guinea pig face looking at camera
Whether caused by joy or fear, squeaking by your guinea pig is a way for your pal to communicate with you. iStock.com/malvablondie

OK, your guinea pig might not speak English or any other human language, but you know your guinea pig is talking to you. Although not as vocal as a dog, guinea pigs make plenty of noises to tell you how they feel or what they want. One of the most common noises is the high-pitched squeal. As a guinea pig companion, you have no doubt heard the famous guinea pig squeal. It’s affectionately called wheeking by many guinea pig enthusiasts. Whistling and wheeping are other nicknames for it. Wheek! Wheek! Wheek! When you hear this, you know what your guinea pig wants. Usually, it’s a call for food. Sometimes a squeal is more urgent and frantic; this can signal fear. What is the squeal all about?

Types Of Guinea Pig Squeals

Guinea pigs are no dummies. They observe and learn from both you and their environment. If you feed them pellets or a treat at the same time every day, they get used to that and anticipate it. Should you fail to appear at the usual time, wheeking might begin. And if you do appear and open the refrigerator or food bin, that also can cause wheeking. The guinea pigs are excited about getting to eat! Your guinea pigs might squeal when they see you, perhaps hoping you’ll pet them or give them attention. A happy squeal is a happy thing for guinea pigs and you. What is wheeking? Check out the below video for an example.

A squeal is also one of the sounds guinea pigs make when afraid. It’s different from the less-stressed wheek, being much louder and more frantic. A squealing guinea pig needs assistance, so find out what’s wrong and work to calm down your little buddy. If the reason for squealing isn’t obvious, contact your veterinarian. Your guinea pig might be ill.

If your guinea pig is cleared by the veterinarian and squealing still occurs, delve deeper into the possible reasons. Try looking at the world through your guinea pig’s eyes, ears, and nose. Could there be something you can’t see, hear, smell, or feel that is bothering your precious pet? Be aware that guinea pigs have some senses that are more acute than humans. People hear things from 64 to 23,000 Hertz, while guinea pigs hear in the range of 54 to 50,000 Hertz. Guinea pigs have a better sense of smell, with 796 genes devoted to sniffing, compared to 396 for humans.

Find Your Guinea Pigs’ Normal

The frequency of a guinea pig’s wheeking or the reasons for it vary by the individual. A discussion on Reddit, a community website devoted to exploring endless topics, shows that some guinea pigs wheek a lot, while others are very quiet; some wheek at the opening of a door or the sound of breathing, while others only wheek to beg for food or rarely wheek at all. Get to know the normal for each of your guinea pigs. If this suddenly changes, try to find out why. Possible causes include changes in the environment or your guinea pig being ill.

As some people noted, and as you might have already experienced, some guinea pigs are loud. The volume they can achieve is impressive for such a small animal. The book “Ferrets, Rabbits And Rodents Clinical Medicine And Surgery” states that guinea pigs have small vocal folds, but can nevertheless “command a wide range of vocalizations.” As loud as they can be, you aren’t even hearing all the sounds they can make. The Tree of Life web project notes that some guinea pig noises are ultrasonic and out of the human hearing range, but other guinea pigs can hear them.

Having vocal abilities requires more than just vocal folds. A good set of lungs is another critical element. Guinea pig lungs are a bit different than human lungs. Guinea pigs have four lobes in their right lung and three in their left. In humans, three lobes make up the right lung while two make up the left.

Part Of The Herd

Guinea pigs are sociable, herd animals, which might account for some of the many sounds that they make. If you’ve got pals, you want to communicate! Scientists have identified between 7 and 11 distinct sounds, and a YouTuber with the screen name skinnypigs1 uploaded a video discussing 13 guinea pig sounds. The video has more than 400,000 views.

If you share your home with guinea pigs, then you are part of the herd. Your guinea pigs are communicating with you, and your grasp of guinea pig language will grow the more you observe and try to think like your piggie.

Guinea Pig Vocalizations On The Internet

The Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue recorded nine sounds that are characterized as a happy pig, a curious pig, a hungry pig, etc. The rescue encourages you to compare the sounds to those of your guinea pigs to help you decode what they are feeling.

Think you’re hearing all the noises your guinea pig makes? Think again. The Tree of Life Web Project notes that guinea pigs can make sounds that are ultrasonic, meaning above 20,000 Hertz.

The word wheek has an entry in the Urban Dictionary, and the definition is pretty much what you expect.

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