If you think about keeping a guinea pig, you must be informed about their essentials – bedding, food, toys, and more. However, there is another adorable thing to know about guinea pigs, and that is the sounds they make.
Every owner of guinea pigs knows how interesting and cute these sounds are but also how important they are for understanding their behavior. In this article, we are going to focus on guinea pig purring sounds and later cover some other important ones.
Can guinea pigs purr? Guinea pigs can purr and the sound they produce can even resemble the purr of a cat. Guinea pigs make different types of purr that signal how they feel at that exact moment. There are three types of guinea pig purring sounds that we are going to go over in the following sections.
Guinea pigs make many other sounds and each distinct sound signifies different things – mood, hunger, fear, and other emotions.
To have a healthy and happy guinea pig as a pet, you have to learn its language to understand what it likes and dislikes, or what are its needs and moods. These sounds are used for communicating with other guinea pigs, as well as with you, the owner.
Since there is no way for you both to communicate with words, it is your responsibility to decipher these adorable and somewhat strange sounds your guinea pig makes – they all can be differentiated! Now let’s talk about different types of purring sounds in guinea pigs.
Different Types of Guinea Pig Purring
You’ll surely be surprised that the guinea pig purr can be interpreted in different ways.
- A soft, slow and deep purr, means the guinea pig is relaxed, satisfied or content.
- A purr of high-pitch and sharp sound means the guinea pig is dissatisfied with something or even annoyed. It might even sound like whining, because it lacks something (food or water), or it needs clean bedding or is dissatisfied by the other guinea pig (if you keep 2 of them).
- The purr that is quite short and in intervals is an alarming sound – your cavy is scared of something! If it is scared, this sound will either be short and high-pitched squeaking or a loud and short shriek, so pay attention to the surrounding of the guinea pig and why it would be scared.
Other Sounds That Guinea Pigs Make
First of all, let’s not forget that guinea pigs are highly sociable creatures and they will try to communicate with you using both their body language and sounds.
The sounds they make signify different things that your pet is trying to tell you.
Sometimes, you will hear your guinea pig make sounds that resemble whistling. This sound is like a squeal or a high-pitched whistling.
Whenever you notice this, know that the guinea pig is either happy or excited and thrilled about something, also usually this is enthusiasm for playtime or feeding time.
Also in some cases, this sound can be heard if the baby guinea pig is being split from the mother pig. This is then the total opposite of happiness.
Sometimes, if a guinea pig had pups, it will make a sound like cooing. This is normal and you will recognize it instantly, because it sounds warming, mother-like, caring.
Sometimes these rodents hiss, and this is another sound resembling noises that cats make. This one is strangely executed because you might think it is teeth-chattering mixed with a hiss.
One of the rarely pleasant sounds guinea pigs make is the chirping. This sound is mesmerizingly calming and cute, but it might be a signal for sadness or deep feelings.
Yes, guinea pigs have feelings and emotions, because they are very sociable, and when you hear this sound, just know your furry pet needs extra love.
Some describe this behavior as a trance state of mind, but it is most likely brooding and grieving after the guinea pig has lost its partner.
Related: Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek?
Which Sounds Signal That My Guinea Pig Needs Me?
What your guinea pig needs is not always obvious, so pay close attention.
If the cavy whistles, it is obviously inviting you to play with it, so feel free to go ahead, hold it, pet it, or engage it in fun activities. This is the guinea pig’s best mood, so you can even lay down with it on the sofa or your bed and cuddle next to it.
When the guinea pig makes high-pitch purrs or shrieks, ensure it is not frightened of something. If these sounds continue, do not force yourself to pet it, simply add food or water to its cage if needed, and leave it alone to rest and calm down.
If you hear or sense the guinea pig is chirping or making ‘chirpy-vibrating’ sounds, it is very sad, unfortunately. Gently approach it in case it ‘cries’ over its lost partner or simply if it’s depressed from solitude.
It maybe wants to be petted or simply held calmly in your arms. If not, just play safe with the food and water option, and think of getting him a new friend for its cage!
How to Recognize If My Guinea Pig Wants to Be Left Alone or Helped?
You have to recognize the right sounds of your guinea pig. The hissing sounds signal ‘do not approach’ attitude, so it is best to leave it alone and don’t pet it. If you try to approach it at this time, you might get bitten, which is logical. Wouldn’t you want to be left alone when you’re angry or anxious?
