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Guinea pigs are loyal and loveable creatures, often with quite amusing personalities. While they are not pigs nor from Guinea, these domesticated creatures have been bred to be a delightful pet to own. From their high energy to their inquisitive spirit, having a guinea pig can be quite fun. But with these quirky animals come quite a few questions.
Do guinea pigs have tails? No, guinea pigs do not have tails. They do have seven bones that are technically tailbones, but just like humans, these bones do not form an external tail. Some longer haired Guinea pigs, like Peruvians, may have tufts of hair that stick out and appear to be a tail. However, it is just how the fur naturally spikes and does not, in fact, form a tail.
Guinea pigs may easily be assumed to be a rodent, like a rat or mouse. However, they are small mammals and considered cavies. All cavies lack a tail. Of course, there are quite a few more unique and interesting fun facts about guinea pigs. Read on to learn more about these curious creatures!
1. Guinea Pigs Have Uneven Toes
Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet and only three on each of their hind feet. This lack of toes makes it difficult to climb or scale anything more than a few degrees in angle. So, guinea pigs should have sloping ramps to help them move around their cage and keep them entertained.
2. Guinea Pigs Can Long Jump
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Truffles, the guinea pig, leaped 18.89 inches. As he flew over the gap on April 6, 2012, he beat his two previous records made in February and March of the same year. While he may have a strange number of toes, that did not keep him back from launching himself into history while setting this record in the United Kingdom.
3. Popcorning and Dancing: Guinea Pigs Love to Leap
Guinea pigs can leap and twist in the air. Often referred to as popcorning, they will jump up and down straight into the air. Often completing 90- and 180-degrees twists in mid-air, it can often appear that they are breakdancing.
Of course, acting like popping corn when they get excited is especially popular with guinea pig pups or babies.
4. Guinea Pigs are Born to Run
When born, guinea pigs can immediately walk around. Within just a few hours of birth, these fantastic creatures can run! Most mammals can take anywhere from a few days to multiple years to learn to walk, so this is quite the feat.
5. Squeals and the Most Delightful Guinea Pig Noises
When they are excited, guinea pigs often let out a squeaking noise, sounding like a whistle, “wheeek, wheeek.” This whistling is usually a sign that your guinea pig is having a great time. Another positive sound is a guinea pig purr. Often done while being pet or snuggling another guinea pig friend, it is very similar to a cat.
Do watch out, however, if your guinea pig starts to chatter its twenty teeth. As a sign of aggression, this means your guinea pig is quite unhappy.
6. A Guinea Pig’s Teeth Never Stop Growing
Just like humans, guinea pigs love to eat. However, it is useful and necessary for them to be continually munching. Their teeth have open roots, which means they never stop growing.
With a steady stream of hay and fresh fruits and veggies, a guinea pig will continually wear its teeth down. This ensures that they do not overgrow!
Also, having plenty of chew toys in your guinea pigs’ habitat will keep them entertained and keep boredom at bay. This is important for a long and healthy life for these creatures.
7. The First Portrait of an Elizabethan Guinea Pig Was Discovered
Painted in oil on canvas by an unknown artist, this painting shows three noble children sitting quite glum. This contrasts with the quite happy guinea pig sitting on the small lady’s lap.
While guinea pigs were mostly bred for food in their home countries in South America, as they made their way to Europe and America, they were kept as pets. This change of pace for these little cavies was probably a very welcome surprise.
8. Guinea Pigs are Quite Hot
A guinea pig’s average body temperature is between 99 and 103 degrees. This is quite toasty compared to humans’ hovering between 98 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, guinea pigs need to be kept out of direct sunlight, so they do not overheat.
Guinea pigs are unable to sweat, so they should be kept in temperatures from 65 to 75 degrees. Since they do love to move around, anything higher than that may put them in danger of heatstroke.
9. Guinea Pigs Were Integral to Many Medical Discoveries
While no longer used as test subjects in most labs, guinea pigs have many similarities to humans. This made them an exceptional subject and stand in medical research.
Like humans, guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C, making them a great test subject in this area.
Along with this and other similarities, guinea pigs helped create both TB and Diptheria vaccines, as well as helping scientists perfect blood transfusion methods, hearing disorder therapies, and allergy studies. Now, we can see why the first person to try a new thing is often called the guinea pig.
10. Guinea Pigs Rarely Sleep
Unlike the felines of the world, guinea pigs are awake most of the day. Averaging between 18 and 22 hours of awake time, guinea pigs always want something to do. Therefore, it is important to have guinea pigs living together. Companionship and toys go a long way in keeping your guinea pig happy.
11. Guinea Pigs are Crepuscular Creatures
Don’t let this large word intimidate you. A crepuscular creature is simply one that moves and grooves the most during sunrise and sunset.
These dawn and dusk hours help keep temperatures down for animals who don’t want to overheat.
Guinea pigs are crepuscular, as well as rabbits, deer, cats, and bats. So, if you’re looking for a great time to take your pig out to play, try the morning or evening hours to get the most energetic time for your pet.
12. Sows Need to Have Pups Young
Female adult guinea pigs are called sows, while their male counterparts are boars. If a sow is going to have a litter of pups, she must have them before she reaches ten months old.
If she does not have them, her pubic bones could fuse, making it impossible to have the pups naturally after that point.
13. Guinea Pigs Come with Different Hairdos
Depending on your type of guinea pig, the hair will be completely different. Peruvian guinea pigs have long, flowing hair that is usually silky smooth.
Abyssian guinea pigs are incredibly affectionate and quite adorable with their eight different cowlicks, or rosettes, throwing short fur into a messy hairdo.
American guinea pigs have simple, short hair that is the easiest to care for. These are just a few of the many types of guinea pigs.
14. Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop
Now that we have convinced you guinea pigs are just delightful creatures, you need to know one more fun fact about them. It is necessary for a guinea pig to practice coprophagy, or to eat some of their droppings.
Since they cannot absorb all the nutrients they need the first time around, guinea pigs will eat their feces to continue breaking down the food and get even more nutrition out of it.
Tails, Toes, and Twists: Guinea Pigs are Fascinating Little Creatures
From their affectionate personality to their easy to care for style, guinea pigs make great first-time pets and companions. They need other guinea pig friends to stay happy and healthy, so make sure to accommodate that if you’re thinking about adopting one of these delightful creatures. Of course, there will always be something new and fun to learn about your little guinea pig, so never stop learning!