10 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs (You Probably Didn't Know)

10 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs

Whether you are a new guinea pig owner or an experienced cavy-lover, there may be a few things you still don’t know. Aside from typical facts such as what guinea pigs eat and that they are social animals, there are definitely more interesting facts about guinea pigs than that. Keep reading to learn 10 fun facts about guinea pigs you probably don’t know!

Fact 1: Guinea pigs are not from Guinea and are not pigs.

fun facts about guinea pig 1

The name ‘guinea pig’ is very misleading since they are actually from Guyana and are not related to pigs at all. It is believed that ‘guinea’ is the result of confusion or mistranslation of Guyana, which is a country that guinea pigs are native to. As for being named after pigs, guinea pigs are more closely related to the capybara and were named for pigs simply because of their pig-like shape, constant eating, and grunting noises.

Fact 2: Guinea pigs sleep in short periods, and can be awake for up to 20 hours a day.

Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are known to sleep between four and six hours in 24 hours. Most of their sleeping is accomplished through short naps of 10 minutes or less rather than sleeping for a substantial period. They are also considered crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This unique sleeping pattern likely developed to avoid being preyed on, since guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild.

Fact 3: Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet, but only three toes on each back foot.

Guinea Pig Odd Toe Count

Another unique characteristic about guinea pigs is that they have an odd number of toes on their back feet. This gives them fourteen totals in total, with nails that grow continuously and need trimming. This foot structure is beneficial for burrowing and tunneling, which guinea pigs need to do frequently in the wild. Unfortunately, it also makes them poor climbers and quite clumsy animals.

Fact 4: Guinea pigs’ teeth never stop growing.

Guinea Pig's Teeth Never Stop Growing

Like most rodents, guinea pigs have ‘rootless’ or ‘open-root’ teeth which continue growing for their entire life. All of their teeth can grow continually, but their front incisors are prone to becoming overgrown, causing discomfort and oral injuries. This makes it incredibly important for guinea pigs to have plenty of food, twigs and chews to help wear down their teeth to an appropriate length.

Fact 5: Baby Guinea Pigs are born fully formed and able to run around at just a few hours old.

Newborn Baby Guinea Pig Facts

Baby guinea pigs, unlike most rodent species, are precocial, which means they are born in an advanced state. They are born with all their hair and teeth, can see and hear, and are capable of moving around and feeding themselves. Baby guinea pigs are miniature versions of adults, able to eat solid foods, and care for themselves just hours after birth. This is a major advantage for prey animals since they are born aware of their surroundings, and fairly independent.

Fact 6: Guinea pigs ‘popcorn’ where they pop up into the air, often with twists and squeaks.

Guinea Pig's 'Popcorn' is a Thing

Similar to dogs getting the “zoomies” when they are really excited, guinea pigs pop up into the air and spin around. This behavior has been affectionately dubbed as ‘popcorning’ because the pigs’ sudden movement looks similar to a kernel of popcorn popping. Generally characterized by sudden jumps, turns, and hops, popcorning is a surefire way to know your pig is happy and excited!

Fact 7: Guinea pigs secrete a milky, white substance from their eyes which is used to lubricate the eyes and clean the guinea pigs’ faces.

Facts About Guinea Pig's Eyes

Normal guinea pigs have a small amount of white, milky discharge which leaks from their eyes as part of the grooming process. The white liquid is simply a cleaning fluid that lubricates their eyes and helps them clean their faces. While this is totally normal, and not problematic, you should contact your veterinarian if the amount increases or decreases dramatically.

Fact 8: Guinea pigs often sleep with their eyes open, likely an evolved trait to avoid predation in the wild.

Guinea Pigs Sleep with their Eyes Open

Many prey animals sleep with their eyes fully or partially open, and guinea pigs are no different. Even guinea pigs, who tend to sleep in many brief periods, sleep with their eyes at least partially open. Some owners report that they rarely see their guinea pig close their eyes at all. Keeping their eyes open is a highly beneficial instinctual behavior that helps the rodent stay vigilant and avoid predators.

Fact 9: Some guinea pigs have swirly cowlicks across their body called rosettes.

Guinea Pig's & Rosettes or Cowlicks

One breed of domesticated guinea pig, called Abyssinians, has circular swirls or cowlicks called rosettes. They give guinea pigs a distinct, swirly appearance made up of six to ten rosettes. Show Abyssinians must have an even number of rosettes, either eight or ten across their body, with one on each shoulder, two or four on their back, one on each hip, and two on their rump.

Fact 10: Guinea pigs have a really wide field of vision at 340 degrees.

Guinea Pig's Field of Vision

Guinea pigs also have an impressively large field of vision, which is a major advantage for prey animals. With an estimated 340 degrees of vision, guinea pigs only have a small 20° blind spot, which is directly behind their head. This is one of the widest fields of vision in the animal kingdom, especially in mammals. This allows them to observe nearly everything going on around them, a necessary survival trait for guinea pigs in the wild.

10 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Guinea Pigs

7 comments


  • #Guineagirl

    My piggies love my lap.


  • Henna

    my guinea pigs loved have the 10 minutes of floor time


  • Nancy Stephens

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about guinea pigs. I have obtained so much about guinea pigs from you. I love your girls. I read and buy everything you put out there. I love my guinea pig very much. He is warm and loving. Part of this is from what you share with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sorry about your loss. Thank you for sharing your feelings. You are an awesome dad! Happy New Year!!


  • Nancy Stephens

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about guinea pigs. I have obtained so much about guinea pigs from you. I love your girls. I read and buy everything you put out there. I love my guinea pig very much. He is warm and living. Part of this is from what you share with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sorry about your loss. Thank you for sharing your feelings. You are an awesome dad! Happy New Year!!


  • Carole

    I am 64 years young and got my guinea, Hudson, in May 2021. My granddaughter was gifted her guinea, Sofie Mae, a few weeks before by her dad and mom. I knew the moment I saw Sofie that I had to have a guinea pig, too. My sweet husband was in the pet shop, where Hudson had been delivered a few hours earlier. He surprised me a couple of hours later with my guinea, cage and everything he needed. One look at his handsome little face and I immediately named him Hudson.

    Allow me back up a few months on how Hudson became a part of our family. My precious mom had dementia and I was her caretaker in our home for 3 years, until she passed away. We were extremely close. So close that when she passed, I was at a loss of what to do with all the time I had on my hands. I could feel depression closing in on me, as much as I fought it. It was a few months later when I was first introduced to Sofie, then Hudson. Family is important to me, even our smallest members. I would have never guessed that Sofie and my Hudson could give me so many reasons to smile. Hudson is so funny, smart, cuddly and has a huge personality for such a small creature. Most of all, as my granddaughter tells me about our guineas, they are spoiled rotten. When she comes to spend the night, so does Sofie. She has her own separate space away from Hudson, but close enough for them to chatter with one another. Guineas are such a joy to love on. ❤️ my guinea family!


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