Guinea pigs are chatty animals that produce a variety of sounds to express themselves and what they are currently feeling. A common sound they usually produce is teeth chattering.
Teeth chattering is a rapid succession of fast squeaks and gnashing of teeth. A guinea pig will have a sinister-looking yawn while showing their teeth.
Sometimes they may raise their head high and stand on their hind legs with the fur on their neck raised to make them look bigger. Other times they stamp their feet from one foot to the other like they are rocking from side to side.
Why do guinea pigs chatter their teeth?
Guinea pigs chatter their teeth to show that they are agitated, angry, or not happy with their current situation. Just like a dog’s growl, a guinea pig’s teeth chattering simply means ‘back off’ or ‘stay away’. There could be an issue between cage mates that is making one feel threatened. The chatter indicates their annoyance and it is the last warning sign to other guinea pigs and humans.
Mostly, they will chatter right before getting into a fiery fight. So you should always check on them when you hear a chatter.
Reasons why Guinea Pigs Chatter their Teeth
There are a number of reasons that may make your guinea pig frustrated enough to chatter their teeth. Let’s get right into them.
Meeting for the first time
Guinea pigs are hierarchical animals that live in accordance with hierarchy and territories. When you introduce a new guinea pig to your existing pets, they will sense a threat and begin chattering.
This will be a warning not to get into each other’s spaces. It is usually a sign of dominance to other cage mates, to show who is boss.
When they are lifted
It’s common for guinea pigs to dislike being lifted or carried around. Of course, you like your adorable pet and want to give it some cozy lap time.
But you should realize that not all guinea pigs enjoy it. They will show you this by chattering their teeth when you try to lift them.
One is sick
When one of your guinea pigs gets sick, they will not have the normal energy. They will be lethargic and move very little.
This makes other cage mates see it as weak and try to fight it. Like we said, guinea pigs like outdoing each other on who is the cage dominator. This will make them begin chattering their teeth.
Do not like something
If they do not like something, guinea pigs will definitely let you know. It could be the way you are stroking them or a small cage they feel they have outgrown.
It could also be a change of your normal routine like the number of times you feed them, the way you hold them down while clipping their nails or they just don’t like that new scent you have on. They will chatter their teeth in distaste.
Guinea pigs will complain by chattering their teeth if there is something they want like for instance an extra layer of bedding, or if you take away their food too soon. If there is something out of their reach too, expect them to express their displeasure through that squeaky chatter.
A guinea pig will begin chattering uncontrollably if it senses danger. This could be a sign to other cage mates that they have seen a threat.
If someone they are not used to walks to their cage. Or someone they don’t particularly like gets close, except to hear some teeth chattering.
Not all teeth chattering means ‘back off’. Sometimes it means ‘hurry up’.
Guinea pigs will gnash their teeth if they feel you are being slow while feeding them or you delay in giving them their veggies. If you are serving several of them, the last in line to get food could chatter their protest for not being fed first.
What to do when guinea pigs are chattering their teeth
Teeth chattering can be soft to just show impatience or it can be loud and aggressive. Here’s what to do when your piggy pet can’t stop making that sound.
Carefully separate them
Guinea pigs can get quite aggressive while chattering because it’s usually the last warning before they attack. In the case of two that want to fight, it will be wise to separate them to prevent them from hurting each other.
A good way of doing this is by covering them with a towel and picking one up while they are in a state of confusion. This will ensure you don’t get scratches in the process.
After they cool down, try to reintroduce them again. Do this a few more times until they can comfortably cohabitate.
Hand them treats
Giving them treats when they are not in such a good mood is a good way of calming them down. It will enable them to ease up slowly towards each other and boost friendliness.
Leave them alone
If a guinea pig chatters because you are holding it, just put it down. If it begins chattering when you are stroking it or trying to imitate it’s sounds, just stop.
A guinea pig senses human emotions and if it doesn’t feel safe when you are around it, it will begin chattering its teeth. Leave it alone and give it some space for a while.
Just like people, guinea pigs have many different personalities. Always try to keep them according to their personalities to enable them to bond easily. For instance, as they are so set on social ranks, you can put a subordinate young male with a dominant older one for a smooth hierarchy order.
Always try to learn more about your pets so as to know what triggers their teeth chattering. It may not always be something serious or bad.
It’s pretty normal for male guinea pigs to chatter once in a while. If your pets won’t stop chattering after taking these measures, you should permanently separate them to avoid some serious bloodshed.