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!
(Note: This post was originally published on 12/31/2021 and has been completely updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of 1/9/2024.)
Fact 1: Guinea Pigs are Neither from Guinea Nor Pigs
The term 'guinea pig' is quite misleading. Contrary to what the name suggests, guinea pigs originate from South America and are not related to pigs.
The name 'guinea' might be derived from a misinterpretation or mispronunciation of 'Guyana,' their native region. Their pig-like shape, constant eating, and grunting noises contributed to the second part of their name.
Fact 2: Unique Sleeping Patterns of Guinea Pigs
Unlike many animals, guinea pigs have distinctive sleeping habits, resting in short bursts and remaining awake for up to 20 hours a day.
Their crepuscular nature means they are most active during dawn and dusk, a trait likely developed for survival in the wild.
This unique sleeping pattern requires a safe and comfortable environment, as guinea pigs need to feel secure even while resting.
This is where the Premium GuineaDad Liners and Original GuineaDad Liners come into play.
Designed with cozy pockets, these liners provide the perfect hideaway for your guinea pigs, mimicking their natural inclination to find snug and secure spots in the wild.
Not only do these liners offer a comfortable rest area, but they also ensure your pets feel safe and protected, just as they would in their natural habitat.
Check out our Premium GuineaDad Liners to create the ideal resting environment for your guinea pigs.
Fact 3: The Odd Toe Count of Guinea Pigs
One peculiar physical trait of guinea pigs is their uneven toe count: four toes on the front feet but only three on the back.
This 14-toe arrangement aids in burrowing and tunneling, vital for their survival in the wild, though it makes them clumsy climbers.
Caring for Your Guinea Pig's Unique Feet:
Due to their unique toe arrangement, guinea pigs require special attention to foot care. Here are some tips to ensure their feet stay healthy:
- Regular Nail Trimming: Guinea pigs' nails grow continuously and need regular trimming to prevent discomfort and mobility issues. Keeping their nails at an appropriate length is crucial for their well-being. If you're unsure how to safely trim your guinea pig's nails, we've got you covered. For a detailed, step-by-step guide, visit our blog on How to Cut Your Guinea Pig's Nails. This guide will provide you with all the information and tips you need to make nail trimming a stress-free experience for both you and your pet.
- Safe Climbing and Play: It's important to offer safe, low-height structures for play. When providing these play structures, ensure the ground level is well cushioned to absorb any shock. For structures that are higher, consider using a ramp instead of steps.
- Foot Health Checks: Regularly inspect their feet for signs of injury or infection, as their toe configuration can be prone to problems.
- Comfortable Bedding: Opt for soft bedding to support their feet. Our Premium GuineaDad Liners are specifically designed with guinea pig comfort in mind, offering a plush AirCell layer, cozy surface that's perfect for their delicate feet. Hard or wire surfaces can cause discomfort and injuries.
- Veterinary Care: Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial to monitor and maintain their foot health.
Fact 4: Continuous Growth of Guinea Pig Teeth
Guinea pigs possess ‘open-root’ teeth, which grow throughout their life.
This constant growth necessitates regular chewing on food, twigs, and other materials to keep their teeth at a manageable length, thereby avoiding potential health issues.
The Importance of Unlimited Hay:
For this reason, it's essential to provide guinea pigs with an unlimited supply of hay 24/7, unlike portioned meals typical for other pets like dogs and cats.
Constantly chewing on hay is vital for maintaining their dental health by naturally grinding down their teeth.
Dual-Purpose Wooden Castle:
Additionally, our Wooden Castle serves a dual purpose. Crafted from the least dense form of hardwood, it's not only an ideal hideout for your guinea pigs but also an excellent chew toy.
The hardness of the wood encourages guinea pigs to chew, contributing further to their dental health. This unique product provides both a safe space and a means to keep your pet's teeth in top condition.
By offering these solutions, you can ensure your guinea pigs are both happy and healthy, with ample opportunities to naturally care for their teeth.
Fact 5: The Remarkable Development of Newborn Guinea Pigs
Baby guinea pigs are born in a highly advanced state – fully furred, with teeth, and capable of running just hours after birth.
This precocial nature is vital for their survival as prey animals.
Fact 6: The Joyful 'Popcorning' of Guinea Pigs
Exhibiting sheer happiness, guinea pigs perform a unique activity known as ‘popcorning,’ where they spontaneously jump and twist in the air, reminiscent of popcorn kernels popping.
Fact 7: Unique Eye Secretions for Self-Cleaning
Guinea pigs secrete a milky substance from their eyes, used for lubrication and cleaning.
This is a normal grooming behavior, though any significant change in the amount should be checked by a vet.
Fact 8: Guinea Pigs Often Sleep with Open Eyes
As prey animals, guinea pigs have adapted to sleep with their eyes open or partially open.
This instinctual behavior helps them stay alert to potential dangers even while resting.
Fact 9: Distinctive Rosettes of Certain Guinea Pig Breeds
The Abyssinian guinea pig breed is known for its rosettes or cowlicks, creating a unique swirly fur pattern.
Show Abyssinians are characterized by an even number of rosettes, adding to their distinct appearance.
Fact 10: The Wide Field of Vision of Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs have an impressively large field of vision, spanning approximately 340 degrees.
This wide range allows them to monitor their surroundings effectively, an essential trait for their survival.
We hope you enjoyed these enlightening guinea pig facts! These little creatures have a wealth of surprising traits that make them fascinating pets and companions.
Stay tuned for more interesting insights into the animal kingdom.