13 Guinea Pig Sounds: Decoding Their Language

You’ve undoubtedly heard your guinea pig making interesting sounds and wondered what they mean. But, with time and observation, you will see that cavies have a language of their own. And, since they have individual personalities, they might even make unique sounds. But what do their sounds generally mean?

Guinea pigs make a variety of sounds that communicate different meanings. If they’re excited, they might wheek. If they’re upset or startled, they might chut. Other sounds they make with different meanings include purring, chirping, whining, rumbling, hissing, and teeth-chattering.

When these little critters make sounds, it’s usually to communicate with you or their fellow cavies. For instance, they express when they’re happy, sad, nervous, in pain, and when asserting themselves. Next, we’ll learn some of the familiar sounds they make and their possible meanings, as observed by researchers and fellow piggy owners.

Different Guinea Pig Sounds and What They Mean (We Think)

People have identified at least thirteen general sounds that cavies make in accordance with certain behaviors. This is what we think each noise means:

1. Wheeking

One of the most popular sounds associated with cavies is wheeking. It is a high-pitched, whistle-like sound guinea pigs make when they want food or attention. Usually, you will hear onomatopoeic wheeking around feeding time or when you open the fridge or a bag of your piggy’s favorite treats.

Sometimes piggies will make a low wheek when they’re about to be reunited with their buddy or when their owner walks over to their habitat. This is a way they communicate anticipation of something enjoyable about to happen. Scientists believe this type of communication is reserved for humans, as cavies do not make this noise in the wild.

2. Purring

Guinea pigs may emit a soft, vibrating sound when relaxed and content, similar to a cat’s purring. If your cavy does a low-pitched purr while sprawled out, it usually means it is content. Their purring is also referred to as gurgling or babbling. Usually, it indicates that they are enjoying their current situation, e.g., munching on something or being groomed, petted, or held.

However, if the purr becomes more high-pitched toward the end, and your piggy looks a bit tense, it’s probably annoyed or stressed. In that case, stop petting it or check to see what startled it.

If your guinea pig is making certain sounds and nibbling you, it might be trying to communicate something. Find out more here.

3. Chutting

Chutting resembles a series of short, rapid clucking noises that guinea pigs make when exploring or investigating something new in their environment. Most of the time, this sound means the cavy is content, but it can also mean the opposite.

For instance, cavies might chut and then whine when alarmed, surprised, threatened, or agitated. The staccato chuts are often accompanied by teeth-chattering, which usually indicates disapproval or a warning for others to stay away.

Understanding the sounds your guinea pig makes could help you figure out why it's running away from you. Learn more here.

4. Chirrup

A chirrup is a sound that guinea pigs make when disturbed or mildly upset. You’ll probably hear them chirruping a couple of times when your piggy is bothered by something or when it wants your attention.

5. Chirping

Cavies sometimes make a chirping sound similar to chutting but with a higher pitch. While this sound is more common in piggies, some adults will chirp when asserting dominance or exhibiting courtship behavior. Strangely enough, when a piggy makes this bird-like sound, its eyes will be wide open, and it will look like it’s in a trance or staring into space.

However, humans don’t fully understand the message behind guinea pig chirping. For instance, some people believe they make this sound when mourning the recent loss of a friend. So, if you see your little piglet in this state, give it a little cuddle.

6. Teeth Chattering

A guinea pig’s rapid, teeth-grinding sound may indicate discomfort, aggression, annoyance, or territorial behavior. Additionally, cavies may chatter and bare their teeth when they feel threatened or try to show dominance. When they display their teeth, it may appear like they are yawning, but it actually means “stay away” or back off.”

This behavior is typical amongst piggies when they meet for the first time. However, if the chattering worsens, it is recommended to separate them to prevent fighting. Then, after some time, you can reintroduce them under controlled conditions (i.e., for short periods and on neutral territory). When the chattering ceases, it usually means the piggies have established their hierarchy.

7. Hissing

A guinea pig hiss sounds similar to a cat hiss and means the same thing: back off and leave me alone. A piggy wishing to convey that it feels threatened, annoyed, or aggro will hiss, chut, or chatter its teeth. If the threat doesn’t go away, the cavy might even bite.

8. Drrr Growling

Another sound your cavy might make when distressed or surprised is a growl or a “drrrr” sound. It could be equated to a person exclaiming “Wow!” or “Ah!” but is often accompanied by the piggy freezing in place as it is scared or assessing the situation. If your cavy displays this behavior, try to pet it gently to help it calm down; it may even start purring.

9. Whining or Squealing

When a guinea pig is uncomfortable or in pain, it might emit a whine or a squeal. If you hear this distress call, you should take it seriously. For example, check it for signs of injury or illness and consult with a vet if necessary. If there’s no sign of anything amiss, it may be that a cage mate woke up your piggy, and it was a whine of grumpiness.

By understanding your guinea pig's sounds, you might be able to detect signs of emotional distress. Learn more about their emotional health.

10. Rumbling

When a guinea pig rumbles, it sounds like a deep purring sound and could mean they are:

  • Establishing hierarchy,
  • Asserting themselves or being dominant, or
  • Courting a mate.

Male cavies rumble to attract the attention of a female mate, but females also do it when they’re in heat. Also called “motorboating,” rumbling is often accompanied by a mating dance called “rumble strutting.”

11. Screaming or Shrieking

When a piggy screams or shrieks, it is usually a signal they are scared or injured. You should take this unmistakable call seriously, as it might mean your piggy is in immediate danger or pain.

12. Tweet

Baby piggies often tweet after nursing or after they relieve themselves. It’s unlikely you’ll hear an adult guinea pig tweeting.

13. Cooing

Mommy cavies coo (like a soft murmur) to their young when trying to reassure or calm them. You might also find that an adult mating pair coo to show affection as if whispering sweet nothings to their mate.

Conclusion

It’s crucial to observe your guinea pig’s body language and the sounds they make to interpret their communication accurately. Each piggy may have slight variations in their vocalizations, so spending time with them will help you better understand their preferences and feelings. Additionally, regular veterinary check-ups can ensure your cavy’s health and well-being.