Guinea pigs are many people’s favorites as they make cute pets, and they do not require a lot of maintenance. If you’re wondering what factors may influence their lifespan, anything from habitat – plastic cages for guinea pigs are a good idea – to the food you’re feeding your pets plays a role.
In the following article, you will learn more about the particularities of the biology of these furry little critters and what you can do to ensure that yours will live a long and happy life.
The average lifespan
As you may well suspect, there is no direct answer to how long a guinea pig can live, for the sole reason that many things can come into play. However, the observations conducted so far by researchers point out that guinea pigs live, on average, between 4 and 8 years.
The good news is that they live more than other rodents that are generally smaller than them. For instance, hamsters live 2 to 3 years on average, so you will know that your guinea pig will live longer than that.
In case you’re wondering if you can expect deviations from the norm, you should know that there have been guinea pigs to live longer than expected, with the record being 14 years and 10 months. Of course, not every guinea pig will be able to match such performance, but it is safe to say that the average lifespan for this critter can be anywhere between 4 and 8 years, as mentioned earlier.
What can you do to prolong your pet’s life?
Pet owners grow naturally attached to their guinea pigs, and they want to see them live long and happy lives. To make sure that your furry friend reaches his or her senior years in perfect health, there are at least a few things you can do.
For instance, diet plays an important role. Just like humans, if guinea pigs eat bad quality food, they can fall ill or develop conditions that can shorten their lifespan. Other factors, such as genetics, or their habitat, are also essential. Let’s talk about them more in-depth as follows.
What does a healthy diet mean for a guinea pig?
You will hear a lot about how pets must be offered the right type of food, but do not think, for a second, that feeding your guinea pig with the same-old, same-old (no matter how healthy) food is going to work out too well.
Guinea pigs love variety in their food, and that, besides helping them build an immune system that’s resistant to illnesses, also keeps them happy. Another important aspect is to feed them fresh foods every day. Don’t forget to add a bit of hay, as that’s what keeps their digestive health in top shape.
Vitamin C is vital for a guinea pig, and his or her overall health. You will find grass pellets on the market that cover the need for this vitamin. Also, leafy greens, which abound in vitamins and minerals that these furry animals need, are highly recommended.
Fruits are also a good idea to include in your pet’s diet. But don’t forget to feed your guinea pig fruits only in small quantities. They contain sugar, and that’s something that could make your guinea pig obese.
Make sure your guinea pig gets a lot of exercise
First of all, it is always indicated to buy a large enclosure for your pet so that you can make sure that he or she has plenty of room to move around. Just like other rodents, if they don’t get enough physical exercise, guinea pigs risk becoming obese and develop health issues that are related to obesity.
An ideal enclosure should have around 10 square feet, to give you an idea, and that’s for a single pet. There should be enough room for your pet to run around and do laps, so make sure that around the walls there is enough space for him or her to do that.
It is always a good idea to include some toys for variety, but do not go overboard. Guinea pigs are not crazy about crowded floors, so that’s another piece of information to bear in mind.
From time to time, you should let your guinea pig out of the cage. These animals love to roam around, so make sure that all the windows and doors are closed so that your guinea pig doesn’t go out by accident. Also, don’t allow other larger animals in the close vicinity, as guinea pigs can get easily scared.
What role does genetics play?
As mentioned a little earlier, genetics is among the factors that can influence the life expectancy for a guinea pig. The rule of thumb is simple; if your guinea pig has healthy genes, meaning that he or she comes from parents and grandparents that live long healthy lives, you should expect the same to happen to your pet.
Nonetheless, guinea pigs come in different breeds, and these breeds were obtained through selective breeding, which might cause various mishaps in the sense that the genes could become weaker, and therefore, the animals could be more susceptible to certain diseases.
The first selective breeding approach that causes this issue is inbreeding, which means that to obtain a purer specimen, members of the same family are bred together. The guinea pigs resulted from this type of approach may have fertility issues and weakened immune systems.
You can’t do anything to change the genetics of your pet. However, if you want to know if your pet is healthy, you can always ask for more information on his or her genetic background, when you talk to a breeder.
Pay close attention to their health
An excellent way to ensure that your guinea pig is well cared for is to pay attention to his or her health. As soon as you notice sickness symptoms, you should consider paying a visit to the vet. For guinea pigs, weight loss is one of the most critical signs that something is wrong with their health, although it does not automatically mean that your pet is ill.
Other symptoms you should pay close attention to include shortness of breath, lethargy, digestive problems that persist, or the appearance of blood in the pet’s urine. As long as you treat health problems fast and efficiently, you will manage to prolong your pet’s life.
Additional aspects to consider
Guinea pigs are hardy creatures, so they won’t require you to take them to the vet all the time. However, they do have some basic needs that you shouldn’t overlook. For instance, the fact that they need plenty of exercising is related not only to their ability to maintain their muscles and bones in top shape but also to the necessity to eliminate toxins through sweating.
Don’t forget that guinea pigs need to have their cage cleaned regularly. In the wild, there is no need for such a thing, but inside an enclosure, the bacteria from waste can become a problem, so it’s up to you to make sure that your guinea pig enjoys the best conditions possible.
Another thing to remember is that guinea pigs like company, so it’s a good idea to have them in pairs (although a male and a female will quickly make babies, so you should spay both or at least the female). In case you want only one guinea pig, you should know that these furry creatures like it best when they are in your company, too, so make sure to socialize with them regularly.
While you do that every day, use the opportunity to check the guinea pig for signs of illness. As long as you keep an eye open on all these things, you will know that your pet is well cared for.
Will your guinea pig live longer in your care than in the wild?
That may be a question you’ve been wondering, so here is an answer that will make everything clear for you. A guinea pig lives around 4 years in the wild. There are predators and other factors that can shorten their lives, and that’s why the average lifespan for guinea pigs is this.
However, if you offer your pet the best care, food, attention, and love, you will discover that he or she can live up to 8 years. Or, in case you happen to have a record-breaker in your care, even longer!