Est-ce que tu parles français? Parli italiano? But can you speak Guinea Pig? If you are already the lucky owner of a guinea pig, you will know how much they love to chatter. But if you are a first-time piggy parent, you are probably still trying to figure out what all the different sounds mean. Carry on reading our guide to guinea pig noises to find out what your cavy is saying.
Guinea pigs are like the Harry Styles of the pet world; you have no idea how fabulous they are until you get them on their own. Yes, the UK’s most popular pets are still dogs and cats, but that is only because the vast majority haven’t gotten to know the absolute fabulousness that is the guinea pig.
In this article, we are going to tell you how to recognise the different sounds your guinea pig makes. Find out why your guinea pig:
Cavies As Conversationalists
Cavies have huge personalities and are enthusiastic conversationalists. They can spend most of the day talking to each other, and you, with chirps, purrs, shrieks, squeaks, and even the occasional growl. But what do all these noises mean? To understand your pet better, we think it is time you learned to speak piggy.
Guinea Pig Noises and What They Mean
A wheek is something between a ‘whee’ and a squeak, and usually happens when your guinea pig knows something good is on its way. This could be dinner, a treat, or affection from his favourite human. Whatever the reason, it means your pet is happy, and that is always a good thing.
Watch this little guy wheek for five full minutes.
Yes, guinea pigs purr in the same way cats do. For your cavy, however, it has different meanings. A low vibrating purr is a sign that your cavy is content, and life couldn’t be better. But if it has a high pitch to it and happens in quick bursts, it means he is confused or unsure about something. When you hear this noise, it is a good time to give your piggy much-needed reassurance.
In the same way humans mutter to themselves, so too do guinea pigs. If you hear your piggy muttering or mumbling to himself, rest assured, he is happy. It is also referred to as chubbling or chut-chutting. If you used ‘guinea translate’, you would d hear something along the lines of:
Huh, because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
It isn’t often that you will hear your guinea pig chirping, but it does occasionally happen. There is no clear answer as to why cavies make this noise, but some people say they hear it when their piggy is particularly happy. Others claim it is when a guinea pig loses a partner. When there is more than one guinea pig in a cage, chirping seems to be a way of attracting attention. To fully understand what your pet is saying, you should look at his body language.
Is it a bird? No, it’s a chirping guinea pig.
When your guinea pig starts to whine, you know he is getting annoyed. The good news is it isn’t with you, but rather his cage buddy. Roughly translated, your cavy’s whine would sound similar to “mummmmmmm / daddddddddddddd, tell [insert brother or sister’s name here] to stoooooooooooooooooppppppp!”
Hissing, as it suggests, is your guinea pig’s way of letting you know he has passed the point of being annoyed and is heading quickly towards Angryville. Along with the noise, he might bare his teeth and even fluff himself up. This is to make him look more threatening to other guinea pigs. If you notice your piggy standing a little bit like John Wayne, with his legs slightly apart, it means things are getting serious. You should separate your cavies immediately.
A rumbling guinea pig is a guinea pig that is ready to romance his companion. It is usually the male that makes this noise. This is accompanied by a bit of a swagger or strut. Some females also make a rumbling sound when in season.
Beware when you hear your cavy chattering. It is him telling you that he has had enough of being handled or petted and he wants down. If you don’t take heed of the warning, the chattering will get louder and more aggressive. The kind of body language associated with this noise includes him standing on his back legs and raising his hackles.
Chattering guinea pig? You have been warned.
Baby guinea pigs tweet after they have nursed. It is their way of expressing happiness and fulfilment.
Hopefully, you never hear your cavy shrieking. This happens in very rare circumstances, and it usually means he is injured. Don’t ignore this noise, especially if you have more than one cavy in a cage. Chances are they have had a fight.
Squealing is your guinea pig’s way of telling you that he needs help. It could be because his hutch buddy has invaded his space, or he is hurt. It is best to check on the reason for a squeal as quickly as possible, so it doesn’t become a shriek.
If your guinea pig starts growling, it is a sign that he feels threatened or is stressed. To calm him down, you can gently stroke him, while muttering or purring in his ear.
A mommy guinea pig can be heard cooing to her babies and is her way of reassuring them.
