Skip to main content

Why do guinea pigs squeak? It could be a good or bad sign

Guinea pigs are a lot of good things: cute, social, funny, and photogenic. But they are not quiet! When you bring home this pet, you’re essentially signing up to learn a whole new language. While it might take a bit, eventually you’ll learn the ins and outs of pigese – purrs, chirps, and squeaks. Each one means something unique, and it’s important to know how to differentiate between their sounds. These little guys are fragile, and an unexpected note could cue you into deeper issues. So, why do guinea pigs squeak? We’ll walk you through the various reasons.

A brown guinea pig stands outside
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why do guinea pigs make noise?

As very social animals, guinea pigs have a whole arsenal of “words” available to communicate with their fellow rodents and with you. After spending some time with your new fuzzball, you should be able to pick up on the most obvious signals, but remember that every piggy speaks with a slightly different accent. Spend the time discovering how yours likes to express itself so you have a good idea of what each sound indicates

What does the squeak mean?

Squeaking can signify a few different needs, depending on the type of sound and the context in which you hear it. Try to look at the situation and discern exactly which message they want you to hear. Guineas have at least ten noises, and each will represent a somewhat different meaning depending on pitch, duration, and volume. See if you can learn to tell these three distinct noises apart in your pet. 

Wheeking

There are not a lot of good ways to describe this particular squeak, but you will definitely learn to recognize it. You should know the one thing that will bring out their most excited expression: food. They’ll start talking the second they hear you reach for the snack bag. And if you ever do forget to give them dinner, don’t worry. Their loud utterance will remind you to get their daily ration quickly. Keep in mind, this one should not sound frantic or agonized. Those sounds tell you something far more concerning. 

A white and a black guinea pig share a green apple
molochszczecin / Pixabay

Squealing

Think of the squeal as one step above the wheek. It’s not a terrified or desperate cry, but it could show something a bit more serious. Check out your small pet for signs of distress, especially any pain or injury. However, know that this could just be a plea for attention. As strange as that sounds, their jealous roar might seem much more dire than it really is. It’ll take time, but you should begin to differentiate between the excited and the terrified.

Screaming

We can’t promise you will immediately understand the wheek and squeal, but a guinea pig scream can’t be missed. Watch out for a long and desperate note. Rush to their side to discover the cause: Are they fighting? Hurting? Scared? Try to imagine the scene through their eyes so you can start to picture their world and the things that might startle them, even if they don’t freak you out. Seriously, a soul-crushing wail could wind up being a reaction to the family dog, a petrifying enemy of your tiny creature.

What else should you look for?

Studying their sounds will enable you to discern their mood much of the time, but it won’t necessarily always be clear. In addition to environmental factors, also look to their body language, and that of their cage mates. You can use those clues to help you get a sense of where they’re coming from. Specifically, note any signs of injury or aggression between the inhabitants plus teeth-baring or head tossing. A squeal on its own doesn’t necessarily indicate an emergency, but that combined with erratic behavior should say “get me to a vet.” 

Because guinea pigs are prey animals, they hide any weaknesses that might lead to danger in the wild. Unfortunately, this also makes it hard to suss out what’s going on and when an intervention may be necessary. Always start by examining the situation for a simple explanation, but if you can’t find anything you should reach out to an expert. Research, too, their common ailments (like scurvy) so you are better able to recognize the obvious symptoms and head off any problems at the pass. And trust your gut. Everyone gets to know their own animal and learns their individual personality, which includes particular noises unique to them.

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…
A simple guide to what to feed tadpoles in your aquarium
A list of everything you should and shouldn't give baby frogs
Small child looks into a jar of tadpoles

Whether you’re taking in rescue tadpoles or planning to keep frogs as pets, you’ll have to adapt continually to their changing bodies. These amphibians undergo a metamorphosis and live as tadpoles for up to 14 weeks, though the last stage of the transition happens in just 24 hours.

You’ll put them to bed as a kid and come back to a teenager. Also, tadpoles are vegetarians, but frogs are carnivorous, so you should prepare for their diet to evolve as they do over the course of a few months. Here's what to feed tadpoles.

Read more
7 telltale signs of a dying hamster (and what you should do)
Here's how to figure out if your pet hamster is dying (or possibly just hibernating)
Vet checks out small hamster

It's one of the saddest parts of owning a pet: We know that someday we'll have to say goodbye. Our pets never live long enough for us, and preparing for the end can be painful (though important). Your pet hamster will be with you for between two and three years of happy life — full of spinning wheels and treats. Once they're getting close to the end, though, you'll want to help ease their passing, keeping them warm and comfortable.

By paying close attention to the signs of a dying hamster, you can be ready to step in as a pet parent and help them finish the end of their life well. Watch out for any of these symptoms, which should be accompanied by a visit to the vet, since they can have a few different causes.

Read more
Is my rabbit pregnant? 5 telltale signs you should know
Look for these signs to confirm your rabbit will soon have babies
Baby rabbit being held by owner

What's better than one pet rabbit? An entire litter of bunnies (as long as you're prepared for them, of course). If you've been wondering, "Is my rabbit pregnant?" now is the time to find out for sure. After all, you don't want to be caught unaware and suddenly have a whole new colony of animals in your hutch.

Sometimes, lady bunnies can take on the behaviors of expectant mamas, but it's actually a false pregnancy. The best way to find out if your rabbit is pregnant is to take her to the vet and have them confirm it. However, when you're figuring it out yourself, you should look for the signs that a rabbit is pregnant. If you spot these behaviors, be sure to call your animal doctor.

Read more