Guinea Pigs use noises, just as we do, daily to get what they want and to communicate with their owners or other guinea pigs. It is a bit like us humans; we talk when we communicate. One of the most common of these that you might observe from time to time is a guinea pig mating call. But what does it sound like?
A guinea pig mating call is a distinctive low rumbling sound in the back of their throat. This sound is called ‘rumbling’, and can be made be either a male or female guinea pig.
You will hear this sound often, particularly if you keep guinea pigs of different sexes together.
In this article I’m going to describe everything you need to listen out for to determine when this noise is happening, and then what to do about it.
A Distinctive Low Rumbling Sound
If you’ve ever heard the saying ‘There is a rumble in the jungle’, this is very true for piggies.
If you see a guinea pig shaking his hips and making a low rolling sound in the back of his throat, you should know he is calling to mate with another guinea pig. Sometimes he might also interject with some popcorning, which is a bit of shaking the upper body, just to get his point across. [Source]
Here is a video of this mating call in action:
This Sound is called Rumbling
Females can also do this rumbling sound to signal she is in season, and will wander around the cage sharing this knowledge with other male guinea pigs. She can appear quite aggressive, following the male piggies around the cage and shaking her hips too.
The Noisy Lives of Guinea Pigs
One thing is for sure, if you thought keeping guinea pigs for pets was a quiet activity think again.
They communicate constantly with various noises, like squealing with delight, purring with contentedness, or even purring with annoyance, teeth chattering to warn off other guinea pigs and loud wheeking which in a domestic setting is a demand for food.
The Mating Call is Distinct
The mating call is quite distinct, and guinea pig owners will learn to spot it so that they can care not only for the pregnant sow, but her pups after the birth.
Mating life is constant with guinea pigs, but works in cycles. Female piggies are in the estrous period for around 16 days. That means they are ready for mating. They will be pregnant from 59 to 72 days and will give birth to around 1 to 4 pups each time. Guinea pigs are sexually mature at around 2 to 3 months old. However, sows can become pregnant before then.
Always Check the Sex of Your Piggies
It is recommended when acquiring your guinea pigs for pets that you check if they are male or female.
If they are a male piggy, they can be neutered, as this is less invasive than spaying a female piggy.
Males are called boars, and females are called sows.
Their young offspring are called pups, even though, of course, guinea pigs are not dogs. They are a breed of rodent named Cavia porcellus.
Spaying a sow is more invasive, as she must have all of her reproductive organs removed by a surgery that involves cutting her lower abdomen open. The male can be neutered by removing his testicles only. [Source]
Keep Males and Females Only if Possible
Another way to ensure unwanted litters occurring is to keep males and females separate. This is often preferable for regular piggy owners, as smaller animals do not take too well to surgeries so if this can be avoided that is probably a better option.
If you have to have your male neutered as you want a male and a female then get the advice of a vet that is experienced in carrying out surgery on guinea pigs.
If you are a regular owner, it might be better to stick to one sex, either all females or all males. This saves the issue of unwanted litters.
The reason why breeding is not encouraged is that it is very hard to find a piggy a good home. Once you have experienced a sow giving birth, you will understand how important it is to give their little pup to a suitable home. Pups are adorable!
How to Spot Male and Female Genitalia
It is better to have your guinea pig sexed by a professional, but sometimes it can be fairly easy to spot the different genitalia. The sow will have a ‘y’ shape near the anus, and the male a raised circular shape.
This is very important because, because, as mentioned earlier, over breeding guinea pigs can lead to many homeless pets, and to date rescue shelters are filled with hundreds of guinea pigs awaiting adoption.
Sometimes a mistake can be made, and now you have a pregnant sow on your hands.
Here are some tips on how to care for her and the pups.
Before she gives birth, ensure that your sow has plenty to eat and is in a stress-free environment.
A Safe Environment
Supply her with a safe area in which to give birth and remove the male from this area completely. A sow can become estrous again immediately after giving birth, which is problematic if they mate and produce another litter. You can keep them near to one another so that scent is not lost by placing a divide, but do not allow them in the same area. Herds recognize each other by smell.
As she grows a little larger, you will begin to see her shape change. When lifting her, place your hand gently under her entire body, and allow her weight to rest along your arm and hand so as not to cause her pain or discomfort.
A sow will generally eat right up until she gives birth, only pausing for around an hour before the birth. So make sure she has plenty of fresh water and greens or hay to eat.
Once she gives birth, she will clean up the pups, then move on to do her own thing. Pups grow very quickly, and within a day they will be eating normal food.
If the mother is not feeding them initially, then you will have to syringe feed the pups until they can eat themselves. They do quite quickly start to feed on what everyone else is eating. Some pups will smell the mouths of other piggies to see what they are eating.
Guinea Pigs are very vocal about most things and can share their intentions, feelings, fears and issues by making distinct noises.
One of these noises is the mating rumble, which is a deep throaty rolling noise at the back of their throat. Females will also make this noise when she is estrous, meaning fertile to mate.
To control mating behavior in your pets, keep all females or male guinea pigs together. This is less traumatic than surgeries, such as spaying or neutering.
Get your pets sexed by a professional to ensure you have the right sexes together, but if there are any mishaps, as is bound to happen, call on animal rescue centers for help. They will advise you on how to care for your sow when she is pregnant, and the pups afterwards. They will even help to re-home them if necessary.
Sows and Boars can mate their entire lives, although this is not advisable. They can pick up a myriad of issues in their pelvic bone areas and general health. It is better to leave correct breeding to professional breeders.
If you sow is pregnant, keep an eye on her and her pups and remove the male from the situation once she is ready to give birth. A sow is ready to mate straight away after having pups, so this would mean another litter!