6 Different Unhappy Guinea Pig Noises Owners Should Know About

Written by Sarah Psaradelis
Published: December 9, 2022
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Not all noises that your guinea pig makes are an indication that they are happy. Instead, it is a way that your guinea pig can communicate to you that they are not feeling too well. As prey animals, guinea pigs can become unhappy quite easily. This is especially true if their needs are not being met in terms of their care, diet, and environment.

They can easily get stressed or become unhappy, which is why you should look out for these noises. That can help you know when to intervene and help your guinea pig feel more comfortable.

Whether your guinea pig is feeling stressed, anxious, or even in pain, these noises are something guinea pig owners should look out for.

Noises That Guinea Pigs Make When They Are Unhappy

Guinea pigs

are full of noises, many of which aren’t necessarily happy.

©Sofiia.P/Shutterstock.com

As a guinea pig owner, you may be aware of all the noises they make when they are feeling happy. From the loud squeaks and wheeks of excitement as you give them food, most guinea pig owners are familiar with the “happy noises” that these pets make.

Here’s a list of unhappy guinea pig noises:

  • Hissing
  • Shrieking
  • Short burst purring
  • Whining
  • Growling
  • Teeth chattering

Some of the noises guinea pigs make can be an indication that something is not quite right with them. We will discuss these sounds below.

1. Hissing

A hissing guinea pig is not a happy guinea pig. This sounds like how a cat would hiss, but it can be slightly less audible. It usually happens when a guinea pig feels disturbed or threatened. This can be when something in their environment upsets them suddenly. It can also happen if another pet in the household like a cat or dog is bothering or making them feel scared.

Sometimes, it can happen when a guinea pig does not want to be handled. They may hiss at you to communicate this.

2. Shrieking

Shrieking is usually not a good sign for any animal, and the same goes for when guinea pigs shriek. This sound can be quite alarming and disturbing. Your guinea pig is in distress and either feeling disturbed, in danger, or feeling like they are in serious pain.

Guinea pigs usually make this sound when they are in extreme pain, and they may have gotten hurt. If your guinea pig is shrieking and acting abnormally, it is essential to take them to an emergency veterinarian for an evaluation.

3. Purring

Now, there are two types of purring in guinea pigs. Those are low vibrational, long and constant purring; or slightly higher vibrational purring that happens in short bursts. The different tones and duration of the two types of purring make it easier to distinguish between the two.

The low vibrational and constant purring is typically a sign that your guinea pig is happy and content. Short bursts of purring, though, may be a sign that your guinea pig is feeling unhappy. This is because they are feeling startled or expressing their general discomfort with a situation or feeling.

4. Whining

The whine from a guinea pig will sound like a high-pitched moan. Your guinea pig will use it to indicate that they are complaining about something. It could be due to a disturbance in their environment, such as another guinea pig that is bothering them or noises and movement that are causing them distresses. They may also make this sound because they don’t want to be handled or they’re suddenly awakened by you or another guinea pig.

5. Growling

Although it may seem strange, yes, guinea pigs can growl. Like with most animals, growling is not a good thing. It is a clear indication that something is making your guinea pig feel threatened and frightened.

This is seen as an aggressive noise in guinea pigs. They will make this sound by grinding their teeth and producing a sound from their throat. It means that your guinea pig is about to attack whatever it is causing them distress, and they will bite.

Whether it is your hand, another cage mate, or another pet like a dog or cat, your guinea pig will growl as a warning before biting to communicate how threatened they are feeling.

6. Teeth Chattering

If your guinea pig is feeling annoyed, it will begin to chatter or grind its teeth to express this feeling. Some guinea pigs will chatter and grind their teeth along with growling, right before they are about to get into a fight.

However, they can also teeth chatter when you are handling them, as some guinea pigs simply do not like being held, nor may they like their environment changed. If your guinea pig has another cage mate that they don’t get along with, they may chatter their teeth when around them to show how frustrated and unhappy they are feeling.

