A-Z Glossary of Behaviours


This is an extremely rare sound that very few of us have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Also known as “the guinea pig song”, the sound is very similar to the chirp of a bird. The chirping pig will sit quietly and gently make a huffing motion, while other guinea pigs in the vacinity usually stop completely and listen intently. The reason behind chirping is currently unknown, although theories range from fear to a spiritual connection.


Two angry guinea pigs, often male, will circle one another, usually with mouths open, heads raised, and accompanied by chattering teeth and agitated squeaking. A fight often comes after a bout of circling, so once a circling match has been initiated the separation of the guinea pigs is a wise move.


Guinea pigs groom one another as a sign of affection and is characterised by licking and nibbling the ears, sniffing and licking around the mouth, and rummaging around in the fur with their noses. You may also sometimes see a guinea pig grooming one that is unwell or in the last stages of life.
Watch: Tegyd lovingly grooms Taffy
Thanks to forum member Yodelpig for this wonderful video


Guinea pigs sometimes lick our fingers (or our faces and anywhere else!), probably as a sign of affection by grooming us. Another theory is they enjoy the taste of the salt present on skin.

Nose in the air

The guinea pigs face one another and raise their noses into the air and dominance is determined by the guinea pig raising their nose the highest. This behaviour is a common method of settling minor disputes and usually lasts only a few seconds.


When in pain, guinea pigs will sometimes voice their discomfort with a high pitched and agitated squeak. The sound clip is of a guinea pig in great pain while attempting to pass bladder stones, and any squeaking on this magnitude means an urgent trip to see the vet. Another type of squeaking in pain can come in the form of a short but loud high pitched squeal, something you may hear if your guinea pig is given in injection by the vet for example.


When an excited guinea pig jumps vertically into the air or gallops around with happiness, this is called popcorning. When leaping into the air, they can do it once or even several times in a row. This is a great way to tell if your guinea pig is happy.


The entire body vibrates while the guinea pig makes a rumbling sound and steps up and down with both rear legs alternately. Male to female, this is a mating routine performed by the male. Between same genders, rumblestrutting is a show of dominance and is usually followed by the mounting of the subordinate pig.


Given the opportunity, guinea pigs enjoy rummaging in their hay, bedding and anything else they can get their paws on!
Watch: Hywel gleefully rummages in his hay
Thanks to forum member Yodelpig for this wonderful video

Scent marking

When marking their territory guinea pigs drag their bottoms along the ground. Both boars and sows take part in scent marking and this is a good way to determine who wears the trousers in a pair or herd.
Watch: Ffowlyn marks her territory
Thanks to forum member Yodelpig for this wonderful video

Squeaking – Happy

Guinea pigs make a repetitive but gentle squeaking sound when happy on the lap of their owner. The squeaking is often accompanied by purring, a soft vibrating of the body similar to that of a happy cat but without the purring sound. Guinea pigs love to be stroked with an open hand from head to bottom.

Squeaking – Agitated

During disputes over who wears the trousers, the squeaking is loud and agitated, often accompanied by an open mouth and “sniping” at other guinea pigs.
Watch: Hywel defends his bowl of grass!
Thanks to forum member Yodelpig for this wonderful video

Teeth chattering

You will usually hear this sound when two guinea pigs dislike one another’s company. Chattering teeth is a sure sign of aggression and annoyance, and generally speaking the quicker and louder the chattering, the angrier the guinea pig. Chattering teeth is common, and as with “nose in the air” competitions, is often used to settle minor disputes. You should be wary if it becomes loud, aggressive and persistent because this is usually a prelude to a fight, and is a sign that maybe it’s time to separate them.

Upper respiratory infection

An upper respiratory infection is characterised by a distinct crackle in the chest and can be treated with antibiotics from your vet. The crackle can be quite loud and is sometimes accompanied by discharge from the nose. The crackle of an upper respiratory infection can be confused with the gurgle of congestive heart failure which is fatal, however the gurgle is very obvious and wet sounding and almost definately accompanied by liquid coming from the nose and/or mouth. If in doubt always check with your vet.


Guinea pigs vibrate to show they are happy, usually from being stroked, cuddled and rubbed dry after a bath. The whole body vibrates and you can see the vibration in their ears!


A whistling guinea pig is high pitched and loud, and usually aimed at you at dinner time! Guinea pigs often learn what time of day their meals usually arrive and anticipate it with lots of whistling before you’ve even made it to the fridge!

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