Guinea pigs are excellent swimmers. True!
Guinea pigs love swimming. Absolutely not! They HATE it!
Guinea pig swimming videos have the potential to break the internet. Indeed!
So, I guess you have watched one of the guinea pig swimming videos on YouTube. Now you badly want to see your guinea pig swim a lap or two across the swimming pool or bathtub. But before putting your guinea pig into the water, you want to make sure they can swim.
Perhaps, you might have experienced incidents which have given you an idea that guinea pigs hate water. So you are here to confirm can guinea pigs swim? If yes, then do they like swimming in the water? If they don’t, why do guinea pigs hate getting wet?
If these questions have been popping in your head after watching those sweet and adorable guinea pig swimming videos, you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss all about guinea pig swimming. We will also discuss guinea pigs’ relation to Capybara and explore why it is never a good idea to put your guinea pig in the water. Lastly, we will explore how swimming could be dangerous for your fluffball.
Guinea Pig Swimming
Watching guinea pig swimming videos, you probably have an idea that guinea pigs are excellent swimmers. But know that the sweet guinea pig swimming videos are somewhat deceiving. They only show us how good guinea pigs are at swimming, but they do not say that the piglets don’t enjoy swimming. So, where you might have fun watching your guinea pig swim, your guinea pig would definitely not be having fun; rather, he would be stressed.
Guinea Pigs Swim, So They Don’t Drown! If you put your guinea pigs in a bathtub or a swimming pool, it is going to swim like crazy, but it does not mean that your piggy is enjoying swimming. Instead, it means that your guinea pig is scared and swimming so that it does not drown.
The guinea pig is swimming like an excellent swimmer in the video below, but do you see him enjoying it? He is continuously paddling, so he does not drown. So don’t put your guinea pig in water to recreate similar videos.
Can Guinea Pigs Swim?
Guinea pigs are excellent swimmers, but they never want to willingly jump in a pool or even a puddle of water because they hate water—they hate getting wet. In their natural habitat, wild guinea pigs might jump in the water and swim across to escape a predator. Wild guinea pigs may often decide to get their paws wet to get to a food source. But that’s it; they won’t go any further into the water even if they were starving.
But Aren’t Guinea Pigs Related to Capybara—the Semiaquatic Rodent?
Yes, guinea pigs and Capybara are closely related. Both, in fact, belong to the family Caviidae and are placed in the same order Rodentia. However, where guinea pigs are in the sub-family caviinae, Capybara branches into the subfamily Hydrochoerinae.
But unlike their distant cousins, Capybara—the largest rodent in the world—who are semiaquatic and love water, our guinea pigs do not have the same physical attributes.
No doubt, like Capybaras, guinea pigs are also good at swimming, but unlike Capybara, who love to get themselves to keep themselves hydrated, guinea pigs hate getting wet. Therefore, it is crucial that guinea pig owners realize that being good at swimming does not mean that they also enjoy swimming.
Is Swimming Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs’ hatred and dislike for water are not baseless. Swimming is bad and has many potential risks for guinea pigs. Below we have discussed several things that could potentially happen to your furball if you lower her into the water for a swim.
The Risk of Drowning
Guinea pigs don’t have a good water depth perception and thus cannot really guess how deep the water is. Although guinea pigs are excellent swimmers, they won’t drown if you put them even in deep water.
However, swimming is tiring, and your piglet would burn out all its energy in a few seconds. Having no energy to paddle its tiny paws, your guinea pigs would be at risk of drowning. Like humans, guinea pigs cannot breathe underwater, so your guinea pig may even die if left unattended in water, even for a few minutes.
As guinea pigs hate getting wet, don’t have depth perception, and cannot breathe underwater, your guinea pigs would be stressing themselves trying to keep its head above the water. For guinea owners who are admiring the swimming abilities of their guinea pigs: what looks like swimming to you is your guinea pig trying to save himself from drowning.
Risk of Ear Infection
If you have put your piglet in deep water, where he cannot feel the surface, there is a huge chance that the guinea head would go underwater. This could lead to bacteria entering the guinea pig ear canal along with water, which could result in ear infections. Guinea pig ear infections are not common, but they will be fatal if a guinea pig develops an ear infection.
Risk of Pneumonia
As a responsible guinea pig owner, you probably know that guinea pigs cannot control their body temperature—they are sensitive to both cold and hot environments. When put in water, guinea pigs get soaking wet to their skin, making them extremely cold. Even after a warm bath, guinea pigs need to be dried off immediately to save them from contracting otitis or pneumonia.
Along with stress, being in deep water could also make your guinea pig depressed. It instills fear in your guinea pig and makes him swim around in panic. Due to the depression caused by water in guinea pigs, guinea pig swim tests are being used to create better antidepressants.
Why You Should Never Put Your Guinea Pig In a Swimming Pool?
Pool water contains chemicals like chlorine, which are harmful to our guinea pigs. So on top of the above-discussed risks associated with guinea pig swimming, chlorine and other chemicals in pool water would increase the risk of eyes, skin, and respiratory infection in your guinea pig.
What About Baths?
Guinea pigs also hate baths, but fortunately, they don’t need baths very often. Bathing your long-haired guinea pig once every other month and bathing your short-haired guinea pig once or twice a year would be more than enough. Bathing could be a nightmare for both guinea pigs and guinea pig owners; however, a step-by-step guide to bathing guinea pigs could help make bathing sessions seamless and fun.
How to Get Your Guinea Pigs Used to Water?
If you really want your guinea pig to play with water on hot summer days, you should gradually expose him to water at a young age. You can put a shallow plate filled with water in your guinea pig cage. The water should be just enough to get the piggy’s feet wet. Instead of forcing your piglet into the water, you can put small pieces of his favorite veggies or fruits on the plate. The veggies will entice your guinea pig to get their feet wet to get to them or stay on the dry land and miss the opportunity to feast on their favorite veggies.
In the wild, guinea pigs often go into shallow water and get their feet wet to get to a source of food.
But if you are getting your guinea pig wet, you will have to dry it immediately. Otherwise, he may catch a cold or contract pneumonia.
Final Verdict: Can Guinea Pigs Swim?
Yes, guinea pigs can swim. In fact, they are excellent swimmers, but they don’t really want to swim—they hate water. In the guinea pig swimming videos, piglets are not really enjoying swimming but panicking and trying to keep themselves from drowning. Besides making your guinea pig stressed and depressed, swimming also puts your guinea pig at risk of drowning, ear infection, and pneumonia. The pool water containing chlorine puts guinea at extra risk of skin and breathing issues.