Sniffing is a universal language for animals. If your guinea pig is sniffing, be it a toy, food, or another piggy, it is him saying, “what is this? Can I eat it? Can I play with it?”
Believe it or not, guinea pigs snore, and sometimes rather loudly. More often than not, though, you will hear him making this noise when he is congested or has an upper respiratory infection. It is best to take him to your local vet to check that it isn’t anything serious.
Your Guinea Pig’s Body Language
Sometimes actions speak louder than words, especially as far as guinea pigs are concerned. We are also going to talk about your cavy’s body language, including:
- Nose bumping
- Head tossing
- Baring teeth
- Standing on back legs
- Raising hackles
The most significant moment in any piggy parent’s life is watching their pet popcorning. No other animal expresses happiness as enthusiastically or as cute as a cavy does. As the name suggests, popcorning is when your guinea pig hops up and down. And to make sure you know that he is happy, happy, happy, he will also wheek.
This little guy is about to pop out of his skin with happiness.
Guinea pigs bump or rub noses to say hello to one another. They also do this as a sign of affection. Trust us, it is a good thing when your pet nose bumps you.
The jury’s out on why guinea pigs lick. The optimists in us believe it to be a sign of undiluted affection, while others think it is merely down to them, liking the salty taste of our skin.
Love is a guinea pig… and a nose!
Unlike humans who yawn when they are tired or bored, a yawning guinea pig is an angry one. It is hard to misinterpret this, as he will more than likely be standing up, with legs apart.
If your cavy gives you a bit of a head toss, it is his way of telling you he doesn’t want his head touched. Don’t take offence, it is just him letting you know precisely what he likes, and what he doesn’t.
Strutting is also known as rumble strutting. This is because the two things happen together, and it is entirely something to behold. Think Danny de Vito trying to impersonate The Rock’s swagger, while making a rumbling sound. There are two reasons why a piggy will strut; strutting while rumbling is them trying to get the attention of the fairer sex, while a strut with chattering teeth is a sure sign of aggression.
Guinea pigs freeze when they are startled. It is their way of making themselves invisible when they hear a strange noise or see something threatening.
You guessed it, a cavy that is baring his teeth is one that means business. For the most part, piggies are exceptionally gentle and friendly, so this isn’t something you should see too often. He either feels threatened or is really irritated.
You might notice your guinea pig shaking. He could be cold, happy, excited, nervous or anxious. It is usually easy to know why he is shaking when you look at it in context. If you notice your cavy shaking for no apparent reason, you should consult with your vet. He might have guinea pig mange, a skin parasite that needs medical attention.
Guinea pigs have us humans wrapped around the proverbial thumb. They know a little bit of popcorning and wheeking will get them a treat, as will begging. Just like a dog, a cavy will beg for something by standing on his back legs.
Please sir, may I have some more?
Standing on Back Legs
Standing on his back legs when he is begging is cute, but if you notice him in this position with teeth bared and a lot of chattering, fur is about to fly. While your first thought might be to separate your guinea pigs, it is best not to. Rather throw a blanket or towel over them and separate them that way.
Although it is hilarious to watch, after all how intimidating can a guinea pig be, when he raises his hackles, it is his attempt at looking bigger and scarier than another cavy. It is his way of showing the others who is in charge. Often this is more of a scare tactic, but it is worth keeping an eye on things, in case it turns ugly.
If your guinea pig starts wriggling in your arms, it usually means he has had enough. Rather than annoy him more, leave him to run around on his own, either in a hutch or in his cage. Similarly, if he runs away every time you reach out to touch him, he wants to be left alone. Don’t take it personally. He will let you know when he is ready for cuddles and love.
A male will mount a female when it is time to mate. But there are instances when females will also do it. This is their way of establishing a hierarchy and is an essential part of the socialisation process.
Well done! You officially speak ‘guinea pig’. Now that you have a better understanding of what it is, your cavy is telling you, you will know when he wants food, is happy or scared or when he wants to be left alone.
Guinea pigs are chatty, charming companions and nothing is more rewarding than a relationship based on wheeking, purring, chirping and popcorning. Throw in a little bit of nose bumping and licking, and you have a friend for life.
Does your cavy chat a lot? Or maybe his actions speak louder than words? Perhaps he makes a unique sound that we haven’t included above. Leave us a comment or send a photo of the two of you together.