Guinea Pigs: What's That Sound?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 10 September 2014

If you’re already ‘mum’ to a guinea pig, you will know that they love to make funny little noises- squeaking and purring the day away. These sounds, while they may be cute, are also used as a way to communicate and express their wants, needs and feelings to one another, and to their owner-you!

So what exactly is your guinea trying to say when they get particularly vocal? Below is a guide to help you decipher all that crazy cavy chatter!

guinea pigs communicate with all sorts of adorable and unique sounds

Name: Wheek

Sound: “Wheeeeek”

What it is: The most common cavy noise, when a guinea ‘wheeks’ it will make a long, and often loud squeaking sound, sometimes moving its ears up and down to accompany it.

What it means: When a cavy wheeks, it is often because they can hear the rustling of a bag, a door opening, or another sound that signifies food time. They make this sound due to excitement and hunger- just like many other animals when it comes to the anticipation of a tasty treat!

Name: Purring

Sound: “Purrrrrr”

What it is: You will find that a guinea will make a prolonged deep rumbled sound, much like the purr of a cat.

What it means: Just like when a cat purrs, a guinea will purr due to enjoyment and pleasure- often when they are being petted or stroked. It’s no secret that guinea pigs love a good scratch behind the ears and under the chin- these sweet spots are sure to get your guinea purring!

Name: Growl

Sound: “Drr”

What it is: A growl sounds similar to a purr, but is much more short and abrupt.

What it means: A guinea will growl when they are frightened, hear a noise they do not like, or feel threatened for any such reason. If you hear your guinea growling, you should pet them and reassure their safety, or place them back in a safe and familiar environment- such as inside or in their hutch.

Name: Rumble

Sound: “Brrr”

What it is: This noise can be distinguished by a low, deep rumbling sound, with the cavie often swaying their hips back and forth or walking around (patrolling) their home environment as they do this.

What it means: The rumble is a sound that is made by a guinea as a way of asserting their dominance. They will do this around another guinea pig of the opposite sex whilst performing a ‘mating dance’ or around an area to show that they’re ‘the boss’ of this particular space.

guinea pig begging

Name: Chatter

Sound: “ChCh”

What it is: This noise is made by the guinea rapidly chattering its teeth together- moving their jaw from side to side. What it means: A guinea will ‘chatter’ when something is to their dislike, and they wish to express anger or annoyance at something. This could be a noise they dislike, if they are being petted in a way they do not enjoy, or if something is just not rubbing them the right way. They may also chatter as a way of displaying dominant behaviour. You may find cavies will chatter at one another to try and establish who is to be the most dominant guinea pig in a herd.

Name: Shrieking

Sound: “EEEEE”

What it is: This sound will be very easy to recognise as it is a very loud high pitched shrieking noise.

What it means: If your cavy makes this sound there is cause for concern as it often means they are in danger, in pain or are scared. If they feel threatened for any such reason, a guinea will shriek to warn other guineas in the herd to be on alert and take caution. They may also shriek if they are in pain- this can be from another cavy nipping them, being attacked by another animal, or if they aren’t handled properly. You will find that baby guineas will often shriek if they are afraid, unaware of their surroundings or unable to see other guineas. If your guinea is shrieking, it is best to tend to the problem immediately and  try to calm them down.

Name: Chut

Sound: “Chh”

What it is: A ‘chutting’ noise will often sound like a mumble, or a combination of low sounding wheeks, chuts and grunts.

What it means: A guinea pig will often ‘chut’ away happily while they are out and about exploring. It is very much a contented and happy noise, and it will sound like they are just chatting away to themselves.

Name: Whinging

Sound: “weeeeek”

What it is: A guinea pig may elaborate on the standard ‘wheek’ noise by making it louder and more prominent- starting off soft and becoming increasingly loud.

What it means: They will make this noise to express their annoyance at something- it is their way of complaining and whining. This may be if they’re being petted incorrectly, are uncomfortable or have been disturbed.

Name: Chirping

Sound: “tweet”

What it is: You may mistake this sound for a bird tweeting away, as it is a high-pitch quick series of ‘chirp’ noises.

What it means: It is still unknown what exactly a guinea is trying to express when they make a ‘chirping’ noise. Many guinea pig enthusiasts believe it is them ‘singing’ or calling to one another- however this has not yet been confirmed. It is quite rare for a cavy to chirp, so if you are to witness this wonderful sound- consider yourself lucky! If a guinea pig chirps, those around it will often stop and listen intently in wonderment.

Now you will know exactly what all those crazy and cute little sounds that are coming from your guineas hutch, and whether they want a reassuring stroke or a tasty treat to nibble on!

Sources and further reading