Your guinea pig relies on body language and various sounds to communicate with you and other guinea pigs.
So it makes sense that owners need to be aware of what every behavior means, and chattering teeth in guinea pigs is no different (though it may be alarming!).
If a guinea pig starts chattering their teeth, it’s likely a sign of aggravation or annoyance. In general, chattering their teeth means something in their environment or current interaction irritates them. This usually happens when they see a new person or toward another guinea pig.
Keep reading, and we’ll look at what your cavy’s chattering teeth mean and some other communication indicators from your guinea pig.
Guinea Pig Aggression: Teeth Chattering
When you notice your cavy chattering their teeth, it’s a sign of aggression.
It typically means something is going on they’re not happy with.
Aside from aggression, this behavior might also signal that your pet is feeling fearful or nervous.
After all, cavies are prey animals and prone to feeling threatened in an intimidating situation.
This could come from a few places.
In a dire situation, it is a behavior a guinea pig will pull out in the face of a real threat.
However, you might see it when their current environment or interaction they don’t like.
For example, if your guinea is looking for some time alone, but you’re holding them or grooming them, they might let out an annoyed chatter.
You might also see this behavior when your cavy is in a new environment or when they’ve been introduced to a new cage mate.
In the latter situation, it can even show dominance over their fellow cage mate.
This behavior is sometimes linked to resource guarding as well.
It’s essential to make sure their cage spaces have enough water, food, space, and entertainment for all of their inhabitants to avoid resource guarding.
Types of Guinea Pig Sounds and What They Mean
Aside from chattering teeth, there are various sounds you might hear your guinea pig make.
Let’s go over some of the basics.
Purring and Hissing
Like a cat, you might hear your cavy hiss and purr from time to time.
Hissing is usually a sign of negative emotions, while purring can encompass a variety of messages.
Chirping is a rarer noise you might hear from your guinea pig.
It’s hard to say what this sound means, either.
When your pet makes this sound, it sounds like a bird chirping!
Cooing is another sound you might hear from your cavy, but this sound is much more selective.
You’ll usually only hear it from new mothers who use the sound to help soothe their litter.
“Wheeking” is a term used to refer to a sound specific to guinea pigs.
The sound has been compared to whistling or even close to a squeal.
It usually insinuates a cavy is happy or even excited.
Rumbling sounds similar to purring but is distinctly deeper.
In addition, the rumbling is usually accompanied by specific physical movement, often nicknamed a “rumble strut.”
This is a sign of mating behavior.
Learn more about guinea pig rumble strutting in our detailed article at the link.
Whining, like in other animals, is a sign of distress.
Usually, though, it’s not severe.
Most guinea pigs turn to whine to convey they aren’t enjoying a situation or are starting to get annoyed.
If whining doesn’t work, your guinea pig might turn to shrieking.
This is a high-pitched sound meant to sound alarming.
After all, it’s a sign your guinea pig is also alarmed!
If not alarm, it can signal pain as well.
Further reading: Do guinea pigs make a lot of noise at night?
What Does a Stressed Guinea Pig Sound Like?
Teeth chattering is one way to tell your guinea pig isn’t feeling its best.
However, it’s not the only sign you might see indicating you don’t have happy guinea pigs at the moment.
You might notice your guinea pig hissing, whining, or even shrieking alongside chattering.
Stressed mother guinea pigs may also take to a cooing sound in stressful situations, but sometimes it has no discernible reason.
This is a sound with a broader meaning, generally indicating a guinea pig mother is attempting to soothe her litter.
Purring is another possible sign of annoyance, but purring can mean a few different things.
You’ll particularly want to keep an eye out for purring coming in short bursts or high pitches.
The former is likely a sign of fear, and the latter signifies annoyance.
A very still posture often accompanies negative purring.
How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig is Happy?
Conversely, it’s good to know how to tell if your cavy is pleased.
For one, some purring can represent a sign of contentment as well.
Like a cat, you might hear your cavy purring deeply and maybe even vibrating when they’re feeling particularly content.
Another sound associated with happiness in a cavy is wheeking.
This is usually reserved for communicating with humans and often means they’re excited!
There are a few different ways to assess your cavy’s mood from their behavior.
If you notice your guinea pig hopping around in a behavior called “popcorning,” they’re likely feeling positive.
Why Is My Guinea Pig Making a Clicking Noise?
Knowing one guinea pig sound from another is crucial in determining what’s going on.
While a sound like clicking is a guinea pig communicating its emotions to you, a sound like clicking isn’t quite the same.
Overall, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to any sound your guinea pig makes when attempting to decode it.
When a guinea pig makes a clicking sound, especially if the clicking sound syncs with their breathing, it’s time to go to the vet.
The same is true if you hear a wheezing or cracking sound too.
Don’t panic because it’s not necessarily serious, although it can have a serious cause.
The best thing to do is get them to the vet and on a treatment plan when you first notice the new noise.