Guinea pigs squeak as a form of communication with people and other guinea pigs. A loud squeal often means they are seeking attention or food, whereas a short squeak can indicate discomfort in some form.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak Loudly?
Also known as squealing or “wheeking” by guinea pig owners, a loud squeak typically translates to, “I WANT FOOD!” Loud squealing generally means your piggy is excited. It also means your guinea pig feels comfortable enough with you to call for you and demand your presence, so that’s never a bad thing!
Many guinea pigs come to associate certain times of the day or particular noises (like the fridge opening or a plastic bag rustling) with food, and they will squeak loudly at these triggers.
Some guinea pigs are more vocal than others, and sometimes squealing is even genetic.
For example, I had one baby guinea pig who would squeal loudly at the sound of a plastic bag from a very young age. The funny thing is that she wasn’t even interested in the food when I gave it to her.
Honestly, I don’t think she even knew why she was squealing. It’s likely that her parents were very vocal, and she just naturally inherited that trait.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pigs to Squeal Less
Guinea pigs have a good set of lungs on them, and they can squeal quite loudly. And I mean that literally. Did you know that guinea pigs have four lobes in their right lung and three in their left? Comparatively, humans only have three lobes in the right lung and two in the left. Guinea pigs can reach great heights with their vocal range!
Because of this, it can get a little obnoxious if your guinea pig is in the habit of squealing near constantly. You can train them to use their pre-built internal food alarm only during certain times. However, it takes consistency on your part!
It’s important to have set meal times every day where they get their hay, pellets, and veggies. Do not sneak them treats when they squeal unless it is their meal time. Otherwise, they will train you quicker than you think!
Also, stick to feeding at the same time each day. They will likely start to squeal 30 minutes to an hour before this time, but don’t give in too early!
If it works, they will continue to move the time up and then proceed to also squeal at the later food time to demand a second meal! They are smarter than you think when it comes to food. 😉
However, ensure they always have big piles of hay in their cage to munch on between pellet and veggie times. A hungry guinea pig will squeal relentlessly, regardless of when their meal time is, so providing lots of hay is the best way to occupy the bottomless pits in their tummies.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak When You Pet Them?
Guinea pigs may let out a short squeak or a brief purring noise when they are uncomfortable with the way you’re petting them. This may be accompanied by stiff, still body language or even a whining noise.
Guinea pigs generally dislike being pet fast or roughly, especially against the natural grain of their hair.
Always pet them gently from their shoulders down to their back. Some guinea pigs prefer gentle head pets instead.
If you have an Abyssinian with funky hair, it can be a bit tricky to pet with the grain, but try to pet in the natural direction of their hair as much as possible.
It’s important to read your guinea pig’s body language so you can tell whether they are enjoying the petting or not.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak When You Pick Them Up?
Guinea pigs may squeak or whine if they are scared or dislike being picked up. They may also squeal loudly if they feel trapped and want to be put down but feel like they can’t escape.
In some cases, your guinea pig may be anticipating something bad happening. I have an ex-lab guinea pig who would panic and vocalize in various ways for several months whenever I picked her up. Most commonly were teeth chattering, whining, freezing, and occasionally even twitching!
If your guinea pig was picked up incorrectly in the past or squeezed too hard, they may associate being picked up with pain. They may also think they’re being picked up for something negative, like nail clipping.
Be sure to always pick up your guinea pig properly, with two hands supporting their bum and belly. Hold them close to your chest to help them feel secure.
It’s also a good idea to offer your guinea pig some of their favorite veggies while they’re sitting with you to turn it into a positive experience for them.
If your guinea pig continues to squeak when they are picked up, they may be in some abdominal pain. It would be a good idea to get them cleared by an experienced exotic vet to ensure there’s not a deeper problem with the behavior.
Finally, some guinea pigs are just more vocal than others and like to express their distaste about being picked up. Try to make it a positive experience for them with lots of yummy veggies when they are held, and they may change their tune about it over time.
