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Why Do Guinea Pigs Yawn?

Have you ever noticed your guinea pig yawning and wondered why! is your furry little friend bored, tired or simply just relaxing?

Let’s start by answering the question “why do guinea pigs yawn?” by looking at the science behind the yawn. First, Guinea pigs are vertebrates (an animal distinguished by having a backbone or spinal column) and like all vertebrates, yawning is completely normal.

Researchers have not identified the exact science behind yawning however here are some observations that have been made:

  • Yawning involves simultaneous stretching of eardrums and air inhalation which is then immediately followed by exhalation.
  • Yawning expels carbon dioxide from the body, Inhaling returns oxygen to the lungs improving the circulation of blood throughout the body and restoring alertness. 
  • Yawning cools down the brain and may flush out brain toxins. 
  • Yawning helps stretch out the throat and the tongue.
  • Yawning helps control body temperature.
  • The typical yawn lasts 6 seconds
  • Yawning is contagious.

Fun Fact – Most yawning is considered to be involuntary.

The Stressed Guinea Yawn

Guinea pigs will yawn to release anxiety, if you think your guinea pig is yawning due to stress here are some factors that you may want to consider.

Is Your Guinea Pig New To Your Family? If So, This May Cause Stress Yawning.

When you bring your guinea pig home it is going to take time and patience, on your part, for your new guinea to feel comfortable with you. Here are some suggestions that will help you get off to a good start.

Make sure the cage is filled with everything your guinea pig will need, bedding, food, water, tiny house to hide in and tunnels to explore. Keep the cage in a quiet area, give him time to adjust to your home.

Avoid speaking loudly, Guinea pigs hear better than they see, so speak in a normal, gentle tone. Speaking loudly or excitedly may startle your Guinea and it may take longer to earn trust.

Once you and your guinea are comfortable with each other you can start petting him. Slowly reach into the cage, do not make any sudden movements.

Let your guinea smell your hand then begin stroking his fur, be gentle, always use two hands when picking up your guinea pig and hold him securely to your chest. Following those simple steps should help prevent stress yawning. 

Have You Recently Made Changes To Your Guinea Pigs’ Environment?

Change may cause your Guinea to feel anxious causing stress yawning. Something as simple as moving the food dish or repositioning the water bottle can send your guinea into a tailspin. You may have decided to upgrade and splurge on a new cage or some fun new accessories, like a tunnel or new toy.

A good rule of thumb is to make small changes slowly, especially if you are planning to move the cage into another location. Give your guinea pig plenty of time to adjust 

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Are You Introducing A New Guinea Pig?

You may decide at some point to bring another guinea pig into your home. Although guinea pigs are social animals, an addition to the family will most likely cause some degree of stress.

Since there are many factors involved in choosing the right Guinea pig and making the introductions, be sure you do your research before you make a final decision.

Understanding the things that trigger stress in your guinea will give you the upper hand in providing a safe, comfortable environment. The good news is the stress yawning will most likely stop and you and your guinea can relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Fun Fact- Guinea pigs are grazing animals so will eat regularly throughout the day. 

The Aggressive Guinea Yawn

When a Guinea pig is feeling threatened, it will become aggressive by yawning. This is a ploy to show off their teeth.

Guineas pigs are social by nature and enjoy the company of other guineas, however they are also very territorial. Aggressive behavior can be provoked when one guinea is establishing dominance over another one.

If you have two or more guinea pigs in a cage it is important, they have adequate room to move around. Most disagreements will happen over sleeping arrangements, food, food bowls, potty area and mating. 

Along with yawning, Guinea pigs will show aggression by making their teeth chatter violently and the back of their neck will stand straight up. They may engage in fighting, especially when they face each other, standing upright.

It is important at that point to separate them before they attack. Once the Guinea pigs cool off, they will stop yawning to show their teeth and it will be business as usual, however you will need to monitor their behavior if you are keeping them together. 

Guinea pigs may also show aggressive behavior if they are sick or injured. Other signs would include sleeping more than usual, becoming reclusive, loss of appetite and avoiding being held or touched.  If unusual aggressive behavior continues or you notice any changes in your Guinea’s pig health, speak with a vet so you can rule out an injury of sickness. 

Aggressive yawning can be a tool for you to prevent any unnecessary aggressive behaviors in your guinea pig.

Fun Fact-Some Guinea pigs, like humans, can be more shy or nervous than others 

The Super Chill Guinea Yawn

The opposite of a stressed guinea who yawns and a super chilled guinea who yawns is a safe environment. There are several things that you can do to ensure your Guinea is relaxed and feels comfortable in their home.

Start with a healthy diet, they love a variety of fruits and vegetables. Make sure the cage is kept clean, bedding and toys should be replaced as needed.

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There should be a water bottle for clean fresh water, a ceramic bowl for pellets and food and unlimited hay, to provide fiber for their digestive track and to keep their teeth at a good length. 

Guinea pigs love to explore the world, so make sure to offer plenty of opportunity. There are several guinea pig accessories available that provide safe boundaries to explore.

A guinea pig playpen will provide safe floor time and toys such as wooden balls and chew sticks, keep your guinea busy. As important as play is to your Guinea pig, spending time with them every day is even better.

The more you handle your Guinea by petting and holding, the more you will foster security. Guinea pigs who are left alone, stuck in a cage with no interaction of any kind will become stressed and eventually mistrustful of humans.  

Maintaining a safe environment for your Guinea pig should tell you that those yawns mean they are comfortable and relaxed with not a care in the world. Now that is one chill Guinea!

 Fun Fact-The oldest living guinea pig was 14 years old 

The Happy Guinea Yawn

Have you ever held your Guinea in your hands, with absolute trust he snuggles in and looks up, his body relaxes, and it happens, most adorable little yawn! Those little yawns can be welcome respites of joy not just for you but also for your well cared for guinea pig. 

That right there is the happy yawn.

Guinea pigs tell you they are happy in various ways, A good appetite, sleeping but full of energy when awake.

They will be playful and curious, exploring the world around them. Have you ever noticed the high-pitched sound your guinea makes when you are around? Or that constant chattering?

All of this points to a happy Guinea pig. Yet, even with so many other ways of communication with you, it is that little yawn that speaks volumes. 

Fun Fact- Guinea pigs have a “happy dance” called popcorning, whereby they run backwards and forwards, then leap into the air kicking their legs out

Throughout this article we have looked at several possibilities that answer the question, why do guinea pigs yawn?

  • Yawning provides your guinea pig with health benefits, like good blood flow and regulating body temperature. 
  • Guinea pig yawns can also be due to several factors like stress, caused by changes to their environment or aggression as a result of being territorial.
  • Guinea pigs also yawn when they feel safe and secure in their surroundings, the result of a happy, healthy content pet. 

The desire to communicate is a basic need, learning why your guinea pig is yawning provides an opportunity for you to meet that need. As a pet owner, there is no greater joy than to be reassured that your guinea pig is not only healthy, but genuinely happy.