Are you a fan of guinea pigs? These guinea pig facts are perfect for new owners and more experienced owners. If you find yourself fascinated with guinea pigs then you will enjoy learning these fun facts about these beautiful creatures we are lucky enough to call family.
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They Don’t Come From Guinea!
One of the most misunderstood pieces of information about guinea pigs is the misconception that they come from Guinea. Guinea pigs originate from the Andes in South America despite their common name suggesting they are from Guinea in Africa.
Don’t House Them With Rabbits!
Typically it was thought acceptable to house rabbits and guinea pigs together. It was incorrectly assumed that they offered each other companionship equal to that they received from their kind. It has been proven however, that guinea pigs are bullied and injured when housed with rabbits.
They Aren’t Actually Pigs
Not only do they not come from Guinea they are also not related in any form to pigs! They are members of the rodent family. Even more confusingly, male and female guinea pigs are called Boars and Sows which are the exact names used to identify male and female pigs!
They Are Chatterboxes!
Guinea pigs should always be kept with at least one other of their own kind. This is due to their strong need for companionship. Guinea pigs constantly chat with each other. They bond when sharing a cage or hutch and become cage mates for life. Listen out for all the different sounds they make and learn what they mean here.
Guinea pigs show off their special dance move then they are happy – the “popcorn”. Guinea pigs take a good run up and then lift their body into the air. Some even master a 90-degree turn whilst in mid-air!
They Mark Their Terrority
Scent marking is more commonly found amongst male guinea pigs, however all guinea pig scent mark to a degree. Guinea pigs leave their scent through bottom dragging, cheek and chin rubbing and even spraying (in male guinea pigs only)
Guinea Pigs Cant Sweat
Imagine being in that thick guinea pig coat and not being able to sweat. Guinea pigs have an optimal temperature in which they are happy. If it gets too hot or too cold they can become seriously ill. Ice pads to sit on and ice cubes in their water are great at keeping them cool whilst extra hay and heat pads help to warm them up. Read our articles on keeping your guinea pig warm and helping to keep them cool.
Guinea pigs are active for 20 hours per day and only sleep for four hours. They don’t get a solid four hours of sleep either. They take little naps throughout the day! Now we know why they need all that hay, pellets and plenty of water!
Guinea Pigs Cant Make Their Own Vitamin C
Similar to us humans, guinea pigs can not make their own vitamin C. Instead, they rely on it being provided in fresh foods and fortified pellets.
They Reproduce Quickly!
Guinea pigs can breed naturally from a young age so it’s important to separate any males from your females cage to avoid any unsafe pregnancies from happening. Guinea pigs can breed from 8 weeks old. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is the correct time to do so.
Guinea Pigs Teeth Never Stop Growing!
Ever wonder why your guinea pigs need all that hay? One answer can be that guinea pigs use it to help wear down their ever-growing teeth. Guinea pis are more than capable of keeping their teeth happy and healthy as long they are provided with plenty of ways to wear down their teeth. Ensure you provide edible huts, chews and hay sticks to aid them to care for their teeth.
They Have Long Lives
Guinea pigs live for a good amount of time as long as they are provided with a suitable cage or hutch and have plenty of hay, pellets, water and lots of toys to stop them from getting bored. The oldest guinea pig lived to just under 15 years!
Guinea Pigs Don’t Climb!
Many new owners expect to see their guinea pig swinging from ropes and hammocks similar to hamsters. Guinea pigs however are hiders, not climbers. Don’t buy any hanging toys, instead focus on huts, plush beds and tunnels.
They Make Their Own Facewash!
Ever noticed that milky white substance coming from your guinea pig’s eyes? They actually produce this for cleaning their face! Don’t be tempted to wipe it away from them before they get to use it – they produce it on purpose and would hate to have to start all over again!
Guinea Pigs Eat Their Own Poo And You Should Let Them
Guinea pigs often need to reingest undigested food in order to get all the vitamins from it. Whilst this undigested food is actually poo to you and me, it’s a softer version that your guinea pig will quickly gobble up. Guinea pigs can actually die if they are stopped from this necessary process.
They Learn Really Quickly!
Pups (baby guinea pigs) can run just a few hours after they are born. They are also born with fur and their eyes open. Pups are also fully mature at just 3 months old!
Guineas Pigs Can See Above and Behind!
If you can’t understand why you are constantly startling your guinea pig just walking in the room, then this fact is for you. Guinea pigs are natural explorers which means they have great spatial awareness. With their eyes positioned on either side of their uniquely shaped head, they are able to see above and behind them.
Masters At Hiding
In the wild, guinea pigs are prey animals. This means they are excellent hiders since their survival depends upon it. They haven’t lost their hiding skills in domestication so expect to see their cage presumably empty! The easiest way to help your guinea pig feel safe is to add plenty of hiding places – tunnels, cardboard tunnels and huts.