What You Should Know About Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are social animals! This must also be taken into account when keeping them as pets.

The guinea pig is one of the most popular small mammals among pet owners. However, if the owner does not have the necessary knowledge regarding husbandry and feeding, the small rodents can become ill, develop undesirable behavior, or even manifest behavioral disorders.


Porcupine relatives – Guinea pig relatives – Real guinea pigs

Life expectancy

6-8 years


Females from the 4th to 5th week of life, males from the 8th-10th life week.


Wild guinea pigs are diurnal to crepuscular rodents native to large parts of South America.


Guinea pigs are typical herbivores whose basic diet when kept in human care consists of hay. This can be supplemented with fresh feed and herbs such as plantain or goutweed, lettuce, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit. As an environmental enrichment, branches of unsprayed native fruit trees (except stone fruit, these contain, like the stones of the fruit, amygdalin, from which hydrocyanic acid is split off enzymatically) and deciduous trees can be given.


Guinea pigs have a strong instinct to flee. They are particularly frightened by sudden movements from above. Therefore, an enclosure should always be elevated or contain several levels connected by ramps. At least one house with two exits must be available as a shelter for each animal. The enclosure floor area should be at least 2m 2 for 2-4 guinea pigs.

Social behavior

Guinea pigs are very sociable animals, which in nature live in social groups of five to 15 animals and are organized hierarchically. They have the phenomenon of “social support”. This means that the presence of a social partner (“best friend”) can significantly reduce an animal’s stress. Therefore, solitary housing should be strictly avoided. The social structure is based on permanent, stable social structures with close social contacts, mostly between one male and several female individuals (harem attitude). This is also recommended for keeping pets. All-female groups are possible if no socially competent male is available. The groups should remain as stable as possible.

Behavioral problems

Frequent behavioral problems develop from fear or aggression towards other dogs and humans. But abnormal repetitive behavior (ARV) also occurs in guinea pigs in the form of rod chewing, eating inappropriate objects, and trichotillomania (pulling out tufts of hair). However, the latter can also occur if there is a lack of raw fiber or medical causes. Abnormally repetitive bar gnawing should not be confused with attention-demanding bar biting. Here the difference lies in the frequency and the context, among other things. Example: The owner comes into the room, and the guinea pig shows squeaking and bar biting until for the d comes or the owner deals with the animal. Abnormally repetitive bar chewing would be independent of the owner and would occur at any time of the day or night.

Frequently Asked Question

What is important in guinea pigs?

The barn must be large so that the guinea pigs feel comfortable in it. In addition, a spacious bedroom must be available for the rodents. In winter, this must be well insulated with newspaper and lots of hay so that the guinea pigs always have a warm place.

What do guinea pigs particularly like?

Most guinea pigs love cucumber! They also like to eat green peppers, lettuce, dill, parsley, celery, or a bit of carrot. Many guinea pigs also like fruit, such as apples, melons, or bananas. Don’t give them too much, though, because it makes guinea pigs fat!

What are guinea pigs good at?

They can perceive frequencies up to 33 kHz. So you still hear tones or noises in a frequency range that humans can no longer hear. Sense of smell: Their sense of smell and taste is also very well developed.

How often do I have to clean guinea pigs?

Clean your guinea pig’s cage at least once a week. A complete cleaning includes replacing the bedding completely and not just specifically in the dirty areas.

Where do guinea pigs prefer to sleep?

Guinea pig houses made of natural solid wood are best suited as sleeping houses. These should always have at least two entrances – preferably a front entrance and one or two side entrances.

How long does a guinea pig sleep?

During the day they rest for about 1.5 hours, then they are active for about half an hour, eat, groom themselves, exercise, etc. Then they sleep again. And they don’t sleep through the night either, but eat and drink again and again.

How does a guinea pig cry?

No, guinea pigs don’t cry like humans. While guinea pigs have emotions to express, tears are usually a natural response to dry or dirty eyes.

Should you pet guinea pigs?

Hardliners among guinea pig keepers say no to cuddling. Guinea pigs should be handled as little as possible and only taken out of the enclosure for a health check. Hunting and stressful picking up are to be avoided at all costs.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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