The average lifespan of a domestic guinea pig is 4 to 8 years.
Unlike hamsters and other rodents, you can end up caring for guinea pigs over a good number of years, so you need to be sure you are committed to providing the proper care and devotion for a sustained length of time.
To prolong their life, ensure they have enough space in their cage and to run around in. You need to buy quality dedicated guinea pig food for them, as well as keep them in a pair (or more if possible).
Naturally, there are many factors that can influence how long or short a guinea pig lives and these mainly depend on breed, diet and medical issues.
Average Guinea pig lifespan by breed
Although their actual care and living environment have more of an influence on their lifespan, certain breeds of guinea pigs are known to live slightly longer.
Here’s a quick guide to how long certain breeds live:
- Teddy: 4 – 5 years
- Texel: 4 – 7 years
- American, Cuy: 4 – 8 years
- Abyssinian: 5 – 7 years
- Himalayan, Peruvian, Sheltie, Silkie, White-crested: 5 – 8 years
- Skinny: 7 – 8 years
Be prepared for your guinea pig to live longer
Before purchasing a guinea pig, bear in mind that they can live much longer than the suggested average lifespan, especially if you take really good care of them!
Some Guinea Pigs have been known to live almost twice as long as the average lifespan, which means these little furries could well be with you for a significant part of your life!
The oldest ever guinea pigs
The oldest guinea pig ever recorded was named Snowball. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it lived for a remarkable 14 years and 10.5 months!
Dying in February 1979, this wise old pig lived through some remarkable moments in history from the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to the birth of the first ‘test-tube’ baby in 1978. However, it’s not known if news of these great happenings ever spread to his hutch in rural Nottinghamshire.
Since then, many others have tried to take Snowball’s crown come the turn of the century.
A Grimsby guinea named Bear, who was 14, almost took the World Record, being just months off the title before passing away.
And the owner of an Australian guinea named Sweetie believes the record was broken a long time ago. Sweetie’s owner claims the seriously old Guinea Pig lived between October 1996 and June 2014, which is an astonishing 17 years and 8 months.
However, it’s thought that record keepers were never able to correctly determine his exact age, and so Snowball remains the world’s wisest piggy.
How to give your guinea pig a long life
There are several things you can do to best care for your little guinea, giving them the best chance of living a long fruitful life.
Diet & exercise
Just like humans, a good diet and exercise can help fend off disease and illness in guinea pigs and is the key to a long-lasting life.
To provide sufficient exercise, you need to make sure your guinea has a large enclosure that offers them plenty of space to run around and play. This can be encouraged with tunnels and stimulating toys.
As for diet, guinea’s need high-quality grass and hay for digestion as well as plenty of vitamin-C rich foods. So try and give them a balanced diet of hay, pellets and fresh veg!
As an example, the previously mentioned 14-year-old Bear lived on a diet of Kale and was regularly taken for walks by his owner. There’s no denying these things had a huge impact on Bear’s health and wellbeing, and so you should look to provide the same level of care. Although we still can’t promise your own piggy will live quite as long as that!
Guinea pigs are very social creatures and not only do they need to spend lots of time with you, but they also need a bonded cagemate! This prevents them from getting lonely, depressed or bored, which are things all bound to have a negative effect on their health and lifespan.
Sometimes medical issues are out of our control, but they are measures you can take to best prevent your pet from becoming ill.
The easiest way to do this is by creating a healthy environment and promoting good hygiene by regularly cleaning their living area. You should also be in contact with an exotic vet to ensure that you can seek advice or medical help should the need ever arise.