Guinea pigs are one of the most adorable pets that you can adopt. They will not only be there for you to feed them and take care of them, guinea pigs are very affectionate pets and you can also build a great relationship with them. You can make use of their intelligence and learn them some useful stuff that will make both of your lives easier.
Are guinea pigs smart animals? Guinea pigs are smart, curious, and active animals. Owners can make use of their intelligence and train them. Guinea pigs are smart enough to understand some basic commands, for example responding when called by their names and they are also good at identifying different noises. Guinea pigs also have a pretty strong memory, and they can recognize their owners or different smells and sounds you make. The learning abilities of guinea pigs are very good and if you invest some of your time you can make use of them and teach your guinea pig some amazing tricks and commands.
Compared to dogs that can begin being trained whenever you want as they are easy to “reprogram”, guinea pigs are best trained when they are young or as soon as you get them. It does take longer for guinea pigs to learn some of the complex things when compared to cats and dogs, but they more than make up for it with their ability to learn a variety of cute and simple tricks really quickly.
Training also helps keep guinea pigs from being bored and in shape. In the following sections, we’ll talk about reasons why guinea pigs are considered smart and more about smart guinea pig training. Let’s start!
How Smart Are Guinea Pigs? | List of Amazing Facts
• Excellent Memory
Guinea pigs are blessed with an excellent memory. If you take them out and somehow lose them on the way, they have the amazing tracing ability when it comes to paths. They will easily get back to where they are supposed to be.
Moreover, guinea pigs can remember their names. So, if you call them by their names, they will respond. This is a pretty useful trick when you want to ask them to stop doing something or call them to you. They remember your tone and act accordingly. In this regard, guinea pigs are smarter than hamsters.
• Adaptable Sleeping Habits
Generally, guinea pigs aren’t nocturnal animals. But sometimes, guinea pigs can be a nuisance during the night by making different types of sound. This happens if they are hungry or suffer from some health problems.
However, you can easily train them according to your own sleeping schedule. In order to do this, you can apply different tricks like serving them a particular snack daily before your bedtime or petting them to sleep.
Once they get the drift of such signals and gestures, they will understand that it’s your time to sleep and they will go to sleep as well. This type of intelligence is rarely found in rodents.
Guinea pigs are very friendly with children. These rodents rarely bite, only if they’re provoked when someone is holding them for too long or when they need to go to the bathroom. Guinea pigs also have a sense of whether the person is a child or an adult.
Moreover, when children are alone at home, guinea pigs are great companions as they can learn how to play with children if trained properly. This quality of guinea pigs makes them great pets for kids. They can also help autistic children.
• Easy to Care for
Guinea pigs are not usually grouchy until you forget to serve them their meals. As mentioned earlier, guinea pigs can understand different gestures that you make and they love to follow the feeding schedule.
Guinea pigs are sensitive creatures. They know that their owners care for them. They will make purring sounds when you do something good for them. All they need is fresh water, veggies, timothy hay and dry pallets to eat and for them to stay in a good mood. Once you provide it all, you can rest assured that they will never growl at you.
However, they are smart enough to differentiate between fresh water and stale water. You need to pay attention and always serve them fresh water so that they don’t feel grumpy. Otherwise, these balls of fur are pretty low maintenance and just need a good cage and bedding.
• Non-Destructive in Nature
Unlike other pets, guinea pigs are non-destructive unless they are hungry. They don’t chew furniture in the room, but they do need to be trained properly not to use their teeth on the wooden objects in the cage.
If you give them meals at regular time intervals, then they will certainly stay away from the wooden objects. They have a terrific sense of schedule and realize that things will come to them without asking.
Moreover, even if they do something destructive or aggressive, it’s very easy to catch them and once you start petting them, they will understand the gesture and calm down.
The worst thing guinea pigs can do is poop or pee on the floor of every room in your home. However, if you train them, they are smart enough to know where to poop or pee.
