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13 Facts about Guinea Pigs

29.7.2019

We’re all aware that guinea pigs are funny little creatures, here are some fun facts about them

  • The oldest known guinea pig lived to 14 years and 10 months: 'Snowball' lived way beyond a guinea pig’s normal life expectancy of 7 to 10 years.
  • The largest guinea pigs can be up to 50 cm long: These giants – known as “Cuys” – originate from South America, where they are bred and fattened up for food. They can weigh up to 4 kg.
  • Guinea pigs come in many shapes and colours: If you think choosing a guinea pig is just a matter of deciding between long- or short-haired varieties, think again! Within those two broad categories, there is a wide array of guinea pig varieties – at least 11 types of short-haired guinea pig and at least 10 long-haired. Many of these varieties come in different colours too. What’s more, there are other breeds such as satin or furless 'skinny pigs' – although the breeding of these is somewhat controversial due to health concerns.
  • The Abyssinian guinea pig captivates with its many rosettes: The unusual look of the Abyssinian is down to its 8 to 10 rosettes (swirls of hair), which cover its whole body.
  • Guinea pigs eat their own poop: Well, actually they only eat one of their two types of faeces – the type that comes from the caecum. This “caecotroph nutrition” gives them valuable B vitamins and vitamin K. Among other things, these vitamins contribute to a healthy metabolism and prevent diseases of the digestive tract.
  • They can hear better than humans: Humans can detect frequencies between 16 and 20,000 Hz, but guinea pigs can hear up to 46,000 Hz. A noisy environment (screaming kids) is torment for the cute little rodents.
  • Happy guinea pigs enjoy 'popcorning': Like corn kernels bouncing around in a hot pan, guinea pigs sometimes leap about unexpectedly. This is assumed to be a sign of happiness.
  • Guinea pigs have four toes on their front paws, but only three on their hind paws: However, some guinea pigs have more toes than normal – this variation is known as 'polydactyly'.
  • Baby guinea pigs lose their milk teeth before they’re even born: Newborns already have a full set of teeth, as they lose their milk teeth while they’re still in the womb. Within their first 24 hours they can already eat solid food.
  • Guinea pigs throw their heads up in protest: Jerking their heads up is one way in which guinea pigs show that they don’t want to be petted.
  • Guinea pigs have their very own holiday: The 16th of July is 'Guinea Pig Appreciation Day'. This annual day of celebration was introduced in 2016 by the Canadian organisation Piggles Rescue.
  • US President Theodore Roosevelt had five guinea pigs: Their names were 'Admiral Dewey', 'Dr Johnson', 'Bob Evans', 'Bishop Doan' and 'Father O’Grady'.
  • In 2013 a guinea pig suit of armour was sold on eBay for $24,300: Apart from the helmet, the seller made it all himself. The armour had belonged to his guinea pig 'Lucky', until sadly it passed away.