8 Facts About Why Guinea Pigs Purr


Guinea pigs make a remarkably wide range of sounds. One of the most common that you will witness is a purring noise. But what does this mean?

A guinea pig purring is a sign of contentment. It shows they are relaxed and at peace with their environment. Some guinea pigs will also use a purr as a mating call.

A purring noise from your guinea pig is a great sign. It means they are happy, and who doesn’t want to have a happy guinea pig?

But how do they make the noise? Why do they make it? What kind of things will spur them onto making this purring sound for their owner? Well, let’s explore the ultimate eight facts about guinea pigs and purring.

guinea pig in a cage

1. Your Guinea Pig Makes All Sorts of Noises

Let’s begin by stating that your guinea pig is going to make all sorts of noises, and they all indicate several things. They can be signs that your guinea pig is either happy, sad, angry, courting, or a whole host of other things.

As an owner of a guinea pig, you need to become aware of what these different noises mean or signify. That helps you to get a better idea of how to then look after your guinea pig, and whether or not there is something wrong or has to be changed in the setup that you have for them.

But in this instance, we are focusing on just one single noise, and that’s a purring sound that a guinea pig can make. This is something that’s surprising for new owners, as most people believe that only a cat makes this particular noise. Well, it turns out that this is simply not true. Instead, your guinea pig is also quite adept at making a purring sound, but what does it all mean?

2. The Purring Noise

As we just said, the purring noise that your guinea pig makes does indicate they are very happy. Now, we aren’t saying that they purr like a cat, so please don’t think along those lines as it’s not true. However, at least it does let you know that something is going well in the world for your little piggy.

The purring noise itself is a constant low level sound. It is going to be audible to us, and for some people it sounds more like a cross between a growl from a dog and a purr from a cat.

But here’s an important point to make at this stage.

The pitch of the purr can be an indicator as to what’s going on with your guinea pig. A low level pitch is going to show that they are content and happy. However, if it’s more of a high-pitched purr sound that you hear, then that could indicate that they are actually feeling quite annoyed and upset with things.

So, don’t just accept that purring is going to be all positive. Listen to the sound itself to judge as to how you should respond.

3. A Happy Purr

Let’s focus on the happy purr sound as that should be something that you want to strive for as a guinea pig owner.

There are certain times when your piggy is most likely to make this noise, and it’s focused more on when they are being petted and are very relaxed. [Source]

When you think about it, this is the same for cats. They tend to purr when they feel that they are in a relaxed environment and are not feeling stressed about anything. Your guinea pig will have the same reaction when in the same environment.

Of course, as your guinea pig does tend to be quite an anxious little guy, hearing this sound can undoubtedly mean you are doing something right as their owner. It does point to them being content with life, so they must be feeling healthy, trust you, aren’t scared, and having the time of their life.

But let’s look more closely at what you can do in order to help your guinea pig to then feel as if they can produce this particular sound.

4. Being Able to Produce the Sound

Let’s quickly look at how you can manage to get your guinea pig to produce this rather adorable sound.

The focus has to be on petting your guinea pig. However, you need to make sure that everything is done at their speed. That means they come to you when they feel ready to do so, and are able to trust that nothing will happen to them.

A guinea pig is a very stressed out and fearful animal. It takes a lot of time for them to relax and to learn that everything is fine. However, when they do, then they become a lot of fun to have around.

So, this is the sort of thing you need to be able to do in order to encourage this purring noise to emerge from your guinea pig.

First, create a relaxing environment. That means no surprises or shocks. The slightest sound can have a negative impact on your guinea pig.

They need to feel completely safe, and that’s only going to happen when they have this type of environment around them. Then, don’t make any sudden moves. They need to come to you when they are not feeling anxious. If you sort of rush toward them, then they won’t be happy, and your chances of them purring will vanish.

Next, gentle pet them and stroke around their head. Remember to keep those moves soft and slow, as this will mean you don’t spook them.

