Even though guinea pigs are adorable animals to pet, the rumor that they die very easily are confusing a lot of people that are looking to pet them.
I tried to gather a clear picture of this subject, and as it turns out, there isn’t a one-stop place on the internet to know the answer to this question.
So, I put together this post, where you find all the relevant information regarding this question.
So, Do Guinea Pigs Die Easily?
No, guinea pigs don’t die easily. When compared to many other small pet animals, guinea pigs have a longer average lifespan, which is between 4-8 years.
Also, most unannounced and sudden guinea pig death reasons are easily avoidable with the correct care of your pet.
In this article you’ll get a more in depth answer to the question if guinea pigs die easily. You’ll also learn about the most common unannounced and sudden guinea pig death reasons and the possible solutions to prevent these from happening.
What Would Cause a Guinea Pig to Die Suddenly?
Guinea pigs could die from multiple ailments, accidents or unknown causes. This can be sudden from shock or a stroke, but in many cases, they are able to hide what is hurting them from the inside without us knowing.
We have another article for you to read about this. Please check it out for further information.
The cavies have intricate physiological systems and usually the culprit to sudden death is due to stress. The stress they feel could be from physical causes such as their environment, sounds, noises, humans and pets leading to intense discomfort.
The stress can also be caused by poor sanitary conditions of a diet lacking in vitamins, minerals and calcium. A veterinarian could assess the death of a guinea pig to find why they died to further educate us on preventative measures for our future guinea pigs.
How Easily do Guinea Pigs Die?
To give you a clearer perspective of the question “do guinea pigs die easily?”, let us consider the question of “do humans die easily?”.
We’re not considering whether we’re living 70 or 80 years as they say is our average lifespan, instead we are considering how easily humans die and why humans die.
My point is that we should adopt the exact same approach when answering whether guinea pigs die easily.
Guinea pigs are prone to several diseases just like any other organism. That is just how the ecosystem gets balanced. But when our intentions are to domesticate an animal, we need to make sure their diseases are controlled.
You do not see the wild dogs getting vaccines, but if you intend to grow a dog as a pet, you vaccinate it. What I am trying to say is, any animal could live for a maximized period of time when given the proper care.
Common Guinea Pig Death Causes and How to Avoid Them
- Change in Environment
- Inheritance and Variation
Just like any other organism, there are causes of death in guinea pigs. When you do not care enough for your pet animal, it dies with the increasing severity of the disease.
Below are the most common causes of death in guinea pigs. When you find symptoms for them, immediately act on it to keep your guinea pig alive.
Change in Environment
When you take away guinea pigs from a home that they have gotten comfortable with, you will have to make sure they get used to the new environment. You have to give more attention, care and love. If not the potential death risk of your guinea pigs increases drastically.
Also, if you are bringing in new guinea pigs to a place where there existed other guinea pigs before, make sure to use pesticides in the environment to avoid infestation. When mice infest the breeding area of guinea pigs, they die easily.
When female guinea pigs are pregnant, they are at the risk of dying if you do not take proper measures to make it easier on them. The new-borns are pretty large in size and are quite active. So you will have to make sure that the gestation does not affect the health of your guinea pig.
You don’t have to care for a pregnant guinea pig as much as you would care for a pregnant woman, but if possible, care just a liiiiiittttle more. They have a life too!
This is a serious issue, not just for your guinea pigs, but also for you! Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that causes fever, inflammation in the eye, dehydration, loss of appetite, enlarged spleen and liver, and inactiveness.
Not only is it communicable between guinea pigs, but could transfer to you as well!
Don’t think that since one of the above-mentioned signs are missing, it’s probably not Salmonellosis. Even one of those symptoms could mean that your guinea pig is affected. Immediately get them checked by a veterinarian when you notice such symptoms.
Inheritance and Variation
We all know that many guinea pigs are being used as lab animals. Even though such experiments are strictly monitored by rules and regulations, and several genetic research approval associations, there are many cases reported of outbreaks in the labs.
When such guinea pigs reproduce, the resistance to antibiotics in the newborns could be different from the general population. When such individuals are rescued and somehow reached to the hands of pet-owners, you can expect a difference in their response to antibiotics or vaccines.
So the first thing you do after getting a guinea pig is to get it to a veterinarian for a complete checkup.
When there are differences observed in eating and defecating patterns, your guinea pigs could possibly be suffering from Ileus. Ileus could be caused by an accumulation of gas in their gastrointestinal tract. When Ileus reaches severe levels, guinea pigs could easily die.
So always keep noting whether your guinea pig is eating and defecating regularly.
Guinea pigs are social in nature. They tend to isolate themselves or show grief when their companion dies or is taken away. In worst cases, when a partner dies, the other dies just out of loneliness without any apparent warnings.
You can read more about why it’s unadvised to get a single guinea pig here.
When you note any of the above signs, make sure you act on them. When you can spend so much of your time on things that are urgent yet not important, you have to be able to spend some of your time to make sure your pets are happy and healthy.
Why Did My Guinea Pig Die Overnight?
