Guinea Pigs’ Lifespan: Everything You Need to Know

Guinea Pigs Lifespan
Photo by Yvinne on Pixabay

It’s quite reasonable to want to know your guinea pigs’ lifespan. 

This helps pet owners to understand how best to cater to their pets and, with more commitment, helps to extend their guinea pigs’ lifespan by a few more years.

In most cases, it can be challenging to determine how long a pet can live, as some don’t live up to the expected years.

It’s not as if there is a tag on their bodies that says “best before.”

We can only come up with some numbered guesses, but it is never always guaranteed that your Guinea pig will live as long as you want it to, and sometimes, it may surprise you by living longer.

Read on to find out more.

Lifespan and Aging Process of a Guinea Pig

Just as we have guinea pigs in captivity, we also have them in the wild, which is only natural.

However, we can’t fully conclude they are the same as the guinea pigs we keep as pets.

When in their natural environment, Guinea pigs’ lifespan can last up to “4 years”, while some don’t even live that long.

Living in the wild plays a vital role in how long they can live, considering the risks and dangers they are surrounded by.

With their small sizes, guinea pigs are easy prey for other animals.

Predators like wolves, snakes, hawks, owls, and coyotes prey on them easily, cutting the guinea pigs’ lifespan short; and that’s just naming a few.

Unfortunately, the wild isn’t the only place they have to live their lives in fear.

Domestic cats and humans also find them easy to prey on when they are exposed to human settlements.

When we include scarcity of food with the above-mentioned factors, you’d see that guinea pigs in the wild don’t fare better than guinea pigs kept as pets.

It is no surprise to find pet guinea pigs caged or kept in a confined space.

One thing is sure, they usually live longer than guinea pigs exposed in the wild and may live between 4 to 8 years, depending on several factors that would further be discussed in this article.

If their living condition favors them very well, some guinea pigs’ lifespan can last longer than some dogs.

Guinness World Record has the oldest guinea pig, “Snowball,” living up to 14 years and ten months plus.

Determining the precise developmental age of a guinea pig would be impossible, considering they have a shorter lifespan than other pets as well as humans.

Mind you, we aren’t talking about chronological age here.

What comes to mind when you realize your furry pet ball has been with you for five years? Any idea what that means?

Your pet’s feet should give you some clues to its age. It might interest you to know that guinea pigs start to an age when their outside toe begins to roll or curl towards their sole.

This continues until the largest toe curls up, indicating that it has reached the ancient period and may even be classified as a grandma or grandpa, whichever the case.

Breed Factor of Guinea Pigs

There is no known cause as to why hairless guinea pigs (another breed) live a bit longer than haired guinea pigs.

Even though their average lifespan is recorded at 7 to 8 years, Skinny pigs can last for as long as 14 years.

Their hairy relatives have a shorter lifespan, including guinea pigs like the American, Texel, Teddy, and Cuy guinea pigs living not more than four years.

Breakdown of the Average Lifespan of Some Breeds of Guinea Pigs

  • American guinea pig: 4 to 8 years
  • Cuy guinea pigs: 4 to 8 years
  • Abyssinian guinea pig: 5 to 7 years
  • Peruvian guinea pig: 5 to 8 years
  • Himalayan guinea pig: 5 to 8 years
  • Silkie guinea pig: 5 to 8 years
  • Sheltie guinea pigs: 5 to 8 years
  • Skinny guinea pig: 7 to 8 years
  • Texel guinea pig: 4 to 7 years
  • Teddy guinea pig: 4 to 5 years or even more
  • White-crested guinea pig: 5 to 8 years

Let’s not forget that the number of years above per breed is just a calculated guess.

How you care for your furry pet helps to determine how long they will be around for.

Dedicating quality time with pet guinea pigs could have them living up to 10 to 15 years.

You could even break “Snowball’s” record of 14 years and 10.5 months.

Nutritional and Dietary Impact

Another way to improve the health and lifespan of your pet guinea pig is its diet.

The right diet can significantly contribute to their development and how long they can live.

Juvenile and pregnant guinea pigs would benefit a lot if fed calcium-rich alfalfa-based pellets.

However, there is a possibility that you may be doing more harm than good if this same food is fed to normal adult guinea pigs.

Timothy hay or orchard grass is best to maintain a healthy adult guinea pig.

Naturally, guinea pigs can’t produce vitamin C, so it must be consistently included in their diet.

Foods rich in vitamin C include carrots and lettuce. You don’t have to make it a daily practice, as it can cause some stomach complications.

Consult with your vet for the best dietary plan for your pet.

It would help very much if you have access to a steady supply of high-quality fresh hay and grass that you can feed your guinea pigs.

Other foods (as advised by your vet) can also help to prolong the life of your pet.

Putting Other Factors Into Consideration

Apart from their diet, the lifespan of guinea pigs can be affected by other things.

Exercise is essential for your pet, so a spacious cage or enclosure is needed to help them more freely, allowing for optimal activities.

If approved, guinea pigs would run and even dig up holes. Creating a natural environment for guinea pigs to be themselves helps to improve their overall well-being significantly.

It is also very vital that a clean space is maintained. Ensure to keep their enclosure and surroundings clean and germ-free.

Guinea pigs, unlike actual pigs, are tiny and can quickly become infected by fungi, bacteria, and sometimes viruses.

By frequently cleaning their cage, you can significantly help maximize the lifespan of your guinea pigs.

Pet owners must be very observant of their pet’s physical changes and behavior.

Difficulty breathing, weight loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, wheezing, sneezing, and in some cases, bloody urine can be an indication of health complications.

It would be difficult to miss anything if you spend enough time with your guinea pig.

If you notice something is off in your pet, it is probably time to see a vet for a check-up and possible treatment. Proper care of your guinea pig guarantees a long healthy life.

Do you have a guinea pig, or are you considering adopting one? What breed do you have, or are you looking to get? Share with us in the comments.

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