Unfortunately, sooner or later you have to say goodbye to all pets. Some of them stay with us for life, become real friends. The life of others is more fleeting, but they also take root in our memory forever, evoking only the most pleasant memories. Sometimes you want to know how long this or that animal can be around, and therefore today we will talk about how long guinea pigs live. What determines their lifespan?
Life cycle and averages
Unlike other members of their squad, guinea pigs are considered to be real centenarians. The approximate life expectancy of these pets in captivity is up to 8 years, and in the natural environment – to 10. That is why these animals are bought – no one wants to say goodbye to a new family pet every year.
South America is considered the birthplace of these animals, where they were first discovered by Europeans. The little animals caused quite a sensation among the civilized public: they were cute, adorable, easy to care for and friendly. After the popularization of pigs around the world, numerous works began on crossing and breeding new decorative species. Unfortunately, selection has led to the fact that the life expectancy of new breeds has been significantly reduced (up to 5-7 years).
The longest-lived representative of these animals is considered a male guinea pig from England, he managed to cheat death up to 15 years (14 years and 9 months).
Depending on environmental conditions and care, the life expectancy of guinea pigs can vary significantly. Why this happens, you can read below.
Even in the most favorable conditions for keeping this animal at home, individual individuals rarely live up to 8 years. Exemplary reasons for this average lifespan at home can be the following:
- unsuitable environment;
- dishonest care;
- neglect of the symptoms of diseases;
- breed and heredity.
Each of these reasons will be discussed in detail below.
Keeping guinea pigs in zoos and enclosures further reduces the potential lifespan of these animals. The reasons may be the following.
- Bad food, dirty water. Usually such animals are kept in small groups of up to 10 individuals. Feed for such a large number of animals is most often bought in bulk and stored in a certain place, which is not carefully looked after. Which already affects its quality. The same goes for diversity in the diet, which a single individual in captivity obviously will not receive.
To put it simply, caring for a single individual at home is usually much more effective than caring for the same single individual in private animal breeding and keeping facilities.
- Care quality. Untimely replacement of old food with new, allowing old products to rot, insufficient care of enclosures due to the large number of other animals, as well as the lack of minimal entertainment and toys.
- Constant nervous tension. Any animal in the zoo needs time to get used to being teased, called, fed incomprehensibly, and constantly distracted. Against the background of these actions, a mental disorder and depression can develop, to which guinea pigs are also susceptible. Animals with these disorders do not stay in the zoo for long, especially animals like guinea pigs.
All that these animals have in cages is socialization in a society of their own kind. However, when it comes to socialization and care rules, care should still be a priority.
Factors affecting life expectancy
All varieties of guinea pigs also differ in interbreed characteristics. There are 3 varieties of guinea pigs, depending on the thickness of the hairline.
- Long haired guinea pigs breeds such as Peruvian, Abyssinian, Sheltie, Coronet. All pigs on this list have a long coat that needs careful care. They do not live particularly long, the average life expectancy is from 5 to 6 years.
- Short haired guinea pigs do not require much and painstaking care and live up to 8 years. Known Breeds: American, Crested, Himalayan, Texel, Royal.
- Hairless guinea pigs were bred by selection for people with an acute and uncontrolled form of allergy to the wool of these animals. They have an average lifespan of 4 years, some individuals are able to live up to 8 years. These pets are the easiest to care for due to the absence of problems with wool. Known Breeds: skinny, baldwin.
The life expectancy of any pet depends not only on its type or breed, most often it is the result of a whole range of conditions. Conditions of detention – the first thing you should pay attention to when buying an animal. Guinea pigs can hardly be called finicky animals, however, in some environment they feel good, and in some they are able to quickly wither away. On what it depends, we will consider further.
An aviary, cage or container for a pet should be both spacious, wide and not particularly high. The material for the cage must be durableso that the animal cannot gnaw it and is quite heavy so that the structure does not turn over due to the weight of an adult during games or feeding. Metal or glass are usually chosen as such materials.
- metal cages they are good because oxygen circulates well through them, they are durable and easy to clean.
- Glass but heavier, gets dirty faster and does not pass fresh air as well, especially if it is a solid aquarium. At the same time, metal cages are much more expensive.
The main condition for any cell is a large amount of free space for recreation and entertainment.
Be sure to place items for games in the cage, these can be perches, horizontal stairs, houses, tunnels, a wheel. Games stimulate the physical activity of the animal, give it more strength. Physical procedures have a positive effect on health, strengthen the body, burn excess fat and improve digestion.
Guinea pigs are one of those pets that can not stand to be in the same space for a long time. Against the background of boredom, a real depression can develop. To avoid this, sometimes it is enough to take the pig out for a walk somewhere outside the city. Avoid walking in parks and yards near roadways and industrial plants. It is better to do this somewhere near the city, after checking the meadow vegetation for the presence of harmful plants and herbs.
If you are afraid to let your pet out on the street, you can send him to walk around the room under vigilant supervision, but make sure that the animal does not take anything harmful into its mouth, it is especially dangerous to eat houseplants. Many of them are very dangerous for guinea pigs.
The predisposition to diseases caused by improper nutrition or care also greatly affects the life expectancy of the animal. Guinea pigs have a strong immune system, however, it can be weakened by malnutrition.
And here it is extremely important to keep track not of the diseases themselves, but of the first symptoms and signs in order to prevent the disease at the initial stage.
