You are reading this article, so it means you are interested in your little friend’s behavior and this is something every pet owner should do. If this is not your case, 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 things. Some of them might mean they are satisfied, others may be related to being upset. Noticing your pet’s behavior is just as important as feeding them.
So, after all of this being said, what do guinea pigs sound like? It might come as a surprise for those of you that don’t have a guinea pig yet, but they make quite a lot of different sounds, each of them having a distinctive meaning. This might sound a little weird but think about it. Guinea pigs cannot tell us if they are happy or sad, but they have to make us understand them somehow. This is their “language” and it is telling us more things than you can probably imagine.
I am going to talk a little bit about every sound they make and their meaning, but generally speaking, there are three big categories of sounds: happy, sad and normal (sounds they just do most of the time).
Types of 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.
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, 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.
This is one of the most interesting sounds in my opinion. A male guinea pig (boar) make 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 is 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 the sound that says “something is not right”. Usually, when a guinea pig shrieks 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 at your friend when a shriek comes from him.
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 him on a wrong spot or in an uncomfortable way. Also, they might whine because they desire something they won’t get.
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 he is chattering, he either feels in danger or upset. Either way, it really is quite an alarming sound they make and you really have to pay attention to it.
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. All you have to do in order to understand your guinea pig is to notice little things.
As you have probably noticed already, 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 his casual conditions. After you have established a guideline for his behavior, you can start noticing small changes in his body language depending on the situation he 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 older ones, but older guinea pigs still popcorn, just not as high.
Guinea pigs are prey animals. Creatures have a mechanism of self-defence, triggering a FFF response (fight-flight-freeze). Depending on the animal we are talking about and the situation he’s in, he 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 he is analyzing his environment to convince himself whether or not he 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.
This is an affectionate way for guinea pigs to greet each other.
Showing their teeth (accompanied by hissing or chattering) and other aggressive actions I don’t need to name (they are the easiest to recognize) are signs that your guinea pig is either angry, upset or sensing danger. In each case, you should be very careful and keep in mind that they might tell you they will attack soon.
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-defence mechanism in action, representing the flight of the fight-flight-freeze response. Over time, almost every guinea pig will get used to being picked up. 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, he is showing affection. This might be just as true as them loving 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 he is bored. Either way, let him be a little while back in its cage.
Use this list in order to start understanding what your little friend is trying to say.
In my opinion, because people like having pets in general, they have to treat them right. Besides feeding them and grooming them, they also need affection and attention. To really understand how much of anything they need, you have to understand their signals. It is the most important thing about taking care of a pet.