Guinea pigs may seem like rodents at first. However, they are actually one of the smartest animals out there. Not only are they extremely clever, but also quite curious.
This is perhaps why they have been kept as pets for centuries. Moreover, domesticated guinea pigs might not be as bright and clever as those in the wild.
Keep reading to find out about the different ways they are intelligent.
Guinea Pig Intelligence
Guinea pigs are naturally predisposed to explore since they are pretty intelligent and curious. In fact, a bored guinea pig with no stimulation might get depressed soon and die.
These tiny rodents are actually quite intelligent in terms of memory, social behavior, and recognition. This is why they also respond well to training.
Research shows that guinea pigs have incredible abilities to perform tricks, follow paths, and more. They can even recognize your voice and commands.
How Are Guinea Pigs Smart?
When you look at your guinea pigs, you might wonder that all they do is eat, sleep, explore, and poop. But that is far from the truth.
A lot of brainwork goes behind these activities, especially when they are exploring.
The best way to recognize their mental abilities is through observing them and how they respond to situations.
There are some specific behaviors and responses you can notice in particular in them. Here are some instances where you can note their intelligence:
Guinea Pigs Know Their Way Back Home
Guinea pigs have an excellent memory. Tons of studies show that these cuddly pets can actually find their way back home.
Initially, it was assumed that they used their strong sense of smell to find their way back home. However, that is not the case since they actually use their kinesthetic memory.
For this reason, you might notice that your guinea pig might wander off to explore or food. But they always come back.
They Display Emotions
If you notice their behaviors closely, you will see that guinea pigs also routinely display their emotions. For example, they will hop up and down when they are happy.
You can typically see this in younger guinea pigs, but even the older ones display their happiness. They might get happy seeing you and start hopping.
Similarly, if they see a threat in front of them, they barely move and observe it. This gives them time to make a plan of action and recognize how dangerous the danger is.
Observing the threat and not moving helps the rodents decide whether the danger warrants them to flee or if it is not dangerous.
They Can Recognize and Respond to Their Names
Over time, if you train them well, guinea pigs will also be able to recognize their names when you call them.
They learn to associate the sound and tone of their name with themselves.
It might take them some time to learn their names, but it will happen with regular training. Then you can test this fact.
Call out to the guinea pig and watch them come out of their hiding and go to you.
Guinea Pigs Recognize You
As we have established by now, guinea pigs have excellent recognition abilities. This is why they are one of the most intelligent animals out there.
They can recognize their favorite food, names, and familiar surroundings. What is more surprising about these little critters is that they can also recognize you.
You can teach them to recognize through regular practice, but this will require patience. This recognition comes by regularly talking to your vet because they will recognize your voice first.
Eventually, they will know the sound of your footsteps as well. This will lead them to associate the sound and your voice with you.
Owing to their strong sense of smell, they will also be able to recognize your scent. You should watch their behavior to see if they recognize you.
For example, they might come towards you when you approach, hop or squeal. All of this shows that they know you as their owner and recognize you.
They Can Learn Multiple Tricks
Guinea pigs are highly intelligent animals that can learn multiple tricks when adequately trained.
Through their incredible memory, they will be able to remember all the behaviors you teach them.
However, teaching guinea pigs tricks takes time. They do respond well to behavioral conditioning. For example, by giving them treats while training them.
Moreover, unlike cats and dogs, it is not recommended to teach them tricks early on. You should teach them tricks when they are older.
They Can Be Potty Trained
Through proper training and plenty of patience, you can actually potty train your guinea pigs. It might not be an easy task, but it is entirely possible.
Guinea pigs already have a designated space where they poop. You can train them to do their business at specific places through behavioral training with treats.
With some guidance and patience, you can decide where their litter is and how to use it. However, make sure that this area is where they feel familiar and safe.
Guinea Pigs Can Recognize Symbols
Another way that guinea pigs are pretty intelligent animals is through their ability to recognize symbols.
Not only that, but they can hold information about symbols for a long time.
Several studies show that guinea pigs can actually recognize colors and symbols. They can also associate them with situations.
For instance, you can place them in a maze, and they will find their way out by recognizing various symbols.
Moreover, they can also identify colors and differentiate between them.
How to Train Your Guinea Pig to Be Smarter
If you have a guinea pig, you can definitely train them to be smarter. Since domesticated guinea pigs don’t have to hunt, their brains are smaller.
However, this does not mean that they cannot be trained to become smarter. However, training them does require patience and consistency.
At first, it might seem challenging, but this task can definitely be done. The best way to train them is through behavioral training with the help of treats.
Moreover, you should not train small guinea pigs but only do it when they get older. The best age for training guinea pigs is above seven months.
Older guinea pigs tend to be much smarter and be able to retain more memory. Hence, it is best to train older guinea pigs rather than younger ones.
Here are some ways you can teach these clever animals to follow your commands:
Start Slow with the Basics
You should start slow with the basics and by teaching them small tasks. For example, you can hide a carrot and encourage them to find it.
This can be best done when they are out of their cage. It will allow them to explore and use their senses to search for the carrot.
Not only will it be a good workout for them, but it will also excite them. The guinea pig will be motivated to find the carrot because of the reward.
Add Activities in Their Cages
You cannot train and entertain your guinea pig at all hours. The best solution is to arrange activities in their cages for them.
For example, you could hang a piece of lettuce. They will be encouraged to use their brain and figure out how to reach them.
You can also teach them to recognize colors by painting their feeder different colors. Do this multiple times, and they will be able to recognize colors.
Use a Maze
A great way to make your guinea pig smarter is by building a maze for them. You can put them in it and keep a treat that they have to find.
This will test their abilities and senses. Additionally, it will allow them to recognize symbols and directions as well.
You can also add obstacles in the maze to challenge your guinea pigs. For example, you can add tubes in the middle of the maze that they have to go across.
Moreover, another way to teach them problem-solving is by hiding their favorite treats under a box. They will be motivated to open it and find their treat.
Teach Them to Respond To Their Name
You can teach your guinea pig to respond to their name through classical conditioning. It is easy but will require consistency.
The best way to do this is through keeping treats and calling them by their name. When they come to you, give them the treat.
Repeat this a few times, and they will start learning their name and responding to your calls.
Perhaps one of the most significant reasons why guinea pigs make excellent pets is because of their intelligence. They are also great pets for children.
These animals are intelligent, social, and loving. Now that you know how intelligent they are, you can start training them.
Training your guinea pig to be smarter will require loads of practice and patience. However, it will definitely be worthwhile once you see improvement in your critter’s abilities!
Other Articles you may also like: