Confession time: I used to think guinea pigs were super lame.
I’m the world’s biggest animal lover, but I have never liked guinea pigs. Whenever we went to the pet store to pet and hold all the animals, I avoided those little guys.
I never owned a guinea pig of my own as a kid, partly because I had a few less-than-positive encounters with pigs owned by friends. Nothing truly traumatic, but just – yeah. I never really met one I liked or that liked me.
If I’m being honest, I thought they were all personality-less, unfriendly, boring little screamers. The noise really bothered me – I guess because I was used to hamsters which are fairly silent.
When Xage started asking for guinea pigs, I groaned in dismay. I was NOT a fan of the idea.
But E had guinea pigs growing up and loved them, so he got on board with the idea right away. That’s how we ended up recently at the Heart of Ohio guinea pig rescue & sanctuary adopting Xage a couple of new besties.
And that’s the story of how I fell in love with Charlie and lil Bean.
The two little male pigs Xage chose are absolutely the sweetest, cutest and most entertaining little creatures. I had NO idea how amazing guinea pigs are – they are so much cooler than I ever realized.
I feel I owe an apology to every guinea pig I’ve ever met, and all the piggies I could have met and pet but didn’t because I was prejudiced against them. I have regrets. I will spend the entire lifetime of our guinea pigs pampering them and spoiling them rotten to make up and atone for my past attitude toward piggies.
Just about everything I used to believe about guinea pigs was false. Here’s the proof – my list of the top ten best things about guinea pigs as pets.
10 awesome things about guinea pigs
- The way they feel about food. Guinea pigs do not hold back in their appreciation for, anticipation of and overall nonstop desire for food. The do this thing called wheeking which is basically them shrieking “WHEEK!!!” with excitement when they see food, and I have never related to anything so hard in my entire life. Even my dog’s obsession with treats does not compare. If the guineas have to wait too long for a treat bowl filled with salad and veggies, they will come to the edge of their enclosure, grab the bars with their little hands and “WHEEK!” at me until I give them some veggie treats. Then they just dive in and eat it all in ten seconds flat.
- They are constantly talking. Another thing I have in common with pigs is that they’re constantly vocalizing to themselves, each other and us. They have so many little vocalizations and each one is adorable. I know, I used to think all they do is scream – but that’s actually not the case. Once you understand their little language, you know when they are just muttering softly to themselves or each other – or wheeking loudly for food or from excitement. It all sounds cute to me now!
- They “popcorn” with joy over food, to play, or just for fun. The other adorable guinea pig behavior I adore is when they hop, jump and flip around like they are having a little freak out. They do this when they are happy or excited and the name is because they resemble popcorn kernels hopping around in a hot pan. Seeing our guineas popcorn is one of my favorite sights!
- They are far more agile and athletic than I realized. Back in my dark days of not understanding guinea pigs, I thought they were just furry little potatoes that sat around like lumps. I was so wrong! Although guinea pigs are not climbers, they get around very well. Our boys will raise themselves up and reach up high for hay or treats. They will also climb or jump up onto the top of their hut and then hop down again. Guineas can also run pretty fast when they’re spooked!
- They can use their hands to hold food. Guinea pigs have the cutest little hands, not unlike a hamster’s, and they will hold food in their hands and sort of sit back onto their rumps at times. Ours definitely hold food still while they’re eating – but they will also hold food in their mouths and then run away to a safe spot to devour it.
- Guinea pigs are super social and interactive. Although in a past life, I thought piggies were antisocial and unfriendly, the opposite is actually true. Because guineas are so food-motivated, they are quite easy to tame using fresh salad greens, carrots or any other veggie (and occasionally fruit) treats. Ours have gotten tame enough that they get excited when they see me coming with a veggie bowl. I can also sit beside their enclosure and talk or sing to them while they eat – and little Bean will accept veggies right from my hand. I’m still working on that with Charlie.
- They are basically just tiny capybaras. Here’s something funny – even when I was still anti-guinea pig, I was a fan of capybaras. Capybaras are awesome and adorable… just like their tinier cousins. That’s right, guinea pigs are part of the cavy family just like the larger, and often aquatic, capybaras. It sounds pretty cool to say you have a pet miniature capybara, admit it.
- Guineas always eat their veggies. Unlike pretty much everyone else in this house except me, piggies love nothing more than a really fancy salad and will never turn down vegetables! I offer veggies to the rest of my fam at just about every meal but they almost always refuse. It’s nice to know the boys will always eat any veggie I put in front of them – and be happy about it. I adore making them salads and that’s not something I could say about anyone else in my house, so it’s nice having the boys as veggie buddies.
- Relatively easy to clean up after. Guinea pigs are about as easy to clean up after as any other small pet, and they’re definitely not as stinky as mice or rats. I would put them about even with hamsters on the stink meter – but they are more interactive and fun.
- They are active during the day. Guinea pigs are diurnal like most humans, so they are ready to play during the day when you are. Unlike nocturnal (active at night) hamsters and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) ferrets, guineas are on your schedule.
There you have it – my ten favorite things about guinea pigs. Are you a fan of these little rodents too, and do you have any good pig tales to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below or over on Facebook!