Guinea pigs are inquisitive, active, and exploratory animals that make great companions as pets.
Understanding their behavior will help you create a closer bond with your furry pal. A big part of this is trying to understand what they are saying.
Cavies are big conversationalists. They talk and talk all day long and use a variety of noises, postures, and other forms of body language to express their feelings and needs.
However, each guinea pig is different and will have its own unique ways of communication.
In this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about how guinea pigs communicate so that you can build a deeper and fuller friendship with your adorable pet.
How Do Guinea Pigs Communicate?
Guinea pigs obviously don’t speak a language per se, but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate.
They’re, in fact, big on communication. They rely on various sounds and noises as well as bodily gestures to make their point.
Their communication isn’t so hard to understand.
Let’s get into the details of some of the most common communication patterns that guinea pigs exhibit.
Guinea Pig Sounds
Guinea pigs may seem like quiet creatures, but they’re actually quite chatty, communicative, and amusingly interactive.
They are always trying to tell you something, if only you pay attention. They make use of noises to express themselves.
We’re listing some common ones and what they mean below.
Muttering is your cavy’s way of expressing that they’re happy with their lives.
It sounds like they’re quietly talking to themselves, but not in anticipation of anything.
This is the most common cavy noise which sounds like a loud, repetitive, and high-pitched squeak or cry.
It usually indicates excitement for food, play, or being led out. Sometimes, they would also accompany it by moving their ears up and down.
You will often hear this sound when you open a new pack of guinea pig food and they hear the rustling of the bag or when you open the door of your fridge to take out their food container.
They feel excited and hungry in anticipation of a tasty meal. At other times, they wheek when they’re about to get out and play.
They would often accompany it with popcorning to show their delight.
Guinea pigs will also wheek as a call for attention.
They’re either pointing out a problem in the cage, requesting you for a scratch behind their ears or just feeling hungry.
Purring is a nice low pitch sound that can have different meanings.
The interpretation of this sound depends on the pitch as well as the body language your guinea pig uses to accompany it.
A deep purring sound along with a relaxed and calm posture, indicates that your guinea pig is feeling content.
If the purring comes in short bursts especially with a higher pitch towards the end of it, it’s more likely a sound of annoyance or confusion.
A shorter purr, sometimes referred to as a “durr,” may indicate that your cavy is fearful or uncertain. In such cases, they are either motionless or seem to vibrate.
In some situations, a loud and high pitched squeak or shriek also signals fear and restlessness.
Also known as ‘motor boating’ or ‘rumble strutting’, a guinea rumble is deeper than a purring noise.
They produce this kind of sound when a male guinea pig romances a female guinea pig and sometimes a female guinea pig also responds in the same way.
The sound is often accompanied by a mating dance.
When your guinea pig clacks their teeth together, it’s called chattering and it’s not a very good sign.
It means they are annoyed, angry or agitated. Perhaps your cavy is getting fed up of being held or is done with being stroked.
Whatever is going on, it needs to stop. They will often accompany it with a head toss or showing their teeth that looks like a yawn.
You can take that as message to stay away or back off.
This is yet another sound to signal annoyance and irritation.
If your guinea pig is upset about something, you will hear them hissing. The hissing sound is similar to how a cat makes it.
They will sometimes bare their teeth together with making a hissing noise.
It’s a high-pitched, piercing squeak which is almost always a call of alarm, pain or fear from your guinea pig.
If you hear your cavy making this sound, it would be a wise thing check on them to make sure they are not hurt and everything is okay.
This sound indicates mild disturbance or being upset.
You will hear it when your guinea pig is bothered about something or feeling neglected.
These little creatures like to bond with their owners and enjoy attention.
Cooing is a way to communicate reassurance by the guinea pigs.
This sound is most often observed when mother guinea pigs are tending to their babies.
This is just how you hear the birds chirp and it’s perhaps the least common and least understood sound that a guinea big makes.
Since it’s not fully understood, this sound remains mysterious.
However, it’s most often seen in guinea pigs who have recently gone through the loss of a partner.
A whine or moan from a guinea pig communicates displeasure for something you or another guinea pig is doing.
It’s their way of telling you to stop!
A chut is a series of short, staccato sounds. It’s a common noise made by guinea pigs when they’re interacting with each other.
It indicates contentment in their surroundings and company. You will also hear your piggies chutting when they’re out of their home and exploring.
Some guinea pigs make a sharp squealing noise if they see potential harm or pain.
Sometimes, it could be something as simple as another guinea pig stealing their favorite eating spot.
On other occasions, it could indicate that they need help from something or someone hurting them.
Guinea Pig Body Language
Guinea pigs also use other forms of expressions such as body language.
Changes in movements, postures, and gestures all act as clues about what they need or what is happening to them. Here’s a quick guide for you.
A guinea that’s shocked, alarmed, or feeling uncertain about something in their environment will appear motionless as if they’ve frozen.
They need you to make them calm and give them reassurance.
One of the most characteristic body movements displayed by guinea pigs, popcorning consists of hopping straight up in the air.
It looks just like popcorns popping up in the air. Guinea pigs mostly do it repeatedly especially the young ones who are excited, happy, or just feeling playful.
Even though older pigs also do popcorn jumps, they usually can’t go as high as the younger ones.
This is their way of greeting another guinea pig in a warm and friendly way.
Guinea pigs are very social after all.
Guinea pigs love to explore new places and things.
Sniffing is away to check out what is going on around them, what they’re being fed, and who they are playing with.
They would sniff each other around the chin, ears, nose, and back.
This can mean two things. It’s either a sexual behavior displayed by male guinea pigs to females or it can be a way of showing dominance within their social structure.
The latter is mostly used by females to show their superior position in a guinea pig herd.
These gestures are most commonly seen if guinea pigs are found fighting amongst each other.
The actions include raising their heads, fluffing out their fur, baring their teeth, and moving from side to side on stiff legs.
They will often accompany this with hissing and teeth chattering to show how angry and annoyed they are.
This is the typical guinea pig mating dance that involves one guinea pig strutting around another while making rumbling noises.
Guinea pigs like to mark the things they like as theirs. They will rub their cheeks, chins, and back ends on things they feel possessive about.
Some may even urinate on things, or other guinea pigs to show their dominance and ownership.
Tossing Their Head in the Air
Guinea pigs will toss their heads back as a way of saying “Back off! I’m not that angry yet but I don’t feel comfortable with what you’re doing.”
Avoiding being Picked Up
Running away from their owners is not always a form of rejection. Guinea pigs are timid creatures and they do this as a defense mechanism.
If you give them time and treat them with care and patience, they will gradually accept you. You will then be able to pick them up for playtime and cuddles.
We don’t want to break this to you, but licking does not always mean your guinea pig loves you.
They probably just love the salty taste of your skin!
Guinea pigs are very social creatures that love to exhibit a wide range of behavioral expressions through their unique communication styles.
With time and practice, you will learn to interpret your pig’s behavior and create a stronger bond with them.
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