Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn?

Popcorning is when guinea pigs suddenly jump up, much like when humans make popcorn from corn kernels. Guinea Lynx describes popcorning as "(breaking) out in a joyous bouquet of romps and jumps," which is a nice way of describing the behavior. We don't have a good video of any of us popcorning at the moment, so we're going to use other piggies to illustrate:

Their names are Buttercup and Cream. 

You may have noticed that in this video, the baby guinea pig jumps pretty high when popcorning. This is to be expected because as we grow, our bodies grow more than our feet do.

What does this behavior mean? In general, it means we're happy and excited. Many guinea pigs will start popcorning because we're excited about the food our humans just gave us. Other times, we may just start popcorning randomly because we're feeling playful.

Popcorning can also show emotional excitement in a negative way, however. For example, some guinea pigs popcorn when they're startled by loud noises, like music or vacuum cleaners. Sometimes, popcorning can be combined with rumblestrutting (which is when we make a rumbling noise and walk with a sway; we'll probably do a post on this in the future). Someone called this behavior "rumble-corning." Rumble-corning is typically an aggitated display of dominance.

One forum poster described popcorning as "a kind of piggy exclamation-point," which is a great way of putting it. It could mean:
  • "Food time! I'm so excited!"
  • "Time to play!"
  • "What is that noise! That's scary!"
  • "Hey! Other piggy! Stop sniffing my butt!"
  • "I'm the dominant pig around around here, and don't you forget it!"
You'll probably be able to figure out we're trying to say with our popcorning by looking at the context. Readers, have you seen your pigs popcorn? What were they trying to say to you?


  1. We popcorned because we were startled by a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum was really loud, and we mean really loud, so we popcorned into our pigloos.
    Ashley & Wendy

    1. We hate vacuum cleaners, too! I don't know why humans can't make quieter cleaning machines.

    2. Precious doesn't seem to mind. I can run it next two him while he is running around & he could care less. :) He checks it out & walks away.

    3. Precious is either incredibly brave, or can't hear very well! :-)

  2. I'm not sure I've ever seen one of our piggies popcorning for any reason other than being happy! They seem to popcorn less as they get older, have you noticed that too?