12 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs

If you like your pets warm and fluffy, cuddly and cute, tiny and tempered, then read on!

The humble guinea pig, might be compact in size, but this furry friend is one of the most universally-loved. They are some of the most popular pets too, accounting for the 24.3 million small animals around the world.

Yet, there’s more to this fur ball than meets the eye, here’s a few fun facts for you to enjoy:

1. They Outlive their Friends! Surprisingly, guinea pigs typically survive between five and seven years. This makes them one of the most long-living of small rodents, outliving many others, such as: hamsters, mice and gerbils, that only tend to live for up to three years in total.

2. They’re Not from Papua New Guinea! Here’s another surprise; guinea pigs originate from the Andes in South America! Dating back as far as 2000 BC, this animal comes from the wild, living in communities of ten or so. Their name official name is ‘Cavia Porcellus’, in Latin porcellus literally translates as ‘little pig’.

3. Up all Night. Guinea pigs have strange sleeping habits, spreading their typical four hours of rest throughout the day, and night. This means that it’s best not to always keep them in your room, if you want a peaceful night’s sleep!

4. Up and Running. They might be small, but these energetic little creatures don’t waste any time. At just three hours hold, they can get on their feet and get up and running!

5. They Were Worshiped! Back in the day, the Moche people of Peru worshiped guinea pigs. Fact! This has been captured in history, found in the number of statues and homages made to the animal, sometimes used in religious ceremonies and folk medicine.

6. Royals Love Them. One might not instantly associate this pet with royalty, and yet in the 1700s when they were introduced to Europe, they became very popular with the well-heeled, including nobility and royalty. So much so that even Queen Elizabeth was proud owner to a brown and white patch pig, documented by artists of the time in this painting.

7. Long in the Tooth. As the expression goes, you’re long in the tooth if you’re wise and old. Well, this is certainly true of guinea pigs, whose teeth don’t stop growing. It’s important for this reason, that pet pigs have plenty to chew and chomp on, to keep their teeth regularly worn down.

8. Flash. In 2009, Flash become the fastest guinea pig in the world, when he bolted an impressive 10 m in 8.81 seconds. The British piglet beat off ten hopefuls to take first prize and remains the record holder in the Guinness World Book of Records.

9. Their eyesight isn’t the best. Generally happy little creatures, the guinea pig doesn’t have great eyesight. Although they have a wide angle of vision (340 degrees) they only see in partial color. To make up for this, evolution has equipped them with good hearing, smell and touch.

10. Squeakers. It’s their cute little sounds that guinea pigs are most famous for. Vocalization is the main way these animals communicate with each other. Experts believe that they make different sounds for when they are happy, to when they are excited and when they are distressed. Pet owners might be able to tune in to their purring sounds when petting or grooming them; it’s their way of saying they’re happy.

11. Different Coats. In all there are three types of guinea pig, each with a unique coat. The American/English is known for its short hair and smooth coat, the Peruvian guinea has straight soft hair which is long. And finally, the Abyssinian guinea pig has the wiriest coat of them all, which forms swirls that some call piggy curls!

12. Vitamin C. Scientists discovered that our guinea friends are not able to produce Vitamin C. Pet owners are therefore encouraged to administer the vitamin to them, as part of their diet plan.