20 Facts about Guinea Pigs

A guinea pig is one of the favorite pets in Western Society. These little rodents gained popularity as pets, especially in the last decades. 

In this post, we are going to share 20 interesting facts about Guinea pigs in the question and answer format. 

How to spell “Guinea Pig”? 

This is a valid question because most people spell it wrong. In many cases, I have seen people spelling it as GENNIE PIG, GENE PIG, GINNIE PIG, or GIMME PIG. 

The correct spelling is a GUINEA PIG. When you try to write it next time, simply remember the country called Guinea.

Where did guinea pigs come from?

Guinea pig facts

If you think the origin of guinea pigs is an African country called Guinea, you are probably making a wrong guess. 

Domesticated guinea pigs were first encountered in the Altiplano region in South America by Spanish in the mid-16th century. 

Why is it called a guinea pig? 

There are three suggested reasons for why it is called a guinea pig:

The first one relates the name to the English coin called a guinea. It is possible that in South America, these rodents cost a guinea to buy, and for that reason, it might be called a guinea pig.

The second suggestion is that Spanish thought Guinea pigs were brought from African country Guinea because on the way back to Europe from South America, their ships usually stopped at ports of Guinea.

The third suggestion is also interesting. There is a country called Guiana in South America, which almost identical to the name of the African country. And, it is possible that Guinea pigs owe their name to that country since it sounds somewhat similar to Guinea. 

Long story short, nobody knows for fact why these rodents called guinea pigs. 

Is a guinea pig a pig?

No, Guinea pigs do not belong to the pig family. They are species of rodents. They are called a guinea pig because their real name is Porcellus which in Latin means “little pig”, but nobody knows why they were called “little pigs” in the first place.

How big is a guinea pig?

Adult guinea pigs weigh between 1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg) and 2.6 lbs. (1.2 kg). Their size is usually between 7.9 inches (20 cm) and 9.8 inches (25 cm).

How long is a gestation period of a guinea pig?

Guinea pig gestation period is between 59 and 72 days. To know whether your guinea pig pregnant or not, you just need to take them to a vet. 

A veterinarian can perform an x-ray or palpate its belly to tell if she is really pregnant or not. 

In later stages of pregnancy, vets can listen to the heartbeat of a new baby from the abdomen area. 

How long is a guinea pig lifespan?

On average, guinea pigs live somewhere between 4 to 8 years. When they reach 4 years of age, their movement slows down. 

Several health complications can shorten the lifespan of guinea pigs. In the last decade, the worst enemy of the guinea pigs were tumors. 

It is important to check your guinea pig for unusual tumors regularly, and take it to the vet if you detect any abnormal growths on its body. 

Is a guinea pig a good pet?

Many consider guinea pigs a good pet because it is easier to take care of them than dogs and cats. 

Taking care of guinea pigs does not require lots of money and time. You just need to give fresh veggies, hay, and water daily. 

However, from time to time, you need to clean their spot and give them vitamin C supplements for better health. 

Guinea pigs are soft like cats and rabbits. Therefore, it is pleasant to pet them. 

What type of sounds and noises do guinea pigs make?

Guinea pigs are communicative creatures. They make several sounds depending on their mood. For instance, they can make “wheeking” sound when they want to be petted or fed. 

If guinea pigs are happy, they make purring (or bubbling) sound, especially when they are being petted or held. 

Of course, guinea pigs do not make only pleasant sounds. When they are make rumbling noises, it means a guinea pig is scared of something or angry. They can also make those noises when you are petting the wrong spot.

Where do wild guinea pigs live?

You may be able to find wild guinea pigs in the grasslands and rocky areas of South America. They are social creatures, so they live in a group of about 10. 

Wild guinea pigs are active at nighttime, and they dig burrows themselves or use the ones that had been dug by other animals. 

What is Abyssinian guinea pig?

Abyssinian guinea pig

Abyssinian guinea pig is one of the breeds of guinea pigs. They have a unique coat with several swirling patterns, which are called rosettes. 

Because of their unique appearance, they are at the center of attention in exhibitions. It is recommended to brush Abyssinian guinea pig regularly to avoid tangling of their fur. 

What are the breeds of guinea pigs?

There are 10 well-known guinea pig breeds, which include American, Peruvian, Abyssinian, The Texel, The Teddy, The Silkie, The White Crested, The Rex, The Himalayan, and The Skinny Pig.

Among all of the guinea pig breeds, American guinea pigs are the most common. People favor them over other breeds as a pet since they have good temperament and get along well with other piggies. Also, they can be a good companion for kids. 

How many teeth does a guinea pig have?

A guinea pig has twenty teeth. Only the two upper and two lower teeth are clearly visible. However, guinea pigs do not have canines, instead, they have a gap between the incisors and molars. 

Guinea pigs use their two sharp frontal teeth to cut their food into pieces. Interestingly, they have open-rooted teeth, meaning their teeth can grow continuously. 

Therefore, similar to rats, guinea pigs gnaw things to keep their teeth in an appropriate length. They can get some teeth problems. 

If they stop eating or change their eating behavior suddenly, a tooth problem could be the cause.

What are the hairless guinea pigs?

Picture of skinny pig
Skinny Pigs

Hairless guinea pigs are called Skinny Pigs, which is one of the unique breeds of guinea pigs. They have an almost hairless body, except a few spots on their muzzles, feet, and legs. 

Skinny pigs (hairless guinea pigs) are a new breed because they only exist since 1978. This breed was the result of cross-breeding in a laboratory for dermatology studies.

What do guinea pigs eat?

Guinea pigs eat special pellets, hay, and leafy greens, such as spinach, parsley, lettuce, or kale. 

It is recommended to give these greens once a day, but giving sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini are recommended once a week. 

What are male guinea pigs called?

Picture of male guinea pigs
Male Guinea Pigs

Male guinea pigs are called boars. They can become sexually mature in 3-5 weeks. A group of two or three male guinea pigs can live peacefully in the same cage if they are separated from females. 

But, as soon as you introduce a female into the males’ cage, a fight breaks out among the males to sort out their status.

What is a long-haired guinea pig breed?

The long-haired guinea pig breed is called Peruvian. Peruvian guinea pigs have long and beautiful flowing hair, but taking care of their long hair is somewhat time-consuming. One should groom their long hair daily. 

Compared to other breeds, Peruvian guinea pigs have a larger size, however, the size of their head is slightly smaller than that of other breeds.

Picture of a Peruvian Guinea Pig
Peruvian Guinea Pig

How long it takes a female guinea pig to be fertile?

Female guinea pigs become fertile within only 4 weeks. Female’s peak breeding season usually occurs during the spring, but they are able to breed all year around. They can give birth up to 5 pups a year. 

Why Guinea Pigs are important?

In Western Society, guinea pigs are popular pets of households. But in South America, specifically in countries like Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, guinea pigs are served as food. 

Historically, they were also used for rituals and treat illnesses. Especially, shamanic traditions use them as a cleanser of diseases. Supposedly, guinea pigs suck out illnesses from the human soul.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]