Do Guinea Pigs Smell? Must Know Facts On Your Furry Friend!

Ritwik Bhuyan
Feb 29, 2024 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Three little guinea pigs sitting in a row.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.1 Min

Guinea pigs are cute and gel very well with all family members, but there is some downfall to these animals.

Guinea pigs stink sometimes but it doesn't take much effort as an owner to take care of the hygiene and some other precautions to remove the stench. The odor coming out from the guinea pig is actually the result of a dirty cage, hygiene, or some illness in the guinea pig.

A guinea pig's smell sometimes doesn't even concern the animal. Sometimes the foul smell is related to a dirty cage due to the buildup of waste or something else inside. A guinea pig cage is everything for the pet as it sleeps in it, poops in it, and makes it home too. It is similar to a litter box used for a cat, so it is natural that foul smells are emitted from the cage. Guinea pigs are found mostly in the cage, so the smell is often blamed on their body when it should be blamed on the litter inside the cage. Guinea pigs smell as they pick up the smell from their cage. A guinea pig's smell is actually said to be not as foul as guinea pigs are usually considered clean animals. If you keep the guinea pig's cage nice and clean, there is no reason that any smell would come out from there. Guinea pigs are also known for self-grooming, but you should give them a bath occasionally.

Male guinea pigs have a scent gland, also called the grease gland, which makes them have a stronger smell than the females of the species. Although guinea pigs remain clean, these glands can make them smell sometimes inside or outside the cage. The secretion of these glands is used by the male guinea pigs in the wild to mark their territories and while mating. The secretion is similar to ear wax and the intensity of the smell depends on individuals. In captivity, the build-up of this wax secreted by the guinea pig's grease gland can make the smell come out of the cage and also from the body of the guinea pig. This smell coming out of the guinea pig's cage can be saved by frequently cleaning the cage clean and taking good care of the guinea pig.

You need to keep the cages clean at all times as guinea pigs have a tendency to groom themselves. Wet bedding, poop, and also uneaten food can give the odor you might be smelling. If you are smelling something fishy in your guinea pig, it is time to give the cage a good bath and rinse. Changing the bedding regularly and choosing a good quality bedding for your beloved pets can work wonders. You should also indulge in spot cleaning the cage every day and deep cleaning the cage of the animal once a week.

There are many other ways to keep the smell away from the pets and we will discuss them further ahead. If you enjoy this article, why not also read about do guinea pigs bite and do guinea pigs sleep here on Kidadl?

Are guinea pigs really stinky?

A first-timer owner of guinea pig pets will always have a question in their mind, do guinea pigs smell? While this is true in some capacity, there are other reasons too why a guinea pig smells.

Guinea pigs are actually very clean and keep on grooming and cleaning themselves. A white substance comes out of the corner of the eyes of the guinea pigs which they use to clean their face. To clean the rest of the body, they use the saliva from their mouth. Guinea pigs won't smell much themselves, but their urine and feces will. To avoid this, keep a clean cage, beddings clean, spot clean regularly, and deep clean each week. You also might need to give your guinea pigs a bath occasionally but like some pigs, it's not necessary sometimes. Guinea pigs with long fur will need more grooming care than the short fur ones. Pigs with long fur will touch the floor of the cage more and hence lead to more smelling. If you want to wash the hairs of your guinea pig pets, remember to use the right shampoo for the pet. It is very important for their health too. Also, take care to rinse and dry the guinea pig properly after a bath before you let it inside the case. If not, the guinea pig might catch a cold.

Here are a few things you need for odor control of guinea pigs. The guinea pig's enclosure might smell of uncleaned bedding, spoilt food, and water bottle. So focus your cleaning for these areas and you should be golden. In a guinea pig's case, bedding is very important as, without it, the pig might become anxious and restless. Good quality bedding will also soak up most urine, helping to keep the other areas clean most of the time. As the bedding soaks up most of the waste of the guinea pigs, it is important to clean those every week. Remember to remove discarded food, as spoilt food is always the source of foul smell. The bowl inside the guinea pig cage should be washed every week too as doing this will make the cage virtually odor-free. Use warm water and mild detergent to sweep clean the floor of the cage.

