Guinea pigs are cute little domesticated rodents that have been popular for years and years as pets. They got the name guinea from when they were sold by sailors for a guinea, which means a coin.
These little pets are known to be pretty vocal and like to communicate with noises and body language. Their popular baby piglets’ squeaking sound is what gave them the ‘pig’ part of their name.
But what does it mean when guinea pigs chatter their teeth? Does it mean they’re happy, annoyed, or scared?
In this article, we’ll discuss everything about why guinea pigs sometimes chatter their teeth.
Why Is My Guinea Pig Chattering Its Teeth?
Guinea pigs make a lot of different noises and body language signs to give specific signals to their owners or cage mates.
Chattering doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re cold and shivering; it could mean a range of different things.
So, what makes your guinea pig chatter? Here are the most common causes:
The most common cause for guinea pigs to chatter their teeth is anger and annoyance. Guinea pigs aren’t usually aggressive, and their aggression can be triggered by many things.
Aggression could be a sign of boredom and unhappiness. When your guinea pigs don’t have anything to do for a long time, they might start fighting. And when they’re about to fight, they chatter their teeth as a sign of aggression and showing dominance.
So, it’s good to keep them busy with toys or vegetables. You can also allow them some daily floor time with some toys or hay to munch on.
Another reason that could be making your guinea pig chatter his teeth is that he could be annoyed by other pets.
Make sure to carefully and slowly introduce your guinea pigs to other pets in the house and be there to observe them.
As you probably know, guinea pigs need to be raised in pairs. However, a pair of guinea pigs might not get along very easily.
You might need to keep your pair separated with a barrier for a while until you feel they’re starting to get along well.
You should also keep your female guinea pigs separated from your male guinea pigs to avoid mating fights.
Physical Pain or Illness
Guinea pigs get cranky when they’re sick or feeling pain just like humans. It’s a good idea to examine your guinea pig when you find them chattering their teeth.
Also, you might need to take your guinea pig to the vet if you notice any of the following signs accompanied by chattering teeth:
- Diarrhea or bloody urine
- Trouble breathing
- Any unusual behavior
- Laziness and lethargy
- Loss of balance and hair loss
When guinea pigs are intimidated by other animals, they usually hide. However, when escape isn’t an option, they’ll try to scare away whatever is scaring them.
So, they chatter their teeth as a way to scare off their source of fear. Your guinea pig might be doing this when you cut his nails or when you try to pick him up.
Also, female guinea pigs usually chatter their teeth when someone gets close to their babies.
Unfortunately, most of the cages that are marketed for guinea pigs are too small. While guinea pigs hate an open environment because it makes them feel vulnerable, they also hate small cages.
Guinea pigs like most animals aren’t meant to live in cages. They need their space to roam around getting their exercise.
Your guinea pig’s teeth chattering sound might be his way of telling you he’s upset by the small space. You need to get a cage that is big enough to have separate spaces; a pooping area, a nest, and an area to place their food and water.
Also, it’s good to let them outside of their cage at least once a day so they can get their exercise, explore, and stretch their legs. Always keep in mind that exercise is important for guinea pigs.
Why Does My Guinea Pig Chatter His Teeth When I Hold Him?
Two reasons could be causing your guinea pig to chatter his teeth at you; your guinea pig might be intimidated by you or you could be doing something that is upsetting him.
Guinea pigs are natural prey animals and they hate being picked up. In the wild, when they get picked up, it means that they’ve fallen in the hands of their predator.
Try taking a video of your hands picking up your piggy and watch it. You seem to them like a giant person who’s trying to capture them. It’s scary and they have all the right to try to scare you away or hide from you.
All you need to do is to make them trust you first and then you’ll be able to easily pick them up. You might also be holding them in a wrong way that could be hurting or upsetting them.
And their teeth chattering sound is their way of communicating with you to let you know they don’t like the way you’re holding or petting them.
How to Hold Your Guinea Pig the Right Way?
Guinea pigs hate being chased and grabbed. You need to implement proper technique when trying to hold your guinea pig securely and safely.
Here are our two techniques you can implement to pick up and hold your guinea pig:
Trick Them With Treats
Instead of chasing your guinea pigs with your hands, get them to come to you and be eager to be held by you. How to do that? By giving them treats.
Get them to reach up anticipating for you to give them treats and then pick them up. This will make them associate you with good things and trust you.
To pick your guinea pig, have the treat in one hand, and with the other hand, scoop your pet up. Your guinea pig might be surprised that you picked him up, but he won’t care because he’ll be busy enjoying his treat.
The more you do this, the more your guinea pig will be used to you picking him up.
Use a Cuddle Sack or Cup
Cuddle sacks, cups, or tunnels make it easy for you to pick them up and hold them. Look for a cuddle sack that is made from fleece.
Anything, even if it’s just a towel, that is made of fleece can be useful here. Guinea pigs love fleece as it makes them really comfortable.
Put the cuddle sack inside the cage and wait for your piggy to walk into it, then hold him up.
What Are Other Sounds Guinea Pigs Make?
Guinea pigs make a variety of sounds, and each sound has its own meaning. It’s important as a guinea pig owner to know and understand the meaning of the sounds your guinea pig is making.
Guinea pig sounds and vocalizations are their way to communicate with you. So, here are the most common sounds guinea pigs make:
Wheeking is a common sound that guinea pigs make and you’ve probably already heard it before. It sounds like a long, high squeal or hustle.
When your guinea pigs make this sound, it means that they’d like to have some food. They usually make the wheeking sound when they hear any sound that is connected to food, such as footsteps or the sound of the fridge opening.
So, don’t be surprised when they start to wheek around the time they usually have their lunch. Once one of your guinea pigs starts wheeking the others will probably do that, too.
Interestingly, this sound only addresses their owners. In the wild, they only wheek when they’re feeling danger. Only our domestic guinea pigs make that sound asking for food.
Wheeking is also a way for grabbing your attention or communicating their excitement whether for food or playtime.
Chutting is a sound that guinea pigs make when they’re happy and satisfied. It sounds a lot like a frog’s croak.
Rumbling is a sound that a male guinea pig makes when he wants to mate with a female guinea pig.
Females also make that noise when they’re in season to let the males know they’re ready and interested in mating.
This sound is usually accompanied by them shaking their butts and moving around slowly.
Hissing is similar to teeth chattering. Guinea pigs hiss to display anger. It’s just like when a cat hisses.
Purring is very context-dependent. It could have various opposing meanings. However, you could tell what your guinea pig means by purring from his body language and the pitch of the sound.
If your guinea pig’s purring sound is deep and accompanied by a relaxed posture, this means he’s happy and comfortable.
If the sound is high-pitched while shaking his body, it means he’s annoyed.
It’s good to understand how guinea pigs communicate through their various sounds. If yours is chattering their teeth, you’re looking at four possible reasons: anger, physical pain, intimidation, or discomfort due to confined space.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.