commonly, there is no need to stop your cavy from shivering.
However, providing them the required comfort and care dramatically reduces the persistence of their shivering due to harmful cases that are caused by cold, diseases, etc.
Moreover, it would help if you were observant of the possible root cause of the shivering. If it’s because of a disease or illness, contact your veterinarian and consult him immediately.
Why is my guinea pig shivering?
There are four main reasons behind this phenomenon: joy or excitement, fear or anxiety, cold temperatures, and sickness. These factors trigger shivering, which is a normal biological response of your cavies.
If you feel your cavy is shivering without any apparent reason, you should contact your vet and have your pet checked. Shivering can be due to any life-threatening condition. It’s always a good idea to have your pet checked.
I hope by following this article and doing what’s best for them, you and your guinea pigs will live a better life.
Best wishes and keep safe!
Delbert Curtis is a senior writer at Petcosset, a leading online resource for pet care information. With over 10 years of experience in the pet industry, Delbert is passionate about helping pet owners provide the best care possible. He has written extensively on pet health, nutrition, training, and behavior. Delbert is dedicated to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the pet industry to provide the most accurate and helpful information to Petcosset’s readers. Delbert enjoys spending time with his pets and exploring the great outdoors when he’s not writing.