Why Do Guinea Pigs Have A Short Lifespan? Find Out Now

When I brought my guinea pig home and put it in a cage after a few days I started to wonder how long my pet would live.

I read in various articles that guinea pigs have a short lifespan, so I did some research on the subject.

Why do guinea pigs have a short lifespan?

Guinea pigs have a short life span because they have a fast metabolism that contributes to the faster release of free radicals that destroy healthy cells in their organism. Guinea pigs have a fast metabolism to regulate their body temperature, resulting in a short lifespan.

In today’s article you will learn why guinea pigs have a short life span, what to do to make them live longer, and similar related issues.

Why do guinea pigs have a short lifespan?

Guinea pigs have a short life span because they have a fast metabolism that consumes the cells in the body faster.

Guinea pigs have a short lifespan and due to their size, smaller animals live less than larger ones.

Small animals like guinea pigs have much greater physiological stress than larger animals, which contributes to their shorter lives.

Physiological stress is the result of using their metabolism to regulate body temperature.

For example, guinea pigs heat up and cool down very quickly, for this purpose they must quickly regulate their body temperature with their metabolism.

This daily fast work of the metabolism to maintain the temperature allows the release of free radicals. The more free radicals are released, the more they damage the healthy cells in their body.

The damage and death of healthy cells accelerate the aging process of the body and all the organs of the guinea pigs, which results in a shorter life span.

How long will my guinea pig live?

Guinea pigs live on average from 4 to 8 years, depending on their size. The smaller the guinea pig breed, the greater the chances that it will live less than another guinea pig.

For example, if guinea pigs are the size of hamsters, then their metabolism will be even faster and they will live only 2 years.

Here is the average lifespan of guinea pigs:

  • White-crested guinea pig: 5 – 8 years
  • Skinny guinea pig: 7 – 8 years
  • American guinea pig: 4 – 8 years
  • Peruvian guinea pig: 5 – 8 years
  • Texel guinea pig: 4 – 7 years
  • Cuy guinea pigs: 4 – 8 years
  • Abyssinian guinea pig: 5 – 7 years
  • Himalayan guinea pig: 5 – 8 years
  • Sheltie guinea pigs: 5 – 8 years
  • Teddy guinea pig: 4 – 5 years

The lifespan of guinea pigs can only be extended by proper nutrition and care while keeping them at home.

How is the lifespan of guinea pigs calculated in human years?

One year of a guinea pig’s life is equal to 12.5 years for humans. Or for example, if a guinea pig is 6 years old, calculated in human years it would be 75 years.

But we must emphasize that, unlike us humans, guinea pigs develop much faster in terms of physical and emotional development.

Here is a chart showing the development of guinea pigs according to their age:

  • baby: 0-1 month
  • teenager: 1-8 months
  • adult: 6 months – 5 years
  • old: 5+ years

Guinea pigs develop quickly, but unfortunately, they also age and die quickly, those are the facts and they cannot be changed.

Which breed of guinea pig lives the shortest life span?

Before we say which breeds of guinea pigs live the least, we should emphasize that the lifespan depends on their health, nutrition, and overall living conditions at home.

Guinea pigs with the shortest lifespan are:

  • American guinea pig
  • White-crested guinea pigs
  • Silkies
  • Abyssinians

If you have any of these breeds of guinea pigs you should not be discouraged about their lifespan, as with proper care they can live just as long as any other breed of guinea pig.

If you keep them properly and with a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, they can live for 5-8 years.why do guinea pigs have a short lifespan

How to increase the lifespan of guinea pigs?

Although guinea pigs have a short life span, with certain steps you can extend their life span to the maximum.

They should have a healthy diet, less stress, and comfort in their cage, so let’s take a closer look at these important factors.

Healthy and proper diet

Healthy and proper nutrition is one of the most important factors that contribute to the lifespan of guinea pigs.

When guinea pigs are fed a healthy diet with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, they better cope with illnesses and injuries.

Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress from free radicals and help reduce their release in the body. Vitamins C and E prevent diseases, strengthen immunity and prevent diseases related to the heart.

The fiber in the diet allows easier and better work of the entire digestive system of guinea pigs.

