HOW LONG DO GUINEA PIGS LIVE?
So, how many years of joy can you expect to get from your furry piggie friends? It’s the million-dollar question that lots of people ask, and of course, the answer can vary depending on who you speak to...but let’s see if we can dispel a few myths and give you an idea of the sort of commitment you need to be prepared for, if you are going to give these gorgeous little critters a forever home!
A guinea pig is not a hamster.
So, this (you would think) should be fairly self-explanatory, however in our experience, we have come across many people confusing guinea pigs with hamsters! Now, not only do guinea pigs have very different needs and grow much larger than their (very distant!) relation the hamster, but the life expectancy of these creatures also differs. On average, a hamster can be expected to live for 2-3 years, depending on breed type and lifestyle.
So, go on then, what is the average lifespan of a pet guinea pig?
Well, without hedging our bets too widely, the average lifespan for a domestic guinea pig is 5-7 years, although as with any living creature, there are many factors that can influence this. They have been known to live for much longer than 7 years, indeed as the 2006 Guinness World Record states, the longest living guinea pig survived for 14 years, 10.5 months! While this record may not be the norm, guinea pigs are certainly a pet that you need to be confident about affording the care and devotion to, for a good number of years.
How can we help our precious piggies to enjoy a long and happy life?
There are lots of things you can do to give your guinea pigs the best chance of reaching old age. Good diet, a large enclosure, plenty of exercise, social interaction, good hygiene and proper response to any potential health issues are all factors that can contribute to a long and happy life. So, ensure you are feeding the correct foods in the right amounts, with plentiful hay and forage on the side! Provide your piggies with ample space and opportunities to run around, using tunnels and stimulating toys in their cages/runs or during floor time/out in the garden. Guinea pigs are social animals, so make sure they have a bonded cage mate, so they don’t get lonely or bored. Of course don’t forget, most guinea pigs love spending time with humans too, so enjoy some lap-time snuggles with them. Clean their enclosures regularly and thoroughly and ensure you handle your animals daily to keep a close eye on their health, seeking advice from an exotic vet should the need arise.
The Rainbow Bridge
As with any animal, there can be health problems in guinea pigs that occur at any age. This can be very hard to deal with, especially if a young piggie is taken ill. With the best will in the world, and despite all the best efforts to provide a healthy environment for our furry friends, there will be problems beyond your control. We suggest that you find a good exotic vet who is used to dealing with guinea pigs and act quickly should you need to, as they can go downhill quickly.
So, unlike their ‘wild’ guinea pig relations, who can only be expected to live for 1-4 years, pet guinea pigs can live 5-7 years providing you with many years of love, snuggles and wheeks! So, be prepared to do all you can to provide them with a long, healthy and happy life, and they will indeed brighten up your days in return!