Hey Defenders! Our newest Animal of the Week is definitely a fan favorite that most of you will already know…it’s the cute & cuddly Guinea Pig! Unlike their names, Guinea Pigs actually don’t come from Guinea or New Guinea, and they definitely are not pigs – another name for guinea pig is “Cavy”. These furry little friends are in the rodent family, along with other household pets like gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, and many more. Guinea Pigs have some unique traits that aren’t found in every other animal, such as the fact that they practice “coprophagy”…or eating their own feces (poop)! What sounds super gross to us is actually really important for a Guinea Pig, as this helps them absorb all the nutrients they can from their food, since they don’t absorb it all after eating once. However just like us humans, they don’t produce Vitamin C on their own, so it’s very important they get Vitamin C from their food to stay healthy!
Do Guinea Pigs Need To Have A Friend?
Many people who want to add a guinea pig to their family will choose to get 2 instead of 1, and that’s the right move! Guinea Pigs are very social creatures and can actually get pretty lonely when they are by themselves, so it’s always recommended for them to have a friend to live with. Even with a friend though, they love to play and get attention, so it’s always important to talk with a pet guinea pig and spend time caring for them so they stay happy too!
Are Guinea Pigs Loud?
There are many animals that are much louder than guinea pigs, especially since these guys are pretty small. However they still can make some very unique sounds! Most of the sounds a guinea pig makes are actually too high in frequency for us humans to hear, so there are tons of guinea pig conversations going on that we don’t even know about. They can make a few different types of sounds we can hear though, so it’s important to know the differences. When a guinea pig performs little hops in the air and makes almost a whistling sound, this is “popcorning” and it means they’re excited! They also might make a sound similar to a purr when being petted if they enjoy it. When it sounds like they are chattering or gnawing their teeth together, that sound is actually a warning so they want to be left alone or they’re scared.
What Are The Signs Of A Guinea Pig Dying?
Because guinea pigs have those unique features like being so social, and not producing Vitamin C, a guinea pig can actually fall ill pretty easily. If a guinea pig is not eating or drinking, or things like sneezing a lot or diarrhea, it’s important to have them see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Other common signs would be low energy, crusty eyes, and scratching themselves very often. And as we said that guinea pigs are very social creatures, they can actually become very depressed and get sick or die if they are alone, or if they had a friend that recently passed away.
Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
Generally, guinea pigs are gentle creatures and usually do not bite humans as much as other pet animals. If a guinea pig is lightly nibbling on you, it might mean they need to be let down to go to the bathroom, or they might have fleas or mites and are trying to bite themselves in the itchy areas. Guinea Pig nibbles do not usually hurt or break the skin, but if a guinea pig is nibbling too much or very hard then that could be another sign they need to see the vet.
Where Can You Find Guinea Pigs In The Wild?
We’ve already clarified that these guys are NOT from Guinea…so where are they actually from? Well guinea pigs originated in South America, from the Andes mountain range…however those aren’t exactly the guinea pigs we know today. The domestic guinea pig that most are familiar with actually doesn’t exist naturally in the wild – the same way humans have bred dog or cat breeds that weren’t found in the wild, the domestic guinea pig is believed to be a descendant of the wild montane guinea pig.