Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek?

Why Do Guinea Pigs Wheek_

Guinea pigs are popular pets that often make very adorable sounds. It is usual for these rodents to make various sounds as that is one of their ways of communicating. Apart from the body language, the sounds guinea pigs make have different meanings and are unique and adorable. These sounds are a language for them, and we as owners should know which sound signifies something because guinea pigs communicate with humans through these sounds as well.

Why do guinea pigs wheek? Guinea pigs wheek when they are excited or relieved. Most of the time, this sound can be heard right before the feeding (enthusiasm for the food). Sometimes they can make this sound when they are excited 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 not true, and everyone should know how to decode the language of their guinea pigs, especially the wheeking sound and other frequent sounds they make.

Sometimes, these sounds can indicate that the cavy has a physiological need it needs to attend, or it is starving and wants to tell you that it needs food. We have to admit that once this language of the guinea pigs is mastered, life with them becomes more fun. This is why developing a good relationship with any pet is very important for their quality of life.

Guinea Pig Wheeking | Information and Facts

Guinea Pig Wheeking Information and Facts

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 as the owner must learn how to differentiate and decipher all other sounds as well. The wheeking and other sounds that guinea pigs make are quite similar to each other, and they all have some sort of vibration accompanied by a specific body language. This is why it can be tough to sometimes make a clear difference between every sound you hear.

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


Guinea Pig Wheeking for Food

If the guinea pig wheeks, it is most probably in a very good mood. If it’s hungry, the cavy will make this sound to get your attention so you feed it. Sometimes they will wheek when they hear the fridge door opening. We find this extremely adorable!


Do Guinea Pigs Wheek for Attention?

If the guinea pig is in a playful mood, it will wheek when it needs to play with you or its cagemate. When guinea pigs beg for a bit of attention they produce a very sweet sounding wheek. At this point, you can freely reach inside the cage and pet it, take it out on the floor and play with it.


Upset Wheeking in Guinea Pigs

If the wheek sounds like chirrups, then the mood of the guinea pig is not so good. It is probably slightly upset or a bit disturbed. Of course, it could be seeking attention, but it is most likely telling you of some danger or situation you need to look into. Maybe the guinea pig needs to be separated from its partner, or it needs clean bedding.


Chutting vs. Wheeking in Guinea Pigs

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

On the other hand, the chutter sound is the “bad” one as it represents aggression, hostility, or danger. The guinea pig can even be telling you that it is unhappy. You will recognize this behavior when the cavy looks frozen or shocked in one position.


Other Sounds Similar to Wheeking in Guinea Pigs

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. What is extremely important to note is that there are multiple purring sounds, some of which are pretty bad.

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

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


Body Language and Sounds of a Happy Guinea Pig

Body Language and Sounds of a Happy Guinea Pig

The body language of a calm and happy cavy is easy to recognize. The guinea pig 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 about its surroundings and will start sniffing and playing with things.

When the guinea pig begs for your attention, you will hear it wheeking but some other sounds can appear as well. The silent and discreet cheer up with wheeking sometimes means you need to pay more attention to the cavy. Try to play with it daily, feed it regularly, and offer treats and healthy snacks or socialize with your rodent pet more often.


Body Language and Sounds of a Scared or Aggressive Guinea Pig

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, its body posture will be evident as well. In this case, the guinea pigs are restless, trying to mount on the cage walls or the other cavy, or they might even look shocked and frozen in one spot.

If the guinea pig’s sound doesn’t resemble the cute wheeking, but it looks more like chuttering, you might want to think twice before you begin petting or playing now with it. 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 guinea pig 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 the problems on-time. Maybe the guinea pig is in some sort of pain that appeared unexpectedly and if this is the case, you will then hear the squealing sounds as well.

The very deep and aggressive wheeks are rumble sounds, and the guinea pig will most likely start a fight with the other partner in the cage. Here you must differentiate between the two guinea pigs and realize who is the aggressor and who is the “victim”. Recognize and act in time by separating them in order to prevent fights and injuries.


What to Do If Guinea Pig Won’t Stop Wheeking?

What to Do If Guinea Pig Won’t Stop Wheeking

It’s certainly beautiful 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, wheeking in most situations means one of the following things: attention, playtime, or feeding time.

Talk to the guinea pig, even if it doesn’t understand your language as this way it will learn the intentions and the affections behind your behavior and speech. The guinea pigs 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 shower them with love and attention.

The most important thing about this sound is the hunger of the guinea pigs. The wheeking sound can represent their thrill of smelling food or merely showing enthusiasm for the upcoming feeding time. You can even test this by giving your guinea pig food at approximately the same hours of the day, and in no time, the cavy will start making these sounds by itself if you forget that you need to feed them. When you open the fridge, you will hear these sounds in a few seconds (unless the guinea pig is sleeping).


What to Do if Guinea Pig Doesn’t Wheek?

What to Do if Guinea Pig Doesn’t Wheek

Not all guinea pigs wheek, and that’s completely normal, so you don’t need to worry about that. Many guinea pig’s owners have reported that their guinea pigs never wheek, but they make other sounds specific to them. There may be some reasons why guinea pigs don’t wheek. One of them is loneliness, for example, if you have only one guinea pig. Then if it is feeling lonely, the guinea pig will be very quiet, and in some cases, it won’t wheek until you adopt another guinea pig.

Guinea pigs usually wheek for food, and if you feed them regularly and at the same time every day, they simply won’t wheek. Also, if the guinea pig feels relaxed and safe with you, there is a possibility that it will not wheek. That’s normal because some guinea pigs are naturally quiet and shy, and sometimes they need some time to start wheeking.

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Summary

Hopefully, now you understand the sounds of your guinea pig a little bit better. Wheeking is usually done when something positive is happening or is about to happen. There are many other sounds that guinea pigs produce, and when you master all of them, the relationship with your pet will become something special.

Always listen to your pet. They are not just randomly producing sounds as each sound has its own separate meaning. If you are having difficulties deciphering their sounds, look at their body language as well. For more content and care guides about guinea pigs, keep following our site. Best of luck!


List of Sources

Suta, D., Popelál, J., Burianova, J., Syka, J., Cortical Representation of Species-Specific Vocalizations in Guinea Pig, PLOS ONE, 2013.

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.

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.