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Do Guinea Pigs Like to Swim and Be in the Water?

Can guinea pigs swim?

Yes, however, it is not something they particularly like doing and only really do when their lives depend on it.

So while it’s not recommended to immediately throw your pet guinea pig in a swimming pool, it would be cool to know some do’s and dont’s just in case your pet does fall into the water.

With that in mind, keep reading to learn more!

Can Guinea Pigs Swim?

Guinea Pig Scared OF Swimming, can guinea pig swim

Again, the short answer as to whether or not guinea pigs can swim is YES.

It may be surprising to many but guinea pigs do have the innate ability to swim in order to survive in water.

Guinea pigs are intelligent animals that can easily adapt to their surroundings.

The answer, however, changes once asked if guinea pigs like swimming in water.

Water is not the natural habitat of wild guinea pigs since they are usually found in shallow places that are inland.

Even if seen near shallow freshwater, you will probably never see a guinea pig taking a dip or a swim. It is just not in their nature to do so.

Is it Safe?

Saying that guinea pigs can swim is one thing. But talking about the safety of this activity for your domestic guinea pig is another.

Water is not part of your pet guinea’s natural habitat, much more so deep water and swimming pools. Their bodies are simply not designed for swimming.

Their hind legs, which are pretty short, make it difficult for them to keep themselves above water.

The paddling motion that you see when a domestic guinea pig is placed in water is usually the motion it instinctively does in order to keep its nose above water.

Numerous health issues may evolve when a domestic guinea pig is forced to swim.

  • Ear Infection

This is caused mainly by bacteria. This may happen if water happens to enter your pet guinea’s ear. This may happen as he struggles to keep his head above water and suddenly sinks into the water.

As uncommon as ear infections are in guinea pigs, they may cause severe health problems in your pet. It may also be quite deadly.

  •  Respiratory Tract Infection

Infection in the lungs like pneumonia is another condition that may result from forcing your guinea pig to go swimming.

Guinea pigs are not capable of maintaining their body temperature, unlike humans, so respiratory infections can easily develop in them. Keeping them in water may make them cold and they may even make them pretty sick.

  • Skin Diseases

Guinea pigs have natural oil in their fur. Having your pet guinea stay in water for a long time can dry out your pet’s skin and strip its fur of natural oils which it may have.

 This can lead to skin roughness and skin irritation on your pet guinea.

  • Stress and Depression

Domestic guinea pigs are capable of feeling stress and they may get depressed. (Yes! Guinea pigs do get depressed.

It is for this reason, in fact, that they are used to research the effectiveness of the antidepressant medication.)

Previous studies have shown that even a guinea pig pup when going through a maternal separation, may develop depressive-like behavior.

The same passive, depressive-like behaviors can be observed when forcing a domestic guinea pig to do an activity it doesn’t care much for.  

A majority of guinea pigs do not enjoy the water. Deepwater stresses them even more.

Forcing them to do an activity they do not appreciate, nor enjoy, can be a source of stress for them. If they are asked to do it repeatedly, it can also cause them major depression.  

READ MORE: Do Guinea Pigs Have a Sleep Schedule?

Do Guinea Pigs Like Water?

guinea pig taking a bathe so can guinea pigs swim?

Generally, no. Guinea pigs are wild cavies and with the exception of the capybara, wild cavies aren’t really too fond of having much contact with water.

Your pet guinea pig is very well capable of cleaning itself so that bathing them often isn’t necessary.

Bathing domestic guinea pigs really depend on the breed. Guinea pig pet breeds come in either hairless breeds or longhair breeds.

Hairless breeds generally do not require much bathing. Longhair breeds may need bathing once a month, if necessary.

Otherwise, it is fine to leave your domestic guinea pig alone when it comes to his bathing requirements.

Environments/Places Guinea Pig Can Swim in

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Even if the majority of domestic guinea pigs hate water, your pet cavy just might be an exception.

In this case, you might like to know what watery environment is it safe to put him into so that you don’t compromise your pet cavy’s health and well-being.

Can Guinea Pigs Swim in a Pool?

Since we’ve pretty much established the fact that guinea pigs aren’t so fond of water, it would probably be best to keep your pet away from deep water, especially a chlorine pool.

Deep water can cause your guinea pig to struggle and get stressed from the experience.

Added to this is the fact that chlorine can cause irritation to your cavy’s eyes and skin since so it is best that they not be made to swim in this setting.

Take a look at this video:

Can Guinea Pigs Swim in a Bath Tub?

Again, the answer here would be no. Guinea pigs are used to dry environments so having your pet swim in a bathtub is not a good idea either.

Your pet guinea may appear to be enjoying a dip in deep water as it paddles in it. Do keep in mind though that may be its way of coping in deep water while struggling to keep afloat.

