Guinea Pig Lifespan: How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live For?

Guinea Pig Lifespan-How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live For_

How long animals can live or more exactly certain pets is always a topic of discussion, as it is very hard to find these answers. Also, there is a big difference between wild animals and animals that people have as pets. Pets are protected, they have regular food, attention, owner’ and medical’ care in comparison with wild animals.

It’s expected that our pets will live longer than the animals in the wild and everyone wants to know how long their pet is going to live for. Before even adopting our pets we all assume that the longer the animal lives, the higher are the chances that it will become a real family member.

As guinea pigs are one of the most affectionate pets you can get, most owners want to know how much more precious time they will have with their cute guinea pig.

How long do guinea pigs live? The average life span of a guinea pig is around 4-8 years. However, depending on certain factors, guinea pigs can also live a few years longer or shorter than that time span. How long will a guinea pig live is directly connected with the following factors such as type of the guinea pig breed, diet, environment, level of exercise, living arrangements, and many others. For example, a skinny guinea pig will live longer than a long haired guinea pig. Also, guinea pigs that live in good living conditions and have a proper diet can reach a higher than average lifespan.

What we said for guinea pigs it’s the same for people, their lifespan depends on their lifestyle. As an owner of guinea pigs, you need to take proper care of them in order to ensure that your pet lives a long and happy life.

In the following sections below, we are going to talk more about how many years do guinea pigs live and about the main factors that affect their average lifespan. So, let’s start!

How Many Years Can a Guinea Pig Live?

How Many Years Can a Guinea Pig Live

As we have said the average life span of the guinea pig is approximately 4 to 8 years or in some cases an even longer time span. The oldest known guinea pig was called Snowball. This guinea pig lived for 14 years and 10 months! Of course, this guinea pig was placed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

So, the maximum lifespan of the domestic guinea pig is around 10 to 12 years (when we take into account the longest recorded lifespan of the guinea pig). When we compare this to the guinea pigs in the wild, the difference is quite high. Before becoming domestic animals, guinea pigs would run free in the wild. However, at that time their lifespan was drastically shorter.

The majority of these small animals in the wild couldn’t even reach a year of age, as they are prey animals. However, some managed to live up to 6 years. Certainly, things have changed a lot since then because now some guinea pigs live even longer than dogs!

Of course, guinea pigs have a shorter life span than the one that we would want for them to have. Still, we shouldn’t forget that they are rodents and guinea pigs have a really long life span if we take a look at the rest of the rodents!


Do Guinea Pigs Live Longer Than Hamsters and Other Rodents?

If you think that guinea pigs don’t have a long lifespan, you should take a look at other rodent’s lifespans. Rodents have a wide range of different lifespans and we will compare the most popular rodents pets to guinea pigs. Hamsters and mice have a lifespan of 1-2 years, while rats and gerbils usually live for 2-3 years. These numbers are very small when we compare to the guinea pig’s lifespan.

But, there are also rodents that tend to live longer than guinea pigs. Capybara has the longest lifespan among rodents of 10-15 years. Also, the average lifespan of a chinchilla is 8-12 years. Some chinchilla owners have reported that some of their chinchillas have lived over 20 years.


How to Find out the Age of Your Guinea Pig?

Take a look at the guinea pig’s feet. If the outside toe of your guinea pig started to roll or curve towards the ‘base’, that means that the little guy is starting to age.

The other aging factors include the guinea pig becoming less active and losing weight. The guinea pig will start sleeping for longer periods than it used to. Moreover, health problems will become a more common issue.


The Lifespan of Guinea Pigs Depends on the Breed

Surprisingly, the average lifespan of a guinea pig really does depend on the breed. Frankly speaking, scientists still fail to explain why skinny pigs, for example, tend to live longer than the breeds that have long hair.

The difference in the estimated lifespan is relatively small and might not become the most important factor while choosing the breed. However, you can still take it into consideration.


