Some facts about Guinea pigs are well known. The most common being the ambiguity behind their name – they are not pigs and neither do they hail from Guinea or New Guinea for that matter.
Let’s take a look at some lesser known facts about Guinea pigs.
- Guinea pigs groom themselves using a milky white fluid that is secreted from the corner of their eyes. They use their legs to wipe it off their eyes and around their face and head during a bath.
- Guinea pigs have poor eyesight, however, they are not colour blind.
- Guinea pigs have open rooted teeth i.e. their teeth keep on growing throughout their lifetime. Therefore, they need to constantly chew on food, especially grass hays to grind their teeth and keep them at the right size.
- Guinea pigs produce two types of fecal matter: normal and cecal. Cecals are produced due to dual passage of food through the digestive tract and is very rich in vitamin B and amino acids. Consumption of cecals is essential for the health of these rodents. Cecals are rarely seen as they are usually consumed directly by the pigs from their cecum under the belly. Such behaviour is known as coprophagy in scientific terms.
- The body temperature of Guinea pigs ranges from 99 to 103 degrees. Since they have such high average body temperature, they are vulnerable to summer heat and direct sunlight.
- Grass is a very important part of the Guinea pig diet. Hay is the natural diet of pigs and is very important for their overall health. Hay contains abrasive silicates that wear down teeth and keep them in shape. Hay contains long fibres that provide roughage and keep them in optimal health. No wonder you see Guinea Pigs jumping for joy in a pile of hay!
- It is a misconception that male guinea pigs cannot be kept together. Compatibility is more of a personality thing rather than gender. Of course, not all pairs will live together peacefully. However, if you find a pair which is compatible, there is no harm in housing them together.
- Adult male guinea pigs usually display signs of courtship and dominance over other males via a rumble strut. It is characterised by an audible “brrrr”, raised hair and swaying hips.
- New born guinea pigs are precocial i.e. They are born fully developed with grown hair, open functional eyes and fully grown teeth. They start running around within a few hours and start consuming solid food within a day. However, they need to nurse for some period of time with their mother.
- Since piglets are precocial, they rapidly reach puberty. Males usually start mating within 3-5 weeks while females take about 4 weeks. Young ones should be sexed by an experience vet in order to separate the genders and prevent additional litter though mating.