What Your Guinea Pig Would Tell You If She Could Talk
It's one thing to try and learn a new language, but it's probably impossible to learn how to speak guinea pig. As exotic pet owners, we often find it hard to communicate with our pets and the conversation can seem very one-sided. But based on their common behaviors, if guinea pigs could speak modern English, here are some phrases I'm sure we would hear them say:
“I'm not a pig, nor am I from Guinea” - It's not totally clear how guinea pigs got their name. They are rodents in the family Caviidae, originally from South America. They have been domesticated for over 3,000 years.
“Yeah, I'm messy. So what are you gonna do about it?” - That is one sassy guinea pig... Guinea pigs tend to play in their food bowls and they produce a whole lot of feces. Therefore, it is important to clean their cages and change their bedding once a day. Some people like to have a room closed off for their guinea pigs since they love to run around. But for those of us without an extra room lying around the house, the important thing is to keep them in clean, well-ventilated cages.
“Vitamin C please!” - It is vital that your guinea pig receive the right amount of vitamins and proper nutrition so that they don't get sick. (If you do have a sick guinea pig, you can of course always call your favorite guinea pig vet.) However, before you go out and buy expensive, unregulated supplements, your guinea pig can retain many these precious nutrients from eating fresh leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. Guinea pigs have special dietary requirements compared to some other small mammals, in that they can not produce their own vitamin C.
Thankfully, this member of the household does not need to be persuaded or bribed to eat his/her vegetables. They will probably get excited about these treats when you slip them into their cages, but if that lettuce leaf you dropped in does not get eaten, you should not let it sit there for more than a few hours.
“It's getting hot in here and I already took off all my clothes!” - In the wild, guinea pigs would inhabit grasslands, swamps, forest edge and rocky areas. It is in their nature to enjoy cool and quiet areas, so keep this in mind when choosing where your guinea pig will live. Loud noises, heat and humidity can hurt your pet guinea pig so their cages should be kept out of direct sunlight and have plenty of ventilation.
“When I said I could use a friend, I didn't mean him.” - Though they are fine living on their own, guinea pigs are social animals and thrive when they have company to spend time with. This does not include other species of rodents. When choosing a friend or friends for your guinea pig, you should be cautious before putting sows(female) and boars(male) in the same living space. You don't want your guinea pig mixer event to result in a critical care guinea pig or unexpected baby pigs!. It is best to introduce them to one another when the guinea pigs are younger, and spread over a period of time so that they have time to adapt to one another.
“Pet me again!” - If handled correctly and loved from their early days, guinea pigs can recognize their owners and get used to being carried around and handled. They are not aggressive by nature; they love to be pet and they rarely scratch or bite unless startled. If they really enjoy it, they may even purr for you!
“Climbing? Nah, let’s go for a run!” - Guinea pigs are curious animals, but not that curious. They most likely will not try to climb out of their cages, so cages with ventilated wire walls is appropriate. However, they like to run around and get some exercise. If your guinea pig lives in a cage, it is beneficial to let them run about freely for a bit in an open space with direct supervision; they will chew on anything and everything, so try to think like a guinea pig and make sure there aren't any wires or dangerous things that might entice them. You don't have to get on all fours and ram into any furniture, but it is probably the most entertaining way.
Guinea pigs are animals with a lot of personality which is what makes them such lovable and entertaining pets. It's also what makes guinea pig care quite challenging at first. There are some dietary precautions and social adjustments you can adapt in the early stages that will set you up for smooth sailing with your pet guinea pig. It can seem quite daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it and keep up with your annual vet visit, you can probably spend far more time playing with your pet than taking it to the guinea pig vet for emergencies.
Want to learn about how to care for your pet guinea pig? Check out this guinea pig care guide.