Why Is My Guinea Pig Shivering When Held?

Guinea pigs shiver when held because of anxiety, illness, or cold temperatures. If anxiety causes the shivering, it should stop as soon as the guinea pig feels more comfortable with you. If your guinea pig is shivering because of the cold temperature, keep it as warm as possible.


Why Do Guinea Pigs Shiver When Held?

Guinea pigs (also known as cavies) have become popular pets because of their compact size. This makes it easier for guinea pig parents to hold, play with, and easily interact with their cavy by creating a relationship through physical contact.

It may be alarming for guinea pig owners to notice that their pet is shivering when they pick it up. It may seem alarming, but there are actually many explanations as to why your guinea pig may shiver when you hold them, regardless of whether it is a physical or mental/emotional issue.

It may be hard to pinpoint the exact reason your cavy is shaking. There are several reasons a guinea pig may react in this manner. The purpose of this guide is to help owners identify those reasons.


A likely explanation for your guinea pig’s shaking is anxiety. Like humans, guinea pigs will shake when experiencing an uncertain situation, such as a loud noise or a stranger touching them.

In the wild, guinea pigs are the prey of larger animals such as foxes, hawks, and snakes. When you move to pick up your guinea pig, they may have an instinctual fear reaction and shake.

If you have recently adopted your guinea pig, it may still be warming up to you and the feeling of being picked up. If that’s the case, it may take a couple days or even weeks for them to settle in.

RELATED:  How to Pick Up Guinea Pigs? Handling and Lifting Tips

Some guinea pigs are easily startled but should calm down in a few minutes. You can avoid causing excess anxiety in your guinea pig by making sure they see you while picking them up and not grabbing them from behind.

Forming a strong bond with your cavy and ensuring their needs are met will help your pet relax and create a trusting relationship with you. This should help to dull shivering symptoms caused by anxiety.

If your guinea pig has lived with you for some time now and is still shivering because of anxiety, you can attempt to pinpoint the source of their nervousness, such as a larger pet in your home. If your cavy is seemingly anxious without reason for long periods, you may want to take them to the vet.

Low Temperatures

Your guinea pig may also shiver because they are cold. When you step outside in freezing weather, you start to shake. When humans shiver, their muscles tighten and release rapidly to create heat in the body.

A guinea pig may shake for the same reason. You will probably be able to feel the temperature of your guinea pig’s body while you are holding them. If you believe your guinea pig is too cold, raise the temperature in your house a tiny bit.

A portable heater can be a wonderful solution for raising the temperature in small confined spaces. Just be sure that your guinea pig does not become too hot, which can be indicated by panting and sedentary behavior. The recommended temperature for a guinea pig, according to the USDA, is 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 to 29 degrees Celsius.


Your guinea pig may experience shivering as a symptom of illness. Guinea pigs are commonly subject to respiratory infection. Respiratory infections (including the flu and pneumonia) relate to breathing and affect your guinea pig’s lungs and airways.

RELATED:  How to Introduce Two Guinea Pigs? BFFs in the Making!

If you think your guinea pig is facing one of these illnesses, seek medical attention. If not treated, a respiratory illness could evolve into a greater threat and even become deadly.

Early intervention is key to protecting your guinea pig’s wellbeing. In return, this will likely stop their shivering symptoms.

If you feel your guinea pig shivering violently or having convulsions while you are holding them, you will want to seek an immediate solution. Although very rare, some shivering behaviors can be caused by serious illnesses like seizures or mange.

Mating Rituals

There may be other reasons that you can feel your guinea pig shiver. If you have multiple guinea pigs who are not spayed or neutered, they may be engaging in mating rituals.

A male guinea pig, or boar, will sometimes vibrate when trying to attract a mate. This is often followed by low vocalizations that sound like growling or rumbling.

Although this behavior is not as common in females (sows), a sow may also display this sort of behavior. Occasionally, a boar will still shiver and growl, even if he has been neutered.


If your guinea pig shivers and growl while holding them, they may be angry and want to be put down.

In this case, it is best to leave them alone and try again later. Like all animals, guinea pigs need to be given space and not forced to be held or played with.

If a guinea pig is being interacted with against their will often, they may become aggressive or antisocial towards their owner.

Be aware of your pet’s boundaries and take note if they shiver while doing an activity. Knowing what makes your guinea pig uncomfortable will prevent further shaking and aggressive behavior in the future.

What if The Shivering Won’t Stop?

If your guinea pig continues to shiver when you hold them, and you have ruled out other conditions such as the ones listed above, it may be time to take your guinea pig to the vet for further examination.

RELATED:  Are Guinea Pigs Noisy? Understanding Guinea Pig Vocalizations

A trained veterinarian will examine your pet and see if more is going on than what meets the eye. It is best to identify any issues as soon as possible before it is too late. Although it is not likely that there is anything serious going on, it is best to confirm the status of your cavy’s health with a professional.

Shaking is Usually Harmless

Normally, there is no cause for concern if your guinea pig shivers when you hold it. If handled properly, the situation should clear up on its own, and your cavy will be back to its normal self.

If you feel concerned about your guinea pig’s wellbeing, take them to the vet. Although a veterinarian may not be an expert in cavy care, they may offer some insight as to why your guinea pig shivers when you pick them up.

Recommended For You