Guinea pigs are one of the most common small animals that are kept as pets. Although small in size, the number of facts about guinea pigs is huge!
Here we’ve compiled a list of 82 interesting facts about guinea pigs that you might not have known!
Fact 1: Guinea pigs do no originate from New Guinea, like their name would suggest. Guinea pigs actually originate from Andes in South America. They live in burrows in the grass, rocky, forest areas in groups of about 10.
Fact 2: A guinea pig is also known as a “cavy”, or “cavies” for multiple guinea pigs. This is an abbreviated version of their proper name, which is Cavia Porcellus.
Fact 3: Domesticated Guinea pigs have an average lifespan of 4 to 8 years whereas in the wild they have an average lifespan of 1 to 4 years due to predators.
Fact 4: The oldest guinea pig reached 15 years of age, according to the Guinness Book of Records. This shows that with good care, your guinea pig could live for a long time!
Fact 5: Guinea pigs typically reach 8 to 10 inches long (20 to 25cm).
Fact 6: Guinea pigs only sleep between 4 to 5 hours each day. They typically take short naps scattered throughout 24 hours that are no longer than 10 minutes. Guinea pigs can also sleep with their eyes open.
Fact 7: Guinea pigs are herbivores, with their main diet consisting of hay and grass.
Fact 8: Guinea pigs are unable to make vitamin C themselves. That’s why it’s important you supplement their diet with vitamin C rich vegetables, leafy greens, and pellets. You can also buy vitamin C sprinkles to go on top of their food. Some guinea pig owners put it in their water, but sometimes a guinea pig will stop drinking if they don’t like the taste.
Fact 9: Guinea pigs are very social animals and do much better when kept in pairs or groups of their own kind. In the wild, they stay in groups of around 10 other guinea pigs.
Fact 10: Female guinea pigs are called “sows” and male guinea pigs are called “boars”.
Fact 11: Baby guinea pigs are referred to as “pups”.
Fact 12: Like all rodents, guinea pigs have teeth that grow constantly. That’s why you should provide them with chews toys to prevent their teeth from becoming too long! If their teeth get too long it can cause health problems which need to be treated. Vets offer teeth cutting services for guinea pigs and other rodents.
Fact 13: Guinea pigs are closely related to the capybara. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world!
Fact 14: Pigs are not related to guinea pigs, but guinea pigs most likely earned this part of their name due to their piggy-esque look and stocky build.
Fact 15: In the wild, guinea pigs live in herds of around 10. These herds consist of one male who mates with all the females.
Fact 16: After 4 years of age, guinea pigs are considered elderly.
Fact 17: Guinea pigs have been domesticated since 5000 BC. They were used as a food source, in religious ceremonies, and for medicinal purposes.
Fact 18: Female guinea pigs are usually pregnant for around 59 to 72 days, with the average being 65 days.
Fact 19: Female guinea pigs can have a litter of 1 to 8 pups. However, 2 to 4 pups is usually more common.
Fact 20: Like all rodents, guinea pigs lack the ability to vomit. That’s why it’s vital you never feed your guinea spoiled or bad food as it will make them ill. You need to check and wash their food before you give it to them.
Fact 21: Guinea pigs can be long-haired, short-haired, and even hairless!
Fact 22: There are many different types of guinea pigs, including the American, Abyssinian, Coronet, and Peruvian.
Fact 23: In the wild, guinea pigs live on rocky grassy plains and semi-arid deserts.
Fact 24: A guinea pig has 4 toes on their forefeet and just 3 on their back feet!
Fact 25: Most rodents have yellow incisors, but guinea pigs typically have white incisors.
Fact 26: Guinea pigs have 4 teeth – 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom!
Fact 27: The average weight for a guinea pig is between 900 and 1,200 grams for a male and 700 to 900 grams for a female.
Fact 28: Female guinea pigs are typically smaller than male guinea pigs.
Fact 29: Guinea pigs are considered mature or adult when they are around 6 months to 8 months old.
Fact 30: Female guinea pigs can mate and become pregnant at just 5 weeks old. Female guinea pigs should be at least 400 grams before it is safe to breed them. If they are too small or young you should separate them from males until they are the right size and you want to them to breed. You should also get them neutered if a male and female guinea pig are going to live together.
