Where Do Guinea Pigs Live In The Wild? Here’s What You Don’t Know!

Where Do Guinea Pigs Live In The Wild? Here’s What You Don’t Know!

Cavies, or guinea pigs, are a type of domesticated rodent (Cavia porcellus), and their first recorded home was in South America. 

However, people have valued them as food and pets for thousands of years. They are even still termed today as exotic pets mainly due to their friendliness and beautiful fur.

Guinea pigs have played a  major function in research since the 1800s, they have played their part in contributing to the study of nutrition, toxicity, health products, and other ailments.

They make the perfect research animal because they are easy to care for and similar to humans in the terms of biological makeup.

This article focuses on the habitat of Guinea pigs and answers the question “where do Guinea pigs live in the wild?”.

A Brief History Of Guinea Pigs

Although wild Guinea pigs are rarely seen, they do have some cousins in South America who go by the name of Guinea pigs and inhabit woods, savannas, highland grasslands, and bushy places. 

The Brazilian Guinea pig can be found in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Bolivia, northern Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, based on statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Molecules do Sul Guinea pig is from the expansive 25-acre island of Moleques Island do Sul in Santa Catarina, Brazil. 

Also, the more popular glossy guinea pig is native to southeast Brazil’s coastal areas.

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Guinea pigs were raised by the Incas as pets, food, clothing, and sacrifices during religious ceremonies. Spanish, English, and Dutch explorers brought guinea pigs to Europe in the 1600s.

Today about 13 Guinea pig breeds are officially recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association and more are being added all the time, breeders and enthusiasts choose the best species and perform selective breeding to perfect particular qualities over the years. 

Guinea pigs now come in a range of coat colours, patterns, and textures due to selective breeding.

General Facts You May Not Know About Guinea Pigs 

As herd animals, guinea pigs are incredibly social. Although they benefit from human affection, they prefer to be around people. 

In addition, they are nocturnal, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. 

Guinea pigs spend their waking hours eating, grooming, or exploring their cage.

The habits of wild Guinea pigs are not so different as they also sleep in burrows, most times they prefer abandoned burrows.

The holes that wild guinea pigs dwell in are mostly not dug by the animals themselves. 

They occupy abandoned burrows made by other animals. Burrows, on the other hand, provide proper protection from a variety of hazards, including predators and extreme weather conditions.

As long as they have adequate space and you can maintain them at a reasonable temperature during the summer heat or the harsh winter weather, guinea pigs can survive both indoors and outdoors.

In the wild Guinea pigs are driven to be active, to gnaw, and to hide out by nature.

They spend their time in the wild creating tunnels and holes to hide in. Some species can climb low shrubs and rocks with ease, leaping from branch to branch.

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While in the wild, they spend the majority of the day traveling large miles and always taking the same routes in search of food. 

Furthermore, these cavies avoid open spaces without cover because they are helpless prey animals and move swiftly from one area of cover to another.

What You Should Know About Guinea Pig Wild Habitats 

It is most likely that the ancestors of the Caviidae family originally appeared between 26 and 7 million years ago. 

Rodents similar to ferrets in size most probably served as their ancestors. 

These ancestors migrated from North America, Europe, and Asia to South America. Once in South America, the Caviidae family underwent an evolutionary change to become the guinea pigs we know today.

Although domestic guinea pigs are extinct in the wild, their ancestors can still be found in South American forests, savannas, deserts, and grasslands.

Even though guinea pigs have been kept as pets for about 500 years, they still have many of their natural instincts. 

They are extremely adaptable, and the remaining wild ones adopt the harsh highlands of South America as their natural home.

The wild guinea pig eats a wide variety of foods in South American forests, including fruits, leaves, plants, and root vegetables, but it eats a lot of high-fiber grasses like lemon grass, among many others.

The average lifespan of domestic guinea pigs is five years. 

However, guinea pigs typically survive between one and four years in the wild because they are a common prey species and can encounter challenging conditions there.

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Amazing Facts About Domestic Guinea Pig’s Habits

Guinea pigs that are kept as pets like to live in groups of two or more because they are social animals. 

Males can sometimes live together, but more often, females or one or more females and neutered males live together. 

Guinea pigs are not very agile and can only jump over tiny barriers. 

Furthermore, they may also freeze in place for long periods or move quickly for immediate cover when they feel danger or catch sight of a predator. 

In addition, guinea pigs may execute tiny jumps in the air repeatedly when they are excited; this is known as “popcorning” to some people. 

They can also swim pretty well, and will frequently groom themselves and occasionally engage in social grooming.

One of the many herbivores we have are cavies; they subsist mainly on herbs and with a picky diet of fruits and certain nuts. This applies to both the domestic and the wild cavies.

The best-advised routine for their care is providing food and water and keeping a clean environment. 

Once per week, the cage should be thoroughly cleaned. Include a grooming routine as well. To thrive, guinea pigs require routine grooming. 


Always keep in mind to give animals and pets enough room to roam so they can explore their “wild” side. 

Even though guinea pigs are adorable, their freedom should be carefully monitored and protected.

Never overfeed your pet to promote longevity and a healthy lifestyle. 

Stick around and be sure to check out our other articles on animal husbandry and pet care.

About Author

Bruno C.

I am a professional content writer, a pet lover, an agriculture enthusiast and an innovative thinker. I appreciate performing the research required to keep my articles relevant, current, and engaging, and I bring my industry expertise and experience to every project I tackle.

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