What Is Popcorning and Why Do Guinea Pigs Do It?

Guinea pigs are one of the cutest small pets out there, but what is popcorning and why do they do it?

Guinea pigs are a popular first family pet. They're small, easy to handle, and adorable to boot. Guinea pigs have a lot of fun behaviors to watch, but have you ever heard of guinea pigs popcorning? Popcorning is the name for those crazy leaps your guinea pig does in the air, and there's a reason for it. If your little piggy is bucking, squealing, and just generally acting crazy, then you're probably looking at a popcorning guinea pig.

Popcorning might seem like a cause for concern. Are they hurt? Scared? No, fortunately popcorning is completely normal. First time guinea pig owners might be confused by the behavior, but it's just a typical part of guinea pig life.

What Is Popcorning? 

guinea pig on white background

The behavior is aptly named as it makes the little rodent look an awful lot like a kernel of corn that has just popped. Some people think this behavior looks like your piggy is a bucking bronco. Regardless of what you think it looks like, don't worry when you see your guinea pig popping about. Fortunately, this behavior just means your pal is super happy.

Healthy, excited guinea pigs will exhibit this behavior on occasion. It is observed more frequently in baby guinea pigs than adults, but adults still embrace moments of joy by jumping about. Also worth noting is that adults are heavier than babies, so their bounds and leaps might not take them as far off the ground as their little ones. As humans, we can certainly relate.

Alternative Names for Popcorning

guinea pigs together on wood background popcorning

Since guinea pigs jump straight up in the air as if they are riding a pogo stick while exhibiting this behavior, it's also called pogoing by some. The scientific term for these jumps is pronking, but popcorning is way cuter than the other terms.

Guinea pigs are not the only creatures to popcorn about. Gazelles practice stotting, though some theories suggest it isn't so much a playful act as one to tell predators to step back. Every once in a blue moon, a horse will frolic about in this manner as well. Rabbits are known to binkie when experiencing happiness. Just like humans, big and little animals alike have ways of expressing joy. If your pet is showing off with these behaviors, it probably means you're doing a great job raising it!

A Happy Popcorning Pig

guinea pig on straw background not popcorning

Popcorning is such an adorable guinea pig trait that it would be nice if you could train a guinea pig to do it on command. While you cannot quite encourage your cavy to reach for the sky, practicing good parenting will lead you in the right direction.

Happy guinea pigs hop about, and happy guinea pigs are healthy guinea pigs. Making sure your furry friend has ample and varied food, plenty of water in their water bottle, running space, playtime (especially with a new toy in the playpen!), and a clean home might give your piggly wiggly the nudge to perform his own hippity hop.

If you have never witnessed popcorning before, it looks just like it sounds. Similar to a kernel of popcorn, your piggy might burst up in the air from a standing position without warning. But the behavior is just as cute as it is surprising, and it means you're taking great care of your pet.

Have you seen your guinea pig popcorn? Let us know on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This article was originally published March 31, 2020.

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