We’re sorry that your guinea pig passed away so suddenly last night. This unfortunate circumstance could be due to many reasons ranging from stress or a respiratory infection that was unknown, unseen and undiagnosed.
Guinea pigs are very good at hiding any negative symptoms before it’s too late for us to intervene and help. Pneumonia from a sudden draft could impact a guinea pig’s respiratory system.
Strokes and heart attacks are also common. Your guinea pigs could have also suffered from bloating from a painful boat of gas.
Here are some more possible explanations:
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Congenital defects
- Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections.
- Urethral Obstruction (Urinary Problems)
- Kidney failure
You will get the exact answer you are searching for if you bring the body of your guinea pig to the vet for tests to determine the cause of death.
How Long Does It Take for a Guinea Pig to Die?
This is a tough question to answer because your guinea pig should remain alive for 4-8 years if all goes well. This is not likely to occur if your guinea pig has any congenital defects or hereditary conditions that are hard to diagnose without any symptoms.
Death could come suddenly from stroke or heart attacks. They can happen slowly with respiratory, bone and gut diseases. Cancer also strikes guinea pigs.
The range of time it takes for a guinea pig to die is as sudden as overnight or as long as eight years. We sincerely wish for the latter and a long life for your guinea pig.
How to Tell if Guinea Guinea Pig Dead or Hibernating
A guinea pig who is hibernating will feel warm. You will notice their belly rising and falling. This guinea pig will have muscles that are soft and warm to the touch.
A dead guinea pig will have stiffened muscles. They will feel cold. You will not feel a heartbeat or see their belly movement. Their ears will get cold. The gums will be pale.
A hibernating guinea pig will be in a restful position while a dead guinea pig may be out in the open or in a contorted position that doesn’t resemble sleeping. Many guinea pigs do not close their eyes when asleep.
A dead guinea pig may have their eyes closed as well. The best indicator is the temperature of your guinea pig. Warm means they are alive. Cold means they have passed on or in shock.
Please continue to read this article for what to do when your guinea pig is in shock.
How to Tell if Guinea Pig Is Dead or in Shock
You will have to react right away to a guinea pig that is suffering from shock. Death can occur at any moment without your help. They need to be rushed to the veterinarian after you warm them up.
Look for the following signs:
- Breathing hard
- Short, rapid breaths
- Pale gums
- Faint heartbeat
- Loss of blood
- Agitated guinea pig
- Clammy skin
- Cool to the touch
- Weakened state
Run through this list one more time while looking and feeling your guinea pig. Some of the signs are more noticeable than others.
See what you can do about wrapping up your guinea in a fleece blanket and assess how long it will take for the veterinarian to assist before it’s too late.
Time may not be on your side, but the sooner you find out your guinea pig is in shock, the better the chances of preventing death.
Other Guinea Pig Adaptation Problems That Could Lead to Death
What follows are a few things that guinea pigs are very sensitive too, that could cause death during some circumstances.
Change in Temperature
Now you may ask, “Okay Mr.Expert. you always compare humans to guinea pigs. If we can still live after a temperature change, why can’t they?”. Let me explain why we differ in this.
Organisms have evolved different methods of adaptation to fluctuations in the environment. On the basis of this, we can classify organisms broadly into three categories – regulators, conformer and partial regulators.
For example, we humans are regulators. We can regulate our body temperature to constant homeostasis with several mechanisms. But in the case of guinea pigs, they are conformers. Their body temperature fluctuates with a dynamic environmental temperature.
So try to keep them at a constant temperature. Especially, if you are bringing guinea pigs from a place of different temperature, do make sure that there is a gradual transition.
What is the Optimum Temperature to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Safe?
The respiratory infections that could be caused by a temperature that is not optimum, are very severe. The optimum temperature would be between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 32 degrees Celsius).
Wrong Bedding Naterials
The bedding that you provide for your guinea pigs must be of safe materials. When the bedding is made of cedar or pine shavings, it is highly likely that they cause problems to their life. These are toxic materials to small animals. If you do use wood shavings, they have to be aspen, nothing else.
If you want to see our top picks and read more about how to choose the perfect bedding, check out this post.
No! Definitely not! Moisture helps fungus moulds grow exponentially. Fungal infections are very threatening to the lives of guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive hearing sense. Too much noise could affect the neural systems of your guinea pigs, which could even result in death when the levels are high.
How much space do guinea pigs need?
Whether or not size matters for humans, size matters for guinea pigs! Well, maybe not the size of the same meaning, but sort of. Guinea pigs are appreciably big in size. Give them the right space they need. You can ask your veterinarian about this. Nobody likes to live in a cubicle when they need at least an office with a window that has a view!
Where to house my guinea pigs to keep them happy?
Guinea pigs need constant attention, love and care. Do not put them in your bedroom or below your stairs. If your family spends most of the time in the living room, put the guinea pig cage(s) in the living room. If it’s the kitchen that you spend most of your time, have your guinea pigs there. Constantly interact with them, expressing love.