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Can Guinea Pigs Swim? Facts & FAQ

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

Guinea pig taking a warm bath

Have you seen videos of guinea pigs swimming in pools? You may think they are having a good time, but the reality is actually the opposite. While guinea pigs can swim, they certainly don’t enjoy it. In fact, guinea pigs don’t swim in the wild while living in their natural habitat. They opt for a burrow away from any water source to stay safe.

If you have a guinea pig as a pet and are interested in taking it for a swim session, read this article before you make your next move.

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Are Guinea Pigs Good at Swimming?

Yes, these cute and fluffy rodents are excellent at swimming. However, they don’t like this activity. They will only swim if it is the last option left to get rid of a predator.

Guinea pigs belong to the Caviidae family and are quite like their distant cousin, the capybara.1 However, unlike a guinea pig, a capybara loves and adores water. It doesn’t mind getting washed with water, unlike a guinea pig who usually feels stressed and exhausted when placed in a pool to swim.

Guinea pigs have strong natural instincts. They may fall in the water, but there is nothing to worry about. These rodents use all their energy and paddle toward safety.

However, if the travel distance is long, these rodents may get physically exhausted. This, as a result, may stress them out, which isn’t good for them.

two guinea pigs bathing
Image By: Ase, Shutterstock

Why Don’t Guinea Pigs Like Swimming?

Guinea pigs hate swimming because they don’t have a body that supports it. These animals aren’t natural swimmers. So, when thrown in the water, they feel stressed and exposed to many illnesses.

Here are some problems that a guinea pig may face during and after swimming:

Exhaustion

Guinea pigs have small legs and arms. They have weak muscles that prevent them from paddling with comfort. Besides, their bodies aren’t strong enough to bear the weight of water for a long time.

As a result, guinea pigs feel exhausted when they are in the water. They can’t swim long and feel the urge to leave the pool as soon as possible.

Stress

Water may scare your cavy and soar its stress levels to a new high. If your piggy stays stressed for a long time, it may develop many physical and mental health problems.

Moreover, your pig may develop a fear of you when pushed in a pool consistently. This is a nightmare for any parent and equals losing your pet.

white crested guinea pig
Image By: Bad_Bear_Pictures, Pixabay

Pneumonia

Do you know that pneumonia and lung inflammation can lead to the death of guinea pigs? Since these rodents can control their body temperature, they die of cold when exposed to water.

Respiratory Infections

Since guinea pigs lack the ability to control and maintain their body temperature, they may get respiratory infections when swimming. The water accumulated on their skin may make them feel very cold, leading to problems like hypothermia. They may also develop a respiratory infection.

Skin Problems

Guinea pigs have thick fur. The thick coat washes off while swimming, releasing all the oil. As a result, the pigs start developing various skin problems.

Besides, the water in a swimming pool has chlorine. When the chemical touches the piggy’s skin, it may develop an infection resulting in a life-threatening condition.

brown guinea pig on a fleece blanket
Image Credit: Arif L, Unsplash

Ear Infections

A guinea pig may also develop a nasty ear infection after water enters its ears while swimming. The disease can easily affect their nervous system, leading to sudden death.

Other than the above reasons, a guinea pig cannot measure water depth. This could be dangerous, as your little rodent may drown without supervision.

The fear of water makes the rodent place its head above the water. This can be exhausting for the little animal and may lead to unexpected breathlessness.

Is It Safe to Bath Your Piggy?

Yes, there is nothing wrong with bathing your pig, but make sure that you follow specific rules. For instance, these rodents groom themselves, so cleaning them two to three times in warmer months is enough. Avoid bathing them in colder months until it is necessary.

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Final Words

If you ever thought your guinea pig enjoyed swimming like the rest of the animals, you have likely been mistaken. While a guinea pig can swim, it doesn’t like it. This rodent doesn’t feel comfortable swimming and even gets stressed and exhausted when moving underwater. So, if you love your pet and don’t want it to get scared, avoid forcing them to swim.


Featured Image Credit: MAKY_OREL, Pixabay

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