Do guinea pigs smell?

Do guinea pigs smell? this is often one of the first questions that pop up when someone is deciding if they want to keep a guinea pig as a pet. Guinea pigs make wonderful pets! They are kind, gentle, caring, and great fun to play with.

Self Cleaning

guinea pig grooming

Guinea pigs are excellent self cleaners! As soon as they spot grime or dirt appear on their fur, they make every attempt to clean it off. If you have multiple guinea pigs, you may notice them helping each other with those hard to reach areas too.

Similarly to cats, guinea pigs have a natural instinct to keep themselves clean and free from debris.

Guinea pigs actually produce a milky white liquid in their eyes. They then take this liquid into their front paws and use it to clean their face with. It is one of the most adorable guinea pig moments there is.

Pampered Guinea Pigs

Even though guinea pigs are keen self cleaners, grooming should still form part of your routine. The frequency depends entirely on which breed you have and their fur length.


How to brush a guinea pig

Long-haired guinea pigs require daily grooming to ensure their fur stays free from tangles. Plus their long hair can often collect debris from walking. A good brushing will sort this out.

Short hair guinea pigs require less grooming – usually once a week is fine. We tend to groom Orange, our short-haired piggie more when she is moulting.

Invest in a soft brush or brush set for grooming. For long hairs, it can be beneficial to trim the long fur that is touching the floor if it is persistently getting dirty. A good pair of fur scissors is essential.

Grooming is also a great chance to perform a quick health check to ensure they are healthy and happy, plus it’s great for bonding. Check out How to groom a guinea pig for further advice.

Whilst guinea pigs are great at cleaning themselves, grooming should still form part of your daily routine. It gives you time to bond, check for signs of ill health. Plus it helps ensure their fur remains clean and mat-free.

Bathing a guinea pig

Guinea pig bath time

New guinea pig owners often wonder if they need to bathe their guinea pigs. Guinea pigs rarely need baths unless they have been kept in an unclean cage or if it has mites. Unless the guinea pigs fur is stinky when you smell it close up, then they won’t require a bath.

If your guinea pig is actually smelly from poor cage hygiene (or illness) then it is ok to bathe them. It’s simple enough to bath them, fill a plastic tub or sink with lukewarm water, ensuring the water isn’t too deep. We have a more detailed article about how to bathe your guinea pig.

Ensure you use special guinea pig shampoo and they are dried thoroughly before being placed back into their clean cage.

If you have a really smelly guinea pig who hates bath time then invest in a waterless shampoo and spot clean their fur instead. Aim to reduce the need for bath time but ensure you are cleaning your guinea pigs cage frequently along with their bedding.

Cage Odours

why does my guinea pig cage smell

Guinea pigs do not naturally smell. They are really clean animals so if anything is smelly, it will be the cage. Having a cleaning routine is essential to avoid cage odours.

Guinea pigs urine mixed with hay gets smelly fast. Keep hay fresh to stop it from smelling. Also, be aware that guinea pigs will not eat soiled hay so if you aren’t changing your guinea pigs hay daily then you are essentially starving your guinea pig of hay (learn about guinea pig nutrition here)

If your guinea pigs are litter trained (learn how-to here) then it is much easier to spot clean the cage daily than if they aren’t. Spot cleaning is essentially cleaning the dirty bits of the cage. This should not be done instead of providing fresh hay.

How many guinea pigs you have should determine how often the cage needs cleaning. The cleaning schedule below is for 2 adult guinea pigs:

Daily – Spot clean, Fresh Hay
Weekly – complete cage clean – remove all hay and bedding. Wash all food bowls and water bottles. Scrub down the cage with a small animal disinfectant. Allow to dry and add in fresh bedding.

We also use this routine for our guinea pigs floor time cage.

Boys V Girls

Female guinea pigs (sows) produce a less natural smell than their male counterparts (boars). Guinea pigs do not smell themselves but often leave scent markings in their cages like other animals.

Boars are more territorial so often scent marks more places especially after you’ve cleaned the cage. Sows do not feel the need to constantly mark their cages.

A great tip is to add a piece of fleece to your guinea pigs cage and wait for it to scent on. Refrain from cleaning it and add it back into the cage after cleaning. The boars will know their scent is already present in the cage and refrain from marking the cage again!

Health Check

guinea pig health check

If your guinea pig is smelly even though you know they and their cage are clean it could be a sign of an illness. Ensure you watch for any changes in your guinea pigs urine or droppings. Smelly droppings that are slightly wet or watery, could be a sign of a stomach illness.

Please do seek advice from your vet if you have smelly guinea pigs and there seems no logical reason why. It could save their life.

No, guinea pigs do not smell

Guinea pigs are wonderful pets that make great friends and are so much fun for all the family. Did you know that a guinea pig uses its sense of smell to recognise its owners and cage mates? They have a great sense of smell and use it to communicate and interact with us and other guinea pigs.

When a guinea pig is first brought home, one of the most crucial things it gets used to is all the new smells within the home. Read our guide on bringing your guinea pig home for the first time for more.

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