Popcorning and Jumping

'Popcorning' is the name for an unusual behaviour that many guinea pigs exhibit, which involves them running backwards and forwards rapidly, jumping into the air over and over again. Some cavies will throw themselves straight up in the air, while some will alternately kick their front and back legs out, almost like a bucking bronco. Often they will make a squeaking sound at the same time.

Popcorning is particularly common in young babies, and is something that both boars and sows do. Adult guinea pigs popcorn as well, although generally not as often, and they don't jump as high as the youngsters.

The name comes from the fact that when your cavies are running and jumping around suddenly, they look a lot like a piece of popcorn bursting in a pan! Other names for it include pogoing, pronking, pronging, and stotting.

These guinea pigs are jumping and popcorning with excitement.

A common question asked by owners is 'why do guinea pigs jump?' Some become worried when they see their guinea pigs popcorning, mistaking it for some sort of spasm or seizure. However, this couldn't be further from the truth, and it is actually a sign that your pigs are very happy and excited - you will often see them leaping around when you give them fresh hay or a tasty treat, or even just at the sight of their owner.

People often want to know how they can make their guinea pigs popcorn, perhaps because they want to show their friends or catch it on film. Unfortunately it's not something you can force them to do. The best way to encourage them to leap around is to do things that make them happy, such as treating them well, keeping them well fed, and spending lots of time playing with them - the sort of things a loving owner should be doing anyway!