There can be other reasons for the smell too which can relate to the health problems of the guinea pig. Check for greasy fur, change in behavior, or hair fall as it might indicate that there are some issues with your guinea pig. Diarrhea can also be a cause of the smell. It is important to take care of the diet of a guinea pig.

How bad do guinea pigs smell?

It is not the fault of the guinea pig sometimes that they smell, but the hygiene of the cage.

Guinea pigs are very clean animals and they usually don't need to litter train themselves. A guinea pig will do everything to clean themselves and it is not even its fault that it sometimes smells very bad. A clean cage is very important for a guinea pig, but it surely cannot clean the huge home itself! Guinea pigs do their business inside the cage as they have nowhere to go and as a result, the beddings and the floor stinks of urine and feces if not cleaned regularly. You can assume that it smells as bad as a litter box. Like you would spot clean a litter box every day where the cat loves to pee and poop, the same way, you need to carry on spot cleaning the cage of the guinea pig every day. Deep cleaning is not needed for a week at least. After a rigorous cage cleaning, you can also use a cleaning spray that would remove the pet odor or any other smell of waste.

Once you hold your pet guinea pig, you will notice if the fur of the guinea pig smells really bad. Naturally, anyone would think the smell actually is being emitted by the guinea pig, but the reality is quite different. Yes, male guinea pigs emit a smell themselves, but it is nothing compared to the smell of waste that comes from the guinea pig itself due to a dirty cage. You may have noticed cats and dogs too smell bad if they haven't taken a bath for quite a long time. The small guinea pig species go through the same process and due to their small bodies, it smells worse. The long fur in the body of a guinea pig absorbs the foul smell of the waste and makes everyone uncomfortable.

Keep the cage squeaky clean all the time and don't let the waste and uneaten food stay inside the cage. Change the beddings regularly and deep clean the cage every week. There is no other way to remove the smell other than cleaning the cage as well as the guinea pig regularly. Yes, the guinea pig will clean itself, but still might need a proper bath in a couple of weeks' time. A male guinea pig will also smell bad due to the deposition of a secretion on the fur. This secretion comes from the grease gland of the guinea pig and we will learn more about this in the next topic.

Portrait of cute red guinea pig.

Why do male guinea pigs smell?

Male guinea pigs smell worse than female guinea pigs due to the presence of a special gland that is used to court females and establish territories.

A guinea pig will always resort to cleaning itself rather than depending on its masters. Guinea pigs have the ability to clean and groom themselves all the time and their eyes also secrete a white substance that helps them in cleaning their face. You must have noticed how clean a guinea pig looks, but must have despised the foul smell emitted from them too. Although the dirty smell can be blamed on an uncleaned cage, there are other reasons too why a guinea pig smells.

A male guinea pig will have a more grounded smell than a female guinea pig. This smell is the reason for the scent gland/grease gland/oil gland present in the males. When in the wild, the males discharge an ear wax-like substance and the depth of this secretion is different between individuals. This is used to maintain a territory or just flaunt themselves in front of females during the mating season. In captivity, the same glands will secrete the substance but the guinea pig does not have any use of it as a pet. As a result, it will start smelling a lot and quickly the odor will become bad. It is important to clean them regularly and remove the deposition.

Do guinea pigs smell worse than rabbits?

Yes, guinea pigs smell worse than rabbits and this is due to the way they groom themselves, as well as the regular hygiene of the cage.

Both guinea pigs and rabbits smell a lot and both have similar reasons for smells. Guinea pigs make more mess than rabbits inside the cage and this can be a reason for them smelling fouler than a rabbit. Rabbits have the same cleaning regime as guinea pigs, but clean better and can be litter trained better too. Although guinea pigs make more mess inside, you as an owner can clean the cage from time to time to keep it clean and there won't be a problem of smell in both the species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do guinea pigs smell, then why not take a look at mosquito menace: when do mosquitoes come out or figuring out the bugs: when do lightning bugs come out facts pages?

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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