Fact 31: Breeding female guinea pigs after the age of 10 months is very risky. Even after 5 or 6 months can be dangerous. This is because the pelvic symphysis fuses together at around 10 months of age (or earlier!).
Fact 32: Baby guinea pigs (or pups) are born with fur, teeth, and are able to run about at just 3 hours old. They essentially look like mini versions of adult guinea pigs!
Fact 33: Baby guinea pigs are able to eat solid food, such as hay, very soon after they are born!
Fact 34: Guinea pigs cannot digest cooked food very well, which means vegetables and fruits should always be fed raw! Make sure you’ve washed and cleaned their food and checked to make sure the food isn’t spoiled before you feed them to your guinea pig.
Fact 35: Guinea pigs can live indoors and outdoors. When living outside, make sure your guinea pig’s hutch is waterproof and protected from the wind, rain, and cold. The cage should also be secured against predators. By raising the cage off the ground and adding padlocks to the cage you protect them significantly from predators such as foxes and cats. It is also a good idea to secure the cage to the ground and add a cover to the front of the cage at night.
Fact 36: Although you might not think it, guinea pigs are energetic pets! They require at least 1 hour of exercise each day. If your guinea pig lives in a small enclosure, then they will need more exercise! It’s important you let them exercise and you play with them daily.
Fact 37: Guinea pigs can be bathed, but not very often. Around once a month is usually enough. Unless they have lice or are very dirty, it’s recommended not to bathe your guinea pig. Guinea pigs are very good at grooming themselves.
Fact 38: Guinea pigs have very poor eyesight, which means they rely heavily on hearing and smell. They are very short-sighted compared to other animals and can see in colors.
Fact 39: Long-haired guinea pigs require regular grooming to keep their coats from becoming dirty and matted!
Fact 40: Despite popular belief, guinea pigs should never be housed or introduced to rabbits. Guinea pigs should be kept with other guinea pigs as they are very social animals. In the wild, they live in herds of around 10.
Fact 41: Both male and female guinea pigs can be neutered so they can live together without the risk of pregnancy.
Fact 42: For 1 or 2 guinea pigs, their cage should provide at least 7.5 square feet of living space. However, a bigger habitat is always better as it provides them with more space and exercise!
Fact 43: Exercise balls and wheels should never be used for guinea pigs. They can hurt their spines and exercise balls can cause guinea pigs to overheat. Letting them run around their run for 1 hour or more per day is the right amount of exercise a guinea pig needs.
Fact 44: Fruits can be fed to guinea pigs, but only occasionally as they contain a lot of sugar! Make sure you’ve properly washed and cleaned them and check for any spoiled food before you feed them to your guinea pig.
Fact 45: Guinea pigs are considered a delicacy in Peru. They are also often used as a food source in Bolivia and some places in Columbia and Ecudaor.
Fact 46: Leashes should never be used on guinea pigs. Leashes can severely injure a guinea pig’s delicate back. They are also extremely stressful and frightening for a guinea pig.
Fact 47: The title of the World’s Fastest Guinea Pig belongs to a guinea pig called Flash. He ran 32.8 feet in 8.81 seconds on July 27, 2009 in the United Kingdom.
Fact 48: Guinea pigs produce two types of feces. The first type are hard pellets (the most common!) and the second type are called caecals. Caecals are softer and provide guinea pigs with extra nutrients. It’s normal for guinea pigs to eat this type of food.
Fact 49: As gross as it sounds, it is normal for guinea pigs to eat their own poop. Plant matter is not properly digested the first time around, so guinea pigs eat their feces (the caecal type! See fact 48) to gain extra nutrients.
Fact 50: Queen Elizabeth I owned a pet guinea pig!
Fact 51: Black colored guinea pigs were considered important in folk medicine for helping treat illnesses.
Fact 52: A guinea pig’s temperature is usually around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. This means they are prone to overheating in hot weather! It is important to provide them with plenty of shade and water so that they don’t get too hot.
