Popcorning in Guinea Pigs

Even though guinea pigs are fairly small for an animal they have a ton of energy and excitement. Guinea pigs are very expressive and love showing their emotion by exhibiting certain behaviors. If your guinea pig starts showing these random behavioral traits it may be alarming but in most cases it’s just your guinea pig showing you affection.

A popular way guinea pig’s show affection is through popcorning. It’s a lot like how it sounds when you see a popcorn kernel fly into the air while making popcorn.

A guinea pig that’s popcorning is basically just jumping in the air, usually through excitement, and all four of their feet leave the ground. In most cases this is due to them being excited or showing affection, however, guinea pigs are known to jump around when scared or something else is wrong. They’ll continue to hop around until their excitement or scared period ends.

What is Guinea Pig Jumping or Popcorning?

You’ll likely hear people talking about guinea pig’s jumping or guinea pig’s popcorning but it’s all the same thing – your guinea pig is jumping around in a quick fashion. The guinea pig will do this by twisting and curving it’s whole body in the air. It’s typical for a guinea pig to do this with all four feet but in some cases they will only do two.

guinea pig jumping in field

If your guinea pig is jumping or popcorning it’s trying to share it’s feelings with you. It’s up to you to decipher if those feelings are excitement or them being scared. For instance, if you just got home from work or school and your guinea pig sees you and starts jumping around it’s likely due to their excitement you’re home. However, if they hear a loud noise, like a gun shot, they could be scared and start jumping.

My Guinea Pig is Jumping: What does it mean?

Your guinea pig jumping is a reflex to their situation. It’s not always alarming but something you should pay attention to as it means they are excited or scared. There is not a good way to tell which one they are.

Happy & Excited

Being happy or excited is the main reason most guinea pigs are popcorning. This is usually brought on by some stimulant such as food or their owner. This is common more in younger guinea pigs than adults. It’s generally considered a positive sign to see your guinea pig popcorning and running around their cage as it promotes good health.

Reasons your guinea pig jumps when happy:

  • Feeding Time – If you maintain a routine feeding schedule for your guinea pig will likely be very excited come feeding time. If you give them special treats, such as a fruit, they don’t normally get it can provoke them to jump around happily.
  • Change in Environment – Guinea pigs are very sensitive to their environment so any change may cause them to start jumping around. If you add any new toys that promote stimulation your guinea pig will likely be very excited and happy.
  • Change in State of Mind – Any physical or mental stimulation you give your guinea pig can lead to them popcorning. For instance, the addition of a new friend or them meeting someone new.
  • Age – The age of the guinea pig plays a big role in if they will jump or not. Typically younger guinea pigs get more excited faster and jump around more than adults, especially much older guinea pigs.


The other reason most guinea pigs jump around is from being scared. This doesn’t happen too often and it’s usually pretty easy to spot the reason why they may be scared. You’ll want to be careful because too much fear added to the guinea pig’s life can cause unwanted stress which can lead to health problems in your guinea pig.

Reasons your guinea pig jumps when scared:

  • Loud Noises – A loud noise such as a car horn or thunder can cause your guinea pig to go into a short panic and one of their biggest responses to this is to jump around.
  • Change in Environment – It’s healthy to change up the guinea pig’s habitat every now and then but you should avoid frequent changes. Try to let them live in the same environment for a period of time before changing it.
  • Animals – The presence of another animal in the house, such as a dog or cat, can cause unwanted stress on the guinea pig. For instance, if the cat attacks the guinea pig cage or the dog barks at the guinea pig it can lead to them being scared.

Why Does My Guinea Pig Popcorn When I Touch Him?

It’s unknown how they are exactly feeling but if they are popcorning from your touch they are either very excited to see you or very scared of you. If you regularly visit your guinea pig, spend time with them, groom them and are the primary caretaker for them it’s likely that they are excited.

Most guinea pigs will popcorn due to excitement and not out of fear. If they rarely see you around their cage and you’re not their primary caretaker and they jump around it is likely out of fear. This happens often when guinea pigs are handed off to others who are visitors of the house and they don’t know how to act.

Is Popcorning Bad For Guinea Pigs?

Yes, popcorning in guinea pigs can be bad. Typically it represents fear, nervousness or anxiety in your guinea pig which is not good for their health. Guinea pig’s are very rugged animals but can easily get poor health from even the simplest of things, like stress.

Aside from the health impacts your guinea pig has a chance to really hurt themselves physically if they continue to jump around and land awkwardly. Try to get rid of any stimulation that is causing your guinea pig to continuously popcorn around their cage.

Article Sources & Research

  1. Clayton, A. (2021, June 1). Why does my guinea pig jump? What is ‘popcorning’?’. Vet Help Direct. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://vethelpdirect.com/vetblog/2021/06/01/why-does-my-guinea-pig-jump-what-is-popcorning/
  2. Connor, M. (2021, October 16). What Is Guinea Pig Popcorning? And Why Does Your Cavy Do It? Home & Roost. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/what-is-guinea-pig-popcorning/
  3. Zarbock, M. (2019, February 26). Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn? Lafeber Co. – Small Mammals. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://lafeber.com/mammals/guinea-pigs-popcorn/