Although guinea pigs are small pets similar to rabbits, they may make many different sounds. These noises are very helpful and may be happy or upset in nature. They inform you where the pigs don’t like to be petted, when they’re happy, when they’re hungry, and some even warn you of a pending nip! Understanding them is important to communicating effectively with your guinea pig and ensuring that he or she are happy and healthy little creatures.
We’ll start with the good or happy sounds!
This is the most common sound you’ll hear coming from your piggies. It’s the sound of hay being redistributed in the pen by tiny guinea pig feet as they run around and graze! You may want to sleep with your bedroom door closed while sleeping for the first few weeks of ownership to avoid being awoken by their sometimes raucous grazing.
The most well known sound made by guinea pigs aside from grazing is “wheeking”. This term is onomatopoeic (it sounds just the way it’s pronounced), and may also sound similar to squealing or whistling. Guinea pigs emit this noise to let you know they’re excited about something, which may be the possibility of being fed or communicating that they’re happy to see you. Some guinea pig owners consider it to be begging and report that their pets do this mostly around feeding times or whenever “food sounds” are made, such as the refrigerator being opened or bags being rustled. Others think it is more of a cry for general attention and petting. If you’ve already fed them and they continue wheeling, give them a few pets or some floor time to run out that energy!
Begging for Potential Food
If your guinea pig thinks that food may be available outside of feeding time, it will start making a noise somewhere between wheeking and the sound of glass being rubbed clean with a wet cloth. This noise means they think there might be a special treat coming and once they’re sure it’s happening, they’ll begin full-on wheeling. This begging may also be accompanied by intense staring. If this noise is made in the absence of food indicator sounds (such as chopping vegetables), then your guinea pigs may want some floor time, to be petted, or that they’re upset with the cleanliness of their cage and would like it cleaned.
Guinea pigs purr or bubble when they’re generally happy. They typically make this noise when they’re being held, petted, grooming, exploring, or being provided with food. However, purring with a high pitch at the end while a guinea pig seems tense and their little bodies are lightly shaking means they are annoyed and may bite.
This noise sounds incredibly similar to a bird and is sometimes made due to stress or when baby guinea pigs beg for food.
Now that we’ve covered the happy sounds, let’s move on to the warning and displeased noises. These are arguably more important to nail down quickly as they let you know when your guinea pig may be about to bite.
Similar to a dog growling, rumbling is a low-pitched purr that is usually accompanied by light vibrations throughout the guinea pig’s body. This is commonly associated with dominance displays within guinea pig groups, which is normal and shouldn’t discourage you from purchasing multiple guinea pigs and placing them in the same pen. Having companions is good for their happiness and health! However, this noise may also be associated with fear or anger as a reaction to being petted in the wrong place, such as on their bellies. Guinea pig bellies are very tender and vulnerable spots, so they understandably don’t usually like being touched there.
Chutting and Whining
Chutting is another onomatopoeic word and you’re probably already familiar with whining. Just like babies and dogs, guinea pigs whine to let you know that they’re upset by something a person or another guinea pig is doing near or to them. Both guinea pigs may also make these noises while chasing each other.
If your pig begins chattering his teeth, look out. This is a clear sign to stay away and is usually emitted while baring its teeth with a raised head to let you and other guinea pigs know that they’re upset or angry. Reaching your hand out to pet your guinea pig while they’re making this rattlesnake-like sound may very likely result in a sharp nip!
Fight or Flight Noise
This sounds very much like a squirrel’s chattering, but at the pitch of balloons being rubbed together. This is often accompanied by chattering and means the guinea pig feels like it’s in danger. It may make this noise while burrowing into a hiding place to protect itself or while trying to escape the pen or area. It will usually bite right after making this combination of noises and if hidden, may burst forward gnashing its teeth. It’s advisable to respect your guinea pig’s need for space while it’s making this noise. If you are bitten, remain calm, clean the wound, and allow your guinea pig to settle down before attempting to interact again. This type of behavior isn’t incredibly common and if you treat a healthy, well-adjusted guinea pig with respect as to it’s privacy and boundaries, then you shouldn’t have many encounters with this particular sound.
Shrieking or Squealing
This noise is very different from wheeling in that it’s higher in pitch and usually emitted in repeated, punctuated bursts. Your guinea pig uses this noise to express pain, fear, or severe unhappiness. If you hear this sound, you should immediately check on all pets within the pen to be sure all of the pigs are alright!
Now that you’re familiar with the meanings of different guinea pig noises, you’re ready to interact with some pigs! Head on down to your local pet store or friend’s house to try handling some guinea pigs and test your knowledge. If you’d like to listen to guinea pig sounds, I encourage you to do a quick YouTube search for the names of the sounds listed on this page accompanied with the words “guinea pig”.
To know what to feed your guinea pig so that it lives a long and very happy life, don’t miss reading this.
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