DO GUINEA PIGS CRY?
Well, it depends on what your definition of ‘cry’ is! If we are talking about crying in a vocal sense (to ‘cry’ out), then absolutely, they are noisy little fluffsters! But I guess vocalisation is a whole other blog post! So we will look instead at crying in terms of ‘emotional’ and ‘physical’ crying:
If we were to put on a good old tear-jerker, would our furry piggy friends shed an emotional tear as they cuddle up on the sofa for film night with their pig-slaves?! We would have to say ‘no’, we haven’t seen our guinea pigs crying like us humans might be doing by the end of ‘The Bucket List’. (Yes, we re-watched it the other night. Yes, we cried lots…!)
We certainly see them showing emotion in other ways however (they aren’t just fluffy potatoes, they absolutely show emotion among their companions). If you’ve ever been in the sad situation of a bereavement, you’ll know that guinea pigs appear to have a period of morning when one of their companions passes. This is clear evidence of how highly evolved they are social and emotional.
So, although we wouldn’t consider guinea pigs to cry ‘emotional tears’, like all mammals their eyes do produce physical tears. This is to keep their eye moist and clean. And if you can excuse the pun, it’s certainly a good idea to keep YOUR EYE on your guinea pigs’ eyes as they are a good indicator of their general health. Healthy eyes, just as with humans, should look moist, bright and clear. Here are some things to keep a ‘look out’ for:
If your piggie has a constantly watery eye, it could be that something has got stuck in there and the fluid is being produced to try and wash it out. This can sort itself out, but sometimes a stubborn small piece of hay, for example, might not budge. If there is something stuck in there that is visible, it could need you (if you have a VERY steady hand) or a vet to remove the offending object with some tweezers.
A cloudy look to a usually bright and clear eye could also be a result of damage from a hay-poke, injury as a result of fighting or also a sign of infection. Cloudy eyes are not normal and so advice should be sought. A vet may well prescribe drops or ointment as appropriate.
If one or both eyes have a sticky, crusty substance around them, this could be a sign of a URI (upper respiratory infection) or other infection that will need treating by a vet. Other symptoms of a URI could be a snotty nose, lethargy, not eating … all of which are not good news at all for these small critters, so best get them checked out by a professional.
If you ever see a milky-white substance being secreted from the corner of your piggies’ eyes, then this is perfectly normal and is actually a super clever way that guinea pigs groom themselves! This substance cleans their eyes and they also rub it onto their paws to then clean their faces. Guinea pigs are very clean animals and like to keep themselves looking beautiful/handsome at all times. So, if you hang around long enough, you might catch sight of this substance in their eyes and get to observe the cuteness overload that is their grooming ritual!
So, in summary, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, beauty is actually right inside your guinea pigs’ eyes, waiting for them to have a good wash! Stay clear, shine bright, stay happy!