Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek?

Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek

The guinea pigs are very popular pets that often make very adorable sounds. It is normal for these rodents to make various sounds – this is one of their ways of communicating. Apart from the body language, the sounds guinea pigs make have different meanings and are very unique and adorable. This is a language for them, and we as owners should know which sound signifies something because the guinea pig communicates with humans through these sounds and their interpretation.

Why do guinea pigs wheek? Guinea pigs can make a sound that resembles wheeking and most often this is a sound they make after they have been relieved (in their bathroom space in the cage) or before they are fed. Most of the time this sound is heard right before the feeding (enthusiasm for the food that arrives). Some other times this is a sound they make when they are happy to play with you or a reaction to something new in the cage (object or a toy). Most owners think that sounds of guinea pigs are nothing in particular, or nothing too significant. Of course, this is wrong and everyone should know how to decode the language of the guinea pigs, especially the wheeking sound and similar sounds they make.

Sometimes, these sounds can be because the cavy has a physiological need to attend, or it is very hungry and wants to tell you it needs food, and at other times it expresses its joy and happiness for the play time and toys. We have to admit that once this language of the cavies is understood, life with them becomes more fun and there is better and frequent communication and understanding with the cute cavy.

What Is the Guinea Pig Trying to Say with the Wheek Sounds, Among Other Sounds?

Every sound the guinea pig makes has its own meaning, but more or less the language of guinea pigs revolves around hunger, playful mood, or sometimes hostility and anxiety towards a situation or another guinea pig. To understand this sound language fully, you the owner, must differentiate and decipher all other sounds as well. The wheeking and other sounds cavies make, are quite similar to each other, and they all have some sort of vibration and moving of the cavy’s body. This is why it can be tough sometimes to make a clear difference between each sound you hear.

Most of the time, all sounds resemble wheeking sounds, except the aggressive teeth chatters which are a body language on its own – and a very dangerous one. The wheeking sounds are translated into some sort of way to seek attention – whether from the other cavy or from the owner (the latter is most probable).

If the guinea pig wheeks, with the classic known ‘piggy’ sound, it is most probably in a very good mood. If it’s hungry, the cavy will make this sound to get your attention and to feed him.

They are so adorable, sometimes they will wheek when they hear the fridge door opening!

If the cavy is in a playful mood, it will wheek when it needs to play with you or its cavy partner. This is a very sweet sounding wheek when the guinea pig begs for a bit of attention and a companion. At this point, you can freely reach inside the cage and pet him, take him out on the floor and play with it.

If the wheek sounds like chirrups, then the mood of the cavy is not so good. It is probably slightly upset or a bit disturbed. Of course, it can mean seeking attention, but it will most likely be for telling you of some danger or situation to look into. Maybe it needs to be away from its partner, or it needs clean bedding, or anything that could have upset the cavy.

The chut sound is another wheek-like sound; it is like a common, regular sound that cavies make to each other, or the owner. It is also heard when the cavy is out of the cage and exploring wider areas.

The chutter sound is the ‘bad’ one – it represents aggression, hostility or danger. The guinea pig can even tell you if it is unhappy this way, and you will recognize this when the cavy looks frozen or shocked in one position.

The purring sounds are a bit softer and more delicate than the wheek sounds, and this is a very good thing. If you hear purring sounds, know that the cavy is feeling content, happy, comfortable and can be petted at this time.

If the wheek sound quickly turns into a scream, interpret this as the chattering, in a similar way. This scream sound along another sound means the cavy is in fighting mode or aggression, and you should either step away or separate it from the other cavy.

If you hear it squealing, the cavy is probably in some sort of physical pain and needs your attention urgently.

Body Language and Sounds of a Happy Guinea Pig

The body language of a calm and happy cavy is very obvious to recognize. The cavy will not be frozen or look shocked, and will most likely walk around the cage in a relaxed manner and pace, it will be curious of its surroundings, sniffing and playing, or even skipping.

When the cavy begs for your attention, you will hear it wheeking among other sounds it will make. The silent and discreet cheerup with wheeking, means you need to pay more attention to the cavy. Try to play with him on a daily basis, feed him regularly and offer treats and healthy snacks – simply put, socialize with your rodent pet more often.

Body Language and Sounds of a Scared or Aggressive Guinea Pig

When the guinea pig is in some sort of distress or a bad mood, his body posture will be obvious as well. In this case, the cavies are either restless, trying to mount on the cage walls or the other cavy, or they might look shocked and frozen in one spot.

If the cavy’s sound doesn’t resemble the cute wheeking, but it looks more like chuttering, you might want to think twice before you nag the cavy for petting or playing now. At this point, it just needs to be left alone and unbothered. If this sound continues and changes into whines or crying-like sounds, then you should reach out and give the cavy food and some time to rest.

If the wheeks quickly change into short and loud shrieks or sounds, the guinea pig is scared and something shocked it. Look for potential dangers in or around its cage to address them on time. Maybe the cavy is in some pain that appeared unexpectedly – then you will hear the squealing sounds.

The very deep and aggressive wheeks are in fact rumble sounds, and the cavy will most likely fight the other partner in the cage. Here you must differentiate between the two cavies, and know who is the aggressor and who is the ‘victim’. Recognize and act in time, to separate them and prevent fights with injuries.

What to Do If the Guinea Pig Wheeks?

It’s wonderful when you hear the plain, simple wheek sounds of the guinea pig because these sounds are happy and good  most of the time. Think of it this way: attention, play time, feeding time.

Talk to the guinea pig, even if it doesn’t understand your language, it understands the intentions and the affections behind your behavior and speech. You can reach inside the cage more often when you hear this sound, you can take out the cavy to play with it on the play area, introduce him to some new toys or a new and safe, but fun environment and similar. The cavies are very sociable creatures and they understand everything you say or do to them. Think of them as another human being, also when you hear the wheeks; give them love and attention.

The most important thing about this sound is the hunger of the cavy. The wheeking sound is the great thrill of smelling food, sensing food nearby or simply showing enthusiasm for the upcoming feeding time. You can even test this with a simple way; try to give the cavy food at approximately same hours of the day, and in no time the cavy will make these sounds by itself if you forget it’s feeding time! When you open up the fridge, you will hear these sounds in a few seconds (unless the cavy is heavily asleep).

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.