Fun facts about guinea pigs

Guinea pig fun facts

Adorable and surprisingly affectionate, Guinea pigs are popular pets which build bonds with their owners. Also known as cavies, they originated in the grassy plains and semi-arid deserts of the Andes. They can be fascinating to watch and enjoy human contact and so can be excellent pets.

There’s more to guinea pigs than you might think and here are 40 fun facts which will help you to understand these charming creatures.

  1. The scientific name for the guinea pig is Cavia porcellus which means little pig
  2. Queen Elizabeth I owned a guinea pig and helped popularize them as pets
  3. Guinea pigs live in social groups which are called herds
  4. When kept as pets, guinea pigs need lots of attention
  5. They were domesticated as early as 5000BC in South America
  6. These animals are sensitive to loud noises
  7. When a guinea pig stretches out, it is showing that it feels relaxed
  8. Guinea pigs are active by day and less so after dark
  9. As they love grooming themselves and each other, they are very clean animals
  10. You can expect a guinea pig to live between 4 and 7 years
  11. The oldest recorded guinea pig, called Snowball, lived to the age of 14 years, 10 months
  12. Guinea pigs are herbivores which live mainly on grass and hay
  13. They can make a lot of noise!
  14. Guinea pigs can squeal, chirp and purr
  15. Some guinea pig vocalizations are ultrasonic and above 20,000 Hz
  16. When they are really happy, cavies jump up and down and this behaviour is known as pop corning
  17. There are three types of guinea pig; the English, the Abyssinian and the Peruvian
  18. Abyssinian guinea pigs have wiry coats with swirls
  19. Peruvian guinea pigs have long silky hair
  20. Despite their name, they are not from Guinea
  21. These pets rarely bite
  22. They are happiest when kept in pairs or groups
  23. A female guinea pig is called a sow
  24. A male guinea pig is called a boar
  25. Baby guinea pigs are not called piglets, they are called pups
  26. Guinea pigs can’t produce vitamin C and so need this vitamin in their diet
  27. Their teeth keep growing throughout their lives and so they must gnaw on things to wear them down
  28. Guinea pigs don’t tend to get on well with rabbits
  29. They scent mark things by rubbing their cheeks or chin over them
  30. Guinea pigs only sleep for short periods
  31. They are active for up to 20 hours each day
  32. They are most active at dawn and dusk
  33. Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet but only three toes on their back feet
  34. They are not very agile and can only climb shallow ramps
  35. Female cavies must give birth before they are 6 months old or their public bones will fuse
  36. There’s a shop in Japan which sells guinea pig clothing
  37. Josephoartigasia monesi, an ancestor of the guinea pig, was 5 ft tall
  38. Guinea pigs have weak spines and so cannot tolerate leads and harnesses
  39. Guinea pigs are allergic to penicillin
  40. Cavies have higher body temperatures than people and so don’t tolerate heat well

If you are thinking about getting a guinea pig or you have recently brought one, take a look at our how to guide for information on how to adopt and care for a guinea pig.

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