Signs may be as follows:
- the animal looks lethargic, moves slowly or does not move at all;
- breathing is hoarse and difficult, there is shortness of breath;
- the animal is observed systematic seizures with convulsions and shudders;
- the hairline begins to fall out, abscesses and ulcers form on the body;
- noticeable violations of the digestive tract – diarrhea, constipation;
- weak appetite or its absence, strong thirst;
- the eyes are watery, the nose of the animal flows;
- wool looks matted and stuck together;
- scratching is observed all over the body, the animal cannot sit still.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The best way to determine the current state of a pet is to offer to play games. It is by the activity and movements of the animal that you will understand that something is wrong with it. No self-treatment!
Heredity – one of the most important factors that you should pay attention to when choosing and buying a guinea pig. Buying a pig directly from a pet store is good because you are given documents with information about the parents, as well as the hereditary predispositions of the animal to certain diseases. Unfortunately, when the disease manifests itself, there is nothing you can do about it or influence the outcome in any way.
Proper nutrition – Another important factor on which not only the well-being of the animal depends, but also its mood, level of activity and playfulness. This animal is a gourmet when it comes to feeding. For example, guinea pigs suffer from vegetables and fruits with high acidity (lemon), fruits and berries with a high fructose content are also extremely harmful for them (tangerines, strawberries, blueberries), like all fermented milk (milk, cheese, cottage cheese), meat and bakery products (meat, bread, bread). Eating any food on this list can potentially lead to the death of your animal.
Another important point concerns absorption of ascorbic acid or vitamin C, which the gastrointestinal tract of these animals cannot physically synthesize. From this it follows that every day in the diet should be present either synthetic vitamin C, or its natural replacement in the form of fruits and vegetables.
Another problem in the diet of guinea pigs is binge eating. Animals have a reputation for being indefatigable gluttons who don’t know when to stop.
If you don’t make sure your food intake is consistent and regular, not large and spontaneous, it’s likely that your pet will become obese. And obese guinea pigs tend not to live long.
The daily diet should consist of the following products:
- special feed, green or dry – 60%;
- hay, tree branches, treats – 20%;
- fruits and vegetables – from 15 to 20%, vegetables should be given every day in a small amount, fruits – every other day.
How to properly care?
Not only nutrition, housing conditions or heredity determine the life expectancy of guinea pigs. It all depends very much on your regular care of the animal. Pigs are not the type of pet that you can just put in a cage and leave there for the whole day. There is a set of rules that every guinea pig breeder must adhere to. You can find them below.
- All food and water must be fresh. The water container must not contain dirt or food residues. All excess vegetables and fruits must be immediately removed from the enclosure, otherwise they may deteriorate. Change the water every day, it should be fresh, but settled. Also try to clean the cage for the animal regularly.
- An aviary, cage or container with an animal should be placed in a remote warm corner of the room. The place should be well ventilated, without drafts and direct sunlight on the base.
- Keep an eye on your pet. Buy a special comb to tidy up the hair at the withers and torso of the animal, otherwise tangles will form. Regularly clean your pet’s ears and eyes, check them for parasites and dirt, mucus.
- If you give the animal only juicy food and fruits (to the detriment of dry food), you may encounter the problem of overgrown teeth. You should not sharpen them yourself, otherwise you will harm the animal. The procedure can be ordered from a veterinarian.
- In addition to fighting overgrown teeth, over time there will be a problem with too long claws. As they grow, they can not only interfere with the movement of the pig itself, but also harm you when you pick up the animal. There are special devices for grinding claws, however, it will be easiest to use a nail cutter. In order not to harm the animal even more, cut off only those parts that really bring him obvious discomfort.
- Be careful when prescribing water treatments for your pet. In the wild, this animal can hardly be called clean, and therefore washing should be carried out only when necessary. For baths, you should use special hypoallergenic shampoos on a natural basis. After bathing, do not forget to dry your furry friend, otherwise he will catch a cold.
- The approximate temperature of the water when bathing should be at least 32 degrees. If we talk about a favorable average temperature, then under normal conditions it should not be lower than 18 degrees Celsius. Anything lower, despite the abundant hairline, means coolness for guinea pigs.
- The litter in the cage must be naturalhay is most often used, which must be regularly cleaned when contaminated.
How to determine the current age?
Unfortunately, there is no exact way to determine the current age of an individual down to the month and day, you will have to trust the seller or breeder when you buy an animal. Thanks to the factors below, you will be able to determine the approximate age of your furry friend.
- Young and still growing individuals they are always more active and mobile, they cannot sit still for a minute, sticking their nose in literally all corners.
- Growth of adults reaches about 25-30 cm, which in terms of weight, it ranges from 800 to 1000 grams in females and from 1 to 2 kilograms in males. The weight of young (less than a month) individuals rarely reaches more than 500 grams.
- Much can be learned from the condition of the coat. If it is shiny, young, not crumpled, well-groomed, soft, then according to all these signs, you have a young individual no older than 3-4 years old. If baldness, bedsores or hairballs are present, the individual is older than 4 years.
- The approximate age can also be found by the incisors: in young individuals they are snow-white in color, in adults and old individuals the color is close to yellow.
- Claws can also tell a lot about age, you can determine it by the shape and presence of cut claws. In addition, the claws of young individuals are slightly transparent and smooth, while in older individuals they can be bent in different directions and slightly bumpy.
It is not recommended to buy individuals older than 2 years. As a rule, they are already adapted to strictly defined food and specific conditions of detention. Pets will take a long time and painfully get used to the new diet and environment. Small guinea pigs are much easier to teach. Moreover, diseases at an early age are much easier to treat than in the period of full maturity.
When buying, you should ask the seller for documents where the exact current age will be indicated, as well as birth weight. By these two factors, you will be able to determine whether they are trying to deceive you.
If we draw a parallel between the age of these animals and human life, it turns out that one year of their life is equal to 12-15 of our years.
For more information about the guinea pig, see the following video.