Skip to main content

A handy guide to guinea pig noises and what they mean

We’re pretty good at figuring out why our dog barks or our cat meows — it’s second nature to us to understand these callings. But it can get trickier when we hear a different animal, one whose vocalizations seem out of the ordinary and don’t immediately trigger some understanding in us. Owning a guinea pig means learning her cues, both physical and verbal. You may feel flummoxed the first time your guinea purrs, but don’t fret. It’s normal for her to make some happy sounds throughout the day. By learning guinea pig noises and what they mean, you will know when she’s happy and when she’s stressed and can act accordingly. 

Three guinea pigs sit on a blanket
Image used with permission by copyright holder


This can also come out sounding something like a squeal, but it shouldn’t be cause for concern. Far from it. When your rodent lets out this noise, it means she’s happy and excited. You’ll hear it most often during mealtimes. If she catches you prepping the food bowl, get ready for a little ecstatic squeaking. 


Just like your cat, this mammal likes to purr when she’s content. But this expression can mean other things. A low purr probably signals a good mood, while a high-pitched purr indicates annoyance. The length matters as well: A short burst of a purr could mean she feels threatened.

Teeth chatter

Don’t turn up the heat. Your piggy is not cold but scared and on the defensive. Guinea pig teeth chattering can be accompanied by a low hiss, and you may see her bare her teeth in the process. This could be directed at you or another animal, and your best bet is to remove the offending creature from the vicinity while she calms down.

Girl with her guinea pig outside
Pezibear / Pixabay


Truth be told, we don’t entirely understand why these guys chirp. After all, it seems like something our bird might do, not our guinea pig. However, you will occasionally hear this songlike utterance from her. Feel free to check it out; maybe you can be the one to get to the bottom of this.


Watch out for this one. The unmistakable sign of alarm should send you running to her crate to check for a problem, like an injury or predator (and yup, your dog counts). Look around and try to see things through her eyes. Is there something that might scare your pet even though it seems harmless to you? Remove any frightening objects or animals and do your best to calm her down before going back to whatever you were doing.


You’ll probably recognize this right away as a pleasant noise, and indeed it shows her deep affection for you. Mama guineas especially make many cooing sounds to their babies to soothe them. It’s definitely one of the most loving things you’ll hear from this pet.

Black guinea pigs sits next to pink flowers
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Body language more than anything else will help you determine the meaning here. If you hear a response when you go to pick her up, for example, that should tell you to put her back down. When another guinea gets her to whine, it generally says back off. 


If you have a mixed-sex pair, you might get a rumble out of them. Males typically make these sounds as part of a mating ritual, though females occasionally do it as well. Sometimes, the noises are accompanied by a little dance, all part of attracting her attention. Give them some privacy afterward and you could wind up with more piggies on the way.

Since guinea pigs love to spend time with you and each other, you’ll get to witness a whole spectrum of songs over her lifetime. We expect you’ll adjust to her sounds quickly, but you should watch for new noises and especially ones that seem to raise the alarm. Pay close attention to any body language, too. Guineas are highly expressive, and actions speak louder than words. You’ll gain a good sense of what’s going on by looking at these two things in tandem. Remember, anytime your pet has drastic changes in behavior, prolonged shrieking, extreme lethargy, or a loss of appetite, it’s time for a vet visit. But most of her vocalizations are no reason to worry. As long as you’re listening closely, she’ll tell you what she needs.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
3 reasons not to give pet rabbits, baby chicks, or ducks this Easter
Things to consider before getting or gifting small animals this holiday
A baby chick sits in the grass next to a broken egg

Peter Cottontail isn't the only one hopping down the bunny trail this April. Tons of baby animals are opening their eyes to the world for the very first time, and it's oh-so-hard to resist the cuteness. From bunnies to chicks and even ducks, these animals are the perfect symbols of spring.
Sometimes, these animals make great pets, too. But is a holiday the right time to gift a pet? We think all potential pet owners should consider some important, realistic facts, especially if they're considering owning or gifting a baby animal for Easter. This is a big decision, after all! Here's what to know first.

Pet ownership is for their whole life, not just the baby phase
As precious as baby chicks and ducklings can be, they'll grow up into chickens and ducks one day. You'll only get a few months of babyhood to enjoy, though even those early months will be filled with chores and messes of all kinds. Remember, caring for a baby animal is still caring for an animal!

Read more
Bunny care 101: If Easter inspires you to adopt a rabbit, read this first
These are the things you need to think about before you bring a rabbit home
Brown bunny sits in the grass

Around this time of year, you'll spot bunnies everywhere — in the yard, the grocery candy aisle, and on TV. You may suddenly find yourself thinking about owning one of these cute small pets, and before you know it, you've adopted and brought home a hoppy and floppy pet.

We generally don't recommend impulse purchases when it comes to animals, but if you find yourself walking away from a shelter or pet store with Peter Rabbit in hand, you'll need to brush up quickly. It takes a lot: housing, food, cleaning, playtime, grooming, and vet bills. Understanding each piece of the puzzle will allow you to flourish as a pet parent and help your four-legger to live their best life, too. Keep reading to learn more about owning a bunny.

Read more
Looking to add corydoras to your aquarium? Here’s what you need to know first
Read this before bringing home a cory catfish to add to your tank
Two cory catfish hang out on the bottom of the tank

One thing you might not know about aquariums until you get one: Every tank needs a janitor, which may wind up just being you. When you first dive into this hobby, it can take a while to realize how much maintenance is really involved — don't think that the filter will do all the work. But if you want a little a help in that department, you can add a catfish to the fray. If you don't have a ton of experience with these bottom feeders, we recommend one of the corydoras since they're generally best for beginners.

What are corydoras?
This is a type of catfish, but there are actually more than 170 species to choose from. These are a well-known group of swimmers who get their name from their barbels, which look a bit like whiskers. While you'll find dozens of options in the pet store, you will likely narrow it down quickly based on the size of your tank, temperature, habitat you've chosen, and the other fish that they'll live with eventually.
Are corydoras friendly?
Yes, corydoras are sweet and gentle fish. They particularly like spending time together, but get along with many others as well. In some cases, you should not buy just one as they'll get lonely. Instead grab a pair of the same type and watch them become best friends. You'll often see them as bottom feeders, well, at the base of the tank, but cory cats also come up to the surface for air or food from time to time.

Read more