If you are reading this article, it probably means that you are interested in your guinea pig’s behavior or more precisely the sounds that they make and this is something every pet owner should do. Or maybe you are doing a little research on guinea pigs because you want to get one or you are just curious.
Every animal does a specific sound and those sounds can mean a lot of different things. Some of them might mean they are satisfied, while others may be related to them being upset. Understanding your guinea pig’s behavior is just as important as feeding them.
So, what do guinea pigs sound like? Guinea pigs make quite a lot of different sounds, each of them has a distinctive meaning. Generally speaking, there are three categories of guinea pig sounds: positive, negative, and normal (sounds they make most of the time). For example, a guinea pig can produce a wheeking sound which means that it is happy or excited about something. On the other hand, there are negative sounds that signal that something is wrong, for example, shrieking can mean that your guinea pig is afraid of something or in pain. There are many other sounds that the owner must learn to differentiate in order to have a good relationship with its guinea pig.
Just like with any pet, learning how to communicate with it takes a lot of practice and time. On average, after 2 or 3 months of listening to your guinea pig and observing its behavior, you are going to be able to understand their emotional states (happy, sad or neutral). This also depends on the guinea pig and how fast it is becoming affectionate towards the owner.
We are going to talk a little bit about every sound guinea pigs make and their meaning in the following sections below. Let’s begin!
Types of Guinea Pig Sounds
Although guinea pigs seem to be pretty silent pets, they have something to “say” pretty often.
• Eek or Wheek
This is one of the happy sounds guinea pigs make. They do this specific sound when they think you are going to feed them or when they see you after being absent for quite some time. However, sometimes they wheek just because they seek attention.
Related: Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek?
Just like humans, guinea pigs may sometimes whistle without intending to because they are very excited about something. The certain two things that entertain any healthy guinea pig are playtime and food, so they might whistle when they get one of these two.
Just like cats, guinea pigs purr when they are petted or cuddled. I guess everybody knows how purring usually sounds like: it is a really deep, low and soft sound.
However, they sometimes purr when they are groomed or fed, maybe even when they are discovering a new place. As you may expect, this type of purr is another happy sound guinea pigs make.
But things cannot be so simple because there are other types of purring. One of them is the high-pitched purr. This is something guinea pigs do when they are annoyed, while a shorter sounding purr equals fear.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Purr?
This is one of the most interesting sounds in our opinion. A male guinea pig (boar) makes this sound while trying to mate with a female (sow). On the other hand, sows sometimes make this sound when they desire a little romance.
Also, if you hear this sound coming from a group of guinea pigs, it may be because it is guinea pigs’ way of showing dominance.
This is definitely a happy sound and to be honest, a funny sound. Muttering sounds like your little friend is mumbling to himself. This happens when you are feeding or petting your guinea pig.
This sound is unusual but it is also made by guinea pigs. Actually, there are a lot of guinea pig owners that have never heard their pets make this sound.
Sometimes, baby guinea pigs chirp when they are taken away from their family, but sincerely, most of the guinea pigs chirp for no reason.
This is the kind of sound that says “something is not right”. Usually, when guinea pigs shriek is because they are hurt or scared. This sound might also mean others are not allowed nearby.
Anyway, whatever this sound means, you need to be careful.
This is definitely not a sound made out of happiness. This is a sign that your guinea pig is not pleased with something. It can be because you petted the guinea pig on a wrong spot or in an uncomfortable way.
Also, they might whine because they desire something and you are not giving it to them.
This is another sound on the list of sad sounds. Chattering is the most obvious way that your guinea pig is ready to attack. If a guinea pig is chattering, it either feels that it is in danger or upset.
Either way, it really is quite an alarming sound they make and you really have to pay attention to it.
Guinea pigs sometimes hiss, and this is sound that resembles noises that cats make. Also, this can be confused with chattering and it means your guinea pig is angry or aggressive.
Squeaking is just your little pet’s common language, it is usually the casual noise they often do. There are lots and lots of reasons guinea pigs squeak: it might be out of joy or sadness. They might squeak when a person they love leaves or when they know it is time to get fed, or even when interacting with people or socializing with other guinea pigs.
If you want to know the exact reason, pay attention to the moment they squeak and try to figure out why would they squeak.
As you have probably already noticed, there are many sounds that can be confused with others. Moreover, many sounds can have a lot of meanings, but to figure out which one is your guinea pig referring to, you have to look at the big picture. This simply means you have to notice their body language, too.
The Body Language of Guinea Pigs
A very important and useful thing to do is to notice how your guinea pig acts in different situations. After you have established a guideline for guinea pig behavior, you can start noticing small changes in guinea pig body language depending on the situation it finds himself in.
Popcorning is when your guinea pig jumps out of excitement or happiness. Popcorning is called this way because when guinea pigs do this movement, they look like popcorn popping.
This is something young guinea pigs do more often than the older ones, but older guinea pigs still popcorn, just not as high.
Related: What Is Guinea Pigs Popcorning?
Guinea pigs are prey animals. Most animals have a mechanism of self-defense, called FFF response (fight-flight-freeze).
Depending on the animal we are talking about and the situation it’s in, it might fight the enemy, run away from him or just freeze in from of him. Guinea pigs, as a prey animal, almost never fight the danger, they either run or freeze.
On the other hand, freezing can mean that your guinea pig senses danger and it is analyzing its environment to see whether or not it is indeed in danger.
Just like most of the pets, guinea pigs also use their smell in order to get a clear picture of their surroundings. They also sniff people and other guinea pigs as well.
• Touching Noses
This is an affectionate way for guinea pigs to greet each other.
• Aggressive Actions
In each case, you should be very careful and keep in mind that they might be signaling you they will attack soon.
Related: Are Guinea Pigs Aggressive?
• Running Away When You Want to Pick Them Up
In this case, running away should not be associated with rejection. This is just their self-defense mechanism in action, representing the flight of the fight-flight-freeze response.
Almost every guinea pig will get used to being picked up in the early stages of the relationship with the owner. After they get comfortable with you, they might start to like being picked up, especially if they know it is playtime of cuddling time.
Everybody thinks that if a guinea pig is licking a human being, it is showing affection. This might be just as true as the fact that they love the salt on your skin.
• Tossing Their Head
This is a clear sign of being annoyed. If you are petting their head and they start tossing it, they are telling you “you are annoying me, just stop it”.
• Shaking While Being Held
Becoming agitated when you are holding them has, basically, two meanings. Your guinea pig either needs to go to the bathroom or it is bored and wants to get back to the cage.
Use this list to start understanding what your guinea pig is trying to tell you. There are a lot of people that like having pets in general, but some of them are just not educated enough to give them the proper care that they deserve. Besides feeding them and grooming them, owners also need to show affection and attention to their pets.
To really understand what your guinea pigs need, you have to understand their signals. It is the most important thing when taking care of a pet. For more guinea pig related content, please follow our site and share our articles. Thanks!
List of Sources
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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.
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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.