Whenever we see pets performing some tricks on the Tv shows we often wonder, are they that smart? As a guinea pig owner, I have also wondered; are guinea pigs smart? And if yes, how smart are they? I decided to do some research and talk to a few people, and here is what I found out.
Guinea pigs are relatively smart animals. Studies prove that they have a sharp memory that they used to remember their path in the wild. As pets guinea pigs are known for their capability to recognize their owners, respond on the call of command, and even perform some amazing tricks. We can harness their intelligence with some proper training and rewards.
If you have seen guinea pigs in the past, then you might not have wondered are these animals really smart?
All they do throughout the day is eat, sleep, poop & repeat. That’s not what an intelligent animal would do.
Then what makes them smart in the first place? And how smart are they? Most guinea pig owners don’t realize the potential of their pets. However, today I shall help you uncover some hidden aspects of your guinea pigs.
How smart are guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs are smart enough to recognize the owner’s voice. They do remember their enclosure pretty well.
If appropriately trained guinea pigs can learn a few tricks quickly. They can even respond to some basic commands.
To test their grey matter, you can try a few things during their floor time. You can hide some of their favorite treats around and see if they can find it by using their senses.
You can even lure them into a maze using some of their favorite treats and check if they can get out on their own. I bet you will be surprised by the results.
Not only they can find their food around the maze, but they can also remember their steps and pathways for months.
How good is guinea pig’s memory?
Studies have proved that guinea pigs have a sharp memory and they do use it for a lot of work which we don’t notice usually. Let us have a look at some of the attributes which show how good their memory is:
- Can remember the pathways and retrace their way back
- Guinea pigs do recognize their owners
- Learn to respond to their names
- Learn and remember tricks for a long time
Can remember the pathways and retrace their way back
Experiments and research prove that guinea pigs can remember the pathways, and they can find their way back to their homes.
At first, the researchers thought that guinea pigs use their keen sense of smell to find their way back.
However, with in-depth research and learning more about guinea pig’s behavior, they discovered that guinea pigs use their kinesthetic memory to find their way back to home.
In the past, guinea pigs used to wander off far from home to find food and water for survival. Even in such outdoor conditions, they were able to get back to their homes quickly if they suspect any threat nearby.
Guinea pigs do recognize their owners
Guinea pigs are really smart, and if you spend some time with them regularly, they will recognize you for sure.
I have noticed that my guinea pigs even know the sound of my footsteps as they start squeaking and wheeking for food as I walk towards them. They will also run towards the door of the cage when I am around.
Guinea pigs also get used to your hands and smell, and they will happily play and eat from your hands when you are around.
Learn to respond to their names
Guinea pigs can remember their names, and they do respond when you call them with their names.
Although they might not understand the meaning of the word, they can associate the voice and tone with themselves and respond accordingly.
If you find your guinea pigs are hiding, then try calling them out by their names, and you will be surprised to see that how quickly they will come towards you.
Learn and remember tricks for a long time
Guinea pigs can learn tricks quickly if you train them right.
Just provide them with their favorite treat when they do things right, and with such positive reinforcement, they will soon associate what actions they need to do to get to their food and learn some commands quickly.
Some basic tricks like calling them out for food by saying a specific command, teaching them to stand up or go through a tunnel or push a ball or even going circle around the cage can be taught easily.
The best part is they have a strong memory, and they can remember the trick for a long time.
So by now, we have already learned that guinea pigs are smart, but how smart are they? How does their smartness compare to other animals? Let’s find out!
Example of a few quick tricks guinea pigs can learn easily
Step up: Teach them how to step up in your hand
- Have their favorite treat in your other hand and place one hand flat in the ground
- Lure them with the treat towards your hand placed on the ground
- Put the treat high enough that they can’t get it without stepping up
- Once they try to step up, say a command like step-up and offer the treat once they do.
- Repeat the process for a few days and your guinea pigs will learn to step up even without any treats.