Which Breed of Guinea Pig Lives the Longest? | Breed Comparison

Guinea Pig Life Span Depends on the Breed
Breed NameAverage Life Span
Abyssinian Guinea Pig5-7 years
American Guinea Pig4-8
Coronet Guinea Pig6-8
Himalayan Guinea Pig5-8
Peruvian Guinea Pig5-8
Sheltie/Silkie Guinea Pig5-8
Merino Guinea Pig5-8
Skinny Guinea Pig7-8
Teddy Guinea Pig4-5
Texel Guinea Pig4-7
Lunkarya Guinea Pig5-8
Sheba Guinea Pig4-7
Baldwin Guinea Pig5-7
White Crested Guinea Pig5-8
Rex Guinea Pig5-6
Ridgebacks Guinea Pig4-7

Bear in mind that your guinea pig can live longer if you take great care of it and, of course, your little pet might end up passing away earlier due to various factors.


Main Factors That Affect the Guinea Pig’s Lifespan

Of course, you would want your pet to have a long and happy life and the great news is that you can totally affect your guinea pig’s lifespan. Proper care is crucial and if you learn how you can be a great owner to your guinea pig, then the fluffy ball will be able to make you happy for years and years to come.


Diet and Nutrition

Diet and Nutrition

Your guinea pig’s menu is something that you can easily change. By the way, it is one of the most important factors, when it comes to lengthening the lifespan of your precious guinea pig, so do spend some time to come up with the perfect nutrition plan.

The following are the things that you should take into consideration when feeding your guinea pig:


Vitamin С

Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, just like us humans. That’s why it is important to ensure that they get enough of this vitamin with their diet. There are pellets that have added vitamin C. However, it is always better to feed your guinea pig with fresh fruits and vegetables at least once a day to be able to regulate the amount of the vitamin.


Calcium

Unfortunately, guinea pigs can easily develop bladder stones throughout their lives. If this condition goes untreated, it can become life-threatening. That’s why it is important to make sure that your guinea pig does not eat foods with too much calcium.

Their body simply won’t be able to wash out the excess amounts of the calcium and it will start to build up in their urinary system. You might want to take a low calcium diet into consideration if you notice any similar problems.

However, bear in mind that calcium deficiency is also a dangerous condition. It is crucial for the formation of bones, for example. So, balance is the key.


Water and Hay

Water and Hay

You should feed your guinea pig once or twice a day (whatever works the best for you) with dry foods and fresh fruits or vegetables. However, there are things that should always be present in the cage.

Fresh water and hay are extremely important for the overall well-being of the guinea pig. You need to change the water every single day. Don’t forget to make sure that it is clean and fresh. Moreover, if you use a water bottle for your guinea pig’s cage, check it daily to see if it works properly or not.

Hay is also important for the guinea pig’s health as guinea pigs need to have something to chew on at all times. Hay is great for the guinea pig’s teeth and the digestive tract. Timothy hay is the preferred option for adult guinea pigs. However, there may be times, when your cavy might need Alfalfa hay (it is higher in calcium).

Related: Best Hay for Guinea Pigs: A Helpful Guide


Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The main problem with fresh fruits and vegetables is that the majority of them contain a lot of sugar. Some might be too acidic and others simply poisonous for guinea pigs. So, make sure to do your own research (or just search anything you want to know on our site).

Remember that your beloved pet should have something fresh to eat once a day. The fruits and vegetables will help your guinea pig get enough vitamins and other important nutrients.

Related: What Can Guinea Pigs Eat and Not Eat List – Owner’s Guide


How Long Can a Guinea Pig Live Without Food?

Guinea pigs really enjoy eating and food is an important thing when it comes to building a relationship between you and your little pet.

No one can say how long guinea pigs can survive without the food, because no one has done that experiment in the past. It would be very harmful to guinea pigs to keep them away from food, so we recommend always providing your guinea pigs with a sufficient amount of food during the 24 hour period.

Make sure that your guinea pigs always have some food in their cage and hay is always a good choice if you need to leave them alone for more than one day. Also, be careful with how many of the food bowls you will leave in the cage because some guinea pigs don’t know when to stop eating and with excess food they can easily overeat and develop health problems.


How Long Can Guinea Pigs Live Without Water?

Guinea pigs require a lot of fresh water because they eat a lot and they are very active animals as well. You will see that your guinea pigs drink water very often and it would be hard for them to stay happy if they don’t have a sufficient amount of water in the cage.

