Some posts claim that guinea pigs are not as smart as other conventional pets.
They even have created confusion among prospective owners on whether guinea pigs will interact with them well.
To clear all doubts on whether guinea pigs recognize their owners, I spent some time researching and I am glad to share what I found with you in this post.
Do guinea pigs recognize their owners?
Yes they do. Not only are they social with one another, but also with their owners. Special types of noises and showing affection is a couple of the many ways in which guinea pigs show that they infact recognize their owners.
In the upcoming sections, I will shed some light on which actions of guinea pigs make us say that they do recognize their owners.
Not just that, I shall also give you tips from my own experience on how to make them familiar with you if they are not now.
Signs That Say That Guinea Pigs Recoginze Their Owners
Guinea pigs make wide-ranging types of sounds. Their means of communication obviously would be through these sounds, whether it be with each other or with humans.
You can easily differentiate between the squeals they make for hunger, fear, and love.
These noises are pretty distinct from each other. When happy, they mostly make a noise like “coo” in a slightly shrieking yet calming voice.
It is the same noise they make if they recognize their owners because they are happy about the owner’s presence. When afraid it goes more like “cioon” with not as much a shrieking tone.
Note these vocal behaviours to know if your guinea pig likes you.
They Run Towards You When You Enter
Many guinea pig owners have said that their pets run towards them when they return from office or school.
If the cage is close to the door, they can actually sense you coming when you are almost near because of their incredible smelling and hearing senses.
So you can apparently see them run towards you but not towards others.
Most of these owners say that their pets run to the ones who feed them every day, and not towards everyone in the family. Anyway, they do recognize humans.
They Obey You
When you have had your guinea pigs with you for quite a long time, you can actually observe that they recognize some of the words we humans speak.
This behavior can be easily exploited to make them familiar with the name that we have for them. Read till the end to find out how!
They Show Affection Only to the Owners
If you are an owner of guinea pigs, you may have noticed that they like to lick your fingers or be on your lap whenever possible.
These are very apparent signs of affection because these are the exact same ways that they show affection to each other.
In case you have been petting them since their birth for several years now, they choose you over any other person- even if they have food with them while you do not.
Let’s Do an Experiment!
I got curious to actually test whether guinea pigs recognize their owners.
I made four different guinea pigs stay in their respective cages in their usual places. I sent three people to each of these cages, two people being strangers and one being the owner of the animal, to the rooms where each of them were kept.
Out of the two strangers, I handed one of them with a bowl filled with the animal’s usual meal. The other stranger was empty-handed, and so was the actual owner.
When they were let free from the cage, 3 of the 4 animals ran straight to their respective owners, dodging aside the other two guys.
All three of them started jumping up and down indicating their will for their owners to pick them up.
Only one guinea pig ran to the guy with the food rather than the owner.
So How do You Explain the Results of the Above Experiment?
When asked about how long those owners have been petting those animals, the three guys whose pets ran to them said that they have been having those animals since their birth.
The one guy whose guinea pig chose food over him, had just brought the guinea pig to his home from another home at its age of 11 months. This clearly explains that guinea pigs do recognize their owners with the passing of time.
When I asked my vet about this, she said that even if we put blindfolds on those 3 guinea pigs, they could have easily recognized the owner with the help of their extremely high sense of smell.
They get emotionally attached to you with time, and will recognize your scent from quite far away. And when they do recognize that you are approaching, they start showing excitement in every little (and cute!) way possible.
Tips to Make Your New Guinea Pigs Recognize You Easily
If you want your guinea pigs to recognize you, you have to make them understand that you recognize them.
They should not feel like they are sitting there without your knowledge. Always acknowledge their presence and try to have a conversation.
Avoid yelling or shouting in front of them, you will make them frightened. Even the sounds that are light to us are much louder to them because of their sensitive hearing.
Feed them yourself. If you want your guinea pigs to like you, you feed them. If you want them to like your kids, let your kids feed them. Get the point?
Let them be a part of your family. Guinea pigs are social animals and need attention. It is not just a matter of giving them enough food and space, but also unconditional love. Don’t always have them caged, have them close with you when it is family time.
3 Things to Keep in Mind:
- It takes time to form a new relationship between you and your guinea pig, you must be patient. Also, do not approach straight away with too much love because, in the initial days, chances are more that they get much frightened by human contact.
- Make them realize you are their friend by taking good care, and when you feel that they have gotten over the fear-period, you can then shower as much love as you can. Don’t be a miser after that phase when it comes to love.
- Even if you feel stupid or you feel like talking to yourself when you are trying to talk to your guinea pig, don’t stop. Keep talking to them on a one-way conversation basis. Eventually, there will come a day when they even respond in the cutest ways possible!
Do Guinea Pigs Have Feelings for Their Owners?
Yes. If you are asking this question because you feel that your guinea pig is not showing affection towards you, give it time. You have 4-8 years with this lovable pocket pet if all goes well.
