Did you know, guinea pigs have been adopted as pets since the sixteenth century? Most of us believe that guinea pigs have been domesticated recently. However, this is not true. Their playful nature and small form factor make them ideal pets. However, before you adopt any pet, it is essential to know everything about their behavior.
This brings us to the essential question, how smart are guinea pigs? Truth be told, they are certainly smarter than an average animal. Before delving into the details of the intelligence of an average guinea pig, it is time to understand how to interpret a guinea pig’s intelligence.
How We Interpret Guinea Pig Intelligence?
To interpret the intelligence of a guinea pig, you need to pay attention to how they react to various circumstances and their usual behaviors. When doing so, you will find four distinct signs demonstrating their intelligence.
1. Learning ability
Most guinea pigs can learn new skills like playing with a toy or playing with a ball simply by viewing how to do so once. Their learning skills are certainly advanced compared to many other animals.
Some activities a guinea pig can learn quickly include gathering toys into a corner, pushing the ball around, or resting at a certain spot. You need the patience to teach them the skills, but they are quick learners. Because of the same, you can easily domesticate them without struggling to discipline them.
2. Recognizing ability
One of the best ways to interpret an animal’s intelligence is by recognizing its ability. We all know that common pets like dogs and cats recognize their owners and family members.
While they might not have the best eyesight they can detect their owners, other pets, and family members through these two senses. Additionally, their intelligence helps them recognize recurring situations as well. Because of the same, they can detect the danger in time. That is how they remain safe.
Expert Tip: Their excellent sound recognition ability means can enjoy music, various tunes, television, and radio. It means that once you spend a significant amount of time with your guinea pig, he/she will recognize you when you’re in the vicinity.
3. Can be potty trained
To truly incorporate a pet into your household, you must potty-train them. Only then will there be no need to clean the surrounding again and again. Most domesticated animals can use the litter box. However, from a pet’s point of view, using the litter box requires high intelligence.
The good news is that a guinea pig can be trained to use the litter box. It takes more time to train a guinea pig to use the litter box than a cat. but you can certainly do so.
Not only that, a guinea pig can recognize the urge to use the litter box in time. Because of the same, they can reach the litter box before relieving themselves.
The fact that they can not only remember the location of the litter box but also use it in time demonstrates their intelligence.
4. Excellent memory power
Various tests have been done to judge the memory power of guinea pigs. The good news is that they have excellent memory power. For example, if a guinea pig hides a snack, it will remember it even if days or weeks pass. They will detect the exact location and dig it up as soon as they are in the vicinity.
Similarly, they remember the faces of various people even with their limited eyesight.
This is also demonstrated when they squeal after hearing or seeing their owners or children at home.
Also, when they do not recognize someone, they hide in the corner to protect themselves. All these points to excellent memory power in guinea pigs. Thus, these four criteria demonstrate excellent intelligence in guinea pigs. Now, we will dig deeper into how guinea pigs recognize their owners.
Do guinea pigs recognize their owners?
Yes, guinea pigs recognize their owners through smell, sound, and sight cues. Their vision might not be that great but they can certainly recognize some of the features of their owners.
Wondering if your guinea pig recognizes you or not? We will share a few signs demonstrating that your guinea pig recognizes you.
1. Eating from your hands
If your guinea pig eats from your hands, it indicates that your guinea pig recognizes you. For the guinea pig, it is a sign of socializing with the owner.
2. Sleeping near you
A guinea pig usually sleeps near individuals they think of as friends. Therefore, if your guinea pig often sleeps near you, it is a sign that he/she recognizes you.
3. Playing with you
Playing stimulates the guinea pig mentally and physically. However, whom they play with determines whether they recognize the person or not. They won’t come near you if they do not recognize an individual. On the other hand, if they often play with you, they remember you.
4. Following you around
If guinea pig recognizes their owners, they want to spend as much time with them as possible. Because of this same they are likelier to follow the owner around whenever he/she is at home.
5. Hiding from you
Usually, whenever a guinea pig senses danger, they go into a corner or hides behind something. It is their way of protecting themselves. However, when they are around their owner, they do not hide at all. They will try to be near you as much as possible.
Once your guinea pig starts recognizing you, it will try to lick you or your clothes whenever you are around. This can often happen when you have just fed your guinea pig and the fragrance and particles of that foodstuff are still on your hand. It can also indicate the affection of the guinea pig towards you.
7. Listen to your calling
Once the guinea pig starts recognizing you, they will respond and come towards you whenever you call their name. Once they start responding to your calling, you can also teach them various commands.
