Known for their affectionate nature, guinea pigs are becoming one of the most popular pocket pets. While there is no doubt that guinea pigs are cute and adorable little creatures, many doubt guinea pig intelligence. Thus, many wonder: Are guinea pigs smart? If yes, how smart are guinea pigs?
Continue reading and explore guinea pig intelligence with us.
Guinea Pig Smart
Looking at their new pet guinea pig, novice owners may think that all their furballs do is make random noises, eat, and poop. Guinea pigs seems to be just that but experienced guinea pig owners know that their piglets are more than just that, even the guinea pig noises have meanings.
While there is no guinea pig IQ test that can prove how smart guinea pigs are, by keenly observing guinea pig behavior and reactions one can make a calculated guess about guinea pig intelligence. Based on anecdotal evidence and experiences of guinea pig owners, it is established that guinea pigs are smart. Below we make several arguments to substantiate our claim that guinea pigs are indeed smart little rodents and are more intelligent than most people give them credit for.
Are Guinea Pigs Smart?
Guinea pigs are not only cute but also smart. While there is no IQ test that guinea pigs can take to prove their intelligence, guinea pig ability to learn, recognize their owners, communicate by making noises, and be potty trained substantiate that guinea pigs are indeed smart little pets.
1. Guinea Pigs Are Great Learners
Guinea pigs are great learners. They learn their names and when you call them, they respond. If you have a habit of saying a particular word before offering your guinea pig a treat, you will hear your guinea pig wheeking every time you just say that particular word. This shows that guinea pigs have learned that the particular word means that he is going to get a delicious treat. Similarly, when you walk towards the kitchen or the cabinet where guinea pig food is kept, your guinea pig might get excited anticipating that he is about to be fed.
Guinea pigs can also learn their way home. If you take your guinea pig out of his cage and ley him roam around and explore a wide predator-proof space, after getting tired, guinea pig will return to its humble abode. If you make a complex guinea pig maze and lure your guinea pig through it with a treat, your guinea pig would learn to navigate through that complex maze on its own.
2. Guinea Pigs Can Recognize Their Owners
Have you even heard your guinea pig out of excitement when you enter the room? Have you ever wondered what does that mean? While it could mean many things, it is guinea pigs’ way of saying that they are happy to see their loving owners. This indicates that guinea pigs do recognize their owners.
Besides recognizing their owners, guinea pigs also recognize strangers. If a stranger tries to pick up guinea pig, guinea pig might bite him. Such guinea pig bites mean that they do not recognize that person and would like him not to get too close.
3. Guinea Pigs Communicate
Guinea pig sounds are more than just random noise. If you have been living with your guinea pig for a long time, you would know that guinea pig makes various sounds to communicate with their cage mates and their owners.
Where a guinea pig wheeks when he is happy to see his parent, he whines when he is being held against his will. Similarly, guinea pig screams to tell their owners that they are either in pain or scared. Now that er have understood guinea pig voices are not random a noise, we can say that guinea pigs are smart creatures who have a whole language of their own.
4. Guinea Pigs Can Be Potty Trained
Yes, you read that right. Like cats and dogs, you can potty train your guinea pigs as well. That said, guinea pig potty training would require more patience and consistency as compared to housebreaking cats or dogs. Moreover, where you can start training cats and dogs at the age of a few weeks, for guinea pigs the right time for training is wen they are at least nine to ten months old. Guinea pigs are easily distracted so you will have to find a way to keep them focused during training sessions. Delicious guinea pig treats never fail to gain the attention of piglets.
This mean that guinea pigs are smart enough to know where to relieve themselves and where not to, which is just impressive.
5. Guinea Pigs Have a Good Memory
Guinea pigs seem to have a good memory, which is an indicator of being smart. Guinea pigs not only remember faces of their loved ones, but they will also remember if some person did not treat them well. While in former case a guinea pig would squeal out of excitement to see the face of their favorite person, in later case, guinea pig might hide himself in a corner or hiss and chatter his teeth to deter that person.
In the wild guinea pigs used to hide the food that they used to forage, and they used to remember the place where they hid it for days. Similarly, pet guinea pigs are often seen hiding their favorite treat in different spots of their cages and then retrieve it when they crave it, sometimes they would remember even when couple of days had passed.
Besides that, guinea pigs are also said to recognize the voice and tone of their parents. One guinea pig owner said that her guinea pig would start making noise and stomping his feet whenever she and her fiancé would get in a heated argument. Sometimes, her piglets would do this even when they were just being loud about something. She thought that by making sounds, their guinea pig was trying to intervene and stop them from fighting. Such kind of memory and then reacting in a certain way substantiate the claim that guinea pigs are quite smart.
6. Guinea Pigs Are Emotional Creatures
Guinea pigs are emotional creatures—like humans they have feelings and can also experience sadness and happiness. One of the cutest ways of showing their happiness and excitement is popcorning. In this weird behavior, guinea pigs run and jump around in their cage out of excitement. You might get to see your guinea pig popcorning when he thinks you are going to offer him a tasty treat.
Like happiness, guinea pigs also experience sadness. You might have noticed when you brought home a new pet guinea pig, he was restless and squeaking all the time. Some experienced guinea pig owners say that this restless is because guinea pigs miss their cage mate and their parents in their previous home. IT is strongly advised that on bringing home a new pet guinea pig, you should give him some space and never push yourself onto him.
Guinea pigs also develop strong bonds with their owners and their cage mates. When guinea pigs are kept away from either their cage mates or their owners, they tend to develop separation anxiety.
Developing separation anxiety is not cool but the idea of guinea pig developing strong emotional connections show that they are indeed intelligent—emotionally intelligent.
7. They Respond To Their Names
While guinea pigs are not smart enough to know what their names mean, they are smart enough to learn to respond when they are called by their names. When you name your guinea pig and call him with the same name, they learn to associate the sound of their name and tone to associate with themselves. Thus, when you call them by their name, they come running to you.
Having your guinea pig respond to its name might take some time, but you will be all worth it when your guinea pig comes running out of its hiding place when he hears you calling his name.
8. They Can Learn Tricks
Besides learning where to go for bathroom, and to respond to their names, guinea pigs can also learn different tricks. However, unlike dogs, guinea pigs are best trained when they are at least nine to ten months old. With loads of treats and lots of patience, you can teach your guinea pig to stand up straight on its hind legs, pass the ball, jump on command and many other tricks.
Final Verdict: Are Guinea Pigs Smart?
Small but smart—guinea pigs might have small brains, but they are way smarter and complicated than you may think. Guinea pigs are smart that is why they can be potty trained and learn not only their names but also many other basic and advanced tricks. Besides being intelligent in general, guinea pigs are emotionally intelligent as well. It is because of their emotional intelligence they wheek out of happiness when their owners walk in the room and squeak out of sadness when their separated from their cage mate.