How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live?

For many pet owners, your pet is just like a child. It’s natural to want to help your pet live as long and as comfortably as they can. For small animals, like guinea pigs, learning about their life expectancy and ways to improve it is not uncommon as smaller animals tend to have a shorter lifespan than larger ones.

Guinea pigs live for quite a long time compared to other small mammals. You should be prepared to make a long-term commitment to your guinea pig’s health.

In captivity, guinea pigs live on average for 4 to 8 years but some can live beyond that. The longest living guinea pig lived for 16 years and with following a proper routine and care checklist yours can live for quite some time as well.

How to Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy?

If you keep your guinea pig healthy it’s not uncommon for them to reach 10 years or higher for age. This is much longer than other small mammal pets such as hamsters, mice or rats. This makes guinea pigs a great choice if you like small animals.

The best way to keep your guinea pig healthy and extend their life expectancy is with proper care, grooming and diet. You’ll need to give your guinea pig a healthy diet filled with hay and other nutrients, such as vitamin C. You’ll want to also do weekly health checks and make sure nothing is out of the ordinary.

If anything sticks out or doesn’t seem normal, talk to your vet as soon as you can. Guinea pigs are very robust but they do get sick very easily and go downhill very fast. The faster you’re on top of it the better the odds of your guinea pig having a long life.

How to Extend Life Expectancy of Your Guinea Pig

Just like with other animals, and humans, the lifespan of a guinea pig is partly due to genetics and partly due to their environment. The guinea pig you get may already have a set life expectancy if their genetic makeup comes with common disorders or diseases. If you’re lucky you’ll get one that doesn’t have hereditary issues.

However, even with hereditary issues you can still give your guinea pig a long life with proper care.

To extend the life expectancy of your guinea pig you should:

  • Keep the cage and habitat clean. Guinea pigs will urinate and poop in the same place they eat and sleep. You’ll want to regularly change their bedding and remove any soiled toys, hay or even food from their cage. Being around their own feces for too long can lead to them eating it or growing bacteria making them deathly sick.
  • Be social with your guinea pig. Guinea pigs are one of the more social animals and love attention. They will need quite a bit of attention and affection every day to stay happy and healthy. If possible, get two guinea pigs at once so they can play with each other. Be careful if you get a male and female as they may start breeding once they become of age.
  • Groom your guinea pig regularly. Many of the guinea pig breeds come with longer hair requiring more grooming and maintenance. You should try to set a good grooming plan for your guinea pig. You’ll need to clean their fur weekly with brushing, spot washing and ensuring they don’t have any fleas, ticks or mites.
  • Have regular check-ups with your vet. Just like any other animal or yourself, you need to get your health checked regularly. A standard vet may not have knowledge of guinea pigs so you should try to find one that specializes in small animals. However, any vet is better than no vet and you’ll want someone who you can see routinely and for emergencies.
  • Give your guinea pigs exercise. Compared to other animals and small mammals, guinea pigs need a lot of exercise and to stretch their legs and explore. You should try to give your guinea pig ample time outside of the cage. This is helpful for them for weight management but also allows you to be more social with them.
  • Focus on the right diet. Having a well planned diet for your guinea pig is crucial to extending their life.
  • Learn the warning signs. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to change and any change in their diet, habitat or life can cause many issues for their health and character. You may have heard or seen guinea pigs jumping around when their owner comes home but they also do this for other reasons too. You should learn the types of behaviors your guinea pig may express.

Preventing Illness to Extend Your Guinea Pig’s Life

There are quite a few diseases that are very common in guinea pigs. Being able to spot and treat these diseases is crucial to extending their lifespan and most need to be caught early as they progress fast.

As you do your routine health checks, you should be on the look out for:

  • Tumors. As your guinea pig ages they often start to get tumors. You’ll want to regularly examine your guinea pig to ensure no unusual lumps or bumps are showing up.
  • Bumblefoot. Your guinea pig may start to develop sores on the bottom of their feed due to dirty cages or wire-bottomed enclosures. These sores are known as bumblefoot and you should take your guinea pig to the vet the moment you find sores. They will likely need antibiotics and will require you to change their cage or bedding to ensure anything causing the problem is fixed.
  • Digestion problems. Guinea pigs have one of the most sensitive digestive systems out of all mammals. They don’t do well with change or too much of a single type of food, especially sugar. If you don’t balance out their diet they will get diarrhea or scurvy and this can lead to a quick death if you aren’t keeping them hydrated and giving them proper medicine.
  • Scurvy. Guinea pigs are unable to produce vitamin C meaning they need you to give it to them. They can get vitamin C from their diet or vitamin supplements. If you see your guinea pig losing hair, getting diarrhea too often, doesn’t want to move or some other abnormal health related behavior it’s likely they don’t have enough vitamin C and are coming down with scurvy. You’ll need to take them to the vet immediately as depending on the severity it could mean death.

Snowball: The Oldest Living Guinea Pig (on Record)

According to the Guinness World Record for the oldest known pet guinea pig belongs to a family in the United Kingdom. The guinea pig’s name was snowball and lived for 14 years and 10.5 months.

Sweetie: The Oldest Living Guinea Pig (on Social Media)

According to Guinea Pig Magazine, Sweetie is actually the oldest living guinea pig. Sweetie lived for 16 years before passing away in 2014. Sweetie belonged to a family in Australia.

Sweetie is the oldest known guinea pig.
Source: Facebook