Pets

Sounds My Guinea Pigs Associate with Food

Guinea pigs Butternut and Peanut having a treat
Photo by author

Guinea pigs have very good hearing. They’re also very good at recognizing sounds that are associated with getting food.

Most guinea pigs do a high-pitched wheek wheek noise to call for food. Mine don’t wheek much because Peanut chews the cage bars, and everyone seems to consider that the most authoritative way of signalling that it’s food time. They will also stick their faces out of the cage door. Oreo doesn’t tend to do that, though; Casper and Cookie used to not leave her any room for this, and even after Cookie died, Oreo’s behaviour didn’t change.

Casper sticking her head out of the cage door

Celery sounds

Sometimes just opening the fridge is enough to get them excited, or opening the crisper drawer. They really get excited by the rustling of a plastic produce bag. Celery is the go-to veggie that I give them, and when they hear the crack of me breaking a stick of celery into pieces, they know for sure that food is on its way.

Plastic rustling

They’re very good at discriminating between different kinds of plastic rustling. Besides produce bags, there’s also the bags for treats, hay, and food pellets. The order of preference for the girls is the sound of celery, then treats, hay, and pellets. The boys get more excited about pellets than hay.

The boys respond to the treat bag rustling by sticking their faces out of the cage door, as shown in the picture above. If it’s the pellet bag rustling, they’re more likely to perch with their paws on the rim of the food bowl; in this scenario, Peanut is always to Butternut’s left. And literally, those are always their positions with respect to the food bowl.

Honey, I’m home!

If I’ve been gone for more than a few minutes, me opening the front door is a signal for food time. Sometimes they get excited as soon as I open the door, while other times, they’ll wait a minute or two.

Other signals

The piggies’ routine is based on my routine. Sometimes, if I don’t get up right away when I wake up in the morning, they’ll hear me rustling around and start clamoring for food. This varies a bit of over time, but right now I’ve got them used to the idea that they don’t get celery until I make my second cup of tea, so it’s unusual for them to try to get me out of bed. And yes, they can distinguish when I get up for the second cup of tea.

Around noon, everyone gets a treat, and if I walk past the girls’ cage around that time, Casper will stick her cute little face out of the cage door to remind me that it’s treat time.

Reacting to other noises

Aside from food-related noises, they react to various other sounds. Some sounds scare them, and they’ll freeze or run into their hidey-houses. Some sounds interest one or more of them, and they’ll perk up their head and make a purring kind of noise. Oreo does this sometimes if I sniffle, and the other day Butternut did this when I was playing a video made by Maja of Lampelina. I haven’t been able to figure out what it is that makes certain noises interesting, but only to some of them and only some of the time.


So there you have it, my guinea pigs and their funny little ways. If you have pets, do they have any fun quirky behaviours?

42 thoughts on “Sounds My Guinea Pigs Associate with Food”

  1. I love this! Guinea Pigs are fabulous and very underestimated as companions by those who’ve never had them. Sadly, we no longer have our boys but when we did they loved hay, greens, carrots and pea flakes. But their very favourite treat was parsley. It was like catnip to them.

  2. They are soooooo cute!! Thank you for posting about this! Our two, Nugget and Oreo, are huge! They too react to noises like you say. They also whistle. The first time they did that I though we had a bird in the house. 🙂

    I’ll send you some pictures if you want (or I’ll blog about them one day)…claudette_labriola@yahoo.ca

  3. I really miss my boys. They knew it was fruit and veggie time at 6pm, everyday without fail they would wheek 5 minutes before. Any rustling of bags got them wheeking too. 💚

  4. I totally love this! Can I join is the GP noise game? So mine go wild (Biscuit squeaks at the highest pitch … I’m sure dogs can hear him from miles away) when the bin lid or fridge door open. They adore hay so the rustle of that bag makes them purr, squeak and popcorn all over the place. Veggies are their favourite but I have never given them celery! That’s on my shopping list now. Toffee come to the bars to check out what’s happening when it’s food time. Biscuit steals the food and eats so quickly he almost chokes. Sometimes we have to give Toffee extra veggies in the day and give Biscuit GP CPR because he’s so greedy! My voice sets them off … they rumble and purr. They love my yoga videos too. I totally 💕my piggies. X

  5. Awww, the guineas are so cute and precocious!! What nice little creatures they are!

    LuLu understands a lot of English, like, “It’s time for dinner!” and “Watch out,” which means she’s in my way, and “Do you wanna take a walk?” and “Let’s go!” She’s such a sweetheart and I love her more than words can say!!