There is no special period of time that guinea pigs can survive without the water, but we recommend not to leave your little pet longer than 24 hours without the water. If you need to let them alone for more than one day, be sure to put more water bottles with fresh water in their cage.


Health

Health

You already know about how important vitamin C is and that guinea pigs can get bladder stones from too much calcium. But did you know that guinea pig teeth grow throughout their whole life? That’s one of the reasons why the guinea pigs should have something to chew on at all times. In the worst-case scenario, their teeth might start to overgrow and cause a lot of different problems.

When it comes to the health of your pet, there is one simple rule that you have to make sure you follow. If there are any changes in the behavior of the guinea pig, in the amount of food that it eats or even in the way that your guinea pig urinates, it is always better to pay a visit to the vet.

By keeping track of these things, you will be able to spot diseases at an early stage and, hopefully, cure them for good. Always wash your hands before and after handling your guinea pig.


Environment

Your guinea pig’s cage is literally its home. The main thing that you have to take into consideration is the dimensions of the cage. Even though guinea pigs are relatively small animals, they need a lot of space. So, the cage has to be big.

Make sure to place enough toys in the cage so they don’t get bored. Another important thing is to have a small house where the guinea pig can hide if it gets anxious or simply needs some time alone.

Keep the cage clean and pay special attention to the environmental conditions, the room has to be warm and draft-free.


Exercise

Yes, guinea pigs love to eat but thankfully, they are also curious and they love to play around. In case they have enough room and toys to play with, they won’t get obese, which can also be a big health problem.

Exercise wheels are not designed for guinea pigs, but there are so many other cool things that you can offer to your beloved pet. By the way, you can totally make a few toys all by yourself! Make sure to switch toys a few times per month, so that your little guinea pig doesn’t get bored.


Companionship

Guinea pigs are incredibly social animals. They can even die of loneliness! That’s why it is recommended to adopt two guinea pigs at once. They will be able to keep each other company.

In case you can’t have a second guinea pig, make sure to spend at least 1-2 hours per day playing with your pet. Talk to it, give it treats and new toys. By the way, guinea pigs are real chatterboxes!

Guinea Pig Lifespan How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live For_1

Summary

The guinea pig lifespan is relatively long (4-8 years) in comparison to other rodents and pets. However, there are so many different factors that can affect the length of the guinea pig’s life and its overall well-being.

The great news is that an amazing owner can control practically all the factors to ensure his beloved guinea pig has a long and happy life. Make sure to learn all the things about guinea pigs before you get one and then caring of them won’t be so hard.

For more guinea pig related content, please keep following our site!


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RSPCA, Guinea pigs: Good practice for housing and care, Research Animals Department, RSPCA, 3rd edition, 2011.

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Gorbunova, V., Bozzella, M. J., Seluanov, A., Rodents for comparative aging studies: from mice to beavers, Age, 2008.

Zilva, S. S., Vitamin C requirements of the guinea-pig, The Biochemical journal, 1936.

Minarikova, A., Hauptman, K., Jeklova, E., Knotek, Z., Jekl, V., Diseases in pet guinea pigs: a retrospective study in 1000 animals, The Veterinary record, 2015.

Witkowska, A., Price, J., Hughes, C., Smith, D., White, K., Alibhai, A., Rutland, C. S., The effects of diet on anatomy, physiology and health in the guinea pig, Journal of Animal Health and Behavioural Science, 2017.

Quesenberry, K. E., Donnelly, T. M., Introduction to Guinea Pigs, Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual.

Kretchmer, K. R., Fox, M. W., Effects of domestication on animal behaviour, The Veterinary record, 1975.

Cooper, G., Schiller, L.A., Anatomy of the Guinea Pig, Harvard University Press, 1975.

Cannon, M. D., Emerson, G. A., Dietary Requirements of the Guinea Pig with Reference to the Need for a Special Factor, The Journal of Nutrition, 1939.

Townsend, G.H., The guinea-pig: general husbandry and nutrition, The Veterinary record, 1975.

Quesenberry, E. K., Donnelly, M. T., Providing a Home for a Guinea Pig, MERCK MANUAL, Veterinary Manual.

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Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.