Resource Center Menu

Understanding Guinea Pig Sounds & Body Language

long haired guinea pig

Guinea pigs can make excellent companions for a pet parent wanting a smaller, inside pet, however they can also be far from quiet! Guinea pigs are naturally very social animals, so it’s no surprise they have an array of vocalizations and body language behaviors to communicate with other guinea pigs and their human companions to express their moods, wants, and needs.

If you already have a guinea pig at home, or have been researching guinea pigs in anticipation of bringing one home as a companion, you probably noticed they have quite the vocabulary and are often seen chittering, squealing, or purring, along with displaying unusual behaviors such as bouncing around or throwing their head in the air. All of these noises and behaviors have significant meaning to what a guinea pig is trying to communicate, although some can be quite complex.

Guinea Pig Sounds

Some common noises you may hear from your guinea pig may include whistling, purring, or teeth chattering. Whistling or “wheeking” which is a high-pitched sound guinea pigs call out as “WheeeeEEEKKK!” is generally expressed in excitement. Guinea pigs may vocalize this sound when they see a new guinea pig or at sight of their human. It is often heard around feeding time or when treats are present. Purring can mean different emotions, so context must be considered as well as body language. A lower-pitched purr can mean your guinea pig is content while a higher pitched purr may symbolize annoyance or even fear. Hissing and teeth chattering are behaviors displayed when your guinea is annoyed or angry. This may be displayed towards other guinea pigs, other pets, or even you if your pet is wanting to be left alone. Yawning, where a guinea pig displays their teeth, may follow teeth chattering as a warning that your pig wants space.

There are also many less common vocalizations that may only be heard from guinea pigs in specific situations. Cooing is a soothing sound for guinea pigs and often heard from mother guinea pigs reassuring their babies. Rumbling is a deep purring noise that is generally heard when guinea pigs are wanting to mate or trying to win over another piggy friend. A severely loud, high-pitched shriek is a sign of significant fear or pain from your guinea pig and should not be ignored. Chirping is another unusual sound that you may hear from your guinea pig although it’s not common and experts still are not exactly sure the meaning behind this communication.

Guinea Pig Body Language Speaks Volumes

Beyond audible vocalizations, guinea pigs are also known for several significant body language displays that further communicate their mood and intentions. Popcorning is one of the most well-known behaviors, where a guinea pig sporadically leaps straight into the air, often repeatedly. This is a sign of an excited, happy guinea pig that is in the mood to play. Chin raising or head bobbing is often done when your guinea pig is annoyed or to display dominance. If this behavior is done when you are petting your guinea pig, they are letting you know that they would prefer to be left alone. Mounting can be a sexual behavior but is also seen between a group of all females or all males to display dominance and sort social structure between a group.

Being aware of and familiar with your guinea pig’s vocalizations and body language will help you have a strong and healthy relationship with your pet. Understanding when your guinea pig is trying to communicate it is enjoying an interaction, stressed, or in discomfort can help you alter your actions to those that are best suited for your pet’s mood and needs.

Related articles

Reviewed by Petco’s Animal Care, Education and Compliance (ACE) Team

Petco’s ACE team is a passionate group of experienced pet care experts dedicated to supporting the overall health & wellness of pets. The ACE team works to develop animal care operations and standards across the organization and promote proper animal care and education for Pet Care Center partners and pet parents, while also ensuring regulatory compliance.