A large cage

The cage of the guinea pigs should be as large as possible so that they feel comfortable and cozy.

For one guinea pig, a cage with a size of 7.5 square feet, or about 30″x 36″, is recommended, and if you have a larger enclosure, even better.

The bigger the guinea pigs’ cage, the more it will reduce stress and allow them to live longer.

Especially if you keep two or more guinea pigs together, a small cage will lead to fights, stress, and a shorter lifespan.

More attention and play with the guinea pig

Guinea pigs are social animals, they require a lot of attention and care to be happy, which allows for less stress and a longer lifespan.

It is necessary to play with your pet if you keep a single guinea pig, let him out of the cage for a few hours to run and explore the environment.

Guinea pigs love to be held and petted so they feel loved and cared for.

If you keep two guinea pigs then it’s a little different because they will socialize and play together, in this situation, you won’t need to pay too much attention to them.

Less pregnancy

When female guinea pigs are pregnant they have more oxidative stress which shortens their lifespan.

Oxidative stress releases free radicals, and guinea pigs are more exhausted when they are pregnant and wear out their organs faster.

Therefore, if you want your pet to have a longer life span, you should avoid pregnancy.

Away from other pets

Stress shortens the lifespan of guinea pigs, so keep them away from other pets.

Cats, dogs, or other pets in your home, although they will not attack guinea pigs, their very presence will cause fear and stress in your pet.

Guinea pigs are the easiest prey in nature and they always see other animals as a danger from predators, regardless of the fact that in domestic conditions this can very rarely happen.

Less noise

Guinea pigs do not like a lot of noise in the room where you keep them.

Loud noises cause stress and fear which in the long run affects their lifespan.

That’s why you should provide them with less noise, a calm environment, and weaker light around their cage so that they feel calm, happy, and stress-free.

Which breed of guinea pig lives the longest?

There is no specific breed of guinea pig that has a longer lifespan. Regardless of breed, all guinea pigs live about 4-8 years.

It is true that one Peruvian guinea pig lived more than 10 years, more precisely lived almost 15 years.

But this is an exception and it cannot be taken as a fact that Peruvian or other breeds of guinea pigs can always live longer than others.

Just feed your pet properly, provide excellent living conditions in a cage, and you can expect your guinea pig to live a longer-than-average lifespan.why do guinea pigs have a short lifespan

Why do guinea pigs die young?

Sometimes it happens that you buy a guinea pig, take proper care of it, and give it a healthy diet with vitamins and minerals, and it dies after 2 or 3 years.

The early death of guinea pigs can be due to several factors, so let’s look at them in more detail.


If the guinea pig you buy has inherited bad genes, weak immunity, and susceptibility to many diseases then it is quite expected that it will have a shorter life span.

It is very important when purchasing a guinea pig that the breeder also provides you with a medical history of the guinea pig so that you can see what their past health has been.

Many guinea pig sellers may inadvertently sell you a guinea pig that is sick and then dies within a short period of time.

False age of guinea pigs

When you buy a guinea pig, sometimes the sellers don’t tell the real age and that’s why the guinea pig dies prematurely.

It is best to buy a guinea pig that has been examined by reputable breeders who will provide you with information about when your pet was born.

You can also estimate the age of a guinea pig by its size, but only owners who have previously kept a guinea pig can estimate that.

Bad past and stress

If your guinea pig has not been raised properly before you bring it into your home, it can affect its lifespan.

The stress and fear of the previous experience will remain with the guinea pigs, no matter how you keep them since you bring them into your home.

It is best if the guinea pig seller has information about the guinea pig’s life before you buy it and will let you know about it.


Guinea pigs have a short lifespan due to their fast metabolism. A fast metabolism allows the release of free radicals that damage healthy cells and cause the guinea pigs’ short lifespans.

In order for a guinea pig to live longer than 8 years, you need to feed it properly, have a healthy diet with vitamins and minerals, less stress, and a large cage.

The short life span of guinea pigs is normal because they are small animals, but with proper care, it can be extended for a certain period.

In any case, regardless of the fact that guinea pigs have a short life span, our concern is to dedicate ourselves to them as much as possible and keep them as best as we can.

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