It is a joy to care for cute and cuddly guinea pigs. But, no matter how much you love your small pet, time will come when you have to say your sad and final goodbyes to your furry pet. You may be asking then, how long do guinea pigs live, and are there issues that can affect its longevity?
We will be dealing with your guinea pig’s lifespan and what can you do to as a fur parent to better care for it so it will live a longer and healthier life with you.
What Is the Life Cycle of Healthy Guinea Pigs?
Baby guinea pigs are referred to as pups. Upon birth, they already have twenty teeth and are already covered with fur. Their eyes are also open at birth.
Though the pups can begin to eat solid food as early as one day old, they continue to be nursed by their Mom up to about three weeks of age. By the time they are weaned, the boys and the girls should have separate cages because they are already sexually matured.
And, once they reach the age of two to three months, they are already adults. Female guinea pigs are recommended to reproduce or to give birth before they reach the age of six months to prevent their pubic bones from fusing.
Guinea pigs will become senior citizens upon reaching the age of four years old and are already susceptible to diseases.
Depends on the proper care, a guinea pig’s lifespan is between five and eight years.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live in the Wild?
The domestication of guinea pigs started in South Africa wherein they were used by tribes as a food source. Although the guinea pigs that we all know today no longer exist in South America, they have cousins out there who still live in the wild.
Since these pigs are exposed to multitudes of danger, the guinea pig’s lifespan in the wild is shorter compared to those in captivity. On average, they can live up to four years but a great majority does not reach the age of one year.
Predators like coyotes and wolves are out there searching for food which includes these little ones. Apart from their enemies in the wild, the harsh weather conditions also contribute to their short lifespan in the wild.
But, the story is different for caged or domesticated cavies.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live in Captivity?
If you are caring for one of the popular breeds of guinea pigs, it can stay with you a little bit longer. On average, a guinea pig’s lifespan in captivity is between five and six years. Some can live longer, though.
You may now ask, are there factors the affect the lifespan of your furry friend? The short answer is YES. Let’s take a closer look at these issues…
Issues That Affect the Lifespan of Your Guinea Pig
1. The Breed of a Guinea Pig
Genes play a major role in a guinea pig’s lifespan.
The hairless breeds like the skinny pig tend to have a shorter lifespan. Why? Being hairless, they are more prone to catch skin infections. If not addressed properly, it can shorten their lifespan.
The haired breeds, on the other hand, like the Peruvians have an average lifespan of up to six to eight years in captivity.
How long do guinea pigs live? Listed below are the average guinea pig’s lifespan based on the breed:
List of Short Haired Guinea Pig’s Lifespan
- American guinea pigs: Known for their laid-back personalities, the lifespan of these cavies is anywhere from five to seven years.
- Himalayan guinea pigs: A short-haired guinea pig breed, this one can live somewhere between five and seven years.
List of Long Haired Guinea Pig’s Lifespan
- Peruvian guinea pigs: A cavy with distinctive long hair, if well cared for, its lifespan can reach up to eight years.
- Sheltie guinea pigs: They are popular because of their long and silky hair, if you take care well of them, they would have a lifespan of five to eight years.
- Texel guinea pigs: A pig that requires a lot of grooming, you can enjoy its company to about four to seven years.
List of Hairless Guinea Pig’s Lifespan
- Skinny guinea pigs: Recognizable for its lack of hair, their average lifespan is between four and five years.
- Baldwin guinea pigs: A completely bald guinea pig has a short lifespan of about four years. If well cared for, it can reach the age of six years.
List of Rough-Coated Guinea Pig’s Lifespan
- Abyssinian guinea pigs: A breed that adores human companionship, it can live between five and seven years of age.
- Cuy guinea pigs: A skittish and challenging to tame guinea pig breed, this guinea pig’s lifespan is between four and eight years.
- Teddy guinea pigs: One of the most energetic and extroverted personalities among the guinea pig breeds, the teddies can make you happy for an average of four to five years.
- Sheba guinea pigs: Always having a ‘bad hair day’ due to the rosettes that stick out in different directions, they have an average lifespan of four to seven years.
- Rex guinea pigs: A furry friend with a sweet temperament can live up to five to six years.
Those are a few of the examples of the popular domesticated guinea pigs and their lifespan. How long do guinea pigs live? Aside from the role of nature, nurture has a big factor in the longevity of your guinea pig pet.
Since genes are only a fraction of the equation in terms of how long do guinea pigs live, what and how much food you provide for your furry friend also have something to do with its longevity.
What do guinea pigs eat? Of course, nothing beats a balanced diet! Each life stage of your guinea pig requires a carefully planned diet plan.
