Guinea pigs communicate using a range of vocalizations and sounds. The following list delves into 8 noises you may hear your guinea pig make and what they mean.
Keep in mind that not all guinea pigs will make all the sounds on this list in their lifetime. Some piggies are more vocal than others and most have a few favorite noises they often default to, so the noises you’ll hear can vary from one guinea pig to another.
So without further ado, here are all the noises you may hear from your piggy and what they are trying to tell you.
1. Squeaking or Wheeking
Squeaking or squealing, generally referred to as wheeking in the guinea pig world, is a happy noise that piggies make. Wheeking typically means that your guinea pig is excited about being fed.
Guinea pigs often start squeaking near feeding time or when they hear you preparing their food. Wheeking can also be triggered by hearing things your guinea pig associates with food, like rustling bags or a fridge opening.
Baby guinea pigs tend to squeak more than adults as they also use wheeking to call out for their mom or when they are separated from their siblings.
2. Quiet Squeaking or Chutting
Chutting is a quiet squeaking noise that you may hear your guinea pig make as they are wandering around, sniffing and exploring. Some piggies will also chut softly while they are being petted or in between popcorning.
Chutting is generally a happy noise and indicates contentment. It is basically just your guinea pig chatting away to themselves as they go about life.
Whining, sometimes known as complaining, is a noise that guinea pigs make when they are unhappy about something. It’s typically made by more passive pigs to tell other guinea pigs to leave them alone.
You may hear whining when your guinea pigs are eating and one is trying to steal food from another. It can also occur when a guinea pig is trying to push another out of a hiding place and the other doesn’t want to leave.
Guinea pigs may also whine at humans if you are doing something unpleasant like clipping their nails or bathing them. They may also whine if they don’t like the way you’re petting them.
If you hear your guinea pig whining when they are alone, it can also be a sign of pain, especially if accompanied by fluffed-up fur or hunching up in one spot. In particular, whining while urinating can be a sign of a urinary infection or bladder stones.
Purring can mean a couple of different things, so body language is important for context.
A short purr, often sounding like a “brrr” accompanied by freezing suddenly means your guinea pig was spooked by something. Guinea pigs may also give a short purr when you’re petting them in a way they dislike, such as too fast or against the natural grain of their fur.
Guinea pigs can also purr when they are happy. However, happy purrs are accompanied by much different body language. Happy guinea pigs have a relaxed body posture and are often running around excitedly before the happy purrs. Happy purring is most common when first given food, but some piggies will purr happily when being stroked gently.
Rumbling is similar to purring, but it sounds like a long, extended purr. Rumbling is also generally accompanied by the guinea pig shaking or swaying slowly from side to side. This is known as rumble strutting.
Rumble strutting is often a courtship behavior that males use to show up another male or impress a female. Females often rumble strut when they are in heat as well. Rumble strutting can also be a dominance behavior for both genders, but males tend to do it most often.
6. Chattering Teeth
Guinea pigs typically chatter their teeth as a warning to other guinea pigs or people to give them space or leave them alone. The louder the chattering, the more upset your guinea pig is at that moment.
Loud teeth chattering can also be accompanied by the guinea pig showing their teeth or yawning. This often indicates a threat to bite or start fighting, and it’s a good time to intervene (not using your bare hands!) if you see your guinea pigs do this during an introduction.
Some guinea pigs will chatter their teeth softly to indicate annoyance or impatience, and this is much less of a concern. For example, I have a couple of piggies that will chatter quietly when I’m slow at preparing their veggies. However, this type of chattering does not indicate any aggression and is simply a way of saying, “Hurry up, mom!”
Chirping is a strange noise with no definitive meaning. It sounds exactly like a bird chirping and often goes on for several minutes. Not all guinea pigs chirp – in fact, it’s pretty rare. I currently have one piggy that chirps out of 14 and there never seems to be any rhyme or reason to when she does it.
Some theories suggest it could be a learned behavior, from stress, fear, or an alert signal, but we don’t really know for sure. In my case, any of these could be correct as my chirping girl is an ex-lab rescue and grew up with a large number of other guinea pigs. There could likely be some lasting trauma there as well.
Not to be mistaken for normal wheeking, a shriek is a louder, higher-pitched noise that sounds like the guinea pig equivalent of a scream. A shriek could be a sign of pain, fear, or alarm.
This noise often occurs when they are bit by another guinea pig or when they hurt themselves on something. If you hear your guinea pig shriek, it’s a good idea to check on them and make sure everything is okay.
If you hear this noise frequently, try to move your piggies to a bigger cage if possible or provide extra hiding places, beds, food bowls, multiple hay piles, and additional water bottles to prevent any bickering over resources.
Abnormal Noises From Guinea Pigs
Some strange noises you may hear from your guinea pig include hooting, wheezing, crackling, or any similar sounds. Anytime your guinea pig’s breathing sounds congested or a little off, it’s cause for concern.
Any of these noises can indicate respiratory infections, heart problems, or symptoms of another health condition. If you hear something strange from your guinea pig, it’s best to take them to an experienced exotic vet for a check-up.
Guinea pigs use a variety of sounds to communicate with humans and other guinea pigs. However, it’s important to observe your guinea pig’s body language and behavior in addition to their range of vocalizations. Some sounds have multiple meanings and need more context to determine their meaning.
As prey animals, guinea pigs communicate largely through their body language. There are so many unique behaviors you may see in your guinea pig. To decode some of your guinea pig’s nonverbal communication, you can also check out this article on 27 Normal Guinea Pig Behaviors and What They Mean.