Expert Tip: If you look out for the signs, it is easy to understand if your guinea pig recognizes you or not. Even if he/she doesn’t recognize you yet spend some time with your guinea pig and soon enough, you can notice the signs.
Do Guinea Pigs Have a Good Memory?
Guinea pigs have a good memory of things that keep them safe. It means that guinea pigs well remember the aspects necessary for their survival. Additionally, if you are affectionate or kind to them, they can bond with you very well and remember you.
Other than necessary things, they do not have a very strong memory.
This brings us to a crucial question, what exactly can they remember? I will answer that below. What can guinea pigs remember? There are a few things that guinea pigs can distinctly remember, I will cover them below:
Guinea pigs can certainly remember their owners well if you have spent at least a few weeks with your guinea pig. They will remember anyone who makes them feel safe and secure.
Thus, if you want to bond with your guinea pig and want him/her to remember you, feed them properly, and keep them in a clean surrounding devoid of any dangers, they will bond with you and remember you.
2. Cage mates
Have you kept a couple of guinea pigs together in a cage? If yes, you would have already noticed that they recognize and bonded pretty well. If one gets lost, it is easy for a guinea pig to sniff around and discover the lost one. This demonstrates that guinea pigs remember their cage mates.
The survival instincts of a guinea pig are pretty strong. Because of the same, they always remember the routes and directions to a safe place. Not only that, they remember the ones where they faced obstacles or dangers.
Additionally, they have excellent spatial learning abilities as well. That is why the more time they spend in a surrounding, the more they will remember the hiding spots, routes, directions, etc. Because of the same, they can easily find their way into your home if you have domesticated them for at least a few months.
4. Extremely favorable and unfavorable things
While it is difficult for a guinea pig to remember every event they remember extremely favorable and unfavorable events and things quite well. They remember the favorable ones because it makes them feel good and secure. They attempt to experience that thing, toy or event again and again.
As for the unfavorable elements, this is where their survival instinct comes into the picture. They usually associate unfavorable events with danger. Because of the same, they remember such events and things pretty distinctly to avoid them altogether in the future.
These are the usual things that a guinea pig can remember.
Things you can do to improve their memory
If you want to help your guinea pig develop their memory skills, there are a couple of easy tips to follow:
1. Hide treats
It is a good idea to hide a few treats in their cage. Once you do so, they will attempt to sniff and discover the treats for consumption. This will help them recognize and remember the hiding spots and smell the treats, further developing their memory skills.
2. Allow them to explore
Allow them to explore a safe area for an hour or two daily. The more they explore, the more they will remember the directions and surroundings. It will certainly aid their memory power as well.
Now that you know their memory skills and how we judge their intelligence, it is time to understand how smart they are.
How Smart is the Average Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs are perceptive as well as emotionally intelligent animals. That is why they are certainly considered to be smart. In studies and tests, they have shown signs of emotional intelligence and empathy.
Not only that, they can plan their own game and learn various tricks as well. Because of all these, they are considered to be animals of high intelligence.
In studies, guinea pigs have found their way around to their home or to their cage pretty well after spending some time in the vicinity and becoming accustomed to it. Not only that, when guinea pigs are in herds, they make every attempt to confuse predators to keep themselves safe. They do so by scattering in different directions rather than in a single direction.
Additionally, their emotional intelligence is demonstrated by the fact that they can respond to the emotional variations of another guinea pig or even humans.
Technically, the brain of a guinea pig has more neurons than a mouse or hamster. It means that they can process information at a faster pace and can develop habits when trained appropriately. The weight of the brain of a guinea pig is 5.5 g which makes the brain size bigger than most other animals we mentioned previously.
There are a few other signs as well, which clearly indicate that guinea pigs are extremely intelligent. These include:
1. Guinea pigs like to talk
Of course, a guinea pig cannot talk the way in which we talk. However, they do like to communicate with the help of noise as well. Usually, when they are excited, they will squeal. Similarly, they can whistle. They can often purr like a cat when you are patting them.
Their ability to produce different noises according to the circumstances demonstrates their intelligence.
Guinea pigs often bond pretty well with other guinea pigs. They like to socialize with them. If there isn’t a guinea pig nearby, they will also socialize with human companions and like to spend more time with them. Not only that, they can socialize with various other animals who are friendly to them, like dogs.
The fact that they love socializing and can bond pretty well with animals certainly displays their intelligence. While a guinea pig cannot be deemed as smart as a dog, it is certainly smarter than other smaller animals like mice, hamsters, or rats.
Guinea pigs are certainly smart creatures. They can be trained and bond pretty well with humans and other guinea pigs. As articulated in my post above, they serve as excellent pets. All in all, guinea pigs can be considered smarter than many other pets we have domesticated over the years.