Do Guinea Pigs Recognize Their Owners?

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? The answer is 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

Their Noises

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!

Related Questions

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!



I love animals! I grew up with everything from dogs and cats to rabbits and guinea pigs. I enjoy learning about pets and to share what I learn with others.

27 thoughts on “Do Guinea Pigs Recognize Their Owners?

    1. Yes put a tray in the corner that they most often pee in and clean it regularly and they will use it most of the time try to make it large enough to be comfortable in.

    2. im getting a guinea pig very soon! how long does It take for them to get used to you? and will I get to hold it the day I get it?

    3. When I first got mine, she only did her business in on corner. Therefor, I put puppy pee pads under her bedding for an easy clean up.

  1. Thank you for this much needed tutorial… I had a Guinea Pig back I think in 1999-2006.. Back then I had a ‘How to’ book on owning a Guinea Pig. I was informed pine was good bedding for him but no cedar.. I recently (like 3 weeks ago) was given a baby. He was a big baby… A friend gave me an old ferret cage to keep him in. Since then because of this site, I’ve seen a cage that would suit my Guinea pig now. I’m almost 59 years old and I don’t think I’d ever tire of owning one… They are so precious… Since I have a male already whose genitals are starting to drop, would I still be able to have another male… I was told last time, they would fight as they are very territorial…. So would it be safe or not?? I don’t really want a female as I don’t want babies…. (as much as I love them, I don’t want to bring more into this world) I’d be afraid I wouldn’t find them homes…. Although I could probably sell them to pet stores….. Is there anyone reading this that would be able to give me advice… I would love to have a little playmate for my new fur baby named Patch. I would appreciate any advice…. Thank you…. Linda Wood…. Haywood County, NC.

    1. Hey Linda!
      Guinea pigs are very social animals and NEED a playmate. Another male is fine as long as they are properly bonded, I would reach out to local shelters to see if they any male piggies that they can help you with some trial bondings. Also, you can get your pig neutered, or get a spayed female, and again have some type of local agency help with the trial bonding. Boys should never be in a group with other boys, although they can be in a group with other girls, only a pair if they’re buddy is a boy.
      I’d also suggest getting a suitable size C&C cage instead of a ferret cage just because it may suit him and your needs better (easier to pick up and bond with piggies when they’re in a cage with no top/lid)
      – Diana from Oakland, CA

  2. My friend looked after my piggies while I was in Australia for three months. I face timed her one day and the boys were asleep in their cage. As soon as I said their names and making the noises I did when near them they jumped up, started squeaking and looking for me around where the phone was near to the cage. They definitely do recognise their owners. I’d been away for just over a month at this point. Then when I returned after three months to pick them up they popcorned like crazy when I walked in!

  3. I think my guinea pig is very comfortable around me. I own to baby male guinea pigs at 6 and a half months old. The dominate one is bramble black white with brown stripes he’s multi colored and the shy one Blueberry black and a very light almost white tan stripes all over his body he’s also multi colored. Bramble knows the word stop witch is useful cuz he’s kinda naughty! 😂 they both know there names and whenever they sleep there pretty much always have feet stretched out and they will let me pet them. and most of all when I pet there’s nose hehe! 🤩 they scream at me when I walk in the room even though I spend 3 hours a day just sitting laying by there cage. And they loveeeeeeee to be cuddled lol.. 😚😘 and they sniff and lick my fingers! There sweet little piggies and I sure hope these are all good stuff!

  4. If you are trying to get them to go in a litter box or a corner of the cage, whenever you find a wet pee spot in the cage pick it up and throw it into the place you want them to use as the potty. This will make the scent of their Pee in the area you want them to use as a potty and they will start to understand it.This has worked for me every time with my guinea pigs.

  5. I was wondering that if you have a family of multiple members, will your guinea pig favor one out of the family if we all give it attention, or will it love each of us?

    1. I’ve had my Lil. Fella a week this past Tue. This is my first Guienapig I adore the Lil. Guy I hold him & talk to him I let him in my bed & he used the bathroom in my bed how to I prevent him from doing that if possible?

    1. Hey Ava! Sorry for late answer, I hope that everything worked out and that you got your little pal home just fine? If you did, please let us know how you managed without a cage!

  6. I bought my young daughter a piggy, and his cage is in her room, I’m the one who normally takes care of cleaning and feeding him though my daughter does too. I hear him start a loud purring type noise when I get close to her room. Does this mean he’s bonded to me more than her?

    1. Purring is often a sign of affection or happiness so it’s definitely possible that he’s more bonded to you rather than your daughter if he’s purring more when you enter the room 🙂

  7. When I go to pick up my guinea pig he always runs away. He’s otherwise calm and affectionate, but just so reluctant to be picked up! It makes me so sad! I’ve seen other’s piggies run to them and up their arms!

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