Fact 53: Guinea pigs mark their territory by rubbing their cheeks or chin over their belongings. This is why you should leave some of your guinea pig’s old bedding in their cage after cleaning!
Fact 54: When guinea pigs are happy or excited, they “popcorn”. Popcorning involves running around and jumping up and down, just like when corn kernels turn into popcorn!
Fact 55: Guinea pigs can purr like cats when they feel happy and relaxed. They also whistle when excited, like during feeding time!
Fact 56: Guinea pigs were the animal of choice for scientific experiments in the 20th century. In the modern era, mice and rats are more commonly used.
Fact 57: The term “guinea pig” is a common metaphor in English for something being experimented on.
Fact 58: Guinea pigs are allergic to penicillin!
Fact 59: A guinea pig’s only defence mechanisms are fleeing from and biting at a threat.
Fact 60: Guinea pigs only normally bite as a last resort. They prefer to run away and hide from the thing that is scaring them!
Fact 61: Guinea pigs are prey animals, which means they should be supervised when in a run or playpen outside.
Fact 62: Guinea pigs are very sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements, so always speak softly and move slowly when interacting with your guinea pig.
Fact 63: A guinea pig can hear sounds between 40,000 and 50,000 Hz.
Fact 64: Certain guinea pigs are able to squeak at a rate of 20,000 Hz!
Fact 65: One of the oldest types of guinea pig is the Abyssinian breed! This type of guinea pig is often used in shows.
Fact 66: There were 1,362,000 pet guinea pigs in America in 2007, and 1 million in England in 2012.
Fact 67: A guinea pig’s claws are constantly growing, so they should be trimmed at least once a month to prevent them from becoming overly long.
Fact 68: Guinea pigs should never be introduced or housed with other rodents, such as hamsters, chinchillas, and rats!
Fact 69: Truffles the guinea pig entered the Guinness World Record in 2012 for jumping 48cm, which is the longest jump a guinea pig has made!
Fact 70: Hairless guinea pigs are called Skinny pigs. They are born with no fur, except for a little bit on their noses and feet.
Fact 71: Skinny pigs should be kept entirely indoors as they are a high risk of becoming too cold!
Fact 72: Guinea pigs come in a plethora of colors. The most common coat colors include beige, brindle, black, cream, lilac, gold, red, and agouti!
Fact 73: Although most rodents cannot see color, guinea pigs are able to see most colors accurately.
Fact 74: Guinea pigs have a 340 degrees range of vision!
Fact 75: Despite their poor eyesight, guinea pigs can see 33 images a second. A human can only see 22 images a second!
Fact 76: Guinea have poor depth perception. It has been speculated that they are only able to see things up to 1 meter around them. This means they cannot see long distances very well!
Fact 77: Unlike other rodents, such as gerbils and hamsters, guinea pigs do not enjoy eating bugs. Guinea pigs live solely on plant matter, so insects like locusts and mealworms are not necessary in their diet.
Fact 78: On average, guinea pigs are able to run at around 6 miles per hour. This isn’t very fast, which makes them an easy target for predators.
Fact 79: In the wild, guinea pigs live in burrows. They leave the safety of their dens to forage for food and will quickly return to their burrow if they feel they are in danger.
Fact 80: A single guinea pig will usually drink between 70 ml and 120 ml of water each day, similar to a hamster.
Fact 81: Cedar and pine wood shavings are unsuitable types of bedding for guinea pigs! They can cause respiratory problems and skin allergies. Aspen wood or paper-based beddings are safer alternatives.
Fact 82: The best types of hay grass to feed your guinea pigs are Timothy hay and Meadow hay. Make sure your purchase high-quality hay to keep your guinea pig healthy.
Fact 83: Guinea pigs should not be fed seeds as they are a choking hazard and can get stuck in their teeth!
Fact 84: Guinea pigs cannot consume any dairy products as they lack the digestive enzymes to do so.
Are guinea pigs friendly? Guinea pigs are usually very docile and friendly pets when handled regularly and tamed.
Do guinea pigs bite? Guinea pigs can bite, but this is usually when they are provoked or feel threatened.
Are guinea pigs high maintenance pets? Guinea pigs are not too high maintenance and are fairly easy to care for.