Guinea Pigs Squeaking While Popcorning
It is normal for some guinea pigs to let out little squeaks while popcorning. Piggies that are jumping, twisting, and zooming around while squeaking are generally happy guinea pigs.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak or Squeal to Each Other?
Guinea pigs talk to each other using a series of vocalizations, including squeaks and squealing. You may hear a shrill squeak or squeal during a small disagreement between your guinea pigs. Often this occurs when they both want to be in the same hidey house, but they don’t want to share it. There may be a bit of scrambling, quiet squeaking, or whining accompanied in many cases.
Minor arguments from time to time are perfectly normal for bonded pairs of guinea pigs. However, if it happens a lot, keep an eye on them to ensure that one is not being excessively bullied or prevented from eating.
Make sure they have a big enough cage with plenty of hiding places, two water bottles, and two food bowls.
Guinea pigs may also squeak or squeal to call out to each other when separated. This is most typical between moms and young babies.
Baby guinea pigs can be quite vocal and often squeak when they wander too far and are trying to find their mom again.
Many guinea pigs become more independent with age and stop doing this. However, some guinea pigs that are very closely bonded may call out to each other when separated, especially if one is taken out of the cage completely out of sight of the other.
Also Read: Why Is My Guinea Pig Shaking and Vibrating?
Do Guinea Pigs Squeak When In Pain?
Occasionally a squeak or squeal could be a sign of pain, especially if it is in response to being touched in a certain spot. However, guinea pigs typically express their pain silently.
Some common signs of pain include huddling in one spot with a puffed-up coat, chewing paper, or generally being less active.
That’s why it’s important to be vigilant and pay close attention to your guinea pig’s behavior to catch signs of pain or distress early.
However, some guinea pigs may squeak quietly when in pain, usually accompanied by other symptoms like lack of activity, changed eating habits, or other unusual behavior.
If your guinea pig appears to be sick, be sure to take them to an experienced exotic vet for a check-up.
Do Guinea Pigs Squeak When They Are Scared?
In most cases, guinea pigs don’t squeak when they are scared. As prey animals, guinea pigs don’t naturally like to draw attention to themselves when they feel threatened.
Guinea pigs will typically express their fear by bolting to a nearby hiding place or by freezing and letting out a quiet short purr (often sounding like a “Brrr” noise.)
However, it’s important to watch your guinea pig’s behavior. If they are acting spooky and frantic while vocalizing, they may be distressed by a noise or smell.
Guinea pigs may also let out a shrill-sounding squeak or squeal when they are scared and feel that flight is not an option (i.e., during nail clipping or vet visits.)
Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak At Night?
Guinea pigs are actually quite active both at night and during the daytime. They are technically crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Guinea pigs also do not sleep for long periods as humans, and many other animals do. Instead, they take short catnaps throughout the day and night. They are up frequently to walk around and eat, then go back to sleep again.
Because of this, guinea pigs may squeak at night if they’re bored or want food or attention. They may also squeak occasionally to their cage mate. Be sure they both have plenty of space, hiding places, and food to avoid any bickering throughout the night.
How to Stop Guinea Pigs From Squeaking At Night
It can be quite inconvenient if your guinea pig develops a tendency to squeak at night.
The best way to stop guinea pigs from squeaking through the night is to provide them with a big pile of hay right before bedtime. This gives them something to munch on throughout the night to keep their mouths and bellies occupied.
If they still squeak at night, don’t get up to give them treats or attention. They may learn that squeaking gets them what they want and continue to do it.
Once the lights are out, ignore them and be consistent. Over time, they should learn that darkness is quiet time.
Overall, some guinea pigs are naturally more vocal than others. Feeding at scheduled meal times and trying to avoid rewarding excessive squealing can help to tone down the behavior a bit. Squeaking is one of the best ways for guinea pigs to communicate with people and with each other.
However, guinea pigs have a range of noises and behaviors they use to navigate the world. To learn more about how to read your guinea pig, check out our guinea pig behavior page.