Are you new to guinea pigs? Or are you looking for an article for a non-guinea pig owner to explain these common stereotypes and myths about guinea pigs? Well, I got you!
The guinea pig is a small, furry rodent that makes a great pet. They’re cute, cuddly and can be a lot of fun to hang out with.
The thing is, most people think they know everything there is to know about guinea pigs and their care before they get one – but that’s not true! In fact, some common myths about guinea pigs need busting right now.
This article will explore those myths in detail and explain why they don’t hold up under scrutiny. So read on if you want the truth about these little critters!
- 1. Guinea pigs are from Guinea. They are also pigs
- 2. Guinea pigs are perfect starter pets
- 3. Guinea pigs are slightly bigger hamsters
- 4. Guinea pigs are cheap to have
- 5. Guinea pigs only squeak
- 6. All guinea pigs are quiet and timid
- 7. Guinea pigs eat the same amount of pellets, veggies and fruits
- 8. Guinea Pigs are Dumb and unaware of their surroundings
- Video – Common Myths About Guinea Pigs Busted
1. Guinea pigs are from Guinea. They are also pigs
Starting strong with the most common myth!
Guinea pigs are not from Guinea and they are not pigs. They’re rodents.
The name “guinea pig” is relatively new, dating back only to the 16th century, when Europeans first encountered this South American rodent in the wild.
The Spanish explorers gave them that name because they thought the animals looked like Guinea fowl — a bird native to Africa that’s domesticated for its meat and eggs.
These days, guinea pigs have nothing to do with Africa or its wildlife (except maybe in zoos). But they’re still known as “pigs” by many people who casually refer to them as such — including those who keep them as pets. And that can be confusing for some people, who don’t realize that guinea pigs aren’t actually related to pigs at all!
2. Guinea pigs are perfect starter pets
Guinea pigs are not starter pets. They’re not cheap, and they can easily develop health problems if not taken good care of. Guinea pigs need a lot of care and attention–they are not the kind of animal you can put in a cage and forget about for a few days while you’re away from home.
If you want to get into guinea pig ownership, it’s best to do some research first so that you know what kind of commitment is involved before making any decisions about getting one for yourself or your family members (who might also want one).
If you’re not sure of the responsibilities and time commitment, a better starter pet for you may be fish.
3. Guinea pigs are slightly bigger hamsters
First off, guinea pigs are not hamsters! Guinea pigs are much more bigger than hamsters, and all guinea pigs need a budd.
Guinea pigs and hamsters also belong to different families (Caviidae vs. Muridae) and therefore have very different diets and needs.
Hamsters eat mostly seeds and grain-based foods while guinea pigs need hay as well as vegetables in their diet because they’re herbivores.
Hamsters also sleep during the day while guinea pigs are active during daylight hours–a difference that helps explain why they look so different from one another!
These are just a few of the many differences between hamsters and guinea pigs…
4. Guinea pigs are cheap to have
Have you seen the vet fees for one guinea pig?
Sure, compared to other animals, guinea pigs are considered cheap. However, the average cost we humans spend on ONE single guinea pig is $70 a month, NOT including startup costs and vet fees. That’s a lot more than most non-guinea pig owners think.
Speaking of vet, guinea pigs are considered exotic animals in the animal medical world, and therefore there are less vets that take guinea pigs or have experience in guinea pigs.
Which means that on top of having only a few vets that take guinea pigs in your area, a trip to the vet for a guinea pig cost a lot. The cost range varies so I won’t put a number on this one.
5. Guinea pigs only squeak
A lot of people think that guinea pigs are only able to make squeaking noises. However, this is not true! They can make a variety of sounds that you might not expect from such small animals.
In fact, guineas can rumble, purr and even grunt! If you have ever heard a cat purr before then you know how soothing it feels and how much comfort it gives off.
I was surprised by the amount of different sounds my guinea pigs made when I first had them, and the wide range of voices from high to low in these tiny bodies that are much higher AND deeper than I can make.
6. All guinea pigs are quiet and timid
You may have heard that guinea pigs are all the same and don’t have different personalities. This is a common misconception, as guinea pigs are social animals that enjoy the company of their owners. They also have individual preferences and habits, just like humans do!
Many guinea pigs are very friendly and LOUD. You literally cannot sleep with them in the same room. I’m not talking about their conversations about their world domination plan, but the noises of them drinking and running around as well.
Source: my dad’s office is in the next room of my guinea pigs.
Another example is that their food, sleeping, hideout, petting, music preferences are all different.
Some guinea pigs love to be stroked on their heads or backs while others prefer being petted around their sides or legs.
Some will happily eat from your hand while others would rather you put food in their bowl for them.
Some will run up to greet you when you walk into the room while others prefer hiding behind something until they’re sure it’s safe before coming out again — just like people!
7. Guinea pigs eat the same amount of pellets, veggies and fruits
I find that this stemmed from the olden days, or should I say, around 20 years ago. A guinea pig’s diet should mostly be hay, with 1 cup of veggies each day, and no more than 1/4 cup of pellets (this article had what to and what not to look for in pellets for guinea pigs, with non-sponsored recommendations.)
But yeah, when I first saw the pictures in guinea pig care books from 2006, where there are two cups of pellets for two guinea pigs with yellow hay on the side in a tiny shoe cabinet like “cage” – I knew to put the book away.
8. Guinea Pigs are Dumb and unaware of their surroundings
Ok, they are not the smartest animals on earth, but guinea pigs are a lot smarter than you think. I feel like I said this multiple times already. In fact, guinea pigs have a great (selective) memory. Meaning they choose what to remember, like when and where you hid their veggies last month.
Guinea pigs are also crazy good at tricks, like jumping through a hoop. Or roll an easy DIY treat ball made from toilet paper towel to get the treats inside. Don’t underestimate these potato-shaped furballs!
Are they really unaware or just don’t care?
many people misunderstand that guinea pigs are unaware of their surroundings, which is not true at all.
A study shows that guinea pigs’ heart rate increases whenever they move, take out or insert a hideout or toy when they are in the cage. Even though they may be still eating and act like they have no idea what’s happening, they just don’t care enough to check it out.
With their great sense of hearing and smell, plus the fact that they are prey animals in the wild, guinea pigs is almost always on guard.