Can Guinea Pigs Get Hiccups? Explained!

Did you know that no one knows the exact purpose of hiccups? Even the most brilliant scientists and doctors in the world only have theories about the function of this peculiar and sometimes annoying reflex. Guinea pig owners may have noticed their pets making hiccupping sounds and wondered if they were okay. Piggies can’t vomit, but do they get hiccups?

All mammals, including guinea pigs, get hiccups. Cavies can get two forms: one is standard, while the other is heaving hiccups and sounds more like retching. Neither is serious, and they usually subside quickly. Hiccupping is usually food-related or may signal the onset of labor in pregnant sows.

Guinea pig hiccups don’t always sound like the familiar ‘hic’ sound we are used to, so it can sound alarming. What causes it, is it serious, and should you do anything to try to stop it? Let’s find out.

Can Guinea Pigs Hiccup?

Hiccups are an involuntary reflex that occurs due to repeated spasms of the diaphragm. Since hiccupping doesn’t seem to serve any purpose except to make you feel silly because you can’t control it, it is believed to be a vestigial reflex. That means that, like goosebumps, it is a physical response that once had a purpose but is now redundant.

Like all mammals, guinea pigs do get hiccups. Since it is an involuntary reflex, it is impossible to tell when a bout of piggy hiccupping may start or end. Fortunately, it is usually short-lived and doesn’t affect the piggy’s behavior.

The two types of hiccupping sounds you may hear coming from your cavy cage include:

  1. A soft, involuntary, familiar ‘hic’ sound – It may even contain a tiny squeak sound as the little animal’s diaphragm contracts.
  2. Heaving hiccups – This is the type that can be alarming for owners. The sound may sound more like retching as if the poor piggy is about to throw up. Of course, since cavies physically cannot regurgitate food, the loud coughing sounds are just another form of the involuntary reflex.

What Causes Hiccups In Guinea Pigs?

Bouts of hiccups in any mammals occur randomly, but the most likely cause in guinea pigs is eating too quickly. Sometimes, piggies get ahead of themselves in excitement to munch veggies or special treats, which can result in involuntary diaphragm spasms.

Although hiccups can occur in guinea pigs of any age, baby piggies tend to get them more often than their seniors. This is a common trait in all young mammals and is believed to be related to youngsters eating faster, playing, and breathing more energetically while having immature respiratory systems.

Pregnant piggies often start to hiccup shortly before going into labor. If you have a pregnant sow and notice her hiccupping, it is a common sign that birthing is about to begin. Fortunately, it stops as soon as the babies make their appearance.

Are Hiccups Dangerous For Guinea Pigs?

Hiccups in their purest form are not dangerous for guinea pigs. Just like for humans, it is probably annoying and a little bit frustrating if it carries on for longer than a few minutes. Since bouts of hiccups are common in the womb from before they are born, your cavy is probably used to it.

Some conditions that may be confused for hiccups include seizures or respiratory distress, which is when the animal is making short gasping sounds. If your cavy sounds like it is hiccupping for longer than 10-15 minutes or has any other unusual symptoms, it should be seen by a veterinarian.

Signs that something may be wrong with your hiccupping cavy include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hunched position
  • Reluctance to move around the cage
  • Discharge from nose or eyes
  • Drooling

How Do You Treat Hiccups In Guinea Pigs?

There are loads of home remedies that are purported to cure human hiccups. Everything from sipping ice water to asking a friend to give you a fright. None of these are a good idea for cavies!

Piggy hiccups should stop on their own after a short while. Even though heaving hiccups can sound quite dramatic, it is usually temporary and passes quickly.

Trying to intervene to help your guinea pig’s hiccups to stop is highly likely to distress the small animal. Instead, keep the environment as peaceful and normal as usual.

You can try distracting the piggy with some special treats or tasty veggies, but refrain from picking it up or handling it while it has hiccups. Monitor it to ensure it behaves normally and has no other symptoms. Your piggy should be perfectly fine in a few minutes.

If hiccups are accompanied by any other symptoms, like drooling, difficulty breathing, or the piggy seems to be in distress, then it is highly likely that there is something else wrong. It is definitely worth calling your veterinarian immediately. Prolonged or recurrent bouts of hiccups may also warrant a checkup.

How Long Do Guinea Pig Hiccups Last?

Guinea pig hiccups usually only last a few minutes. Pre-labor hiccups experienced by pregnant sows may continue for longer, but they also resolve once the pups are born. Prolonged bouts of hiccups should be checked out as they could indicate another health issue.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Dry Heaving?

Dry heaving is the uncomfortable reflex that comes with complimentary sound effects shortly before someone throws up. Since the digestive tract of a guinea pig is a one-way track, and whatever goes in one side can only come out the other end, it can be frightening to hear them making loud retching sounds.

Fortunately, the unpleasant sound in cavies is usually on a bout of heaving hiccups. This is similar to regular hiccups that a human could experience, just much louder and more dramatic. Heaving hiccups go away in a few minutes, but if the condition persists for longer than 15 minutes or is accompanied by any other symptoms, phone your veterinarian for advice.


Like all mammals, guinea pigs occasionally experience bouts of hiccups. While no one knows the exact cause, it is most common in youngsters and is often food-related.

Sometimes, the involuntary reflex of the diagram sounds like regular soft hiccupping, while other times, it may be a lot louder and sound more like coughing. If the condition resolves within a few minutes and isn’t accompanied by any other symptoms, cavy hiccups can be considered perfectly normal.