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Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig Facts

Size 7.8-13.6 in (20-35 cm)
Speed Up to 5.5 mph (9 km/h)
Weight 1.5-3.3 lb (0.7-1.2 kg)
Lifespan 4-7 years
Food Seeds, plants, leaves
Predators Wolves, snakes
Habitat Worldwide
Order Rodents
Family Guinea Pigs
Scientific name Cavia porcellus
Characteristics Small, chubby body, thick coat

Main Characteristics

Guinea pigs are little rodents that love to socialize and prefer to live in groups of five to ten animals. They feed on seeds, plants and leaves. We know them best as pets, but they have been around since 5,000 BC and at about 500 BC the first guinea pig was kept as pet.

American Guinea Pig Photo: Miroslav Hlavko/Shutterstock


Today there are around 20 breeds of guinea pigs, which developed by breeding. Their fur is of different lengths, curly or smooth, with swirls and without swirls.


Anatomy and Appearance


The teeth of a guinea pig are growing as long as it is alive – up to 0.05 inches (1.5 mm) per week and up to 0.2 inches (6 mm) per month. Gnawing causes the teeth to wear in a natural manner.

Guinea Pigs in Numbers

Body temperature 99-103 degrees Fahrenheit (37.4-39.5 degrees Celsius)
Breathing frequency 100-150 breaths/minute
Heart frequency 230-380 beats/minute
Youngs per litter 1-8 babies
Feed requirements 0.2-0.35 oz per 3.5 oz (6-10 g per 100 g) body weight every day
Water consumption 0.04 gal per 3.5 oz (10 ml per 100 g) body weight every day

Irish Crested Guinea Pig Photo: photo_master2000/Shutterstock



Guinea pigs have a funny hobby: They like to jump in the air with all four feet simultaneously. Up to 9.8 inches (25 cm) high! Then they look as if they were performing little leaps. Sometimes people compare them to popcorn popping on a hot stove. This is why the guinea pigs’ funny hopping around is also called “popcorning”.

There are several reasons for this behavior: If guinea pigs discover something new and are very excited, they perform their popcorning routine. They also do it when they are happy and boisterous. Delicious food means fun AND excitement of course. Then they even go popcorning during their meals. Particularly young animals can be frequently watched having a go at their hobby.


Not only humans can have hiccups. Guinea pigs also suffer from the spasmodic convulsions of the diaphragm. This usually happens when they are scared or have eaten too quickly. Normally, the hiccup disappears after a short while when the guinea pig has calmed down again.



Guinea pigs squeak and make twittering noises when they are stressed. You can hear their teeth chatter and their loud purring when they feel threatened.

American Guinea Pig Photo: BunionBear/Shutterstock

Evolution and Origin

Today’s domestic guinea pigs are descendants of the guinea pigs in Central and South America. They were already kept as pets and livestock between 5,000 and 2,000 before Christ. They are no pigs and they do not come from New Guinea. Their name derives from their squeaking sounds, which resemble those uttered by pigs.

The term guinea might come from the guinea coin, could be a misspelling of Guiana (region in South America), may have been used to refer to a far-off country or because the animal was brought to other countries via New Guinea.

Rex Guinea Pig Photo: PHOTO FUN/Shutterstock


Guinea pigs reproduce very quickly, so if you keep them as pets you should pay attention which animals share one cage. At their birth, guinea pig babies weigh between 2.1 and 4.2 oz (60 and 120 g), already have a coat and can use their eyes.

Fun Facts

Guinea pigs cannot sweat.

The Guinea Pig Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

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