RVC research identifies most common conditions in guinea pigs

3rd April 2024
Industry News

New research from the RVC has identified overgrown nails, ringworm and eye ulcers as the most common conditions in pet guinea pigs in the UK.

Several of these common conditions are linked to sedentary lives in captivity and therefore offer opportunities to reduce their frequency.

Guinea pigs are generally considered docile and easy to care for by prospective owners, but limited research has previously been available to make more informed choices and raise awareness of common disorders and health considerations.

The study, published in PLOS One, investigated anonymised veterinary clinical records of a random sample of 3,785 guinea pigs from the 51,622 guinea pigs under veterinary care in the UK in 2019.

Common conditions

Researchers analysed the diagnosis and mortality information to learn more about the most common disorders diagnosed in these guinea pigs, and also about how long guinea pigs live overall.

Overgrown nail(s) was the most commonly recorded disorder overall, with a one-year frequency of 26.55%, showing that more than a quarter of guinea pigs were affected every year.

Other commonly recorded disorders included ringworm (dermatophytosis) at 6.02%, eye ulcer (corneal ulceration) at 4.99%, diagnosis not completed (formal diagnosis not reached) at 4.39%, anorexia (not eating) at 4.04% and abscess (painful; infected swelling) at 4.02%.

The study also identified substantial health differences between male and female guinea pigs. For example, male guinea pigs had shorter lifespans overall and were predisposed to bite injuries and dental disorders, while females were more susceptible to eye disorders.

Other key findings

Other key findings included the following:

  • The average adult bodyweight for guinea pigs overall was 1.05kg. The average bodyweight of males (1.10kg) was heavier than females (1kg).
  • The average age of guinea pigs in the study overall was 2.21 years. The average age of females (2.33 years) was older than males (2.14 years).
  • Female guinea pigs had a higher probability than males of corneal ulceration, ocular/conjunctival foreign body and abdominal mass.
  • Male guinea pigs had a higher probability than females of anorexia, bite injury, overgrown incisor(s), dental disease and wound(s).
  • The overall average age at death was 4.03 years. The average lifespan of females (4.58 years) was statistically higher than males (3.74 years).
  • The most common causes of death were anorexia, collapse and peri-anaesthetic death.
  • Only 2.95% of guinea pigs had a formal breed name recorded.


Credit to:  RVC research identifies most common conditions in guinea pigs (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  RVC research identifies most common conditions in guinea pigs [online]

Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/rvc-research-identifies-most-common-conditions-in-guinea-pigs/