Guinea pigs are popular pets in large part because it is relatively easy to care for them. They don’t need many supplies and if you have more than one, they keep each other entertained and won’t need too much attention. But there will be times when they want to communicate with you and they’ll do so using sounds.
As a piggy parent, you want to learn to recognize the major sounds your pigs might make and also what those sounds mean. Knowing what your pigs are trying to tell you make it so much easier to give them the care they deserve. Here is a list of common guinea pig sounds along with a translation for each one.
This sounds just like the word, i.e. a series of Wheek! Wheek! noises. The ears may also become more animated when your guinea pigs are wheeking.
They make this sound when they want to eat. If you feed them at regular times (as you should), they will start to wheek when dinner time approaches. They will also do this any time you approach with anything that might be food or if they hear a noise they’ve learned to associate with food, like the rustling of a bag.
A guinea pigs purr is different from a cat; while cats have a high-pitched purr, a guinea purr sounds more like a cross between a much lower cats purr and a dogs grumble. The sound is unique to this animal and comes from deep in the throat.
Guinea pigs purr when they are feeling happy or content. You will often hear this sound when you are petting your pig. It means he’s enjoying it! Pigs will also emit a short, quick purr if they are startled.
A guinea pig’s growl sounds a bit like “drrrr drrrr…”. It is a sound of distress and made when they are being threatened by something nearby. It means they are in a vulnerable state. You can help your pig by gently petting it and speaking to it softly. This will calm it down and hopefully turn that growl into a purr.
Chattering is basically a series of squeaks accompanied by teeth gnashing. It signals that your guinea pig is angry or unhappy about something. You might hear it when you introduce a new pig into the cage (especially if you put two males together). The pigs will chatter at each other to establish cage dominance.
A pig might also chatter if he is trying to get some sleep, but a cage mate is pestering him. Sometimes, they will chatter at you if you are doing something they don’t enjoy, like trying to pick them up when they don’t want to be picked up, for example.
This refers to a loud shriek that you hopefully won’t hear often. It means that your pig is in pain or that it senses some kind of immediate danger. Most commonly, you’ll hear this if you take your piggy to the vet for shots or if one of your pigs has bitten the other. If you hear a shriek and you don’t know the cause, do your best to figure it out so you can avoid it happening again. You don’t want your pets to be afraid or in pain, after all!
This sounds similar to a high-pitched moan. Guinea pigs make this sound when they are disturbed or when their owners are doing something they don’t especially enjoy. They might also use this sound to indicate that they are hungry. Basically, the whine is their way of complaining. They’re really not all that different from us, are they!
This refers to a series of short staccato chut sounds. Like purring, this tells you your pig is feeling happy or relaxed. You might sometimes hear a few chuts mixed in with purring while you are petting your pig, but don’t be worried if you never hear your pet chutting. Not all guinea pigs make this sound.
A rumble sounds very similar to a purr, but is slightly lower in tone. It is mostly produced by male guinea pigs when they are courting a female and is usually accompanied by the rumble strut, a mating dance where the male pig will wiggle his hips and walk around the female. Although rumbling is mostly heard from males, females may also rumble to signal they are in heat or to establish dominance over another female.
Some pigs might also produce sounds not mentioned here (like chirping), but those are quite rare. We’ve covered all the standard guinea pig sounds and now that you know what they mean, you’ll be able to answer your pigs demands when they talk to you. That makes it so much easier to care for your furry family members!