These slow strokes will help your guinea pig to relax even more. They are then more inclined to go ahead and start to produce that purring noise, and that’s when you know you have hit the jackpot as a guinea pig owner.

You will also tend to notice that your guinea pig is going to relax in every way possible. That means any tension or stress in their body will vanish, and they will really relax in your hands.

When you think about that entire scenario, it’s pretty cool.

But that’s not the only time when they are going to potentially make that purring sound.

Brown stripy guinea pig

5. A Mating Call

This purring noise is also sometimes used as a mating call by a guinea pig, so that’s something to keep in mind, especially if you have two guinea pigs living together.

The purring is part of their courting experience. The male will make the noise as part of their attempt to woo the female and to tempt them into mating.

Of course, this noise should only be made from a courting perspective if the correct situation is there for it to occur. If you only have the one guinea pig, then at least you can eliminate this as a possibility and will then know they are producing the sound due to being happy.

But, we want you to remember one additional point, and that’s the fact that the purring sound may not always signify contentment.

6. When a Purr is Not a Good Thing

So, we mentioned earlier how a purr is not always a good thing, and we also noted how it’s connected to a higher pitch purr.

A quick note, when your guinea pig is scared, they will often freeze on the spot. This really is like the rabbit in headlights idea, and it’s also worth saying that the noise they make may sound more like a drrrr noise instead of a purr. However, let’s go back to what causes them to create the same sound, but for a different reason.

This is likely to happen if your guinea pig is relaxed, and then something startles them. This isn’t always going to be the noise they make when that happens, but it does then become a sign that they are experiencing some sort of distress. [Source]

At this point, your guinea pig is perhaps feeling under threat in some way. They will be voicing their displeasure and that they are in a bit of a panic at this moment. Also, the length of each purring noise is going to be different when they are doing it as a happy thing.

When they are happy, the purr noise goes on for what feels like an eternity. However, when it’s being produced due to feeling stressed and under threat, the purring noise comes in short sharp bursts. The time and frequency are key here. They tell you so much about the reasons why the noise is being made in the first place, so pay attention to it as this allows you to know what to do next.

They make the noise shorter in length often because so much is going on for your guinea pig when they are under some sort of threat. Their heart is going crazy, so they don’t have the ability to go ahead and make a long purring sound.

So, don’t be surprised if your guinea pig lets out a purr when something bad or unexpected happens. Your aim is to then help settle your guinea pig back down and to reduce their anxiety levels. You never know, you may end up getting them to continue to produce that purring noise, but as a good thing instead of it relating to something negative.

7. Context is Everything

As you look at the different reasons as to why your guinea pig should make this noise, it becomes clear that the context of the noise is absolutely everything. You cannot just take it for granted that it means one thing when the evidence may point to a completely different reason.

You need to look at the bigger picture. You cannot simply be focused on the noise and think that it’s cute, since it may be your guinea pig trying to tell you something is wrong.

The same applies for it being used as a mating call. If this is the case, then your male guinea pig has absolutely no interest in what you are doing at this time. Their mind is somewhere else, and it’s also going to help you to understand that you should perhaps leave your male guinea pig alone at that point.

So, look at what is going on around your guinea pig to help you get a better understanding of why they are making that purring sound.

8. As The Owner – Keep Alert To Purring

So, if your guinea pig is producing this low purring sound, then congratulations. You have been able to get your guinea pig into such a blissful and peaceful state that they are completely content with everything around them.

They are going to be so relaxed and happy with life that they can just let all that stress and anxiety to pretty much leave their body, and that’s an amazing thing.

However, as we have shown, do look out for those purring sounds that are shorter in duration and also of a higher pitch. That’s not a good sign, as it shows some distress. If this occurs, you then need to look into what is scaring your guinea pig and to take the appropriate action straight away.

After all, we all want our little piggy to be content all of the time, and the fact we get such a cute reward in the way of this purring sound is just an added bonus.

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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