Guinea pigs make a plethora of sounds that can be difficult to understand, especially if you’re new to caring for them. They wheek when they’re happy, chirp when alarmed, and chatter their teeth when annoyed. There are also certain sounds that indicate a guinea pig is sick, such as wheezing, snoring, or moaning.
In this article, we’ll discuss 15 guinea pig sounds and their meanings. Keep in mind that some sounds are in multiple sections below, as they can mean various things depending on context.
It’s always important to observe your piggies’ body language and environment as well as the noises they make, in order to understand them as much as possible.
Sounds Guinea Pigs Make When They’re Happy
Wheeking is one of the most common happy guinea pig sounds. You’ll typically hear it when your piggies want something, such as around veggie time.
Many guinea pigs wheek when they hear the fridge open or a plastic bag rustle. It means they’re excited for what’s coming!
When your guinea pig makes a purring sound, they may be either happy or upset. Happy purrs are typically longer, while scared piggies will make short purrs.
Pay attention to your piggies’ other body language and what’s happening around them to determine why they’re purring. For instance, a guinea pig laying flat as a pancake while you pet them is likely purring out of contentment.
Clucking or Chutting
Clucking might be used to let other piggies know where they are. These sounds are very quick and not continual, while repetitive chut-chutting noises can indicate annoyance.
Guinea pigs typically make cooing sounds at their offspring. It’s likely a comforting noise for piggies because of this, and sometimes adults will coo at one another as well.
Sounds Guinea Pigs Make When They’re Scared
A guinea pig who makes a chirping sound like a bird is typically stressed. For instance, I’ve spoken to someone whose piggy chirped when there was a mouse near their cage! You might also notice them startle or freeze due to anxiety.
Piggies seem to chirp most often at night. It may also be a sound of grief over a cagemate’s passing, and some people claim their piggies chirp for no reason at all. Of course, we can’t really know why each individual piggy chirps since we can’t read their minds!
However, it seems to be more common in very anxious guinea pigs or if they’re somehow reminded of something bad happening in the past. So, there may be a reason behind your piggy’s chirping that you don’t realize–or, perhaps, some of them just like to be noisy!
Whimpering or Moaning
Whimpering or moaning can be a sign of fear, but it can also indicate pain or illness. An occasional whimper or moan might mean your piggy is scared or annoyed, but ongoing sounds mean it’s time to see the vet.
Sounds Guinea Pigs Make When They’re Annoyed
Guinea pigs often do something known as rumble strutting, where they make a rumbling sound and their hips move side to side as they walk.
This can happen for various reasons, one being that they’re annoyed. They might also be trying to show dominance over another pig. Rumble strutting is most common during guinea pig bondings, but can persist even in bonded pairs or groups.
Rumbling can also be used to show other guinea pigs that they’re interested in mating.
Short purrs are most likely to mean your guinea pig is annoyed, while longer purrs may indicate happiness.
As we discussed above, observing their body language is a great way to tell the difference. If your guinea pig is running from a cagemate, for example, they’re likely not too happy!
Sick Guinea Pig Sounds
It’s vital to learn the sounds guinea pigs make when they’re sick, as they’re fragile animals that hide illnesses well. The sooner you can get your sick piggy to the vet, the better!
It’s also important to do a weekly or monthly health check at home, which will help you to spot symptoms of illness including some of the sounds below.
Some guinea pigs make choking or hiccup sounds while they eat. This can be due to eating too fast and sometimes isn’t an issue.
Other times, your guinea pig may actually be choking or have something caught in their throat. You may notice them cough up pasty-looking, ground-up food, or even something hard like a seed.
To prevent choking, be sure to keep choking hazards out of your guinea pigs’ cage. This includes toys with small parts and pellet mixes with seeds in them.
If your guinea pig is making choking or hiccuping sounds frequently, see your veterinarian to ensure they’re healthy!
A cough now and then doesn’t always indicate an issue for guinea pigs. A coughing sound might be them eating too fast or having something in their throat, as we discussed above. However, consistent coughing is definitely cause for concern!
Coughing can be a sign of serious illnesses such as upper respiratory infection (URI) or pneumonia, which can kill guinea pigs quickly if left untreated.
Symptoms you might notice alongside the coughing are trouble breathing, discharge from the eyes or nose, decreased appetite, and tiredness.
Like coughing, an occasional sneezing sound is usually nothing to worry about. When guinea pigs sneeze regularly, it can be a symptom of a URI or pneumonia.
Bring your guinea pig to the veterinarian as soon as possible–you don’t want to wait days to see if it clears up, because illnesses like these can progress very quickly in guinea pigs.
Other symptoms to watch for alongside the sneezing include coughing, breathing difficulties, eye or nose discharge, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
If your guinea pig makes a crying sound, like a squeal, they might be in pain. However, guinea pigs cry for various reasons–including anger at a cagemate and fear.
Look for other signs of illness such as weight loss, behavioral changes, eye or nose discharge, trouble breathing, and changes in appetite.
If your guinea pig is wheezing, they need to see a veterinarian right away. This indicates that they’re struggling to breathe, and likely have a URI or pneumonia.
It’s worth seeing if you have an emergency vet clinic that sees guinea pigs or if your regular vet takes emergency appointments.
Other signs your piggy is struggling to breathe include clicking, crackling, or hooting sounds when they breathe. You may notice these more if you bring your piggy to your ear to listen to their breaths.
Whimpering or Moaning
If your guinea pig makes a whimpering or moaning sound, it’s likely they’re in pain. Because they hide pain very well, they’re usually in a great deal of it before you’ll hear them complain.
You may notice them making these sounds especially when touched. This can tell you more about where the pain is located, so be sure to bring it up to your vet!
Guinea pigs may whimper or moan minimally when annoyed, but if the sound persists, it’s time to see a vet.
If your guinea pig makes a snoring sound while they sleep, it likely means they’re congested. This can indicate a URI or pneumonia, so it’s best to get them checked out by a vet quickly.
Guinea pigs often hiccup if they eat too quickly, as discussed above. However, these hiccups shouldn’t be frequent or last more than a few minutes. Prolonged hiccups can indicate health issues.
Sounds of a Female Guinea Pig in Heat
Female guinea pigs in heat don’t necessarily make special sounds. They may rumble, as this is a common sound heard in piggies seeking a mate.
Other signs your piggy is in heat include heightened tension between cagemates. For instance, there might be more chasing, humping, or rumble strutting.
There’s no need to separate your guinea pigs due to these behaviors unless true aggression occurs and one of them is hurt. Of course, intact females and males should never be kept together–whether the female is in heat or not, pregnancy is extremely likely.
How Do Guinea Pigs Make Sounds?
Guinea pigs make sounds using their vocal cords, the same as humans. They might also make sounds using their teeth, such as teeth chattering.
Despite being small animals, guinea pigs can be very noisy. I remember my piggy, Baby, waking me up every morning squeaking for veggies!
Of course, guinea pigs vary in how vocal they are, with some seldom making noise and some chattering away all day.
They can also make sounds humans can’t hear, but other guinea pigs (and maybe even other pets in the household) can. This is due to their high pitch!
Guinea pigs make sounds not only to communicate with their cagemates but also with their humans! It’s important to learn all that you can about their sounds, body language, and more so that you can understand what they’re saying.