Yawning is a form of pandiculation. All vertebrates apart from giraffes and cetaceans do yawn.
It is generally involuntary and it happens because of various reasons. You may have noticed your guinea pig yawning and wondered why it does that.
Let’s see what brings about yawning.
Why do guinea pigs yawn
Guinea pigs are vertebrates and all vertebrates have involuntary yawns every now and then. Guinea pigs though can have both involuntary and voluntary yawns.
The involuntary yawns are brought about by a variety of factors from being tired to showing relaxation. Voluntary yawns are the type where a guinea pig does the action on its own because it’s agitated, angry, or even frustrated.
A guinea pig’s yawn is associated with it opening its mouth really wide to show its front teeth. Sometimes a yawn may be accompanied by the chattering of the front teeth tapping against each other and hair rising on its neck.
Reasons that bring about yawning in guinea pigs
A variety of reasons will lead you to see your pet’s mouth wide open in a yawn. Let’s explore those reasons in this section.
When new guinea pigs are introduced.
Bringing a new guinea pet home will bring about yawns if you put it in the same cage as your current pet. This is because the pets are new to each other and only seeing each other for the first time.
Guinea pigs are territorial animals. They mark their territories and have hierarchical orders of who is who in the hierarchy ladder.
When you bring in a new guinea pig the current one will feel threatened by the new presence. This will make it chatter its teeth with a yawn to the new guinea pig.
It will chatter to warn the other not to interfere with its territory. It’s their way of telling the other piggy to ‘keep off‘ or ‘stick to their lane‘.
If both guinea pigs are yawning and having reactions like chattering their teeth violently, the hair on their necks rising, or standing on two feet with necks up high, it may be a sign that a fight is about to happen.
You should always separate them when you notice this kind of behavior and let them cool down first. After all, is calm and settled down, try reintroducing them again.
To show dominance
This is very common with male guinea pigs. They are always trying to outdo each other and establishing who is boss in the cage.
It may happen a lot when they are new and establishing boundaries. It may also happen often when they already cohabitate and it’s considered normal.
The two guinea pigs could be disagreeing on something and the yawn is a sign that whatever it is doesn’t sit well with it. Allow them to naturally air out their grievances without intervening.
Due to them having a hierarchical order, yawning will be a fight to show who the cage dominant is. It is particularly advisable not to put two dominant male pigs together as the fights will be common.
Try to have a young dominant male with an older submissive counterpart or vice versa to enhance harmony in the cage.
Guinea pigs are very active animals who will run all around energetically even at night. This makes them prone to getting tired easily.
You may notice them playing in their cage or outside the cage then after a while, they’ll be yawning and stretching themselves. This is normal behaviour that we also do ourselves when tired.
To know that your adorable pet was really tired, it may fall asleep right away.
When comfortable in their surroundings
You may realize that your guinea pigs are yawning more when they get used to their living conditions. It’s not easy for you to see a newly acquired guinea pig yawning away in their cage.
Guinea pigs will yawn if they are comfortable with where they live and they are feeling relaxed. If you see your pet yawning in its cage with no signs of it being distressed, that’s actually a good sign that it’s content.
When you are holding them
Have you seen a guinea pig yawn when you are holding and petting it? A guinea pig can yawn while stretching out it’s front and hind legs.
It can even look as relaxing as a yoga pose. This shows that it trusts you and feels secure in your presence.
A guinea pig may yawn as you hold it right before sleeping so as to make itself more comfortable.
An agitated and angered guinea pig expresses itself with one furious-looking yawn. The yawn could be meant for you or other cage mates.
For instance, if you are touching it in a way that makes it uncomfortable or doing something that it doesn’t like, it will yawn its displeasure at you. Consider this a warning.
If angered by fellow cage mates, it will also show its teeth in an angry yawn. For instance, one cage mate could be in another cage mate’s space.
Yawning is the last warning to keep off and a serious fight may ensue between them.
Guinea pigs can hurt each other or even kill each other. If you hear sounds like teeth chattering in the cage, always check out what is wrong to prevent any form of bloodshed.
If something is frustrating your pet, you may see it yawn. This is a sign of stress and you should find out what the problem could be. The reason behind it could even be a small cage.
It is wise to learn as much as you can about your guinea pig so as to differentiate the different kinds of yawns it produces. It’s very normal for one to also yawn often and may not necessarily be a cause for alarm.
If you notice something out of the ordinary though, do call a vet to evaluate what the problem could be.