Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why Do Guinea Pigs Have Whiskers?

If you have a guinea pig (and you probably do if you're reading this blog), then you may have noticed our adorable whiskers sticking out the sides of our faces. If you look a little closer, you may notice that we have whiskers in multiple places, including: under our noses like a human mustache, under our chins, and around our eyes. And, if you have certain breeds of guinea pigs like texels and teddies, your guinea pigs' whiskers might even be curly!

As I said, adorable whiskers!
Have you ever wondered why we have them? Are they just for decoration? Do they serve a function?

As it turns out, they do serve a function: whiskers supplement our sense of touch. They allow us to feel our surroundings when it's dark or otherwise difficult to see. They can also help us determine if we're able to fit into a particular space or not.

Because they serve a sensory role for us, you should be careful not to cut our whiskers if you're trimming our fur. However, if you accidentally cut them, you shouldn't worry too much because they will grow back. Similarly, some guinea pigs use barbering (gnawing on each other's fur) as a dominance-establishing behavior, and this sometimes includes biting off whiskers. If your guinea pigs are biting each others whiskers off, it might also be boredom, overcrowding, or a lack of fiber, so make sure they're getting enough quality hay and floor time, and have a big enough cage.

We have also read that blind guinea pigs can still get around fine using their whiskers and other senses. Therefore, if you happen to have a blind guinea pig, be especially careful with their whiskers!


  1. Great information! Thanks for sharing! xo Jennifer

  2. i didn't know that the Guinea Pig's whiskers help them feel and touch

  3. I have a question. Ashley keeps gnawing on our little slope like thingie to get from one side to the other. our owner offered her some chew sticks, but Ashley refused. Do you know why?
    Only Wendy!

  4. I have a question about guinea pigs. I have two year-old brothers, Dru and Sam. I've seen some of your videos of Buffy, Lola, and Broccoli, who all apparently like to run around outside the cage. Dru (the dominant one) chases Sam around in their cage, and Sam runs around sometimes there too, but they have never done that outside the cage. Sam has lately been slowly exploring the area, but is never really active. They usually just sit. I was wondering if that's fine? They seem to be perfectly okay, they had ringworm last December and January but that's all gone now, but I just wanted to know if they should possibly be more active. Thanks!

    Dru thinks Sam is her pony...too bad Lola can't show him who's boss. :)

    1. We aren't constantly running around during floor time. Sometimes we'll just find a nice corner to curl up in. It sounds like Dru and Sam still run around when they're inside the cage, though. Is that correct? If your guinea pigs used to run around and have recently stopped, then you might want to take them to the vet because lethargy can be a symptom of a URI and other illnesses.

  5. I meant two brothers that are each a year old, not two-year-olds, sorry if I didn't make that clear.