When you think of intelligent animals you usually think of animals like dolphins, chimpanzees, elephants, and so on but how intelligent are guinea pigs? and where do they fit into the hierarchy of smart animals? Before we talk about this subject, some points to think about; how do we decide if something is intelligent? What qualities and abilities does an animal need to be considered smart?
Let’s be honest nearly all guinea pig owners will tell you that their guinea pig is smart. Of course, they love their pet and it’s true that guinea pigs are capable of some impressive feats. Many people claim guinea pigs can respond to their name, and recognize their owner with the correct training. There are countless youtube videos about tricks and techniques you can teach your guinea pig so they certainly do possess a decent amount of intelligence and understanding.
How Smart Is the Average Guinea Pig
The truth is guinea pigs have a low level of intelligence in comparison to a large selection of other animals. Measuring intelligence in animals is generally measured by the number of neurons present in their brain. Guinea pigs especially domesticated ones have relatively small brains which contain an estimated 10-20 million neurons, this isn’t so bad but when we compare it to a gorilla which has around 33 BILLION we can start to see where the guinea pig stands in the wider animal planet.
I’m sure you can find 100+ blogs of people writing about how the guinea pig is an extremely intelligent animal and how they are capable of so much but the truth of the matter is guinea pigs fall near the bottom of the pile when it comes to intellect. Of course, we love our pets and we are biased, everyone would prefer to hear their pet is smart but these articles are just telling you what you want to hear I’d prefer to tell you the truth.
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What Is the IQ of a Guinea Pig?
As interesting as it would be for every animal to have an IQ this is not the case. Guinea pigs do not have IQ. However, animals can have EQ which stands for “Encephalization Quotient”. The encephalization quotient (EQ) is a measure of relative brain size and is often used to convey how small or large a species’ brain is compared to that of other species of similar body size. Below you can see how the guinea pig fairs with animals similar to itself. Credit to the association of anatomy for this information. Fun fact guinea pigs’ brains were nearly 50% bigger than expected from their body mass.
Sidenote: if you’re looking for something fun to do with your guinea pig you can try the “Guinea pig IQ test” created by swissgreys on theguineapigforum. It’s quite a wholesome post.
The data below compares body mass, brain mass, EQ and Neurons in guinea pigs and similar animals. From here you should be able to figure out how intelligent are guinea pigs!
Of course, brain size is not the only fact in deciding guinea pig intelligence we have to consider the following things to measure their cognitive ability.
- Ability to adapt to survive
- Habit reversal
- Social learning
- Response to learning
And these a just a few methods in which we can measure guinea pig intelligence, the truth is understanding how intelligent an animal is quite a difficult task and requires a great understanding of many different topics.
What About a Guinea Pigs Memory?
Guinea pigs have pretty strong memories. They excel in remembering voice recognition, and gestures, and remembering places they’ve gone and how to get there. Generally, guinea pigs have poor short-term memory but relatively strong long-term memory when it comes to matters of survival.
Guinea pigs tend to remember things that regard their security such are dangerous things or potential threats. A guinea pig’s memory revolves around their need for survival and their brain prioritizes survival over everything else.
Are Guinea Pigs Smart Enough to Learn Tricks?
Guinea pigs although not the smartest of animals but are quite active which makes life easier when it comes to learning tricks.
Although guinea pigs are not able to learn difficult tricks, they are capable of learning some simple tricks such as standing up on their back legs or pushing a ball.
Guinea pigs love food so if they can learn to get a quick bite of something tasty to eat, you can bet they will be willing to repeat that behavior in order to get more!
Are Guinea Pigs Smarter Than Rabbits?
Rabbits are generally smarter than guinea pigs. This is due to the fact they have a larger amount of neurons in their brain. Although the difference between the two is not so extreme, there are a number of activities that guinea pigs actually beat rabbits at such as long-term memory activities involving mazes. Rabbits are easier to train and are able to understand and perform tricks of a higher difficulty than guinea pigs. Bottom line – Rabbits are smarter than guinea pigs but not by a great margin.
Are Guinea Pigs Smarter Than Hamsters?
Guinea pigs are indeed smarter than hamsters. Guinea pigs actually have a much bigger brain in terms of body mass in comparison to a hamster, not the mention their brains have a higher amount of neurons. It’s irrefutable that guinea pigs are much more social than hamsters (Social ability is an indicator of intelligence) and are able to display a higher level of emotion and thought process. Although not a huge difference in intelligence the guinea pig certainly wins this one.
Guinea Pig Intelligence Summary
So hopefully you understand a bit more now about how intelligent guinea pigs are but let’s be real, guinea pigs are lovable pets who at times can amaze us with their smarts and their ability to learn a number of tricks and figure out puzzles (usually if food is involved). They might not win any prizes for intellect in the animal kingdom but who cares? We love them just the way they are and for me personally, I wouldn’t change a thing.