For example, a diet rich in calcium is the best for growing cavies. A perfect example is the alfalfa-based pellets. The same goes for soon-to-be moms.
However, a calcium-rich diet is not suitable for adult guinea pigs as this can only result in health problems. To increase your guinea pig’s lifespan, the timothy hay and the orchard grass are two of the best choices for adult cavies.
Another thing to bear in mind is that guinea pigs cannot produce the C vitamin. We all know the importance of this vitamin, so by adding vitamin c to your guinea pig’s diet increases its chance to live a healthier and longer life.
You can look for pellets within the right amount of Vitamin C. Also, fresh like carrots and lettuce are good sources of Vitamin C. Just remember that moderation is the key when giving your furry friend some fresh produce.
When talking about your guinea pig’s lifespan, its living quarter is also part of the equation.
Even if its average lifespan is five to six years of age, but if it is living in a very tiny cage, with no amount of mental and physical stimulation like toys for exercising would affect its lifespan.
You can extend its life if you would diligently clean its cage to get rid of germs and other organisms that can make your furry friend sick. And, since guinea pigs thrive well with a cage companion, it is advisable if you get more than one pig.
If you can’t, delegate time for your furry pet, lest, it will get lonely, unhappy, and eventually, could affect its overall health.
4. Veterinary Care
To ensure that your guinea pig is in its optimum health, it helps if you have it checked by a Vet at least twice a year. If its current health problems are treated right away, then, you can expect your furry friend to reach its max lifespan.
Additionally, regular vet check-ups will prevent and address possible health risks in the future.
We have listed below a few of the common illnesses that your guinea pig can catch that lead to a shortened lifespan:
- Urinary tract problem: Guinea pigs, regardless of breed, are susceptible to urinary stones. The common sign is difficulty in urinating. If not treated asap, your guinea pig’s life is threatened.
- Scurvy: This happens if your guinea pig does not receive enough Vitamin C.
- Tumors: Regular vet check-up can detect tumors. Early medical intervention can prevent a tumor from claiming the life of your young furry friend.
The other health issues are diarrhea and respiratory infections.
What Else Can You Do to Increase Your Guinea Pig’s Lifespan?
Aside from a balanced diet, correct cage size, and Vet care, you can do some more to increase your guinea pig’s lifespan. Here are our recommendations:
- Stress causes a variety of illnesses. You can do your best to avoid the stressors like allowing your other pets like a dog or a cat to scare your guinea pig.
- We know how much you love to include your guinea pig in your activities, but we do not recommend you take it with you on your road travels. Occasionally is fine but tagging it along all the time leads to feeling stressed.
- Let your furry friend have its ideal hours of sleep. How long do guinea pigs sleep to remain healthy? There’s no definite answer but if you see it sleeping, make it a point not to disrupt it. Some may sleep for four hours a day while some sleep longer.
Do Male Guinea Pigs Live Longer?
Some studies claim that males tend to live longer than female guinea pigs. This is because breeding and improper care after birth have a direct effect on the health of a female guinea pig.
If your guinea pig has given birth, monitor her for possible life-threatening complications. One of those is mastitis wherein the mother’s mammary glands get swollen due to bacterial infection. If untreated, the bacteria can spread to its bloodstream and can threaten her life.
You may also want to separate the male guinea pig so she won’t pregnant again without having the right amount of time to recuperate from birth-giving.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live Alone?
As mentioned earlier, guinea pigs love companionship, either with their kind or from human companionship. Having that nature, guinea pigs cannot survive for long if left alone.
A guinea pig’s lifespan can be shortened due to loneliness. They need someone to interact with, to play with to enjoy life. If there’s no one to share its life with, a guinea pig can succumb to depression.
It will lose its appetite, thereby weakening its immune system. Moreover, a lonely guinea pig tends to chew its skin. As a result, the skin gets wounded and gets infected by bacteria. Though it can be treated with skin antibiotics, persistent skin chewing may eventually cause bacterial infection to infect the other parts of the body.
In a matter of time, it is not uncommon to see a guinea pig dying from loneliness.
Who Is the Longest Living Guinea Pig?
The longest living guinea pig is Snowball. It lived for a whopping 14 years and 10.5 months. It died in February 1979.
To Sum Up…
The companionship of an animal, be it with the one with fur or the with feathers or scales, is something that each pet owner enjoys. But, there is an end to it all. What is important is that you provide your pet with a good quality of life it deserves.
In the case of the guinea pigs, how long do guinea pigs live? It could be short or long enough depending on the breed and the right care, love, and respect you give.