Guinea pigs are some of the most vocal animals in the animal kingdom. It can be challenging to understand what your guinea pig is trying to say or do because of their complex behavior when it comes to sounds or just their personality.
A guinea pig will make different sounds to express their feelings and behavior. It is normal for your guinea pig to produce strange sounds but you need to pay attention to the sounds they are making and what’s happening to them or around them.
The best way to fully understand the sounds they make is to observe their body language as they make the sound.
Below we will step you through some of the common sounds guinea pigs make and what they could mean along with walking you through how they communicate with other guinea pigs and pets.
Can Guinea Pigs Communicate With Each Other?
Guinea pigs are very social animals, especially with their cage partners or owners. This social aspect can be dated all the way back to their origin when they roamed in the wild. They had to build communication patterns to ward off predators and alert other guinea pigs when predators were near.
This communication they’ve built over time helps them establish a social hierarchy. Scientists have determined that different parts of a guinea pig’s brain will show reactivity towards certain sounds or calls from other guinea pigs. It’s their version of a flight or fight response.
Research shows that guinea pig mothers make certain sounds to their babies as a way of teaching them how to communicate with each other. The babies will react to their mother based on the sound she gives.
Based on several studies and research, scientists have proven that guinea pigs have their own communication methods.
Can Guinea Pigs Communicate With Humans?
Yes, guinea pigs will communicate with their owners via the sounds and behaviors they show. Your guinea pig will form a really strong bond with you and they love being around their owners. A guinea pig will act differently around their owner versus strangers.
Just like in the wild, your guinea pig will make certain sounds for excitement and pain. The best way to understand them is to observe and note what types of behaviors they show at certain times. For instance, if your guinea pig squeaks every time they see you it’s likely because they are happy.
What Sounds Do Guinea Pigs Produce?
There is a large number of common sounds guinea pigs make. The key is knowing what these sounds mean for your guinea pig. As an owner, you should really know these basic sounds your guinea pig will make.
Wheeking, also known as whistling, is a high-pitched sound combined with a whistle. This is the most common sound you’ll hear from your guinea pig.
Your guinea pig will make this sound in anticipation or if they want something. You’ll likely hear your guinea pig whistle during feeding time or as you’re setting up their dish. They are producing this sound to get your attention.
There is no set amount of wheeking that your guinea pig may produce. It will range from them doing it once or twice to constantly for a period of time.
If your guinea pig is making a chutting sound it means they are delighted. The sound can be described as a light repetitive chirp.
Your guinea pig will often make this sound when they interact with you, get fed, petted or even just when they feel safe.
This is one of the most common noises a guinea pig will make.
A bubbling sound can be described as a very low-frequency sound that is difficult to hear. To really hear this you will need a quiet environment.
This sound is often the sound guinea pig’s will use when they are happy. The bubbling sound usually occurs with “pancaking” which is a calm and peaceful state where your guinea pig lays down and closes its eyes to relax but isn’t fully sleeping.
Bubbling can also be heard when two cage buddies are spending some quality time with each other or when the guinea pigs are getting a gentle massage in the lap of their owner.
A rumbling sound is often used in times where your guinea pig will try to show dominance. You may also hear others call this “motorboating”. It’s a deep roaring rumble that comes from your guinea pig that’s mostly produced by male guinea pigs.
There are three main reasons for rumbling:
- To show dominance.
- To impress a female guinea pig.
- To alert others to hide because of potential danger.
A male guinea pig will produce these sounds to show dominance to others, especially during mating. The rumbling sound will often be followed up by your guinea pig shifting their weight around and puffing their fur up to seem bigger.
During these sounds your pigs will not fight, this is just an attempt to scare each other into submission when they are fighting over dominance of the cage or a female.
If you’re mating your guinea pigs you will hear this sound often. The male will use it to get the attention of the female, especially if they are in estrous. The male will often display dancing moves for the females after rumbling.
In some cases guinea pigs will use this sound to mean hide. Your guinea pig can easily get scared and they may freeze in place and start rumbling. This happens often after they’ve heard a loud sound or they see another animal for the first time, such as a cat or dog.
If your guinea pig is rumbling due to being scared they will likely try to hide somewhere in the house or return back to their cage. You should try to keep your guinea pig away from larger animals to protect it and slowly introduce them to your other pets until they calm down.
Your guinea pig may produce chattering sounds by rubbing their teeth together. This sound is often used for many reasons making it very important to look at your pet’s body language and the situation to understand why they are making this sound.
Typically this sound indicates high-stress or nervousness in your guinea pig. If you are hearing this sound then your guinea pig is likely in a situation that has made them tense.
If two guinea pigs are continuously chattering at each other you should separate them as they both may get aggravated to the point they start fighting.
A whining sound from your guinea pig is a sound of distress. Your pig will make this sound when they dislike something that is happening, similar to if a child were to whine when they got hurt. The whine will usually be a loud sharp sound and can be heard from a distance.
In many cases, cavies will whine when being picked up or are touched by others. Their whine will vary and it’s not the same guinea pig to guinea pig so you’ll want to keep an eye on them if they start whining and change the situation if they are.
In some cases it’s easy to mistake a whine with a whimper. A whimper is very similar to a whine but is much quieter. Your guinea pig may whimper if they are in pain. If your guinea pig is whining as they move around their cage or room you will want to get them examined by your vet.
The chirping sound is very unusual for guinea pigs to produce. They make this sound very rarely and no one is really sure what it means. The chirp will be a high-pitched bird-like sound and they will do it randomly.
Many believe this is the guinea pig alerting others if they are worried or need their attention.
Your guinea pig will likely make a shrieking sound if they are in extreme pain or in fear of something. This sound will be very loud almost as if they were screaming at you.
If your guinea pig is shrieking you will want to make sure they are physically unharmed and then attempt to calm them down. A shriek is often confused with wheeking if your guinea pig is not showing any body language.
Purring (Peace or Confusion)
The purring sound has a double meaning for your guinea pig. It’s key to pay attention to their reaction and their body when they make this sound.
If your guinea pig is purring and their body is calm, as in laying down, it’s likely they are content or at peace with what’s going on.
If your guinea pig is purring and their body is not calm, as in nervously moving around, it’s likely they are confused about what is going on. This can be viewed as a form of anxiety for your guinea pig.
Similar to other animals, such as a cat, your guinea pig will make a hissing noise when they are angry. If your guinea pig starts making this noise it’s best to either leave them alone until they calm down or remove what’s making them angry.
If your guinea pig is disturbed while hissing it is likely they will bite or try to escape. Even though they are cuddly animals they can be very aggressive. If two guinea pigs are hissing at each other it’s best to separate them to avoid them hurting each other and avoid any fights.
Is it Normal for Your Guinea Pig to be Quiet?
This entirely depends on your guinea pig’s personality. There are many guinea pigs that are timid or shy and they may not make too many noises.
For the most part guinea pigs are a very vocal animal. You will still want to pay attention to your guinea pig when they make noises and try to understand what the noises mean. Your guinea pig should still make noises for certain events, such as feeding if they are hungry.
The complete absence of sound or if your guinea pig does not make sounds similar to the ones listed above, you should speak with your vet.
There are some times where your guinea pig will not make a sound, some of these times are:
- If they are sick or ill.
- If they are scared or in the presence of larger animals.
- If they are unconscious.
- If they are stressed out they may “freeze”.
- If a female guinea pig is near parturition (about to give birth).
If you have not heard a single sound from your guinea pig in an extended period of time you will want to check on them and try to invoke a sound by giving them a treat, taking them out of their cage or doing something that alarms them.
Make sure you continue to observe your guinea pig and if you think there is a problem, speak to your vet. Your vet will do a physical examination and if the results are inconclusive they will move to do an x-ray or ultrasound to see if there is any injury.
Your guinea pig should be an active and vocal critter. Guinea pigs love to express their feelings and typically make all kinds of sounds.
It’s important to have a basic understanding of what each sound could mean and then observing your own pet to make sure it makes the same noises. The more time you spend with them to bond the easier it will be to understand what each sound means.
If your guinea pig is making distress calls (screeches) or is very quiet all of a sudden it’s likely there is a problem and you should either check on them or take them to a vet. There are no vet approved home remedies for making your guinea pig more vocal and each reason why your guinea pig is making a sound has its own solutions.
Articles Sources & Research
- Blogger, G. (2022, February 23). Guinea Pig Sounds and Their Meanings! GuineaDad. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/guinea-pig-sounds-and-their-meanings
- Cosgrove, N. (2022, July 19). 9 Guinea Pig Sounds and Their Meanings (With Audio). Pet Keen. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://petkeen.com/guinea-pig-sounds/
- Oxbow Animal Health. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/guinea-pig-sounds-and-their-meanings/