As any child can attest, jumping on the bed is fun. But there is a reason we do not jump on the bed as adults. When an adult sees a child jumping on the bed, the adult acknowledges the imminent danger of what can happen if the child falls and teaches the child to avoid that danger.
As guinea pig owners, we too must be aware of the threat a bed can pose.
It’s true that guinea pigs are cute and cuddly and some of us want to have them around all the time, even when lounging in bed. Other times, we might want to place them on the bed while we clean the cage or replenish their food and water.
There are even those who like for their guinea pigs to sleep in bed with them at night.
But is it safe to have your guinea pig on a bed? Will your guinea pig jump off the bed?
The truth is it depends. It depends on how long the guinea pig is on the bed, the guinea pig’s temperament, what you are doing while the guinea pig is on the bed and numerous other factors.
At any given time, while a guinea pig is on a bed, there is no definitive way to know if the guinea pig will at some point jump off the bed. What we do know is that, for a guinea pig, falling from the bed to the floor can be extremely dangerous. For that reason, it is best to err on the side of caution and never put a guinea pig on your bed.
Four Reasons Why Your Guinea Pig Might Jump Off The Bed
Poor Depth Perception
A little-known fact about guinea pigs is that they have a better range of vision and can see more images per second than humans. Despite these strengths, their eyesight overall is not great.
Guinea pigs cannot see more than a few feet in front of them and do not have good depth perception. This means that if you put a guinea pig on a bed, it will not realize how far off the floor it is.
It might jump, not realizing how far the jump is, and become injured.
When guinea pigs get excited, they “popcorn,” or leap, into the air. This is an involuntary movement that happens quickly and unexpectedly.
Guinea pigs can get excited and start to popcorn for many different reasons. Some popcorn when they see their favorite human, some popcorn when their owner opens a fresh bag of hay, others popcorn because it is Wednesday and they’re feeling happy.
If a guinea pig is too close to the side of the bed, it can unintentionally popcorn right over the edge.
Guinea pigs are very alert animals that can easily be frightened. As prey animals, their ancestors had to remain alert in case a predator attacked.
This trait was passed down to domesticated guinea pigs making them hypervigilant at times. If a guinea pig is sitting on a bed and becomes surprised, it will try to run away and can potentially jump off the bed.
Guinea pigs are curious. They like to explore. It is entirely possible that your guinea pig will wander to the edge while exploring the bed and fall over the side.
While this isn’t exactly jumping, it is still a fall that can cause a lot of damage.
What Can Happen If Your Guinea Pig Jumps Off The Bed
Guinea pigs are fragile. Their heads, necks, backs/spines, ribs and legs can easily be injured by a fall. If your guinea pig jumps off your bed and falls the wrong way, it can cause:
- Broken Bones
- Leg Dislocations
- Internal injuries
- Death (in extreme cases)
For this reason, it is important to keep your guinea pig close to the floor and not put it on an elevated surface such as a bed. When a guinea pig falls from a height of more than six inches, there is a chance that it will land the wrong way and become injured.
If your bed is above this height, it is advisable to never put your guinea pig on the bed.
What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Jumps Off The Bed
If your guinea pig does jump off your bed, the first thing to remember is that any treatment should be performed by a veterinary professional. If the guinea pig’s leg appears injured, it is important that you not try to apply a splint as moving an injured guinea pig can cause further damage.
If you feel comfortable doing a basic health check, you can check and make sure that your guinea pig’s teeth are not broken and that the ribs and spine are not damaged. You can check the ribs and spine by carefully and gently running your hand along the guinea pig’s body.
If you feel any abnormalities, get your guinea pig to the vet immediately. If you are uncomfortable performing these checks, you can call a vet to guide you through them or take your guinea pig to the vet for a checkup.
If your guinea pig displays the following signs after jumping from the bed, take your guinea pig to the vet immediately:
- A broken leg (bone protruding through the skin or limping that lasts for more than a day)
- The guinea pig is not moving
- Squeaking in pain
- Labored breathing or wheezing
- Inability to walk normally (i.e. dragging its legs)
If your guinea pig seems perfectly fine after jumping from the bed, pay close attention to the guinea pig’s behavior for the next day or two. If you notice any changes in appearance, breathing, eating, drinking, excretions, movement or activity level, contact your vet.
You’ll need to monitor your guinea pig closely because guinea pigs tend to hide signs of injury. Even if you don’t notice any of these signs, you still might want to contact a vet as guinea pigs sometimes sustain internal injuries when they fall.
But What If I’m Careful?
Despite all the reasons we’ve given for not putting your guinea pig on a bed, some of you still might be tempted to put your guinea pig on the bed and just take precautions. However, even with precautions, putting your guinea pig on the bed can be a bad idea.
Some things that guinea pig owners do in an attempt to protect their guinea pigs while on the bed are: putting up a barrier (such as pillows or a guard) so the guinea pig cannot access the edge of the bed, watching the guinea pig closely while it is on the bed, putting the guinea pig in some kind of enclosure such as a basket and placing it on top of the bed, keeping food or treats on the bed to keep the guinea pig occupied and even holding the guinea pig while on the bed.
The problem with these precautions is that a guinea pig can knock over, slip under or jump over a barrier; when watching the guinea pig, you might turn your head for a minute; your guinea pig might climb or jump out of a basket or other enclosure; it might lose interest in any food or treats you put on the bed and wander off the bed; and it can slip out of your hands while you are on your bed holding it. Even with the most extreme safety measures, accidents can and do happen.
Guinea pigs have the tendency to act quickly and in ways that catch us by surprise. Many guinea pig owners can attest to this having had their own guinea pigs unexpectedly jump from their hands.
There is no way to predict with absolute certainty whether or not your guinea pig will jump off the bed. However, there are many reasons why a guinea pig might jump off a bed.
Even if you know your guinea pig well and can at times anticipate its behavior, you can never know for sure what your guinea pig’s next move will be. It is very possible that, when placed on a bed, the guinea pig will jump, whether intentional or not.
It is best to err on the side of caution and never place a guinea pig on a bed.
In a perfect world, guinea pigs could sit with us on our beds or at the table, but in reality, it is not a good idea. Better alternatives are to allow the guinea pig to have floor time or to place the guinea pig in its own little bed on the floor.
You could even have a special rug on the floor that you lie down on while spending time with your guinea pig. Keeping your guinea pig closer to the floor will help keep it happy and safe!