Understanding How Guinea Pigs Communicate
Sat, April 17, 2021

Understanding How Guinea Pigs Communicate

Guinea pigs are too adorable to resist, and yes, they indeed have ways to communicate / Photo Credit: Dmytro Tolokonov via 123rf


Aside from dogs and cats, guinea pigs are also a favorite family pet. They are sociable creatures that depend on the companionship of their own kind. These lovable and charming little animals can make perfect pets for most families largely due to their wonderful temperament. But just like with other pets, you need to research everything about these animals to make sure that you are prepared to take care of them.

According to Pets in Uniform, an online site that features articles that can help owners with their pets, guinea pigs have not always been considered as pets. Long ago, these animals were used mainly for survival until 2,000 B.C. when they were first domesticated in the Andes, Bolivia, and Peru. While most people tend to think of these animals are a close relative to hamsters, guinea pigs are more closely related to chinchillas, coypus, porcupines, agoutis, and capybaras. And no, they did not come from New Guinea nor are they related to pigs.

Compared to other pets, guinea pigs are easier to care for. They do a pretty good job of grooming themselves. They don’t need to be walked twice a day, but they do need more care than you might expect. This means that owners need to understand how they communicate. Most of the time, these tiny pets use sounds and postures to send a message. 


Aside from dogs and cats, guinea pigs are also a favorite family pet / Photo Credit: Birute Vijeikiene via 123rf


What Do Their Sounds Mean?

Guinea pigs express themselves mostly by making sounds. Thus, owners shouldn't be surprised to hear a lot of squeaking and wheeking and other sounds from them. Although they might sound very strange, it is better to understand them to know their needs and emotions. The faster you notice what they are trying to say, the better it is to make sure nothing bad is happening to them. Here are some of the sounds guinea pigs make and their meanings. 

1. Purring

Owners need to understand the purr of a cat is different than a guinea pig’s because they have different throat anatomy. Guinea pigs purr most of the time but their message depends on the pitch and their body language also. For instance, when owners hear a deep purring sound, the pets are feeling comfortable and contented. According to The Spruce Pets, an online site that offers practical, real-life tips and training advice to help you care for your pet, when their purr is high-pitched, it is more likely a sound of annoyance. Observe when their noise is sounding so tensed because it means that they are frightened.

2. Wheeking 

Guinea pigs have started using this sound only after they became domesticated animals. Scientists revealed that guinea pigs living in the wild don't make such sounds. Most of the time, they use this sound to show anticipation or excitement. If you hear a long and loud squeal or whistle, know that your pets are trying to get your attention. Also, wheeking is considered to be a form of begging, which is usually heard in the morning and in the evening. 


Guinea pigs express themselves mostly by making sounds / Photo Credit: Ulrike Schanz via 123rf


3. Rumbling

The sound of rumbling, also called "motorboating" or "rumblestrutting,” is the same as the sound of a purr, except with a vibrating effect and lower pitch. Owners who have male and female guinea pigs living together should expect to hear this sound more often. Rumbling is their way to express their love to each other. According to The Anti-Cruelty Society, a comprehensive animal welfare organization whose mission is to build a community of caring by helping pets and educating people, the male uses this sound as a mating call. At the same time, he would also start wiggling his hips and walking around the female in a seemingly arbitrary pattern of strutting.

4. Shrieking 

This unpleasant sound may stress you out, but more importantly, your pet as well. Owners should come to them immediately when they hear this sound because there might be something bad happening to your pets. Shrieking is a piercing, high-pitched squeak that means they are in pain or in an awful situation. For instance, if one of your guinea pigs bites another, you will likely hear a shriek. 

5. Teeth Chattering

Teeth chattering is a sign of agitated or angry guinea pigs, which is usually made by rapidly gnashing their teeth. The sound is also often accompanied by showing the teeth and raising the head. Be aware when this happens because it means that they are upset and angry. This happens when a new guinea pig is being introduced. Remember to separate them to avoid a fight. Don't worry, this sound will stop as soon as they start getting along with each other. 


Understanding Their Body Language

Aside from the sounds they make, guinea pigs also communicate through body language. There can be different meanings in their actions so it is important to get familiar with those to understand what they are trying to imply. Here are some examples: 


Guinea pigs also communicate through body language / Photo Credit: zigf via 123rf


1. Popcorning

Guinea pigs usually do this when they are happy or cheerful. If you see them frequently hopping in the air like popcorns popping, your pets are in the mood to play. This action can be accompanied by a wheeking sound. 

2. Sniffing

Sniffing is their way to learn more about their environment. Owners might see them sniffing their bed, food, a fellow guinea pig, and more. This is one of the most common actions animals do to find out what's going on around them.

3. Touching Noses

Guinea pigs do this when they are greeting their fellow guinea pig. This a friendly greeting and means that they are getting along with each other. 

Guinea pigs are so fun to have as pets, especially when you get to know them. This guide should help you in creating a bond with them.