According to research, the sense of smell of a guinea pig is 25 times better than that of a human. In fact, their sense of smell is only marginally inferior to that of dogs. Your guinea pigs sniff continuously in search of food and to detect odors that indicate the presence of potential threats, such as predators, in their environment.
In addition to being a blessing in disguise for pet owners, the excellent sense of smell is also a curse.
They are more susceptible to artificial odors and scents because they have a sense of smell that helps them move around their cage and keep an eye out for potential threats while they are not.
The smell of cooking fumes, floor cleaners, laundry detergent, and other household products can irritate a guinea pig’s nose.
Some guinea pigs are also affected by allergies and respiratory infections as a result of the exposure to the same.
As a result, avoid using scented chemicals and items in the vicinity of your guinea pigs if possible.
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Do guinea pigs have a good sense of smell?
Guinea pigs in the wild have a keen sense of smell, which comes in handy when searching for food in remote areas.
They must also be on the lookout for predators, rather than relying on their vision to do so. As a result, a keen sense of smell became essential.
The predators were able to smell the guinea pigs even before they came within range of their vision, proving that smell is a powerful sense.
This incredible ability, combined with their sharp memory and quick reflexes, allowed them to save their own lives while out in the wild.
The domesticated guinea pigs retain the same instincts as their wild counterparts, and they have an equally keen sense of smell as their wild cousins.
Although they do not have to keep an eye out for food at a distance as they would in the wild, you will notice them twitching their noses from time to time as they scan the area for signs of danger.
You will also notice that your guinea pigs will detect when you are approaching them even if you are out of their direct line of sight.
Some guinea pigs begin wheeking very early in the morning in order to attract their owner’s attention.
Guinea pigs are also able to recognize their owners through their sense of smell. As soon as they become accustomed to their owner’s scent, you will notice that they are calm and relaxed even when you are present.
They will, however, remain vigilant in the event that a new individual attempts to contact them.
Because they have such a keen sense of smell, you must exercise caution to avoid irritating their nasal membranes.
Avoid using any perfumes or diffusing strong essential oils into the air because this can irritate their nose and make them feel sick.
Guinea pigs also communicate with one another through the use of their sense of smell, which they develop as they grow older.
Some guinea pigs also use their glue sac (boar glue) to mark out their territory, which they use to mark out their territory.
Although these may not always be visible to the naked eye, other guinea pigs are able to tell the difference between them.
How does a guinea pig use her sense of smell?
Guinea pigs constantly sniff the air by moving their nostrils up and down in sync with their head movements.
If they detect a new scent in the air, they will sniff it quickly in order to learn more about what they have detected.
With each sniff, you will notice their nostrils twitching, indicating that they are taking in more scent molecules from the environment.
Their ability to stimulate these molecules is enabled by the twitching of their nose. A message is sent to the guinea pig’s brain, which determines whether it is a smell of food, a threat from their owner, or something else entirely.
Your guinea pig will react to the situation based on the information provided by these messages. Their instinct is to rush towards an aroma that smells like something they enjoy.
In the case of unfamiliar food, it is likely that they will take some additional time to investigate and smell it before giving it a try.
If they detect the presence of their owners, they will rush to the front door to greet them personally.
If it’s time for a treat, they may begin wheeking in an attempt to get their owner’s attention.
It is possible, however, that they will rush towards the hiding place if they detect the scent of a potential threat.
In some instances, they will scream for help when they realize there is no other way out of a difficult situation.
Keep in mind that guinea pigs breathe through their noses and will never take a breath through their mouth.
While sniffing, guinea pigs’ top leaves can become separated from the rest of their body. Having them in this position is completely normal because it allows them to capture more air molecules from the surrounding environment.
They are not, however, permitted to take in air through their mouths under any circumstances.
If you notice that your guinea pigs are breathing through their mouths, it is almost certainly a sign of a medical problem. You must seek the advice of a professional veterinarian as soon as possible.
How important is a sense of smell to guinea pigs?
Many researchers have concluded that the two significant senses of guinea pigs are the sense of hearing and smell.
Guinea pigs don’t have a good vision, but their other senses are better, which makes up for the same.
A good sense of smell is critical for many reasons:
- Guinea pigs cannot see far objects clearly. They do have good eyesight when things are within their range of vision. However, to keep themselves safe from the threat, they depend upon their sense of smell for early detection of threats. Thus, your guinea pigs can smell any danger from a distance before even before they can see it.
- Guinea pigs also have an excellent sense of hearing. They use it to stay alert, but sometimes a loud noise can catch them off-guard. Thus, at such moments they use the sense of smell combined with the hearing to detect the severity of the threat.
- Guinea pigs also use the sense of smell to detect and look out for their food. You will notice your guinea pig will smell the food for a few minutes before munching on the same.
- Guinea pigs will also use their sense of smell to look out for their owners. You will notice your guinea pigs will start wheeking as soon as they smell you around. Even if you are out of their sight, they can still sense your presence.
- A male guinea pig also uses a typical type of smell to call for mating. Usually, humans won’t notice this smell much, but female guinea pigs can surely smell it from a distance.
- If male and female guinea pigs are not neutered and housed in the same room, even if the cage is separate, your male guinea pigs will start showing mating behaviors and get aggressive towards its cagemate.
- Some guinea pigs also use their grease gland to mark their territory. These glues might not be smelly, but other guinea pigs can surely detect the same.
Guinea pig sense of smell compared to human
According to research, a guinea pig has more than 796 Olfactory genes, whereas humans only have 396 of these genes.