    Mr. Kitty understands English, too! When I call him, like, “Milton, Milton!” he comes!! What a nice little kitty!!

  6. My hamster has an idea when his food is served. But that’s it. It certain smells of food that may get his attention otherwise. Even if its not his.

    My other hamster used to recognise her treat bag.

      1. My current hamster Daz will smell me eating my Trek bars, even though I am not next to the cage with it. It doesn’t take him long to smell where its coming from. Getting all excited.

        If I munch on a carrot or a banana, which he will receive a little bit of either, he looks forward to that.

          1. He is. I know how to bribe him.

            When it comes to his hamster food, if he’s lucky to get peanuts in their shells in the packet, when one of those is in his cage, that’s the first he takes.

  7. What ‘odd’ little things does Ziggy dog do? He has taken to waking me up in the morning. He’s only been doing it about a week, and I don’t know what triggered the change. If it’s even the teensiest bit light outside, suddenly he’s doing his ‘morning’ wake up call which consists of moving around on the bed (I will wake up for that as it might mean an urgent call of nature has struck and it’s best to get the dog outside pronto). If I open my eyes (or eye) and see it’s light, I may try (vainly) to go back to sleep again. If that happens, Ziggy begins to bark. Once or twice really sharply “DAnger Danger Willl whosisfather” and to come stand on me and stare. It can be really frustrating for both me and dog, because so far it’s about 50% successful is all. And a warm bed beats getting up and trying to get going when it’s cold outside.

  8. My little guinea pigs used to go insane, big teeth biting frantically at the bars with their little feet high up as though being taller will get them food faster or something! And their high pitched squealing was like a siren calling the alarm for food arriving soon! If they were out of the cage they came running, and I used to call them while pretending they were my pet dogs highly trained in an impressive recall.
    Ah… good memories! 😍

  9. Hahaha I ought to write a post about the 3 cats I live with. They’re sensitive to their owner and my routines and various sounds too. One of them meows a ton both when we’re about to leave the flat, and when we come back…who says only dogs are happy to welcome one home?

  10. My cat doesn’t eat enough. She’s never been more than 6.5 lbs. her whole life, but with aging kidney issues and now thyroid the vet this month is trying anything to get her to eat. Most cats will scarf extra food if we give it. Nope. Ours will eat more one day she’s extra hungry, then dial back proportionally the next day. It’s frustrating. All the more frustrating because she simultaneously doesn’t want to *eat* the food, treats, whatever we buy. But, she must always *see* the food is there should things get desperate. I’ve written before about how she will hoard her dry food in little piles around the place if she thinks we’re going to be gone. Just in case we don’t come back. Because it’s been a decade, but, nope, still can’t trust us completely we won’t abandon her. Which you’d logically *think* would mean she’d overeat in preparation as a precaution. But, no. It’s like she self-rations. And, now, with her hyperactive thyroid and refusal to up her food intake, there’s too little kitty. Argh. We have no idea how to get that cat to gain the literal full pound the vet thinks she needs…

  11. Your piggies are so cute! Stella the dog likes to pounce on my heels when I’m walking and she wants my attention. It’s cute when you’re wearing long pants and socks, not so much when her nails scratch your exposed skin. She has this rubbery green ball with two holes across from each other – you put kibble in it and the dog rolls it around to get kibble to fall out. Stella cheats by lining the holes up vertically, squishing the ball a few times between her jaws, then checking underneath to see if anything came out. As long as it keeps her occupied, I guess, haha.

  12. Your post sounds like my chickens. My one hen were sitting with me, I had to give her some meds. Before I took her back outside the food was ready and I decided to eat first. The hen grabbed my food right out of my hands. I have a 1000 chicken stories. Animals are very good for lifting depression

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