Guinea pigs are adorable animals that are easy to keep and maintain. They are small and very active making them lovely pets for kids and adults alike.
Originally guinea pigs lived in the wild in groups because they are social animals who prefer living together. Then their domestication happened about 4,500 years leading to two groups of guinea pigs: Wild guinea pigs and domestic guinea pigs(pets).
Studies have been done on guinea pigs to uncover interesting information about their brains. Maybe you have realized that your guinea pig can learn a trick or they just seem to do things that amuse you.
Well, prepare to be more amused, because you are about to learn a thing or two about your lovely pets.
Are guinea pigs smart?
Yes. Guinea pigs are smart little creatures. They have great memory capabilities, are good with routines, and can be taught tricks. Though not the smartest rodents (rats are) guinea pigs can learn things fast and differentiate scents and sounds. They can also be taught to play with children.
Are wild guinea pigs smarter than domesticated guinea pigs?
According to this study, domesticated guinea pigs differ from wild guinea pigs in many aspects including problem-solving. Domesticated guinea pigs have been found out to have relatively smaller brains than their wild counterparts.
The brains of domesticated piggies are 13% smaller than the wild ones. An experiment was performed to find out whether this decrease in size meant relatively smaller thinking abilities.
The result? There was no difference in their thinking. Domesticated guinea pigs are just as smart if not smarter. So the decrease in brain size hasn’t affected them.
Can you train guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs can be trained to do a variety of things including using a litter box. Just like with other pets like dogs and cats, patience is always key when training them.
You should begin training from 6 months to 9 months. Always start small and move up as they keep learning.
Things you can teach your smart guinea pig
With their good intelligence, you could be dying to teach them a few things here and there but wondering how to teach them or even what exactly to teach. Here, I’ll give you a number of things your guinea pig can easily learn and how to help them learn.
Guinea pigs search for their own food out in the wild. You should try hiding little foods in their cage for them to find.
Put a few veggies under their hay and watch as they dig them up delightedly.
Have tunnels and mazes set up in the cage. You can use cardboard or paper to create something that is tricky to move around.
Hold up a treat for them at the entrance so that they get in and watch them move around the maze or in the tunnel. Keep the treat at the exit.
With time they will be able to learn and remember their way around the mazes and tunnels. They have a really good memory that they use to escape from predators in the wild.
Guinea pigs can easily remember pathways and locations of holes even in the dark.
It’s great to give your pet food that’s easily reachable so that they don’t struggle to reach it. But you know what else is good? Putting it a little out of reach.
Every now and then, hang some veggies a little high above them in the cage. This will make them stand up on their hind legs to reach it.
This is a really great and helpful exercise for them. Don’t do it with all of their food, make it a once in a while exercise. Nobody wants to always work hard for food that’s just a breath away.
Your guinea pig can learn to differentiate different colors. Their eyesight is not perfect but they can still tell colors apart.
Train them using bowls in different colours. You can use four bowls with the primary colors yellow, blue, red, and green.
Begin by putting food in the same bowl but switching up their placement every time. They will learn to tell which bowl has the food.
To avoid them sniffing out the food and knowing which bowl has food, walk in with food but let them go to the correct bowl before putting in the food.
A guinea pig can be trained to learn your sleep pattern. Guinea pigs are very active even at night. They can keep you up with their endless noises and play.
To avoid this, you can teach them that nighttime is sleep time. Give them a treat before going to sleep and pet them. You could also cover their cage but ensure they have breathing space.
It takes a few trials for a guinea pig to learn your voice. Call it every time you are walking over and make conversations with it.
It is going to soon learn to come to you when you call its name whether it’s in the cage or out. To see whether it can differentiate different voices, have someone else it’s not used to go and try to imitate you. The pet will either move away scared or not react to the voice.
A guinea pig can be trained to play games that fascinate kids. You can train it to push a small ball by using a finger and showing it what to do.
Push the ball and have them do it too. Soon they’ll be returning the ball when you push it to them.
It can also jump hoops. Have a hoop in place and throw a doll throw it to the other side.
A good trick is to have some food on the other end and pretend to feed it when it gets that side. Your guinea pig will soon catch on and jump through to get to the food.
Drawing circles using a veggie will help it learn how to move in circles. Circle a place with the veggie and let your piggie come after it.
You can let them eat it after a couple of circles and refuse to give it if it doesn’t follow the rules of the game.
Guinea pigs are smart enough to not scratch or bite little kids unless they’ve been provoked. They can also tell the difference between fresh water and water you haven’t changed for them.
They love schedules and they can easily learn your schedules and routines. Apart from your voice, they are able to recognize your scent, gestures, the difference in your tone, and their own habitats.
Guinea pigs are easy to train. Always reward followed commands with a treat. Do not shout at your pet if it doesn’t understand something at first, you could scare it away. Always be patient and kind.