Who are these Olfactory Genes, and what do they do? These are basically like gene codes that help the body in identifying and detecting different types of smell.
Additionally, according to a study conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, humans are capable of detecting one trillion different types of smells.
Despite the fact that no such study has been conducted on guinea pigs, if you simply go by the numbers, you can say that they are capable of detecting over two trillion different types of smells and odors.
The fact that guinea pigs can detect scent from a long distance and that their sense of smell is so acute is due to this factor, among other things.
Guinea pigs sense of smell vs dogs
Dogs are considered as one of the best sniffers among pets. They can follow a trail of smell for miles and miles.
Although canines beat your guinea pigs in this regard, they are not far off.
While a dog has 811 Olfactory genes, guinea pigs are just behind them with 796 Olfactory genes.
That certainly means your dogs can sniff more types of aromas than your guinea pigs.
Even though dogs are more potent in sniffing, our guinea pigs are more alert. This is because dogs are not prey animals, but guinea pigs are.
A dog will never use their full potential of smelling unless they are trained to do so.
However, our guinea pigs don’t enjoy a similar luxury.
Guinea pigs need to be alert all the time, and they will keep looking for any potential threat in the air, which your dogs may ignore sometimes.
Guinea pigs vs cat sense of smell
A cat has an inferior sense of smell than that of a guinea pig. A cat has around 80 million Olfactory receptors, while a guinea pig has close to 200 million receptors.
But that doesn’t mean the cat cannot smell their prey. The sense of smell in cats is still twice better than we humans.
They can smell their prey from a distance, and the same goes for our guinea pigs as well.
Although our guinea pigs are more alert, and they can sense the cat around first, which gives them a chance to escape and hide, but the cats can surely detect and find our guinea pigs.
That’s the reason it is said that you should keep cats away from guinea pigs even if they are your pet, as the mere smell of them can stress out our guinea pigs.
What smells do guinea pigs like?
There are a handful of smell that our guinea pigs enjoy. Some of these includes:
- Food: Guinea pigs love the smell of food. If they smell food around, they will be drawn towards it. Sugary food and treats are something they can’t resist. However, make sure you don’t serve a high-calorie diet to your guinea pigs.
- cage mates: Guinea pigs will smell and groom each other from time to time. Although they might not like each other’s smell, but they will smell each other and remember the scent for dividing territories.
- Owners: Guinea pigs get used to the smell of their owners. They will enjoy and feel secure when you are around them. It also means they are getting something to eat, which is a bonus for them.
- Old bedding and hidings: Guinea pigs remember the smell of the area they live in. If all of a sudden you change their bedding and wash all their stuff, then they can get stressed. Thus, make sure you leave something behind that has their smell on it.
- Chew sticks: Guinea pigs love to chew on things. It might not particularly be the smell, but they do like a particular type of wood to chew. While some guinea pigs enjoy, apple sticks other enjoys willow sticks.
What smells do guinea pigs hate?
Given that guinea pigs have an extremely sensitive nose, strong aromas should be avoided at all costs. Most odors are repulsive to them in the majority of cases.
Before exposing your guinea pigs to any kind of smell, make sure they are comfortable with it. Some of the typical odors they despise include:
- Predators: Your guinea pigs will be able to detect predators even if they are a long distance away. If you have chosen to keep your guinea pigs outside, then the pets of your neighbors, as well as other predators such as foxes and coyotes, may be causing stress to your guinea pigs and causing them to suffer. Our guinea pigs can be stressed out by the smell of our own pets at times.
- Floor cleaners and detergents: Floor cleaners and detergents are frequently fragranced with perfumes that are added to them. Even though we may feel refreshed and relaxed after inhaling those scents, our guinea pig’s nose finds them aggravating.
- Ingredients such as onion and garlic are considered to be natural pest repellents by some experts. When we slice the onions, Syn-Propanethial-S-oxide is released into the air. It is possible that these chemicals will cause tears to form in the human eye as well as irritation to the nasal passage of our guinea pigs.
- Kitchen fumes: The fumes released by cooking in the kitchen, including those emitted by spices and oil, can be harmful to our guinea pigs as well. In the event that your guinea pig is kept near the kitchen counter, make sure to avoid using non-stick cookware because the fumes from these can be toxic to our little friends. Exclude spices and smoky preparations from your diet, as well.
- Aromatherapy products, such as perfumes and room fresheners, are also strictly prohibited for our guinea pigs. Your guinea pigs may be affected by the strong aroma emanating from these items. As a result, avoid using them when you are in their presence.
- Using essential oils and aromatherapy is thought to be beneficial to one’s health in many ways. Our guinea pigs, on the other hand, are not subject to the same restrictions. In fact, the vast majority of essential oils are toxic to our guinea pigs and should be avoided at all costs.
It may take some time for you to grasp the concept of what is appropriate for your guinea pigs and what is not appropriate.
Keep in mind that you should always be cautious about exposing them to strong smells.
Consider this: if you can detect an aroma from something, the same aroma will be 20 times more potent for your guinea pigs than it is for you.
If your guinea pigs are exposed to foul odors for an extended period of time, they may experience anxiety and health problems.
A guinea pig’s sense of smell cannot be turned off, and if the smell is present, they will become stressed and remain so until the smell has been removed.
If your guinea pigs become agitated by a particular scent, you must take immediate action to calm them down and eliminate the odor as soon as possible.
It’s important to keep your guinea pigs calm and assure them that everything is safe.
Your guinea pigs may be able to detect and feel threats that we are unable to see or feel.
As a result, it is critical for their health and well-being that they are kept stress-free in some capacity.