Have you ever wondered about guinea pig intelligence?
Guinea pigs are known for their cute features and are also known to be the best companion to be kept in the household.
Its existence in the household does not only act as a remedy for your anxiety but it also gives dopamine or what we also call “happy hormones” or “feel good” hormones.
Having a guinea pig at home can also teach children to own up to responsibilities by helping to take care of their pet.
Because of these factors that we can get from them, it becomes the fair-haired pet in every household wherein pet-keeping is already a part of human nature.
How Much Intelligence Does A Guinea Pig Really Have?
Wondering how intelligent guinea pigs actually are?
Read on to find out the facts!
Origin of Guinea Pigs
Before we look more into the intelligence of guinea pigs, let’s first see more about where these cute little rodents came from.
That’s not all, as we’ll also see how they were first discovered and why they now exist in almost every household.
Quick History Facts
In Peru, these little animals were primarily kept as a food source.
They also appear on their folk art and handicrafts from between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
And for the record, these guineas are not pigs but they belong to the rodents family.
It’s worth noting that they are not from Guinea but South America.
“Guinea pigs” is used as a Latin name for its scientific name and that is “cavia porcellus”.
These rodents were first domesticated originally in South America, particularly the Andes tribe.
The tribe first used them as a food source way back in the year 5000 BC.
From the 16th century onwards, guinea pigs were imported to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors not for food but as exotic and instinctive pets.
Them having guinea pigs in their home symbolized wealth and royalty.
The first royal court who owned this as a pet was no other person than the queen herself, Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Because of the innate and unique features of guinea pigs, they have become famous for different tabloids.
The last reports about them were written in 1547 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Its Benefits and Role in Religion
History facts also show that this rodent’s family has benefits that we can gain from.
That is the reason why in their first existence, they are used as a food source.
The people in Peru who are also known as Peruvians use guinea pigs as a source of medicine.
They believed that it can be used to recognize illnesses.
Because of this, the rodent’s family became sacred to them that later on plays a vital role in their religion.
In around 100 CE to 800 CE in Moche, the northern part of Peru, statues of these rodents were worshipped and they also usually integrated them into their artworks.
Meanwhile, the Incas who are popularly known for their wide range of empire during the pre-Columbian American era use guineas as sacrifices or offerings for their gods.
They were of the belief that guinea pigs were pleasing to them in general.
Quick Scientific Facts
Guineas are mammals in nature and a herbivore.
Their life span would range from 5 to 8 years.
They are widely known scientifically as “carvia porcellus” or “carvies” for short.
They usually weigh 700- 1, 200 grams and their sizes are 20- 25 cm only.
Their usual habitat is tropical grassland.
The male guinea who is dominant in groups is also known as “boars” while the females are “sows”.
Guineas are highly sociable and wild and they can be very vocal and communicative as well.
So, when choosing a guinea pig as a pet, they must have a companion because they would feel depressed and lonely and that would eventually lead to death.
There are species-specific needs that must be taken into consideration.
They are unable to get vitamin C, just like humans, so they need to acquire it through foods.
Failing to give one would again eventually lead them to death.
Guineas are wild so they are active mostly all the time whether day or evening.
Encephalization Quotient of Animals
Encephalization quotient is a standardized test wherein it measures the intelligence of the animals through the brain size.
How does it work?
It measures the ratio between the observed predicted brain mass for an animal size based on nonlinear regression on a range of reference species.
It’s also used as a proxy on the possible way of comparing the bits of intelligence of different species.
Under Animalia kingdom with the phylum of Chordata, class mammals or Mammalia in scientific terms are intelligent.
They possess large brains, self-awareness, and explicit behaviors. They are very much vocal and communicative as well.
Because of their self-awareness, they tend to know where exactly they belong.
So, when they know they are held captive, they tend to get wild at times.
But there are some mammals also that are adaptable.
Explicit behaviors or in scientific terms “tools used”.
These mammals will tend to communicate with you by using any tools they have to signify that they want something from you or it can be through vocalization as well.
Let’s say, for example, a monkey wants a banana that you are holding.
What happens is that a domesticated monkey will point the banana using its finger while for the wild ones, they will make a sound rigorously.
Guinea Pig as a Mammal
The characteristics of a mammalian are all present in guinea pigs.
The first one is the presence of hair and fur and guinea pigs are born with full-body fur.
The next one is having a sweat gland and for guineas, it’s called grease glands.
This is where the secretions of oily, greasy, or waxy substances take place.
Although this is stinky, it’s perfectly normal for such an animal.
The guinea pig has 2 mammary glands.
Aside from that, the eyes of a guinea pig secret milk that can be used for their self-grooming.
Hundreds of characteristics can be considered to prove that the guinea pig is a mammal, but it’s for you to find out more.
Guineas are small ones yet interesting.
The EQ of Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are mammals.
They are also inquisitive and curious and just like other pets, whether they be dogs or cats, they also love socializing or interacting with people.
Since they are sociable and wild, they tend to enjoy making friends with humans.
They can also sense danger and so, will hide when they feel scared.
Since they are very self-aware, they surely know that they are prey to some animals.
So, it’s best to give them a cage that has a lot of hiding places.
Their behavior is somehow different from other mammals.
