Behavior Essentials: The Guinea Pig

Key Points

  • The guinea pig is a gentle, docile, rodent.
  • Guinea pigs do not tolerate dietary or enrichment changes well.
  • Food preferences are established early in life, and a guinea pig can refuse to eat if their food type or presentation is changed. Therefore juvenile guinea pigs should be exposed to a variety of chows and vegetables in small amounts.
  • The guinea pig’s response to perceived danger is immobility or, less commonly, flight.
  • Guinea pigs are highly social, vocal animals.
  • Guinea pigs practice coprophagy.

The guinea pig is a gentle, highly social rodent, that commonly serves as a companion animal and an experimental model in North America and Europe. Food preferences are established early in life, and a guinea pig can refuse to eat if their food type or presentation is changed. For this reason, small mammal veterinarians recommend exposing juvenile guinea pigs to a variety of chows and vegetables. Guinea pigs also do not tolerate environmental changes well. When exposed to something perceived as dangerous, the response of the guinea pig is generally to freeze, or less commonly flight . . .


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