Are Guinea Pigs Smart – How Intelligent Are They Really?

Are Guinea Pigs Smart – How Intelligent Are They Really?

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Published By: Martyn

Are guinea pigs smart? This is a question that has been debated by animal lovers for years. Some people believe that guinea pigs are intelligent creatures that are capable of forming strong bonds with their owners.

Others argue that they are not particularly intelligent, and that their cute appearance is simply a result of evolution. So, who is right?

Guinea pigs have been found to have comparable intelligence levels to rabbits and hamsters, which means that they are likely more intelligent than your average house pet. However, they are still far from being as intelligent as dogs or cats.

However, there is no denying that they are fun-loving and affectionate creatures that make great pets.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the intelligence of guinea pigs, and see if they are as smart as some people think they are.

Do Guinea Pigs Have a Good Memory?

One of the key indicators of intelligence in animals is memory capacity. So, do guinea pigs have a good memory?

As it turns out, they actually have a pretty good memory.

Studies have shown that they are able to remember specific tasks that they have been taught, and they can even recall the location of food that they have hidden away.

This means that, if you spend enough time training your guinea pig, they will eventually be able to perform simple tricks on command. They may not be as impressive as the tricks that your dog can do, but it’s still pretty impressive for a small rodent.

Do Guinea Pigs Know Their Own Name?

Another indicator of guinea pig intelligence is the ability to recognise and respond to your own name. So, do guinea pigs know their own name?

The answer to this question is a little more complicated than you might think. While some guinea pigs will learn their name and respond when they hear it, others will simply ignore it.

This is likely because guinea pigs are social creatures, and they bond with their owners more than they bond with other animals. This means that they are more likely to respond to the sound of their owner’s voice than they are to their own name.

So, while not all guinea pigs will learn their own name, there is a good chance that yours will if you spend enough time with them.

Can Guinea Pigs Recognise you?

As we just mentioned, guinea pigs are social creatures that bond closely with their owners. But what does this mean in terms of intelligence?

Well, it means that guinea pigs are capable of recognising their owner’s face. In fact, they can even recognise the faces of other people that they see on a regular basis.

This is pretty impressive when you think about it. After all, most animals struggle to remember the faces of other members of their own species, let alone humans.

Do Guinea Pigs Have Emotions?

As it turns out, Guinea pigs do express emotion. Studies have shown that guinea pigs are capable of feeling a wide range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, fear, and anger.

What’s more, they are also capable of expressing these emotions through their body language. For example, a happy guinea pig will often squeal and run around, while a scared guinea pig will try to hide away.

This means that guinea pigs are not just intelligent creatures; they are also emotional creatures that feel a wide range of emotions.

Can A Guinea Pig Be Litter Trained?

One of the questions I had when looking to get guinea pigs, was whether or not they can be litter trained.

The answer to this question is yes and no. While some guinea pigs will learn to use a litter box with no problem, others will simply refuse to do so.

This is likely because guinea pigs are creatures of habit, and they prefer to stick to the same routine. If you want to litter train your guinea pig, you’ll need to be patient and consistent in your efforts.

I’ve tried to get Millie and Molly to use the litter, although very unsuccessfully. Im not giving up, so maybe they will.

Are Guinea Pigs Smarter Than Other pets?

As you can see from above, guinea pigs are pretty intelligent animals. But how do they compare against other animals?

There have been some studies done to help to determine not only how smart guinea pigs are but how this compares with other animals.

For example study done in the journal of Animal Cognition, compared guinea pigs with other rodents. The results did show that the guinea pigs intelligence was higher than that of other rodents.

1. Guinea pig vs. hamsters

When it comes to picking a rodent as a pet, Guinea Pigs and Hamsters are normally the most common. In fact many people do tend to get them mixed up. Usually because hamsters have a similar face and a small stubby tail. Although there are some big differences, such as their size.

Guinea Pigs are smarter than hamsters. This is because hamsters have less neurons than guinea pigs, which general means they are less intelligent.

Its also easier to train guinea pigs than hamsters, because they have a much better memory.

2. Guinea pigs vs. rats

Rats are said to be very intelligent rodents. They have the same amount of neurons as a Guinea Pig. Guinea pigs are more intelligent than rats, simply because they learn a lot faster.

3. Guinea pigs vs. rabbits

Both Rabbits and Guinea Pigs make for great pets and both are very smart pets, but which is more intelligent?

If we look at the neuron’s, which is what passes messages from the brain. Rabbits have more than Guinea Pigs, but this doesn’t make them more intelligent.

Your guinea pig has a longer memory than a rabbits, as their short-term memory doesnt last as long. Although rabbits are slightly more intelligent, as they can preform more complex tricks.

