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Unhappy Guinea Pig Noises – What do they mean?

Everyone wants to be the best pet owner they can, and that includes those of us with guinea pigs. We provide the best diet that we can, the best environment that we can, and all the love and affection that we’ve got. Do we though, understand and react to the unhappy guinea pig noises we hear from our pet?

Unfortunately, however, we don’t always take the time out to learn how our guinea pigs are feeling. We assume that we are giving the best care that we can so our guinea pigs must be happy.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case. If it’s not, the chances are that your guinea pig will have been trying to communicate this to you. They will have been doing this, more than likely, by making various sounds. Sounds that, unless you have learned them, you cannot understand.

Learning Unhappy Guinea Pig Noises

It is important to know at this point that learning your guinea pigs noises can greatly improve their wellbeing. This is due to miscommunication between guinea pig and owner potentially affecting their health and happiness. In other words, if you know what is bothering your furry friend, you can quickly fix it.

Convinced yet?

Great, then let’s get started!

Growling

When a guinea pig growls, they are usually showing distress. The growl sounds a little like ‘drrr drrr’ and is usually caused by something nearby that they feel is a threat. Drastic changes in their environment would be a good example of this. Guinea pigs do not like change and will be more than ready to communicate this.

unhappy guinea pig noises article- image of a sad guinea pig

If you hear your guinea pig growl, you can reassure them. Simply pick them up and pet them very gently in order to calm them down. If you do this, growling should turn to purring in no time at all.

Occasionally, you may also hear growls in cages with more than one guinea pig. This is generally a result of ‘this town ain’t big enough for the both of us’ and you will need to resolve the situation. Separating the guinea pigs in question, or buying a bigger cage for both of them ought to suffice.

Whining

Sounding like a high-pitched moan, whining is a sign that your guinea pig is making a general complaint. It is often used to signify that they are being disturbed or bothered by someone or something. Examples of times when your guinea pig may whine include:

  • When they are roused from sleep by a cage mate or yourself

And

  • When they do not want to be handled and would prefer to roam free

The first of these situations can be handled by simply leaving your guinea pigs be. The chances are that the disturbed guinea pig will just go back to sleep and the other will wander away. For the second just either put your guinea pig back in his cage or allow him time to run free in his playpen.

Hissing

This is another of the unhappy guinea pig noises. It is a sound that definitely requires little explanation. It sounds just like the hissing of a cat and indicates that you have one upset guinea pig.

Guinea pigs hiss for a large variety of reasons. These include being disturbed, having their territory encroached upon, and not wanting to be handled.

Teeth Chattering

If you hear your guinea pig let out a rapid succession of squeaks they are making the sound known as teeth chattering. It usually means that they are agitated, angry, or upset with a situation that they have found themselves in.

Teeth chattering is a commonly heard sound when guinea pigs are first introduced to each other. It’s normally a warning to each other not to mess with the others personal space and territory.

It is best to separate teeth chattering males and slowly reintroduce them to each other. This, hopefully, will stop any fighting from ensuing, and allow them time to get to know each other. However, a little chattering is to be expected from males who live together from time to time. It is normal and you should just keep an eye on it so that it does not lead to aggression.

Shrieking

Of all the sounds guinea pigs make, shrieking is the most disturbing of unhappy guinea pig noises. It is one you never want to hear. It signals that your guinea pig is feeling in immediate danger or suffering pain. It’s important if you hear your guinea pig shriek that you attend to them immediately. If they are hurt or do not stop shrieking once you are with them, you should seek veterinary help.

Wheeking

Wheeking, which sounds exactly as it does when you say the word phonetically, can be the result of both being disgruntled and excited. It signals that your guinea pig is either hungry or excited at the sight of food, and is commonly heard at feeding time. It’s a sort of way of shouting ‘oi, where’s my food’ and is often accompanied by a cute ear wiggle.

Interestingly, wheeking is a sound made by guinea pigs directed solely at humans. We know this because scientists have discovered wild guinea pigs don’t ever make this sound. Wheeking is a purely domesticated disgruntled or happy sound.

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Other Guinea Pig Happy Sounds

You may also be interested, and happy to know that wheeking is not the only joyful sound that guinea pigs make. They also purr when they are being petted and loving it, and rumble when they are in the mood for love!

Purring

When your guinea pig makes a constant and low sound the chances are that they are purring. This noise should not, however, be confused with the purr of a cat as it sounds nothing like it. Purring is a difficult sound to describe as it is very unique to the guinea pig. It can only be made by the throat of a guinea pig making it impossible to replicate.

As previously mentioned you will most likely hear this sound when you are petting your guinea pig. It is commonly associated with being happy and content, though as with wheeking, can also be a sign of the opposite.

Guinea pigs that are suddenly startled or feel under sudden threat may vocalize the very same noise. Unlike the happy purr, however, this purr will come in short bursts allowing you to differentiate between the two.

Rumbling

Similar to the purr but with a lower pitch and vibration, the rumble is a sign that a male is looking to mate. It’s, you could say, a type of mating call that he will mix with wiggling his hips and walking around the female.

A funny, but interesting process to watch and hear the ‘rumble strut’, as it is commonly known. You will only witness this by those housing males with females. There is no action you should take if you are lucky enough to see this ritual occur, rather you should just leave them to it.

If the female is in season but the male isn’t trying to romance her, she too may make the rumbling sound to try to garner his interest.

Cooing

Cooing is a sound that female guinea pigs make around 59 to 72 days after males have performed the ‘rumble strut’. It is a sound that is used by mothers to their babies in an attempt to reassure and soothe them.

It may also be used by guinea pigs without babies on occasion and is thought to be a way of communicating to others in their cage that everything is OK.

Chutting

Another sound that is phonetic, the chut is made when your guinea pig is content, happy, and relaxed. Some guinea pigs may even intermittently chut and then purr to show just how content they are.

It should be noted, however, that not all guinea pigs chut. Rather, for some unknown reason, only certain individuals make this sound. They also may not chut for all their lives but instead chut and then suddenly stop. Chutting is not thought to be breed specific.

Unknown Meaning Guinea Pig Sounds

It would be remiss of us not to also mention the chirping sound that some guinea pig owners have heard their furry friends make. However, since no one seems to know exactly what this bird song means we could not put it under happy or unhappy. Chirping guinea pigs appear to go into a trance-like state and, well, chirp away. We can only presume that this may indicate a state of happiness or communication as bird song usually does.  

Conclusion: Noises Guinea Pigs Make When They’re Unhappy

Whilst there may be one or two noises and sounds that guinea pigs make that we do not understand, there are plenty more that we do. And these we should be using to not only our but our furry friends advantage. After all, knowing whether your guinea pig is content or disgruntled can only help us to give them more fulfilled, happy, and healthy lives!

Finally, keeping Guinea Pigs in a small cage or enclosure will result in them being unhappy and can lead to poor health. Read our article on the different signs and sounds to look out for that indicate your Guinea Pigs is unhappy.