The senses of guinea pigs

Consider the features of the sense organs of guinea pigs

Hearing guinea pigs

The cochlea of ​​the inner ear of a guinea pig has four turns, while in mice and rats, even in humans, there are only two and a half. Thus, the guinea pig has relatively more room for the auditory cells, as a result of which it has a particularly good hearing. If a person can perceive sounds from 20,000 Hz (child) to 15,000 Hz (adult), then guinea pigs perceive sounds with a frequency of up to 33,000 Hz. 

The senses of guinea pigs

Smell in guinea pigs

The sense of smell of guinea pigs is focused primarily on contacts with each other and on sexual behavioral norms. 

For example, their urine plays an important role in labeling. So, ready-to-mate males inject urine, females who are not in heat, along with hostile behavior with the help of smell, demonstrate to the male that they are not ready for mating. 

Guinea pigs rely primarily on their sense of smell. 

Guinea pigs in the social community recognize each other by smell. This is not least the case for the loss after re-identification of young animals. 

At the same time, it was noted that this group specific identification, after repeating for several days, also disappears in adult animals. The designation of the territory by a secret, as well as by urine, explains why guinea pigs feel at ease in their familiar environment and are very restless and uncertain in an unfamiliar one. This is then manifested in their timid behavior. 

Compared to humans, guinea pigs have a heightened sense of smell. It is about a thousand times more developed than that of humans. So, they perceive a variety of smells that people do not notice at all, and therefore can be excited for various reasons. 

The senses of guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are used to living and playing in small groups. 

Likewise, guinea pigs’ sense of smell plays a very important role during food intake in distinguishing between useful and harmful food. The same applies to the identification of different faces. 

Vision in guinea pigs

Due to the location of their eyes, guinea pigs are able to look both forward and to the sides without turning their head. Thus, they have a relatively wide field of vision, which is especially important for protection from their natural enemies at large. Guinea pigs can at least distinguish between red, yellow, green and blue. This also plays a role in food intake. 

Feeling in guinea pigs

The tactile hairs around the mouth and nose help guinea pigs to determine in the dark whether it is possible to enter this hole or if there is an obstacle in the way. 

Taste perception in guinea pigs

When guinea pigs’ sense of smell does not allow them to unambiguously identify or approve certain foods, they call on their sense of taste. In this case, along with instinctively conditioned reactions, previously accumulated experience plays a role, for example, when distinguishing between good and bad food. 

This means that guinea pigs prefer sweet foods over salted foods. However, they do not give up on the bitter. And among guinea pigs, there are individual taste preferences, which are manifested in the fact that individual individuals often prefer completely different foods as delicacies. 

The senses of guinea pigs

Sound perception in guinea pigs

Unlike a number of other rodents such as hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, etc., as well as rabbits, guinea pigs have an extensive repertoire of sounds. 

It ranges from mumbling as an expression of contentment, cooing as a sign of establishing contact with one another, to clicking teeth as an unambiguous loud acoustic warning before the upcoming struggle for the primacy of adult males. 

Guinea pigs have a varied and rich sound repertoire. 

Young guinea pigs emit a thin squeak, which encourages the mother or, if kept in a group, other females to take care of the baby. At the same time, mothers respond to these calls for help as their cubs grow up, that is, from about two weeks of age, less and less and in this way accustom their offspring to independence.

Adult guinea pigs also sometimes make sounds that are well understood by humans to express fear. When one of the community members publishes them, the whole group often runs in single file towards the wall or hides under some kind of ledge, since in the wild there you can find a relatively reliable shelter, primarily from birds of prey. 

But situations arise when guinea pigs, out of fear, fall into a kind of tetanus – a kind of behavioral norm that plays a protective role. 

The senses of guinea pigs

If a guinea pig is taken awkwardly, causing her pain, she also emits a characteristic sharp squeak. (See also sections Body language and sound and Learn to understand guinea pigs) 

The learnability of guinea pigs

Guinea pigs can learn to respond to the pronunciation of their name, as well as certain calls and whistles. In this case, it is important to first patiently accustom one or several guinea pigs to yourself, that is, so that by nature shy animals begin to at least trust you and lose their inherent timidity. 

Reckless sudden movements, loud noises, etc. can instantly undo progress made over many days of effort. (For more information on training guinea pigs, see Training your guinea pigs) 

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