4. Guinea pigs vs. cats

If we were to compare the guinea pig’s brain and a cats, then its very clear that the cat is more intelligent. Not only are their brains bigger but they have more neurons. Cats can learn things quicker as well as learn more things than a guinea pig.

5. Guinea pigs vs. dogs

Dogs are 100% more intelligent than guinea pigs, there are no domesticated pets more intelligent than a dog.

They do have some similarities, IE they can both recognise people and sounds. They both also have a great memory.

However, you’ve never heard of a service guinea pig have you? This is simply because guinea pigs dont have the intelligence to match a dog.

Are Guinea Pigs Smart Enough to Learn Tricks or Commands?

Yes, guinea pigs can learn tricks and commands.

The key to training a guinea pig is to be patient and consistent. You’ll need to spend a lot of time working with your guinea pig, but eventually, they will learn the tricks or commands that you are trying to teach them.

It’s often worth practicing these tricks with young guinea pigs, although you might need to wait until they’ve got to know you a little bit.

Train Your Guinea Pig To Walk Onto Your Hand

It would certainly make it much easier to pick up your Guinea Pig if they just walked onto your hand. You can train them to do just that.

  • With one hand you want to hold a nice treat and the other one wants to be flat on the floor
  • Let them smell the treat and get them to follow you to where your flat hand is
  • Put the treat to around the palm or wrist of your flat hand.
  • This will encourage them to step up onto your hand
  • As they step onto your hand, give a command such as “up” or “step”
  • Continue to do this and eventually they’ll do it without a treat

Standing Up On Two Feet

It’s possible to teach your guinea pig how to stand on two feet. This trick is pretty easy to do and just takes patience.

  • Get your guinea pigs favourite treat
  • Allow them to smell the treat, so they follow it
  • Lift the treat up just above their head
  • This will encourage them to look up and smell and come up off their front feet to get it
  • As they do, give them a command
  • Continue daily and eventually removing the treat and just saying the command will do.

There are several tricks you can teach your guinea pig. They all just take a little time and persistence.

Signs your guinea pigs are intelligent

It’s really hard to measure a guinea pig’s intelligence, but that can be said with any animal.

You can however look at their behaviour or their character to see how smart your guinea pig is.

During studies scientists would do research to see how intelligent guinea pigs are. These would involve them going through different paths and a small maze, to see if they could find their way back.

These studies have proven that they use memory to locate their way back to their cage and not just their sense of smell.

They use this skill when coming across a predator. Since Guinea Pigs are social animals, they like to remain in a group.

If a predator comes to attack them, they don’t just run off in the same direction. They actually scatter all over the place and this causes confusion.

Since they have good memories, no matter which direction they go, they can find their way home or to food.

You can also see their emotional intelligence.

If you’ve never been a guinea pig owner, it might come as a shock when they are so scared of you when they first come home.

This is because they are prey animals.

Overtime, they do get used to you and even react to you coming in, talking to them and bringing them food. This shows that they are building a bond between you and squeaking with happiness is a clear sign of emotional intelligence.


Do guinea pigs like when you talk to them?

Guinea Pigs love it when you talk to them. Even though they’re not smart enough to understand the words, they do understand body language and tone. Talking to them in a soothing tone can really help to calm them down.

Why do guinea pigs stare at you?

Millie and Molly will often just sit there staring at me and I often wonder if they’ve just fallen a sleep or are they actually wanting something. Many believe that they stare at you to get your attention, so you give them cuddles, food or toys. This is pretty clever for an animal to do.

Do guinea pigs recognise their owners?

A Guinea Pigs eye sight is not that good, so they may not recognise their owner by the way they look. Guinea Pigs are however smart and can often recognise their own from their smell and tone of voice.

Final Thoughts

So are guinea pigs smart?

Guinea pigs are intelligent animals that can be taught a variety of tricks.

While there is no definitive way to measure guinea pig intelligence, scientists have looked at different ways to gauge how smart guinea pigs are. One common way is through their memory and problem-solving skills.

For example, guinea pigs can remember the location of their home or food even if they’re displaced. They can also figure out how to get back to their group when scattered by a predator.

Their emotional intelligence is also apparent as they become attached to their owners over time and respond differently depending on the tone of voice used.

All in all, guinea pigs make loving pets and very curious animals, that provide plenty of amusement with their clever antics.


I started my journey into the wonderful world of Guinea Pigs, when my 5 year old son wanted a pet. We spent many weeks and months deciding what type of pet to get him. This is when we fell down the rabbit hole of Guinea Pigs...

I had so many questions when we first started looking into them. Hours and hours of research has given me the answers. So I wanted to share what I've learned with you, to help you learn more about these amazing animals.

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