You are here:

Guinea Pigs/Strange guinea pig death



My guinea pig died aged 5 in a really disturbing way.
I was petting her when she made two painful sounds. She twitched once, then started twitching more and more. I've put her down in the cage and she immediately fell to her side, then got up and started running around the cage really fast but without balance and occasionally falling. After a few seconds of that she managed to storm in her house, lie down on her side just as she would when she was healthy, and after some more twitching she died.

I was really upset at how she had so much strength to run, and yet she was dying? I thought that maybe she was choking, but there was nothing in her throat.

She never experienced any sudden changes in behavior or looks. It's only gradually as she got older that her skin and eyes were a bit less shiny, she moved a little less,  her hair didn't grow as fast and was a bit more picky with her food, but was happy, active and eating even on the very last day :(

I'm sorry to hear that you lost her, but there is a side to this that may give you some comfort. The average life span of a guinea pig is four to six years, with most passing around five years of age.

The majority of pigs show decline slowly. They often linger the last couple of weeks and appear to me sickly. They lose weight, sometimes lose some hair, the appetite decreases and indicate they are hurting when they move.

In your case your sweet little girl simply left without days of agony. She left doing what she probably enjoyed most and that was running around like a baby. Something inside told her she was getting ready. Passing that quickly, although difficult for you, was blessing to her. She did not suffer.  

I sincerely believe that she was not ill, it was just her time. And thankfully she did not linger in pain. She lived a good life and she left quickly and painlessly.

Guinea Pigs

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

©2016 All rights reserved.