Guinea Pig Facts – Take A Look!

Photo by Dawn on Unsplash

There is quite a lot of information that I have picked up over time since owning my four guinea pigs. I am going to go through twenty five facts about them, some you might have known about already and some you might have not known.

My 25 facts

  1. They can pick up from over 15000 tastes. Their taste buds are highly advanced and can actually eat many different fruits and vegetables.
  2. They will sleep mostly with their eyes open, as this is a natural instinct to keep a look out for predators. But it is not unusual for eyes to be fully or partly closed when sleeping, this will signify that they are very comfortable and secure with their immediate surroundings. Over time, they will get used to the daily routine and being around humans more. Then natural behavior will occur and each will have a different characteristic.
  3. Have a very fast heartbeat, ranging from three to four hundred a minute. The wild ancestors had to keep away from predators, so the domesticated guinea pigs still have this within them.
  4. They can see 340 degrees mostly all around them without turning their heads. But eyesight is very poor and can only probably see up to four centre metres away.
  5. Memory is something that is good as they can remember any routes for at least three months at a time, which really does help, considering again the poor eyesight.
  6. The ideal temperature range is from 18 to 24 degrees celsius, which is exactly the same as us humans. That is why having their home inside is easier to deal with than outside where you have to adapt more for various temperatures and weather conditions. If they get too cold, they can get a chill and there is a risk to life, just as it is the same if they get too hot. Guinea pigs cannot sweat so we have to help them.
  7. Hearing is their best asset and they can pick up noises that humans cannot hear. I couldn’t specifically tell you the distance of what they can hear up to but I would say it is quite far.
  8. Males can get frisky with other males and vice versa for females. This behavior is usually one of them mounting on the back of the other. It is a natural thing that they cannot prevent, that they will still display on their own genders.
  9. When guinea pigs are born they come out with their whole body completely formed with developed eyes, teeth and feet.
  10. A remarkable creature called the Capybara is actually related to the guinea pig and is an essentially a much bigger version. They can be kept as pets but are expensive to keep, because of the different needs that they have.

11. They have to re digest vitamin c to make sure it all goes into their bodies properly. This is a process called coprophagy which are specially formulated vitamin c pellets that they eat directly from their bottoms. The colour of the pellets is green.

12. If a loud sound scares them they will run and freeze to the spot or do either one of these. Sensitive hearing is to blame and they freeze thinking it is a predator coming to get them. It is obviously to make it look like they are not there and blend in with the environment.

Photo by schuetz-mediendesign on Pixabay

13. The one thing that they spend the most time doing, is eating loads of hay. They spend at least 16 hours per day partaking in this important activity. Hay keeps them alive, where their teeth will not become overgrown and stop the digestive system going into GI status. This is serious as there will hardly be any poops and they will not function properly.

14. The oldest ever guinea pig to have lived was published in the Guinness book of records in 1980’s. It was called Snowball and died at the age of almost fifteen years old in 1979, living in Nottinghamshire, UK. This is extremely old for a guinea pig as the average life expectancy is around five to eight years old.

15. You can teach them to do various tricks just by using food. They will be so eager to get to it, they won’t probably realise that they have performed a trick.

16. Some people have said that they cannot jump very high, but in fact one of mine jumped over the other. Jumping around six inches in the air and through a door way in the hutch. It is remarkable what they can do, you will be definitely surprised.

17. They are poor judges of height because of poor eyesight.

18. A white liquid is produced in their eyes specifically to clean themselves. You will hardly notice as they clean quite quickly after this.

19. If they are getting a bit too hot, they will lie right down on their tummies to cool down, depending on what surface it is.

20. Very good at picking out colours from longer distances, past their usual vision. So they are certainly not colour blind.

21. You may remember from many years ago that guinea pigs were used in the tv commercials for a company called egg, which was formerly an internet bank in the UK. Of course the piggies were manipulated for editing like talking.

22. Were brought into the UK from their native country of Chile in the Andes Mountains in the 1500s. This was for them to be domesticated pets, so they have been around a long time in this country.

23. Used as religious symbols and as medicine in South America. Also, not a very nice fact for us, is that they are still eaten today in that part of the world.

24. The saying that we use is “I was a guinea pig for the day” for example and in general the word guinea pig is used by us quite a bit. The reason for this, is that they were used for testing medicines in the labs for some time. Hence, how the saying came about. They are still used now, but only for certain medical conditions such as tuberculosis.

25. Very good at hiding illnesses but will usually show up in the lack of appetite and how the poops look like. This is a hard problem to deal with for us as owners, as we really have to be on are toes, checking every day that they are behaving normally. This is a trait that they have always had, right back to the ancestors. Again because of being a vulnerable animal in the wild.

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