Guinea Pigs

Wild Status:

Only Domesticated

Scientific Name:

Cavia Porcellus

Threat Level / wild status: 

The Guinea Pig has been domesticated over 7,000 years and only exists as a domesticated animal. It does not exist as a wild animal at all. The Guinea Pig has some close relatives from which it may have descended and evolved, a species of cavy that are still lives in South America.


Guinea pigs are medium to large sized rodents, weighing between 700 and 1,200 g, and measuring between 20 and 25 cm in length. They come in many different breeds and in a variety of colours with different types of fur (long or short haired). We have both in our collection at The Jungle.


Domesticated Guinea Pigs like those at The Jungle Zoo are not found naturally in the wild. They are kept as pets throughout the world and as livestock for food by Indians living in the Andes Mountains of South America.

Feeding and Habits:

Despite their small size, Guinea pigs can be very clever. They can learn complex paths to food and can accurately remember a learned path for months.

Like many rodents, guinea pigs are social creatures, participating in social grooming. This means that they clean or maintain another’s body or appearance and this can be seen in many social animals including humans. They can secrete a substance from their eyes which is then used to rub on the fur in a grooming process. In order to establish dominance and hierarchy, males may nibble each other’s fur or ears whilst making aggressive noises.

Guinea pigs mainly communicate through various vocalisations.

The main diet for a guinea pig is grass. Their molars continually grow throughout their lives and are suited for grinding down plant matter. As well as grass and hay, domestic guinea pigs can also be fed on food pellets which are designed to contain all the key ingredients and nutrients needed in order to keep the guinea pig healthy. Here at the Jungle, our guinea pigs are fed on fresh fruit and veg daily.

Breeding and Life Expectancy:

Guinea Pigs can live an average of four to five years, but may live as long as eight years. According to the 2006 Guinness World Records, the longest living guinea pig survived 14 years.

Guinea pigs can reach sexual maturity at around 3-5 weeks old. The female can breed year round and can give birth to as many as 6 pups in a single litter after a gestation period of 63-68 days.

Pups are born well developed, unlike the young of other rodent species.


More Interesting Facts:

  • Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family Suidae, nor do they come from Guinea in Africa; they originated in the Andes of South America.

  • A male Guinea Pig is called a Boar and a female Guinea Pig is called a Sow, so what do you think the babies are called? No, the babies are not piglets! Baby guinea pigs are called pups!     

  • All the Guinea Pigs at the Jungle Zoo are females.

  • Guinea pig eyesight is not particularly good therefore they have well-developed senses of hearing, smell, and touch.

  • When threatened by danger, large groups of startled guinea pigs "stampede", running in lots of different directions in order to confuse predators.

  • When happily excited, guinea pigs may repeatedly perform little hops in the air, known as "popcorning. 

  • Despite their short little legs, Guinea Pigs are actually good swimmers.

As A Pet:

Domesticated Guinea Pigs are common pets for young children due to their docile nature. They can make great pets providing they get correct care and food, and are regularly cleaned out.

At the Jungle Zoo: