Guinea pigs make many noises, not just the squeaks and wheaks we associate with them. You might hear them cough, coo, purr, and growl. You might even hear a burping sound on the odd occasion. Is this really what it sounds like? Do guinea pigs burp?
Guinea pigs are susceptible to digestive-related escapes of air. They emit little burp-like noises as they munch their food. When they swallow, guinea pigs can gulp down a certain amount of air. But are those little hiccup noises guinea pigs produce actually burps in the true sense of the word? Let’s find out.
Do guinea pigs burp in the true sense of the word?
Though guinea pigs burp they don’t think about it as we do. A guinea pig burp is a completely involuntary action whereby the air they swallow as they eat collects in their esophagus and then bubbles back up naturally. You may hear a subtle burping noise as it escapes from their mouth.
A guinea pig will not feel the urge to burp as we do and then deliberately force it up to relieve itself.
Guinea pig burping is not usually a sign of a gastrointestinal problem – so don’t worry too much about it.
Common causes of burping noises in guinea pigs
Those burping noises you hear from a guinea pig are more likely to be hiccups, heaving hiccups to be precise. These can occur when a guinea pig eats too much too quickly or if they eat a food they are intolerant of.
Heaving hiccups are no cause for concern and will stop naturally like our hiccups do.
If your guinea pig is pregnant, hiccups can be a sign that she’s going in to labor. As the point of birth approaches, the hiccups become more frequent.
You won’t often hear a guinea pig growl but it can happen occasionally. It’s often a reaction to fear that occurs in a situation they can’t escape from – a bit like a dog might growl if backed into a corner.
A growl from a guinea pig, accompanied by grinding teeth, could preempt a fierce reaction so be wary of trying to pick it up. As long as it is safe, leave it to settle down.
Purring and cooing
Guinea pigs are capable of purring like cats but not for the same reasons. The pitch of the purr signals your guinea pig’s mood.
If it’s a deep sound and your guinea pig looks happy and relaxed, it is feeling content. However, a high-pitched purr signals that something is annoying your piggie.
If you hear a short, clipped purr, your guinea pig is worried. Guinea pigs are sensitive to danger and can react in this way if they hear or see something unsettling.
Mother guinea pig coo to their babies and if you hear a guinea pig cooing at another adult guinea pig, it could be trying to calm it. If your guinea pig has a special bond with you, it could even coo at you.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Be sure your guinea pig’s burps are not actually coughs, as these could indicate it has contracted an upper respiratory infection (URI).
Other signs of a URI include:
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Hunched posture
- Difficulty breathing
- Crusty eyes and nostrils
- Discharge from eyes and nose
- General lethargy
If you see any of these signs, take your guinea pig to a vet for immediate treatment.
Do guinea pigs burp?
Belching trapped air from the mouth is a common occurrence in many mammals, guinea pigs included. It generally comes from the esophagus and rarely from the stomach.
Guinea pigs do occasionally burp but can make many other little noises that could be mistaken for burping. A cough could be a sign of a URI so keep an eye on your guinea pig to ensure no other signs develop.
A healthy diet is essential to keep your guinea pigs digestive system in good working order. Before you buy a guinea pig, find out all you need to know!