Whether in a pool or tub, it is best to keep your pet in a dry environment where things are more familiar and natural for him.

How to Introduce Guinea Pig to Water

While it is still not recommended to introduce your pet to a setting that involves deep water, it still would be okay to introduce your pet to water just in case he does need to get a bit wet in the future.

Should I Teach Swimming to My Guinea Pig?

It must be important to remember that guinea pigs generally are not meant for water.

Aside from conditions that may affect their physical health, they may suffer from psychological stress when they are made to swim.

Because of these reasons, it is best to let your pet guinea pig be and not teach him how to swim.

Tips on How to Introduce Your Pet Guinea Pig to Water

a  lady introducing guinea pig with water but can guinea pigs swim

Although swimming and water are probably the least favorite things of your cavy, there may be times when it will still need to go near water.

One of these reasons would probably be a need for a bath (although cavies are pretty well capable of keeping themselves clean).

In this case, you may need to carefully introduce your cavy to water in order to keep stress levels at their lowest.

Before introducing your cute cavy to water, make sure that is in a calm mood. The less stressed he is, the better.

Get a shallow container and fill it with no more than 2 inches of water.

Make sure that the water is lukewarm and not cold. Remember that guinea pigs are not capable of controlling their own body temperature so you would want to keep the water as warm as possible so your pet doesn’t end up cold.

Start dipping his legs slowly into the water and slowly put in his whole body. Make sure that he is able to stand up in the water without him having to struggle.

Make sure that he can manage to keep his head above water so he doesn’t feel like he is drowning. Remember that you don’t want this to be a stressful experience for your pet.

Drying Your Pet Cavy

After getting your pet cavy wet, remember to immediately dry him up. Cavies easily get cold since they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. 

guinea pig is on rest after taking bath

The best way to dry up your cavy is to towel dry him.

As tempting as it is to use a blow dryer on your cavy, especially long-haired ones, the heat from the dryer can actually irritate your cavy’s skin. It may even burn him.

It may also stress your pet cavy out. For drying up your cavy, a towel is definitely your best bet.

FAQs

Are guinea pigs scared of water?

Yes. In the wild, guinea pigs are known to keep away from water, except on rare occasions when their food source is located near shallow bodies of water. Otherwise, water is not part of a guinea pig’s natural habitat. Having them do water activities can even actually stress them out.

Do guinea pigs like to get wet?

Generally speaking, no. Guinea pigs are not fond of water and getting wet is probably the last thing they have on their (dry) bucket list. You may even think that bathing your pet cavy is a must-do. This, in fact, is quite the opposite. Cavies are clean animals and they do a lot of self-grooming. Bathing them, therefore, is something that you should rarely do, especially since getting wet is not a thing that cavies love, nor appreciate.

How often should you bathe a guinea pig?

At the most, guinea pigs should get baths once a month during hot, summer months and maybe once every two months during wintertime. For short-haired breeds, you can even bathe them once or twice a year. When it comes to this aspect, pet cavies are pretty much low maintenance. 
Do take note that it is enough to bathe guinea pigs using plain water, although there are soaps that you may purchase that are suited for your pet guinea pig’s sensitive skin and eyes.

Guinea pigs are pretty much like cats when it comes to self-grooming. They are pretty clean animals who groom and clean themselves as often as they can.

Because they are able to do so, bathing a guinea pig is not something that you should do often.

In fact, bathing them on regular basis may even strip their hair of natural oils which is needed to keep their hair healthy.

Conclusion

Although there are many videos online which show guinea pigs taking a dip and having fun, in reality, swimming is an activity and sport that most guinea pigs do not appreciate.

Water and swimming are far from what is natural for a guinea pig and forcing them to be in an environment that is not normal to them can only stress them out and affect their general well-being. 

Taking care of your pet guinea pig means that you keep them as close to what is natural for them.

This means that keeping them away from what can only stress them is part of the whole package of how best to care for your pet cavy.

References

  • Arcana Pets. 2020. “10 Things Guinea Pigs Are Scared of or Hate | Arcana Pets.” Arcana Pets. November 19, 2020. https://arcanapets.com/10-things-guinea-pigs-are-scared-of-or-hate/.
  • “Caviidae – Cavies, Guinea Pigs, Maras | Wildlife Journal Junior.” 2021. Nhpbs.org. 2021. https://nhpbs.org/wild/caviidae.asp.
  • “How Often Should I Bathe My Guinea Pig? | Guinea Pig Health | Guinea Pigs.” 2020. Omlet.us. 2020. https://www.omlet.us/guide/guinea_pigs/guinea_pig_health/baths_how_often/.
lady bathing her guinea pig

Can guinea pigs swim? Have you tried doing it with your cavy? Please share with us below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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