How Can You Keep Your Guinea Pig Happy?

food for guinea pigs

A balanced diet and proper enclosure are integral to ensuring your guinea pig is happy and healthy.

©Mr.Alex M/Shutterstock.com

Even though a little bit of irritation, stress, and annoyance are inevitable in your guinea pig’s life, if you find that they are constantly producing more unhappy noises than unhappy ones, it is time to look at their environment and overall care to see what can be improved.

Ensuring your guinea pig is living in the right conditions, with compatible cage mates, while being fed a balanced diet is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and it will help improve your guinea pig’s quality of life.

The Right-Sized Enclosure

Ensure that your guinea pig is living in a large enclosure that has enough space for each guinea pig to play, eat and roam comfortably. An enclosure that is too small can cause your guinea pig to become stressed and even annoyed because they feel cramped and bored.

Many pet store and commercial enclosures can be too small for guinea pigs, so getting a custom-made enclosure or using the highly recommended (according to guinea pig experts) C&C guinea pig enclosure will be a better option.  

A 2 by 4-foot cage (120 by 60 centimeter) enclosure is a good starting size for two guinea pigs. Either for two female guinea pigs or a female and male duo, with one of the guinea pigs being fixed (neutered or spayed). The more guinea pigs you keep together, the larger the enclosure needs to be.

Take a look at this reputable guinea pig forum for more information and advice on cage requirements for guinea pigs.

Compatible Cage Mates

Guinea pigs are naturally social creatures that benefit greatly from each other’s company. However, it should be the right type of company. Some guinea pigs do not get along with one another, so introducing new guinea pigs in a slow and positive way is important. Avoid keeping your guinea pig alone, as this is not ideal for such a social species, and it can result in a lot of unwanted stress for your guinea pig.

If you have a mixture of male and female guinea pigs, make sure to get one of the genders spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters and hormonal-based behaviors that can disrupt the herd.

Although occasional disagreements can happen in a large herd of guinea pigs as they establish the hierarchy therein, they should not be so constant that other guinea pigs are becoming stressed and fighting.

A Healthy and Balanced Diet

Keeping your guinea pig healthy starts from the inside out, meaning a good diet will help to keep your guinea pig healthy. Guinea pigs are herbivores, so feeding them a plant-based diet with a high-quality commercial pellet is a good choice. They need plenty of Vitamin C and fiber in their diet, which helps keep their teeth short and encourages proper gut movement.

Since guinea pigs cannot produce Vitamin C themselves, their diet should be rich in Vitamin C, and fresh greens are a great way to meet this requirement, alongside a pelleted food that contained a decent level of Vitamin C.

Aside from fresh greens, vegetables, and a commercial guinea pig pellet, they also need constant access to hay, ideally timothy hay which they will graze on throughout the day. Hay and grass will make up around 85% to 90% of your guinea pigs’ diet, so stock up on hay and refill their hay feeder when it is running low.

Stress-Free Environment

Preventing your guinea pig from getting stressed is crucial. Stress can be very serious for such a small and sensitive creature. Constant noise disruption, other pets like dogs and cats, or even you can become a source of stress for your guinea pig.

Some guinea pigs do not like being handled, so forcing them to be held or played with can make your guinea pig feel a range of unwanted emotions. Loud noises and other pets can be a disruption to your guinea pig’s life, and dogs and cats may bark, chase, or scare your guinea pig.

Conclusion

Guinea pigs are prone to making a lot of happy noises, and they are generally content animals that will express this. However, guinea pigs will also become vocal about things that do not make them feel good, and it is important to know the difference between their different forms of vocal communication and understand what they mean.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Tatiana Terekhina


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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Calder Vets , Available here: https://www.caldervets.co.uk/news/guinea-pig-space-requirements/
  2. PDSA, Available here: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-guinea-pig-s-diet#:~:text=Overview%201%20Guinea%20pigs%20are%20herbivores%2C%20which%20means,because%20they%20can%E2%80%99t%20produce%20it%20themselves%20More%20items
  3. RSPCA, Available here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/guineapigs