For such a small pet, it is amazing the amount of noises they make – they are trying to speak to you to let you know their emotions. This will help in understanding if your pet is not well, so it’s a good idea to work out what these noises mean.
The cavy (guinea pig) will try to communicate with you to express many emotions, whether it is pain, hunger or excitement, they have a range of sounds to hopefully let you know what they are feeling. It may take a while to interpret these sounds, but when you do, you can join the world of guinea pig language!
In some instances, there is no real word to explain the noise, it is more a ‘made up’ word to mimic the sounds that they make. Hopefully you will recognise the sound and associate it with the word!
If your guinea pig is in a feeding pattern, i.e. you generally feed them at a similar time every day, if you hear ‘eeking’, this is your pet trying to tell you that they are hungry! They will also make this sound if they see you putting their food out and can often become very excited by the prospect and start twitching their ears. Hand feeding a treat will also cause this hilarious reaction. Many people also like to refer to this sound as ‘wheeking’, as that’s what it sounds like to them!
A noise of contentment from your pet, particularly if you are cuddling and stroking them, which gives them tremendous pleasure. It’s a strange noise like a deep purring right from the throat, and never high-pitched. If you are holding them, you can feel a rumbling in their body as well, it is incredibly cute. You could also call this a purr (some owners do as they think this noise sounds like a cat), but for others it is more like a rumbling!
There is, however, another ‘rumble’, which you may hear if you own both male and female cavies. As part of a ‘mating dance’, the male will wiggle his bottom and circle the unsuspecting female to impress her, whilst making the rumbling noise to attract her attention. But the female isn’t innocent in wooing attempts – when she is in season, she will ‘rumble’ to the male to indicate that she is ready to mate.
Another sign of pleasure and contentment but quite rare – some Guinea pigs may never make this sound during their entire existence, so don’t be alarmed. It is not a long drawn out sound, just a repeated noise of excitement in short bursts. It can happen during the petting stage, but some guinea pigs will make this noise when they just feel happy, scampering around the floor and ‘popcorning’. Popcorning is hilarious to watch – the guinea pigs jump in the air every so often or kick their back legs and front legs out alternately – also called the ‘bucking Bronco’!
Just like most other growling animals, it is not a sign of happiness whatsoever, more of distress or threats to their existence. If you move your pet to unfamiliar surroundings, they may often make this sinister sounding noise, which you will recognise immediately. They don’t like change in anything, whether environment or food and food times.
If you have two guinea pigs sharing a cage, and one or the other begins to growl at his cage mate, then it may no longer be suitable and that it is upsetting one or both of them. This may be time to buy a separate cage or a much bigger one.
You may often experience this sound when visiting the vets if your guinea pig is not well. Not only will the illness be upsetting him, but also the surroundings and possibly a smaller transportation cage.
If you want to calm your pet down, stroking usually is the best method to assure them that they are safe.
Now this is a sound to be aware of. It can be very loud, which will not only startle you, but it also means that your guinea pig is deeply frightened of something and fears danger. This could be pain or discomfort, so best try to get to the root of the problem that is causing this distressing sound.
The shriek may well also be heard when they are undergoing their first vaccinations, which is frightening for humans, let alone pets. There is nothing you can do other than assure them by petting, that everything is ok. Eventually, the shrieking will subside with more regular visits to the vet.
This is a sound of ‘complaint’, and generally means they are disgruntled about something, which could be his cage partner, or even worse, you! Perhaps you are petting him too much, and he simply wants to get down and have a bit of freedom to stretch his legs, if this is what he is used to.
A word of advice – you will often hear this sound if you or the cage mate interrupts his sleep – they really don’t like it. Not much you can do other than retreat gracefully!
This is a sound of a very annoyed, disgruntled, fed up or agitated guinea pig – they don’t hide this emotion at all. The noise resembles squeaking but in rapidity of short, sharp squeaks – he is a very angry man when he makes this sound! The squeaking is often accompanied by gnashing or grinding of teeth, and you may even see their teeth as they tend to show them to the offender.
This is likely to occur if you introduce a new cage partner, particularly another male – your original pet will not be happy with this and try to assert his dominance of the territory and put the other one in his place. They are more than likely to fight, so try to get to them before they do, and separate them until ‘Mr Angry’ has settled down.
This can go on for a while, until they get used to each other, but there is no exact time limit as to when it will stop. One will eventually have to give in to the other, but don’t expect miracles!
Guinea pigs are fun pets, they are quite quirky in their actions and funny to watch at times. Enjoy them as much as possible.