When you hear about guinea pigs, you might think that they’re tiny kinds of pigs. But if you think about it, they don’t even look like pigs at all.
So, you might be wondering – are guinea pigs related to pigs?
The answer is a big NO! Guinea pigs are not related to pigs. A guinea pig and a pig both have separate families.
Guinea pigs belong to the Caviidae family, which includes cavies, maras, and rodents of South America.
However, pigs belong to the Suidae family of animals. This group includes domestic pigs, wild boars, bush pigs, and different kinds of hogs.
So we’ve learned above that guinea pigs and pigs are not related.
Since they aren’t related, what brought about the “pig” part of their name?
Let’s find out!
Table of Contents
Why is a Guinea Pigs Called a Pig?
There’s no specific answer to this question. Guinea pigs had their names a long time ago, over 500 years back.
However, there are some observations in the past that likely brought about how guinea pigs got their names.
Some years back, certain people noticed that guinea pigs’ sounds, their wheeks, were quite similar to that of baby pigs.
So, this might have brought about the “pig” part of their name. The fact that they’re called pigs doesn’t mean they’re related to pigs at all.
These two creatures are different in many ways and we’ll be discussing this next…
Recommended Reading: Why are Guinea Pigs Called Guinea Pigs?
What Is the Difference Between a Guinea Pig and a Pig?
One thing these two creatures have in common is that they’re both mammals. However, there’s a huge difference between the two of them.
Let’s compare them with the categories below to see how different they are from each other:
|Size||8-16 in (20-40 cm)||35-70 in (89-180 cm)|
|Weight||1-3 lbs. (0.5-1.5 kg)||300-700 lbs (140-300 kg)|
|Group||Caviidae family||Suidae family|
|Lifespan||4-8 years||6-10 years4-8 years (as pets)|
|Diet||Herbivorous: Hay, grasses, fruits, veggies, etc.||Omnivorous: Plants, Meat, cooked foods, etc.|
This is one easy way to tell the difference between these two creatures. Pigs are way bigger than guinea pigs.
I’m talking about size differences way too much to even think they’re similar in the first place. Guinea pigs have a total body length of about 8-16 in (20-40 cm).
Pigs, on the other hand, have a body length of about 35-70 in (89-180 cm). This is a big difference, about four times the size of guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs weigh about 1-3 lbs. (0.5-1.5 kg). This is quite small compared to pigs that weigh about 300-700 lbs.
Even the smallest kinds of pigs weigh so much more than the largest guinea pig. Even a baby pig weighs more than a guinea pig.
This makes pigs not only bigger but heavier than guinea pigs.
These two creatures belong to different groups of mammals. This group of animals, including guinea pigs, are rodents but pigs are not.
Moreover, a guinea pig is a member of the Caviidae family while pigs belong to the Suidae family. One thing that’s common to the Suidae family is their long flexible snouts.
This is something that makes you recognize any pig or its relatives if you see one.
See the classification of both animals in the table below:
|Species||C. porcellus||S. domesticus|
Guinea pigs live very short lives, about 4-8 years. In the wild, it can be as short as 1-4 years. This makes them different from pigs that have longer lifespans.
Pigs are different from guinea pigs when it comes to how long they live. They have more years to live than guinea pigs.
The average lifespan of a pig is about 6-10 years. In addition, if they live as pets with so much human care, they will live longer, about 15-20 years.
When it comes to food, guinea pigs eat nothing else other than fresh plants. That’s right! These cute little cavies are strict vegetarians.
Hay makes up the most of their food. Moreover, grasses, pellets, fruits, and veggies all come into their diet.
Interestingly, pigs are quite different! They’re not herbivores like guinea pigs because their diet is mixed – both plants and animals.
This means they are omnivores and able to eat a variety of foods clearly not on a guinea pig’s food list.
A pig will eat fruits, grass, eggs, and meat. They also eat cooked foods and guinea pigs don’t.
Many animals differ from each other through the sounds they make.
For the guinea pigs and pigs, this isn’t an exception. They both have different sounds they make which prove they aren’t relatives at all.
The common sound the pig makes is the “oink”. On rare occasions, they will grunt or even squeak.
Guinea pigs’ sounds are quite different. A guinea pig “wheeks” most of the time. This is the “animal sound” they make.
Moreover, aside from wheeking, there are other sounds guinea pigs will often make such as purring, squealing, whining, etc. which might mean different things.
Recommended Reading: Guinea Pigs Noises and What They Mean
What Are Guinea Pigs Related To?
Some distant relatives to guinea pigs include agoutis, porcupines, and chinchillas. However, guinea pigs are closely related to members of their Caviidae family.
These are small rodents just like guinea pigs.
Here’s a list of some guinea pigs close relatives (Caviidae):
- Rock cavy
- Mountain cavy
- Yellow-toothed cavy
- Chacoan mara
- Patagonian mara
- Capybara (The largest rodent in the world)
In summary, you now know guinea pigs are not related to pigs at all. They aren’t called guinea pigs because they’re pigs.
There’s a lot of difference between the two animals. Guinea pigs are tiny animals compared to a pig’s size.
In addition, their diets are also different. Guinea pigs are vegetarians but pigs can eat almost anything edible.
In all, they both belong to different families that have very little in common. Guinea pigs live way shorter compared to pigs.
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