You do not need to hurry this process, but know that you are caring for highly social animals. The innate character of this beautiful little beast is to attach themselves to their social group. You are the leader because you provide warmth, food, shelter and your schedule is what makes the days go by.
You provide enrichment with:
- soothing vocal tones
- positive atmosphere
You play, cuddle and relax together. The affection will come. Read more about Guinea Pig Affection in this article we wrote here.
When you notice or feel vibrations and purring, you have done it. Your guinea pig will have great and meaningful feelings for you.
How Do Guinea Pigs See Humans?
Guinea pigs are aware of their size relative to other creatures in the natural world. We are giants among them. Keep this in mind when you are introducing your guinea pig to children or adults for the first time.
Your cavies see you as a caregiver, bonded and trusted partner or favorite companion. This happens with patience, loving kindness, physical and social interaction.
However, a new human or any human who enters the territory of guinea pigs in the wild of captivity is a potential threat. They must act accordingly. The response will be to hide or burrow in a safe location.
- If you have offered and created hiding spots for your guinea pigs in their enclosure such as tubes or tunnels, expect them to retreat.
- They may stand their ground also and commence teeth chattering or hissing sounds to warn humans to back off.
This is all stressful and we can avoid this with patient bonding practices that take anywhere from hours to days to weeks.
Can Guinea Pigs Understand Humans?
It is widely accepted that guinea pigs can recognize their human companion by the sound of their voice. If you regularly speak to your guinea pigs, they will identify and connect your sound with the trusted companion who always responds to their needs and provides food for their survival.
Not only that, but you say their name over and over again when you play, feed or interact with your guinea pigs. They will learn to associate tones and sounds that are repeated countless times.
Of course, your guinea pig is not going to understand everything you say, but this doesn’t mean that shouldn’t try.
Keep talking and allow them to recognize your voice, intonation and tones. They will pick up your mood from your overall expression of words even though they don’t understand what you are saying.
Do Guinea Pigs Miss Their Owners?
Yes. Your guinea pigs may start searching for you when you are away for a longer time than usual., If you take a few days for travel, note that your guinea pig’s routine of seeing, smelling or greeting you will change.
They will be slightly thrown off by this, but will rely on a new human or someone else they trust to continue providing fresh supplies of hay and other essentials.
A guinea pig also misses their counterparts when they are removed from each other. It could be due to illness or death and it’s quite common for guinea pigs to look around in a search for their bonded mates, partners of their favorite human companion when they are away.
Once your guinea pig reunites with you, they will be excited and hope that you brought them a souvenir!
Do Guinea Pigs Get Attached to Their Owners?
Yes. The hope is that your guinea pig will develop an attachment to you. This is entirely up to you to create, foster and encourage.
If you do not want to build an attachment to guinea pigs under your care, you will make great effort to limit your interaction with them. Maybe you are doing this because you wish to breed them only and allow them to bond with their future human companion. This makes sense.
If you keep bonding with your guinea pigs, this will take a little bit of time, but it will happen. Guinea pigs will identify who their favorite human is, based on their senses that are acutely aware of who is routinely there for them.
You provide love, care, food and warmth. Your voice and physical presence is recognized and a guinea pig will know when you are away for too long or when you have returned.
What Do Guinea Pigs Think About?
Guinea pigs are:
- Risk takers
- Eating machines
They will think about their next meal or how to get more food. Since these cavies are active about 20 hours a day, they will think about their surroundings and how to manipulate any area to create more comfort and safety for them.
They are not agile, but they wish to create hiding spaces or attempt to climb reachable levels with their curious nature. They are loyal to their bonded partners whether they are counterparts or human companions.
Guinea pigs think about you when you are gone and feel joy when you are back from a long day of work to greet them with attention and anticipation for the next meal or playtime you will spend together.
I feel like my guinea pig doesn’t recognize or trust me. What to do?
This is a scenario that occurs only when the guinea pig is new to your place. Just let it explore you. Once it catches your scent, and gets used to your voice, there will be no such problem. If you keep yourself reserved from it, then you cannot blame your guinea pig for doing the same. Be the first to make the effort!
If you’re interested you can read about the signs that can tell you your guinea pig likes you here.
Does my guinea pig know its name?
Oh yeah, it does! Whenever you try to approach your guinea pig in the initial days, say nothing but its name when you are giving it the food. And when you find that it enjoys certain foods more than others, repeat the name each time you give those foods.
To identify which food your guinea pig enjoys better than others, you have no other go than to use the trial and error method. Try lettuce, carrots, and berries. With passing time, when you call out your guinea pig’s name, they eventually recognize it.
I put my hands near the cage, and my guinea pig got scared. Why?
Even though your guinea pig loves you, its vision is only after about 5 inches from its nose. If you cross this radius, and your guinea pig suddenly sees a giant hand when it moves a little backward, you are more likely to scare it. Remember the 5-inch rule!