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.
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.
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.
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?