Come to you on command: Teach them to come to you when you call them with a command
- Leave your guinea pigs in a guinea pig proof room for some floortime and sit on the ground with a few treats.
- Call your guinea pigs by tapping your legs and calling out a command.
- You can use a treat to lure them towards yourselves.
- Once they start coming to you on tap or command, offer them the treat. Repeat it for a few days
- Your guinea pigs will soon learn to come to you on command even without a treat.
How intelligent is a guinea pig? (Compared to other pets)
Although it is impossible to associate the smartness of guinea pigs with numbers or grade, past researches have thrown some light on it.
Guinea pigs are quick learners; they can associate the words with actions and are excellent at remembering things that put them in the category of smart animals.
But how do they do as compared to other animals commonly kept as pets? Are they more intelligent than humans? Let’s have a look!
Source: Number of neurons in the brain.
Are guinea pigs smarter than hamsters?
Research has proved that hamsters have less number of neurons in their brain. i.e., they have a smaller grey matter among all the rodents.
Hamster is also harder to train as compared to guinea pigs, as they have a short span of memory. Thus, we can say that guinea pigs are indeed smarter than hamsters.
Guinea pigs vs hamster: Which one makes a better pet?
Are guinea pigs smarter than rats?
Rats have a similar number of neurons as hamsters. While some rats have more neurons in their brain than hamsters, but still they do not compete with guinea pigs.
In general, guinea pigs learn things much quicker, and they can learn tricks quickly, which makes them smarter than rats.
Are guinea pigs smarter than rabbits?
Rabbits do have more neurons in than their brains than guinea pigs do. This should have made them smarter and intelligent than guinea pigs. However, guinea pigs go toe to toe with them.
Guinea pigs have a better memory than rabbits as rabbits short-term memory only lasts for a few minutes guinea pig’s memory lasts very long.
But rabbits can be taught more complex tricks than guinea pigs, which still keeps them in competition. You can conclude than rabbits are smarter than guinea pigs but only up to some extent.
Guinea pigs vs Rabbit: Which one makes a better pet?
Are guinea pigs smarter than cats?
No, guinea pigs are definitely not smarter than cats. Cats have more grey matter in their brains than guinea pigs do. They can also remember things better, so definitely, they are more intelligent than guinea pigs.
Do guinea pigs get along with cats?
Are guinea pigs as smart as dogs?
No, guinea pigs are not as smart as dogs. Yes, guinea pigs do recognize their owners as dogs do, but this doesn’t make them as good as dogs. Dogs can be trained to do a lot of stuff which guinea pigs can’t, so we can conclude that dogs are smarter than guinea pigs.
Do guinea pigs get along with dogs?
Are guinea pigs smarter than humans?
No, this is a no brainer that guinea pigs are not smarter than humans. There are a few animals like the African grey elephant, which has more grey matter than humans do; still, humans are the most intelligent among all.
Guinea pig IQ test
Guinea pigs are smart animals, but just like every human has different IQ levels, the same goes for guinea pigs as well. However, You can run some small IQ tests to find out which is the smartest guinea pig in your herd.
Test 1: Finding the way out
- Create a maze using playpen walls, bricks, cardboard, or anything you can think of.
- Draw your guinea pigs in one by one using a treat and making them walk to the other end.
- Now place a few small pieces of treats on the way back.
- Note how long does it take to get them back to the starting point. (where the big treat is placed)
- Note the time taken by each of them and rank them accordingly.
Test 2: Knocking the right bowl
- Take three pieces of transparent glass and a small bit of carrot(or any other treat)
- Place the piece of carrot(or any other treat) under plastic glass and let your guinea pigs knock them out to find the treat
- See how long does it takes your guinea pigs to find the same.
- You can repeat the process a few times by changing the placement of treat.
- Rank your guinea pigs according to the results. (Just for fun)
There can be a lot more ways to test your guinea pig’s intelligence. I think you might have got the idea by now. So, try it out with your guinea pigs and see how it goes.