What Does Guinea Pig Purring Mean?

Purring usually signifies that a guinea pig is content and happy. However, it can also indicate frustration or fear. Frustration purrs are low in pitch at first, but become higher as they progress. Fearful purrs are short, erratic bursts of purrs.

Guinea pigs make a lot of noise. One of the most complex sounds a Guinea pig can make is the purr.

Purring is also called “bubbling” because of its somewhat popping sound. Unlike cats, where you can be sure that the purr is an indicator of being happy, a Guinea pig purr can have a variety of meanings.

To decipher those meanings, you’ll want to listen to the actual sound of the purr, and you’re going to want to pay special attention to your Guinea pig’s body language while purring.

Keep reading to learn more about how to tell if your cavy’s purr indicates contentment and happiness, annoyance, or even fear.

Contentment and Happiness

A great way to tell if your Guinea pig is purring from happiness is if the sound is low in volume and pitch. This deeper noise indicates satisfaction and contentment.

A variation of the “happy purr” is a low grunting noise. Grunting, in this case, sounds more like shorter purrs of the lower pitch.

If you’re unsure of the sound your animal is making, then check for the following body language signs.

  • Is the pig sprawled out and relaxed?
  • Is it “popcorning” or jumping straight up in the air the way that small children do when they’re happy?
  • Is the Guinea pig touching noses with another Guinea pig or nuzzling you?
  • Is there no tension in the cavy’s body?

These are all signs that you have one happy little camper on your hands!

Annoyance or Anger

This type of purr might sound low at first and go higher in pitch toward the end. Be sure to check for anything that may cause this annoyance. This includes looking at yourself for anything you might do to annoy or anger your Guinea pig.

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If you’re holding your pig, this type of purr indicates it no longer wants to be held. It may even start fidgeting as a way of telling you so.

Body language such as head tossing, freezing, or fidgeting can confirm that the pig is annoyed if you’re not sure based solely on the sound.

The Guinea pig’s hair can become “fluffed” to look more threatening to anything that they’re perceiving as a threat.

Strutting indicates that the pig feels territorial and is angry or annoyed that its territory is being invaded.

Rising on the hind legs or walking with stiff legs are also signs of aggression. Something to look out for here is a Guinea pig’s “yawn.” It might look cute to us, but Guinea pigs don’t always just yawn when they’re tired. They yawn as a way to bare their teeth and scare off whatever they feel they’re being threatened by.


A high-pitched purr may indicate dissatisfaction. This could be a signal to check for food and water levels and make sure the bedding is clean.

It can also mean conflict with another Guinea pig. Something as simple as their water being a bit too warm can cause this type of purr, so ensure that you check everything to get your piggy back into its happy place.


You can tell when a purr comes from fear when the sound is short and staccato. Another way of determining this is if the purr rises in pitch into a squeak. Your Guinea pig’s body language might indicate it is frozen, as in the freeze response that occurs with prey animals such as these in the wild. Typically slow, gentle pets will help your pig to calm down.

Other Noises to Look Out for That Sound Like Purring

As you get to know your Guinea pig’s likes and dislikes through their purrs, you also want to keep an ear out for sounds that may sound like purring but are slightly different. These sounds are often referred to as rumbling, growling, and whining.


Rumbling sounds the most like a purr, except that there is more vibration. This sound indicates that a Guinea pig is ready to mate. The body language to look out for is the wiggling of hips in what is referred to as a “rumble strut.”

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Rumbling is both used as a way for the male to woo a female and for a female to indicate her readiness for the male.

Teeth Chattering

You can see the chattering up front when looking at a Guinea pig. However, if you are in the other room, teeth chattering can sometimes sound like purring. If you can confirm that teeth chattering is what’s actually occurring, this can indicate anger or simply a desire to be left alone. Teeth chattering can also occur as a sign of aggression, warning other pigs to stay away and not interfere with their territory.

This can occur often when introducing Guinea pigs to one another, especially if one pig has been with you longer.

If chattering happens, separate the pigs before they fight. It’s safe to reintroduce them when they calm down. Just know that if you’re trying to keep two male pigs, they’ll be a bit harder because they want to be the dominant one in the cage.


As with most species of animals, growling is an indicator of distress. This is a sign that your Guinea pig feels threatened or some sort of change has occurred in their environment.

Growling can be accompanied by hissing and the baring of teeth. You can often mitigate this by petting your animal slowly and gently.

As you get to the place of understanding the various noises your Guinea pig makes, you can be assured the purring isn’t always a sign of distress. Knowing your Guinea pig well makes it easy to course correct when things aren’t going well. You can bet you will have one happy piggy when you do this!