They can learn complex paths or maze and will remember them for months.
Excellency in spatial orientation is their one-of-a-kind attribute.
Moreover, they learn a lot later than 9 to 10 months old.
They also love solving problems through obstacle courses or exercise.
Another distinguishing fact is that they also tend to distinguish voices fast.
They can also differentiate between colors and smell.
When they feel stressed and lonely, they will communicate with you through “purring” and “chirping”, and that’s explicit behavior.
Again, they can solve complex mazes going in or out of the cage.
They can even understand symbols and signs.
Another smart characteristic of guinea pigs is that they are adaptable to sleeping habits.
They are usually nocturnal but if you will train them according to your sleeping schedule they will adapt to the changes and sleep with you as well.
A guinea pig rarely bites, therefore, they are the best pet to be with children.
These rodents are less dangerous and child-loving.
It’s even proven and tested to be very helpful to autistic children.
They can easily sense whether the person holding them is an adult or a child.
Size of the Guinea Pigs’ Brain
Domesticated and wild animals are different in many ways, as behaviors may vary.
Wild animals are born to be rigorous, uncivilized, and mistrustful.
For domesticated animals, they become civilized at times, sociable, interactive, and playful.
But will there be any changes also on their brains?
According to scientific statements, the smaller the size of the brain, the dumber the animals.
So, does it also apply to the guinea pigs?
How does a brain change its shape?
It changes when the body changes.
For the wild animals, there is a little chance that the size of the body will double because of the wider habitat that they have and the lesser food that they will get.
While for the domesticated ones, they tend to have a lot of opportunities to get fat because of the daily feeding routine, smaller habitat, and less exercise.
So, when the body of an animal doubles, there is an equal possibility that the brain will get smaller.
But the question is, does it affect the capability of the brain?
Will the Animal Get Dumb?
As for guinea pigs, there are no correlative studies that prove their effects on the functions of the brain.
The capability and the intelligence of a guinea pig will still be the same though the size changes.
The guinea pig’s brain weighs 5.5 grams and its body is 1.04 kg.
The Smartest Breed of a Guinea Pig
The crested guinea pig is the rarest and the smartest breed of a guinea pig.
It’s also shyer than the rest of its kind.
Moreover, it has quieter personalities and tends to hide more.
Despite the fact of being quiet, it’s the best choice for training tricks and other fun behaviors.
They learn fast and are the best at it.
Guinea Pig as Smart and Affectionate
These rodents become smarter when they feel affection from their owners.
They tend to recognize the owner’s voice right away when their name is being called.
But how do they reciprocate your love?
Their way of reciprocating their love for you as their owner is through licking your hands.
But you can also train them to kiss you.
They can sense if you’re a danger or not.
When these lovely rodents get so connected with you, whatever you are feeling would be what it’s feeling too.
If you feel agitated, you will notice it through your gestures and if you feel sad or lonely, you will also feel the same.
You will know it through their vocalization.
Guinea pigs are not only technically smart but also emotionally.
Guinea pig is also adaptably smart.
Long before now, they used to live in a habitat of rocky areas, grasslands, or even in the edges of the mountain.
Their wildlife is a natural survival instinct.
Just like other animals, they lived in pacts and lived inside dug holes under the land or trees.
When they become domesticated pets, they adapt easily to changes and surroundings.
Though some scientific findings domesticating such animals would decrease the intelligence of such, it’s somehow different from guinea pigs.
Adaptability is their way of life as they have learned this way back in centuries.
The quality of being able to adjust easily to different changes could actually make the animals smart and active.
Through adaptability, they can learn different skills.
This is the reason why these guinea pigs are skillful.
Let’s remember that they can solve complex problems and mazes.
Because of their adaptable attitude, they gain skills in solving complexities.
Is Guinea Pig the Right Pet For You?
With their intelligence, their special features, and attributes, guinea pigs are indeed the right pet for you.
Aside from being cute, cuddly, and intelligent, they will also teach you one or two lessons.
These lessons surely will help you not only as a pet owner but as a human as well.
They will teach you how to be gentle because in taking care of guinea pigs, you would have to be very calm and gentle.
As stated above on the quick scientific facts, they hold species-specific needs.
They will teach you how to be patient.
Guineas solve complex problems and would go through obstacle courses without hesitations just to get the food at the finish line.
These guinea pigs will also teach you to be smart, both in decision-making and in choices in life.
With all the shreds of evidence and all-out explanations that have been presented, then it must be visible to us that this rodent’s family has an immeasurable and pleasurable intelligence compared to some of the mammals.
Indeed, guinea pigs are geniuses.
Talking about guinea pig intelligence is more than just mere talk, it’ll lead to talks on scientific explanations and scientific figures and we’re no experts on that.
Pets can undergo a series of pieces of training and if you are choosing guinea pigs as a pet, then you are on the best track.
They are intelligent, can be trained at a young age, and are easily adaptable to changes.
Since change is inevitable and the only constant in this world, then a pet like a guinea pig who loves adaptability is the best one to have.
From being so useful way back a hundred eras, religiously a blessing way back centuries, and now a domesticated pet, with a proven scientifically high encephalization quotient, the guinea pig is indeed a genius.