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Can Guinea Pigs Swim? Is Swimming Safe for Your Guinea Pigs?

Can Guinea Pigs Swim? Is Swimming Safe for Your Guinea Pigs?

Over a course of time when I was going through a bunch of videos and trying to learn a few more things about guinea pigs, I came across a video where a girl just pulls her guinea pig and put it in the bathtub full of water.

I was amused by the scene because it was something I haven’t heard before. I wasn’t sure if I can just put my guinea pig into the water and let it be there for a while so I decided to do some more research on can guinea pigs swim? and here is what I have found out.

No, Guinea pigs cannot swim at all. At no cost, you should be trying to pull up your guinea pig and push them into a swimming pool or a tub just because you feel that they look cute when they paddle around.

Yes, there are lots of pet animals who love to be in the water and hang around it but surely your guinea pigs are not the ones.

Guinea pigs are hygienic pet and they do love to keep themselves clean but that doesn’t mean that they like to go around for swimming and enjoy their time being in the water.

Guinea pigs are not natural swimmers as many people claims. They like to groom themselves and they use a white wax-like substance that they secrete from their eyes to do so.

Do guinea pigs like to go in the water?

No, most of our guinea pigs won’t like water. Although in the past when guinea pigs used to live in the wild they used to be around river banks as there was plenty of food source but there are not enough signs of them going in the water.

Guinea pigs swimming?

Although, there is a close relative of guinea pigs called Capybara who loves to go underwater for food as well as to hide from predators. But when it comes to guinea pigs they prefer to stay away from water let alone swimming.

In general Guinea pigs do not enjoy getting wet. As guinea pigs cannot maintain their body temperature it is tough for them to maintain their body heat once they get into the water which can lead to many diseases in them.

If it is not necessary then we should not even think of bathing our guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can maintain themselves clean very easily.

Guinea pigs usually can take a bath once every 6 months or so but doing it frequently is not good for their health.

Some guinea pigs don’t even like drinking much water.

They will keep their body hydrated by eating more vegetables and other food rather than drinking water.

So you can imagine how bad they are trying to avoid water.

If your guinea pig is smelling or their cage smells bad then I have a complete guide on it. You must check our article on Why do guinea pigs smell? and how to fix it.

Is swimming safe for my guinea pig?

Yes, Your guinea pig can swim around in the water but that doesn’t mean that you will make them swim. Guinea pigs get very stressed out when they are in the water. Swimming is definitely not a safe activity for your guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs usually have no depth perception and they can’t tell how deep the water is.

They find it very stressful being put in anything with water that is too deep for them to rest their feet on the bottom. It is fine where the water is only about mid-thigh deep.

Bathing a smelly guinea pig

People often have a misconception that they are swimming if they put them into the water but really they are paddling to stay above water and live for another day. They are desperately trying to get out of the water actually.

Although I have had a few guinea pigs that enjoyed baths, the water was never above their necks and they could keep their feet on the bottom the whole time.

I don’t recommend at all forcing them to swim. Although a nice walk in some warm water is the way to go if a bath is needed!

Do Guinea pigs like to swim in shallow water?

Yes, some guinea pigs do like to have a walk around in lukewarm water. But the water should not be above their thighs. Although most guinea pigs will avoid even being in shallow water. While some are definitely an exception to this.

I would recommend looking at how your guinea pig behaves when you take them for their first bath.

Do make sure the water temperature is not too cold and you have a towel to wipe off the water as soon as they come out.

If you find that your guinea pig enjoys being in the water and walking around then you might let them be for some time.

But in most cases, they don’t like being in the water for long. So, what I do is have a quick back in a shallow water-filled sink and wrap them in a towel.

Do not let your guinea pig be in water even if its a shallow one for long. Also, make sure that you are around and paying close attention to them when they are in the water.

Can swimming be bad for guinea pig’s health?

Yes, swimming is definitely bad for guinea pigs. Firstly guinea pigs do not like being in the water at all and they get pretty stressed when they are left in the water to peddle for their life.

You definitely do not want something like this to ever happen. Let us see what are the ill effects of forcing your guinea pig to swim.

can guinea pigs swim


This is the most obvious one. Guinea pigs get stressed when they are put into water.

They try to get out of the water as soon as you put them in it.

And if they cannot put their legs in the bottom then the stress level further enhances and will put more strain on their heart and lungs.

This can be fatal for your guinea pig.

Ear infection

Ear infections are rare in a guinea pig but whenever they occur they can cause serious health issues in your guinea pigs.

It is usually caused due to bacteria.

If your guinea pig is swimming and their head goes below water because their legs cannot find a surface to stand or the water is too deep for them then the water can enter in their ears and can lead to an ear infection.

An ear infection can be life-threatening and cause permanent damage if left untreated immediately.

If you see any signs of this then pay a visit to your vet immediately.


Pneumonia is another disease that can be caused if you try to force your guinea pigs to swim.

Guinea pigs cannot control their body temperature which makes them susceptible to numerous health issues including pneumonia.

You must not live your guinea pig in water for long and should immediately dry them out when they get out of the water.

Skin diseases

Guinea pigs are also susceptible to numerous health diseases if they are left in water for long or keeps in contact with water regularly.

Water usually washes off the natural oil in guinea pig’s skin. This can make their skin rough and cause various skin and fur related diseases in guinea pigs.


Guinea pig pain medication

Yes, definitely pushing your guinea pig to do something they don’t want to do is going to put them through a lot of stress.

Also, when you put them in deep water and they peddle out of fear then definitely the experience will be a daunting one for them.

Just think how would you feel if you are pushed into the water, you don’t have any experience of swimming and there is no way to get out.

Wouldn’t it be a scary situation for you? Even guinea pigs will go through such fear if you try to push them to swim.

This definitely can lead to depression and change in behavior in your guinea pig.

Your guinea pig might even not come out of their hiding for hours after once they go through such experience.


So, can guinea pigs swim? No, they definitely can’t. If you like to call paddling their legs in water just to save their life swimming then it might be a different story.

Guinea pigs do not like to get into the water at all. Although there might be a few exceptions to this.

In general, your guinea pig will not like to voluntarily get into the water. It can be really stressful for your guinea pig if you force them to do so.

It is best to keep them away from water if you love your pet even a little bit. There can be numerous health issues if they are forced to swim in the water.

Related question:

Can guinea pigs swim in a chlorine pool?

No, you definitely don’t want to make your guinea pig swim in a pool. Pools are really deep and the risk of guinea pig getting drown is pretty high.

Also, chlorine in water is really bad for their skin. it can lead to many skin diseases like rashes, hair fall, etc.

It is definitely a cruel behavior to make your guinea pig swim in a pool. Your guinea pig can suffer from serious health issues and even lead to death in some cases.

Can guinea pigs swim in a bathtub?

No, Guinea pigs must not be let to swim around even in the bathtub. Until and unless the bathtub is filled very shallow and the water does not crosses their thigh height it might be fine for them but a completely filled bathtub is as dangerous as a swimming pool for your guinea pig.

We as an owner are solely responsible for our pets health and well being. We must not do something that puts them through a lot of stress.

Although they are not so good at expressing their stress all the time, that doesn’t mean that they are enjoying the act.

Some people do believe that it’s quite funny or cute to look them paddling. But trust me its not at all something you want to do with your guinea pig.

Sources: Guinea pigs, The guinea pig forced swim test as a new behavioral despair model to characterize potential antidepressants,

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