Sunday, July 12, 2015

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live on Average?

Hello, Cavy Savvy readers! Today I feel I should talk with you about a topic that's not the most pleasant thing to think about, but is important nonetheless: aging.

This was me from April 2010 was I was just a baby! How cute was I? (See more of my baby pics here.)
Maybe some of you have been with us since we started this started this blog back in March 2011, and you'll need to start thinking about this as well.

As we have previously mentioned, guinea pigs live about 5-7 years on average, and the oldest known guinea pig lived 14 years, 10.5 months.

We have read that the breed of guinea pig can affect life span. For example, skinny pigs tend to live 4.5 years on average, but may reach 5-7 with proper care and a little luck. Some have speculated that because the more exotic breeds are bred for specific characteristics, a side effect of this are various genetic problems that can shorten the average life span of that breed in comparison to the American Shorthair. Others have disputed this claim. We would like to see some solid research on this before we know what to believe.

Other factors that may influence guinea pig life span besides breed include:

(Take some of these things with a grain of salt, by the way. We don't know how reliable all these sources are.)

Guinea pigs may be considered older when they are 5 years old. There are several things you should know about caring for older guinea pigs, including:
  • Older guinea pigs tend to be mellower, and more appreciative of human attention.
  • Be attentive to how your guinea pig normally behaves so you can detect potential problems as quickly as possible. This goes for guinea pigs of any age, but is especially true of older piggies since they can't recover from illness and injury as well as younger piggies. Make sure you read over the signs of guinea pig illness, and pay particular attention to changes in weight, appetite, and thirst.
  • Eye problems such as cataracts are common in older piggies. Cataracts result in gradual changes to the appearance of the eyes. If there are sudden changes to the eyes, this could be a more serious problem that requires veterinary attention.
  • Older guinea may have stiffer joints, and find it more difficult to walk on loose bedding. Switching to fleece may help with this. Consider whether any changes to your cage setup could make your older piggy's life easier, such as switching from a 2-level cage to a 1-level cage. You may also want to talk to your vet about anti-pain or anti-inflammatory medication if your piggy seems to be in pain (you can tell if your pig is in pain if their fur is puffing up).
  • Make sure you monitor our foot pads for signs of irritation, which, if unchecked, can develop into a serious condition called pododermatitis (AKA Bumblefoot). To prevent this, make sure you keep our cage clean, encourage physical activity, and avoid wire floors and rough bedding. Consider moisturizer if the skin seems particularly dry, and antibiotic ointment for minor problems, but consult your vet before treating your pig.
  • For older guinea pigs, consider wellness visits every 6 months rather than every year.
With proper care, your older piggy may still have lots of good years left with you.


  1. My Butterscotch had emergency surgery after she started screaming, jerking and bled instead or urinating. A blockage/infection was suspected. Turns out she had a tumor 1/4 her weight wrapped around multiple organs. She did survive the surgery and woke up, but died in the recovery process. It was just too much for her little body.

  2. It can be very difficult to lose a pet to illness. It sounds like you were a great guinea pig owner: you loved your pig, took her to the vet, and did everything you could for her. Butterscotch was very lucky to have such a caring owner. When you get sad thinking about losing her, just remember that you gave her the best possible life that you could, and that because of your efforts, she was happily, protected, and loved all her life.