Are Guinea Pigs Smart? The Real Answer

Our Guinea Pig friends are sweet, lovable, and energetic pets perfect for almost any home and family. There’s so much to learn about them and you may find yourself wondering, well how smart is my Guinea Pig? Can they do tricks? Everyone wants a cool pet that can do tricks! 

It may surprise you, but cavies are quite intelligent and eager to learn! These little guys are able to recognize different voices, see four different primary colors, and even learn how to put away their toys. While they may not play frisbee like your dog, they still can learn fun tricks to entertain you and provide mental stimulation for them, which is super important! 

Guinea Pigs are known to get bored and can develop aggressive and destructive behaviors if not provided with enough physical and mental exercise. This makes teaching them tricks a lot of fun as it’s exciting and rewarding for you both! 


How smart are guinea pigs?

Considered to be one of the smarter rodents, Guinea Pigs have gone through multiple clinical studies to observe their intelligence. While it is impossible to give a cavy an IQ test, scientists have developed ways to gauge an animal’s intelligence, and through these studies, Guinea Pigs outpace many of their rodent cousins! 

Cavies have an incredible memory. They are able to differentiate between their owner’s voices and respond to different noises according to what they associate them with. While recognizing an owner’s distinct voice, piggies are also known to hide when an unknown voice speaks, as they recognize this as danger and seek shelter. They’ll also remember where they stored a piece of food for later and guard it against their companions, a skill that was useful in the wild. 

Perhaps you’ve picked out the cutest name for your little guy, well, Guinea Pigs are capable of learning their names and to come when called! While adorable and sure to delight your friends, this is also a useful trick to help keep your piggy close and away from danger. 

Can guinea pigs learn tricks?

If learning their name isn’t cool enough, Guinea Pigs can learn a few other tricks that will sure to impress your friends. But, to begin, a piggy must be at least 6 months old in order to learn tricks. They develop slower than other pets and need the time to fully mature before they’ll retain anything they’ve learned. 

With small bits of food and some patience, your piggy will be able to learn tricks relatively fast. Don’t feel discouraged if they’re not picking up right away, as each animal’s level of learning varies.

It can be really fun to teach your piggy how to clean up after themselves! This can be achieved by slowly teaching them to push their toys into a designated corner. They can also learn how to stand straight up, beg, and jump through hoops! There’s a variety of tricks that they can learn and remember and will always strengthen the bond between you. 

What else can guinea pigs learn?

We suggest teaching your cavy to use the litter box. This serves a few purposes. First, it’ll make clean-up time for you much easier and help to keep their enclosures cleaner. In addition, it helps to prevent your guinea pig from smelling bad. It also shows how smart they are, as they’ll need to recognize when they need to go to the bathroom and to get there on time. 

Guinea Pigs can be trained to come up to you when they hear the sound of a whistle or a certain call, as they can recognize different voices and tones. They’ll also develop favorite foods and become excitable when served them, as they’re able to remember those are the ones they really like! 

Cavies also have an incredible ability to retrace their steps. This is from their millions of years spent in the wild, trying to survive, and is still very much a part of their lives today. You can provide your piggy with paths around the house or even the yard and they’ll remember exactly where to go. Maybe you’d like to train them to take certain paths for dinner time or to roll their ball down a hallway. They’ll quickly pick up on this and find the same paths each time.

Because guinea pigs have high spatial intelligence, they can also learn to do mazes. You can easily make these mazes at home with the use of some cardboard, or you can buy pre-made ones online. Make sure to place a delicious treat in the middle and your guinea pig will love completing it!

Guinea pigs love learning

Because guinea pigs are intelligent animals, they enjoy learning new things. Mental stimulation is very important for cavies because it helps prevent boredom. Whenever they learn something new, dopamine gets released into their brain which makes them feel good. For that reason, it’s not only fun for you to teach them tricks and other things, your guinea pigs will enjoy it too.

Bored guinea pigs that do not get enough mental stimulation might become destructive, which is why it’s so important that you take some time out of your day every now and then to give them the mental exercise they need and crave.

Their social nature might be key to their intelligence

Guinea pigs, unlike hamsters, are social animals. Science has shown that social animals typically have larger brains. As Science.com puts it: “most social species (from chimpanzees to social wasps) have relatively large brains and are cognitively sophisticated, adept at experiments designed to test their smarts.”

This makes a lot of sense. After all, getting along with others of your species takes quite a bit of brainpower. You need to know how to cooperate, how to avoid getting into fights, build a social structure, and much more. Guinea pigs do also form social structures, they typically have one alpha male that mates with a larger number of females. This is called a polygynous structure.

Guinea pigs have to use their brains to understand this structure because they wouldn’t be able to survive and reproduce in solitude. This is why their social nature might be key in explaining their relatively high intelligence.


Frequently asked questions

Are guinea pigs smarter than rats?

No, guinea pigs are not smarter than rats. Rats are among the smartest animals on earth and are definitely smarter than guinea pigs.

Are guinea pigs smarter than hamsters?

Guinea pigs might be smarter than hamsters because guinea pigs live in groups whereas hamsters live in solitude. Living in groups requires higher brain capacity in order to create social structures which is why guinea pigs are considered smarter than hamsters.

Are guinea pigs smarter than cats?

No, guinea pigs are not smarter than cats. Cats are highly intelligent animals. You might think that cats are not that smart because many of them won’t learn tricks, but this is simply because they don’t want to!

Are guinea pigs smarter than dogs?

No, dogs are smarter than guinea pigs. Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals.


Final words: Are Guinea Pigs Smart?

Many small animals are thought of as not very bright and only focused on food and survival. While both of those are highly important to Guinea Pigs, they also thrive on learning new things and having different things to do. By learning tricks, you’ll keep your piggy stimulated and bond with your pet. 

These little guys have so much to offer if you have the patience to teach them. Watching them jump through hoops or run through tunnels is fun as you can see how they enjoy being active. But perhaps our favorite part is when they speak excitedly when they hear your voice because they’re so happy you’ve come home. Not much beats being greeted by our furry companions!

Jesse A.