• They Know Their Premises
Guinea pigs are smart enough to know their premises. So, if you have a dedicated cage for them, they won’t try to escape it. They are quite disciplined and as long as they are getting meals to eat on time, they are not going to escape their cage.
However, you have to ensure from your side that you don’t leave the door open during the early days after you adopt them. If you fail to do so, then they may form a notorious habit of wandering. You will then have to train them again from ground zero so that they understand that they have to stay in the cage and not go elsewhere.
Guinea pigs can easily adapt to the new environment. So, if you are shifting from one place to another, you can rest easy that your adorable pets will not create havoc. Although it will take them some time to adjust, they will not be a bother as far as the other things are taken care of.
Moreover, guinea pigs take efforts to adjust to their surroundings instead of being homesick. It is said that they are susceptible to distress when you change their place, but that is not the case when you properly take care of them.
More so, guinea pigs are smart enough to know that they need to move with their owners. Hence, they don’t feel grumpy being in the new premises because they know that their owners are with them. It is just important to keep their cage from the old house as that will speed up the adaptation process.
How to Make Use of the Guinea Pig Intelligence and Train Them
Now that you know that your guinea pigs are intelligent and smart, you should make use of this, so that you can have an amazing experience while hanging out with them. Here are some tricks you can use to train your smart guinea pigs.
• Teach Them Basic Commands
First of all, you need to give your guinea pig a name. Once you do that, start calling it by that name when it is time for food. Continue this for the next three days and they will learn to recognize their name.
Later, you can ask them to stop doing something by calling them by their names.
• Teach Them to Come to You
You can hold food in your hand and call them. They will come to you as they will be interested in the food you are holding. After that, you can try this gesture without food. After some days, they will be used to it and start following your command.
• Stand-up Command
You can keep a food bait in your hand in order to make them stand on two legs. It can be a piece of veggie or fruit.
After that, you can try the command without the food bait. You will be surprised that they are smart enough to know what you want from them.
• Push the Ball Command
Keep a ball in front of them and show them what to do with your finger. They will not understand it in one move but if you keep repeating the gesture, they will ultimately start pushing the ball.
This game can be amazing if you have children. Guinea pigs can be extremely smart when it comes to learning such playful things.
• Jump Through the Hoop Trick
Use a hoop and show them what to do using a dummy doll or something else. If they don’t understand put a bowl of veggies on the other side of the hoop, repeat the trick with the dummy doll and pretend to feed it.
It’s funny when you are showing them the trick for the first few times. But you will be amazed to see them quickly catch on and begin jumping through the hoop afterward. Do not raise the hoop too much in the air, keep it almost at the ground level.
• The Circle Training
You can teach them how to move around in a circle. All you need to do is use a piece of veggie and draw the circle. Keep the veggie in one hand and start circling so that they follow the veggie in your hand and soon they will start making circles. After they perform one or two circles, give them a treat. Make sure that you don’t let them eat the veggie if they didn’t follow the command.
Once you train your guinea pigs, it is very easy for them to understand your gestures, voice, and commands. Moreover, guinea pigs are smart enough to identify what exactly you want them to do. Guinea pigs don’t need a lot of time to learn and to obey commands.
It is important to make sure that you keep rewarding them for their performance. If your guinea pig won’t do something you are asking them to do never yell or abuse it, this will only cause them more stress and your dear pet will become terrified and scared. Always stay calm and pleasant around your pets and take good care of them.
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List of Sources
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Machatschke, I. H., Bauer, B., Glenk, L. M., Millesi, E., Wallner, B., Spatial learning and memory differs between single and cohabitated guinea pigs, Physiology & behavior, 2011.
Brust, V., Guenther, A., Domestication effects on behavioural traits and learning performance: comparing wild cavies to guinea pigs, Animal cognition, 2015.
Lewejohann, L., Pickel, T., Sachser, N., Kaiser, S., Wild genius – domestic fool? Spatial learning abilities of wild and domestic guinea pigs, Frontiers in zoology, 2010.