Are Guinea Pigs Really That Smart?


Guinea pigs have been used as pets since the 16th century and are some of the cutest wild animals you can have in your home.

Their small nature makes them perfect for domestication since they won’t take up large spaces in your home. However, their small sizes also make them anxious creatures that are afraid of falling prey to larger animals.

They are also very active and move around a lot and this usually confuses many of their owners.

When they act like this, it makes it seem like there’s not a thought in their head besides their next meal. Which doesn’t seem like something a smart animal would do.

So, how smart are guinea pigs? Guinea pigs are actually very intelligent pet rodents, they are able to understand some gestures, respond to their names and identify various sounds. They also can catch on and learn a few tricks faster than some other pets.

So if they’re that smart, how good is their memory? How do they compare to other pet rodents you can adopt when it comes to intelligence?

If you’re a new guinea pig owner or even an experienced one, knowing exactly how smart they really are will help you get to know your guinea pigs on a deeper level.

Do Guinea Pigs Have a Good Memory?

When it comes to the question do guinea pigs have good memories, several of their attributes show that that do. Some of those things include:

  • Being able to retrace their steps.
  • Remembering certain voices.
  • Remembering some of your gestures.
  • Identifying and remembering the tone of your voice.

Retracing Their Steps

The first thing is their ability to trace their steps. Guinea pigs can easily trace the path they have walked on before. As such, they are usually able to find their way back home especially if they don’t stray too far.

That goes for when they’re inside and outside of the house, although it will be significantly easier for them to do it indoors.

Retracing their steps coming from outside back indoors is a much harder task, which means they should not be left alone outside. Being prey, other animals can attack them as they try to find their way back in.

You can try to train them to be quiet to help them avoid predators when they’re outside but you should always be close by to monitor their movements.

Remembering Your Voice, Gestures, and Tone

Another factor is their ability to remember each otherOpens in a new tab., voices, and gestures. Once they are used to your voice and their names, they will follow that voice when you call them.

You can easily identify them with their names and they will come to you. Guinea pigs also can remember various tones. This means you can change your tone to get them to change their behavior.

All of these attributes show that guinea pigs indeed are smart and have excellent memories, but how smart are they compared to other pet rodents?

Are Guinea Pigs Smarter Than Other pet Rodents?

It’s impossible to ask how smart are guinea pigs without comparing them to other rodents. Luckily study’s have already been done to shed some light on this subject.

According to a study on the journal of Animal CognitionOpens in a new tab., the guinea pigs are actually smarter in many ways.

The research was done by a German team and it showed that guinea pigs can grasp new lessons faster. Although they seem to have smaller brains than other rodents.

The training was done using the reward method, they were taught to follow some instructions in exchange for something that they liked. By the end of the study, it showed that guinea pigs were more intelligent than the other rodents.

How do They Compare to the Other Rodents?

Guinea pigs were also found to be more cautious during the research mentioned. When a strange object was placed in their vicinity, they took longer to approach it.

They exhibited more caution than other rodents that rushed towards the object. This is believed to be a part of their survival skills.

They also don’t show aggression towards other guinea pigs even if they are unfamiliar, because they can identify their similarities. However, other rodents showed more aggression towards similar rodents.

In addition to these, guinea pigs also adapt to new surroundings better than other rodents.

They take more time to identify their new surrounding and instead of growling as other rodents do they simply adjust, although they can get bored quicklyOpens in a new tab..

They’re also believed to know that they should move with their owners. As such, they don’t become grumpy or frightened when their owner moves or gets up, as other pet rodents would.

Can Guinea Pigs Learn Their Names and Identify Voices?

The guinea pigs’ intelligence level definitely separates them from other rodents. It makes it possible for them to learn their names and respond to the owner’s voices.

To get them to do this, start by calling them when you want to give them their favorite treats or food.

They will learn to associate their name and your voice with food and will be quick to respond.

Once they are used to this response, you can train them to follow other commands. You can even include other gestures when training them.

To confirm that they can identify your voice, call them and see if they respond. Have someone else who isn’t a family member do the same. The guinea pig won’t respond to the strange voice but should respond to yours.

Are Guinea Pigs Smart Enough to Learn Tricks or Commands?

Guinea pigs are naturally active, they’re not as shy and timid as other pet rodents. This means they have an easier time learning tricks and commands.

Guinea pigs are late bloomers though, this means you can only start training them when they are over 6 months old.

They’re usually able to learn new tricks and commands fast, but you have to use the right techniques when training them.

Since they seem to respond better to things related to food, you should always use food as a reward after they learn a gesture.

Examples of Tricks They can Learn

Teaching them to stand up straight. Guinea pigs can be taught how to stand upright, Here are some tips to get them to do this:

  • Have a treat in your hand and hold it high above their head.
  • When they notice the treat they will try to reach up and get it.
  • Give them the treat when they reach a straight posture.
  • Repeat this with a treat in hand so they get used to the gesture.
  • Next, hold your hand up without the treat in the same way.
  • They will recognize the gesture and begin to stand upright.

Teaching them to pass the ball. They can learn how to pass the ball back and forth with you. Here’s how you can teach them:

  • Put a small ball in between yourself and your guinea pig.
  • Lightly nudge the ball towards them with your hand or fingers.
  • At first, they won’t know what you’re doing, and that’s okay.
  • Repeat this until they understand they can nudge it back to you.
  • Through repetition, they will learn to pass the ball back.
  • Pass the ball with them enough so that they remember the gesture.

Teaching them to walk/jump through hoops. Guinea pigs can learn how to go through hoops easily if you teach them correctly. These are the steps:

  • Hold the hoop in between yourself and the guinea pig.
  • Make sure to have a treat in your hand.
  • Try to get them to go through the hoop to get the treat.
  • They will eventually walk through the hoop for their treat.
  • Repeat this process until they get faster at it.
  • While repeating it, slightly raise the hoop higher and higher.
  • They will start to leap through it to get to their treat.

After Learning the Tricks

Once your guinea pigs learn how to do these tricks, they can be done without the treats. They will instead start to understand the gestures. Still give them treats after some tricks so they can still feel rewarded though.

The more times you do these tricks with them, the better they will become at performing it on command.

Be sure to give them breaks when trying to teach them anything, they can still get stressed out easily.

Like learning any new skill or trick, it takes time. Don’t get discouraged if they aren’t able to learn all the tricks in one day.

They might not even be able to learn one trick in a day, it may take days or even weeks depending on their learning speed. Just give them some time, your guinea pigs are definitely smart enough to figure out.

Mason

Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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