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Are Guinea Pigs Smart? 6 Fascinating Facts

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Guinea pigs are fun, affectionate pets that are popular among households of all types, whether in houses or apartments. They may only look like large rodents at first glance, but you’ll soon see that they are smart and curious animals overall. So, just how intelligent are guinea pigs? They may be smarter than you think! Let’s explore the guinea pig’s intelligence and a few fascinating facts about them.

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How We Interpret Guinea Pig Intelligence

Obviously, a guinea pig cannot take an IQ test as a human can. They cannot stand up and debate a scholar or write a dissertation for college. So how do we gauge the intelligence of guinea pigs? For the most part, we pay attention to their behaviors and reactions. For example, does a guinea pig keep going back to the treat bowl that shocks them every time they take a bite, or do they adapt and learn to stay away from that bowl at all costs?

That said, the bottom line is that we cannot know the actual intelligence of a guinea pig — we can only really guess. Still, we have a clear idea of what these animals can and cannot comprehend. They seem to know much more than most people give them credit for. Here is what we know about the intelligence of guinea pigs.

Guinea Pigs Can Learn

One sign that guinea pigs are intelligent is that they can learn quickly and easily. You do not have to show this animal twice how to find a treat in a certain toy or how to operate an exercise ball. Guinea pigs can learn how to chase after a specific item during playtime, how to gather their toys into a corner when it is time to clean up, and how to head to a certain spot at naptime, among other things. If you have the patience to teach your guinea pig something new, chances are that they will learn it, whether quickly or eventually.

guinea pig inside toy tunnel
Image Credit: scigelova, Shutterstock

They Can Recognize

Guinea pigs seem to easily be able to recognize people, things, and situations that recur in their lives. For instance, they will squeal or cry out when they get excited to see a family member come home. They seem to recognize certain foods as their favorites and seek them out. Guinea pigs can recognize dangerous situations too, like when a dog enters the room that they are inhabiting. Some even recognize when a familiar tune comes on the radio or television.

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Image Credit: Shschus, Shutterstock

They Can Be Potty Trained

Another sign of intelligence that guinea pigs display is their ability to be potty trained. They can learn how to use a litter box just like a cat can. It will likely take you more time to potty train a guinea pig than it would a cat, but it can be done. So, a guinea pig is smart enough to recognize when they have to use the bathroom and then to give themselves enough time to find their bathroom spot before relieving themselves, which is quite impressive.

Guinea pig on sawdust bed in a green box_Nataliia Kozynska_shutterstock
Image Credit: Nataliia Kozynska, Shutterstock

They Seem to Have a Good Memory

Guinea pigs tend to remember things well. For instance, if they hide a snack somewhere in their habitat, they will remember it for days and ward other guinea pigs away from it whenever they get nearby. They seem to remember peoples’ faces and react accordingly. They might squeal when their parent comes home and stomp their feet in excitement when a fun-loving child walks in the door after school. They may also cower in the corner when faced with someone whom they do not remember.

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Fascinating Facts About Guinea Pigs You Should Know

There are a few interesting facts that you ought to know about the guinea pig. These can give you more insight into their intelligence and how they developed it. Plus, these facts will help you decide if a guinea pig is the right type of pet for your household.

These Are Old Animals

Did you know that the guinea pig was initially domesticated by tribes in the Andes for food? The domestication process began in about 5,000 B.C.

They Like to Talk

Guinea pigs are known for their vocals. They will chirp when they are happy, they will squeal when they get excited, they will whistle when they feel excited or frisky, and they will even purr like a cat when they feel content.

They Are Not Pigs

Due to their name and general appearance, it is a common misconception that the guinea pig is some type of pig breed. Instead, they are rodents, just like mice and rats are. Their larger size and more cuddly nature are what make them more attractive as pets than other rodents.

They Enjoy Socializing

Guinea pigs would prefer to spend their time with other guinea pigs. If they cannot, they yearn for interaction with human companions and other types of animals that will be friendly to them, even dogs.

They Are Born Ready to Rumble

While other rodents are born hairless and with their eyes closed, the guinea pig has a full body of hair and can see as soon as they come out of the womb. They are ready to find their food source and to keep themselves warm from the get-go.

guinea pig puppies
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Guinea Pigs Need to Gnaw

Gnawing is an instinct for the guinea pig. It helps keep their teeth filed down so they do not become too intrusive, and it gives them a mental and physical outlet that they can rely on during the morning, noon, and night. These animals should be provided with things like twigs, apple chunks, hay, and chew toys daily to satisfy their gnawing needs.

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Conclusion

Guinea pigs are intelligent creatures that yearn to learn new things and certainly do not want to sit in a cage all day long. Think of your guinea pig more like a cat or a dog than a rodent. Your pet may enjoy short walks in the yard, games with balls, and learning new tricks as much as the next canine. What about the guinea pig interests you the most, and why? We want to hear from you — feel free to leave us a comment!


Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.