Why Do Guinea Pigs Chatter Their Teeth?

Guinea Pig Guinea Pig Teeth Chattering


  • Guinea pig chattering teeth
  • What to do when your guinea pig chatters their teeth
  • How to prevent teeth chattering
Guinea pigs always seem to be making some sort of noise, be it snuffling around through their bedding or making excitable little squeaks when it comes to meal times. They’re a very vocal species and have some of the most interesting ways of communication, however, they are limited in their vocalisations. There are only so many different noises these critters can make so they’ve evolved to be quite clever when it comes to other means of communication.
They’ll use their body language when vocalisations alone don’t do the job. Having stiff body language with their head raised is considered defensive or aggressive while shying away expresses their worry. It doesn’t just stop there either, your guinea pig can even use their teeth to communicate with you and not in the way you might think.

Guinea pig chattering teeth

Guinea pig.
You might have heard your guinea pig’s teeth chattering and you might think it means they’re cold, but that generally isn’t the case. Our teeth may chatter in the cold but when your guinea pig buddy does it, it’s a very purposeful way to communicate how they’re feeling with you or anyone else they may be trying to express their current state of emotions towards. Generally speaking, chattering teeth is a sign that your pet is agitated with something that is happening and trying to show you or someone else that.

Towards other guinea pigs

Chattering teeth is a common noise you might hear while going through the process of introducing guinea pigs to each other. It’s a very normal means of communication, they will be trying to warn the other guinea pig that they need space and they’re not ready to be approached yet. Often, it won’t escalate beyond teeth chattering if their warnings are adhered to but if ignored, this is when you might see it turn into aggression. It’s similar to a dog growling, the behaviour itself isn’t inherently aggressive but it’s a warning and if listened to, they’ll often calm down. If you hear teeth chattering and your guinea pigs get stuck in a bit of a stalemate, removing them from being together will prevent any fighting.
It might just mean they need to spend more time being able to see each other but not be in the same cage or they need to meet on natural ground. If you’re trying to introduce males, you will almost always get some teeth chattering but it just means that you should take things slowly until they don’t see the other guinea pig as a threat.

Towards you

Teeth chattering towards you will often occur around close handling like picking them up or trimming their nails. Sometimes it can be avoided however. When you need to trim their nails, sometimes you just have to get it done and they may not like it. It’s not uncommon to notice your guinea pig teeth chattering towards you when they are still relatively new and you may not have solidified your bond yet. They are likely to be more worried and agitated when they don’t know you very well so you should take things slow when you’re getting to know each other. Over time and through listening to what they’re trying to tell you, they’ll get increasingly comfortable in your company.

What to do when your guinea pig chatters their teeth

When your guinea pig chatters their teeth, they are trying to communicate with you and the best thing you can do in this situation is listen to them and show them you understand. If you go to pick them up and they chatter their teeth at you, listening and not picking them up is the best way to start developing a bond with them where they can trust you. It may not feel like a positive communication at the time but you can turn it into a positive one by listening to them. Teeth chattering should not be ignored but it shouldn’t go punished either. Telling them off for expressing how they feel isn’t going to help them trust you but listening will. While there are occasions when some things just have to be done like nail trims or applying medication they don’t like, if you listen the rest of the time and give them space, you can still continue to work on your bond.

Close up of guinea pig's face.

How to prevent teeth chattering

Teeth chattering doesn’t always have to be something negative, it’s just a way for your guinea pig to tell you how they feel. You can in future try to avoid repeating whatever upset them, like if they don’t enjoy being picked up you can teach them to come to you instead and get onto your lap or hands so you can lift them. Listening to their preferences is how you can find ways to work together and really develop a strong friendship with your beloved pets that can last throughout their whole life.
To work on avoiding them chattering their teeth at you and getting annoyed, you can develop your bond to the point where they don’t feel threatened by you. Rewarding interactions with you from early on with plenty of treats will create a positive association around handling. If your guinea pig needs their nails clipped or something that they don’t enjoy, you could ask your vet or someone else to do the unpleasant interaction initially while you’re still working on becoming friends.
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