If you really want to help your little pet friend, just put some healthy snacks or food in its cage and do not nag it. Once rested or fed, the guinea pig will be in a good mood again.
In case the two guinea pigs fight and one or both of them make unpleasant sounds like teeth chattering, shrieks or hisses, try to remove one of the guinea pigs from the cage gently while there is still no physical fight going on.
Protect your hand with a thick glove, gently take out one of them and play with it on the floor or calm it down near you. After a while, slowly reintroduce them together again, and distract them with food or healthy snacks.
The Connection Between Guinea Pig Sounds and Their Body Language
Very often, the guinea pigs will express certain body language movements when they make their sounds. Their non-verbal communication is just as strong and expressive as their language of sounds. They manifest body language with, or without the sounds mentioned.
During the purrs and whistles, for example, guinea pigs can express happiness and friendly behavior if they hop around the cage or floor, as if they are lightweight, and in a hurry to do something nice. It is cute, almost as if the guinea pig is a huge light popcorn that skips around. It may also rub its nose on you or on its cavy friend.
If your guinea pig is dissatisfied or angry, even anxious and unhappy at the same time, it will look frozen, head upwards or fidgeting. At this point, if you approach it, it might make the hissing sounds.
And if the guinea pig makes the chirping sounds that are quiet and almost completely silent, it is sad or depressed, and these body movements and sounds are more like the guinea pig is static and ‘vibrating’ on its bedding.
Do Guinea Pigs Make Snoring Sounds When They Sleep?
Guinea pigs might make sounds when they sleep, and quite often too! Do not be too alarmed because of this, it is normal for guinea pigs to make some sounds out when they are fully asleep.
If they seem to be snoring, this could be either plain, simple snoring, or respiratory obstruction in the upper part of the chest. If the snoring sounds too loud or persistent, it is a good idea to check this with a veterinarian. Especially if the snoring continues and the cavy’s eyes are crusty or running and its appetite has changed.
The guinea pigs can often get allergies, so their airways might swell and cause snoring sounds. Or at other times, the bedding can cause a reaction in the guinea pig – try changing the bedding type you used.
What Sounds Do Guinea Pigs Make When Sick or in Pain?
Go to the veterinarian immediately if your guinea pig makes wheezing sounds because something might be wrong with its breathing.
When the guinea pig is in some pain or heavy discomfort due to sickness or physical pain, the sounds will resemble ‘a wet sponge/towel on glass’ like screeching. You will recognize it immediately and you’ll be able to help the guinea pig in no time.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Cough?
Learning to understand all of these sounds will help you know when your cute furry pet is in a good mood or needs you to help him. At first, it may seem almost impossible to differentiate these sounds but with some time and practice, you will become a real expert when it comes to guinea pig language.
If you hear your guinea pig purring, try to first understand what type of purring it is producing. It may sound cute but your guinea pig could be scared and not happy or satisfied.
If you liked our article please follow us for more content on guinea pigs. We really have a huge database on almost every single segment of their life. Best of luck!
List of Sources
Corat, C., Rodrigues Branco Tarallo, R. C., Savalli, C., Suemi Tokumaru, R., Ferreira Monticelli, P., Ades, C., The whistles of the Guinea pig: an evo-devo proposal, Revista de Etologia, 2012.
Suta, D., Popelál, J., Kvankák, E., Syka, J. Representation of species-specific vocalizations in the medial geniculate body of the guinea pig, Experimental Brain Research, 2007.
Suta, D., Popelál, J., Burianova, J., Syka, J., Cortical Representation of Species-Specific Vocalizations in Guinea Pig, PLOS ONE, 2013.
Tokumaru, S. R., Ades, C., Monticelli, F. P., Individual differences in infant guinea pig pups isolation whistles, The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording, 2004.
Monticelli, F. P., Ades, C., The rich acoustic repertoire of a precocious rodent, the wild cavy Cavia aperea, Bioacoustics: The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording, 2012.
Berryman, J. C., Guinea-pig vocalizations: their structure, causation and function, Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 1976.
Verzola-Olivio, P., Ferreira Monticelli, P., The acoustic repertoire of Cavia intermedia as a contribution to the understanding of the Caviidae communication system, The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording, 2017.
Grimsley, J. M. S., Palmer, A. R., Wallace, M. N., Age differences in the purr call distinguished by units in the adult guinea pig primary auditory cortex, Hearing Research, 2011.