Guinea Pigs: the dumbest mammal

I was looking over some of my old scribbles and found this classic story I wrote for the Watley Review. I had to reblog it.

It’s Official! Guinea Pigs are the dumbest mammals on Earth.

Ballwinville, MO – In a somewhat surprising announcement today, a U.S. government agency tasked with finding the relative IQ’s of land based mammals published their final rankings. The meek guinea pig scored the lowest of all.

“We really didn’t expect the results we got.” said Dr. Tim Covington head of the Animals for Strategic Defense Agency. “The guinea pig display an extremely narrow range on our tests of basic cognitive abilities. You know, basic things, like not eating your own feces, remembering to breathe, or not urinating on yourself. All told, when we tabulated our results, the Guinea Pig group we tested actually scored a 0.5 out of 100 across the board on all of our intelligence tests. I have to say, that’s pretty hard to do.”

Covington declined to comment on why the government was conducting the tests, but noted that field mice and chipmunks were the big winners, scoring high in both cognitive ability and basic intelligence.test. As to the weak performance of the guinea pig, some were surprised, but few doubted the results.

“When you take a moment to think about the guinea pig,” noted famed zoologist Joseph Holsinger, “I think even Darwin would scratch his head. In a world filled with predators, they have no defense capabilities. They have very low environmental tolerance whereby small variances in heat and moisture can kill them. Their immune system is non-existent, which results in sudden death from even the most common strains of bacteria. Mix that in with the fact they are extremely nearsighted and don’t hear very well, you quickly conclude its a miracle this species has survived. As I see it, in the basic food chain, the guinea pig is designed to be nature’s equivalent of a Happy Meal.”

Dr. Covington concurred. “I mean, we know the guinea pig has a brain, but other than to keep its skull from collapsing, we are not really sure what they use it for. If not for children and pet stores, I think the guinea pig would have gone the way of the Dodo years ago.”

One local pet store owner who refused to be identified commented, “Oh hell yeah, they’re dumb. Funny story, I once had a Guinea Pig that choked to death while it was eating its own foot. True story,” the store owner said with a laugh. “Look, the bottom line with guinea pigs is, they are cute, they eat a lot, and they have a really short life span, all of which is good business for me.”

The much maligned Guinea Pig can do one thing well, though. “Yes,” said zoologist Holsinger, “the guinea pig can reproduce with the best of them. The average female can have up to 20 offspring in a year. That’s the highest rate among land-based mammals.”

The guinea pig – too dumb to exist, but smart enough to have a colossal sex life. Ignorance just may be bliss.


PW Abbenhaus

By |2012-10-04T18:44:49+00:00October 4th, 2012|General Bric-a-Brak, Uncategorized|7 Comments


  1. hutchagoodlife October 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Guinea pig aren’t really ‘dumb’ animals. Sure they may not do to well under test conditions, but you could say that about some humans.

    My four cavies understand basic commands similar to dogs.

    ‘Leave it’, ‘follow’, ‘heel’, ‘stay’, ‘go home’, ‘come’ and ‘spin’.

    They make wonderful pets and are emotionally intuitive, able to respond to different moods in a household.

    I suppose scientists are entitled to try to ‘measure’ intelligence in that way but I can’t help but think what a pointless waste of time it has been. Shouldn’t they be finding cures to cancer rather than pretending that their belief of intelligence matters in pets and/or wild animals?


    • pabbenhaus October 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm - Reply


      You may want to drop by the Watley Review website. That being said, my household danced a jig when we were finally free of our Guinea Pig occupation. They are Earth’s version of Tribbles.

      PW Abbenhaus

  2. Austin March 18, 2014 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Guinea pigs are most certainly not the least intelligent mammal. Most rodents eat what are called caucal feces, because their digestive system can’t digest the nutrients in their fibrous diets the first time. Saying that guinea pigs eating their feces makes them stupid is just one example of how incorrect this article is, and how misinformed the author is. This article is largely inaccurate and should defintely not be portrayed as factual information.

  3. JD Manas June 11, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Is this test for real? Guinea Pigs don’t lack the intelligence to the extent which most people believe – To me they can have a lot of emotional intelligence.

    I adopted two brothers and they had very clear and distinctive personalities from one another, one of them was really close to the other one and whenever he was around him he would purr and run up to him but the affection wasn’t reciprocated. They could also obviously tell the difference between different members of the household – They would only chirp for food when a certain member of my family was around and could even recognise her voice from a distance.

    What’s strange is that they are incapable of the the simplest tasks like using a litter tray. Whereas Hamsters can outperform guinea pigs on many cognitive tasks, they don’t seem to have the same emotional intelligence that many guinea pigs have: Look at videos where Dogs and Guinea Pigs are cuddling with each other and the Guinea Pig is clearly showing affection to the dog, you would never see a hamster who could behave in the same manner.

    I think that guinea pigs, at least a lot of them have emotional intelligence but are cognitively undeveloped in many others way.

  4. Bolko December 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Ok don’t get on the defensive, this article looks satire from the start. Of course it is in their physiology to eat their feces to regain more nutrients from their plant food. Also they are doing pretty well in the wild. The pet species is “man-made”, probably a hybrid of related species, but it doesn’t differ in any crucial point in behavior to wild specimens. They neither climb nor burrow, they just only hide in tall grass and in cavities under rocks. This seems stupid, but there are many other animals with similar behavior that do just fine. They have a sophisticated vocal communication system and certainly their reproductive output is less than that of rabbits or rats. They might not be too intelligent, but still not the dumbest mammals in the world. That title should go either to primitive species like opossums and hedgehogs or best to secondarily simplified ones like koalas or sloths. Moreover some close relatives of the guinea pig are exceptionally smart for rodents, like degus which can even use tools.

    • PW Abbenhaus December 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      You nailed it – this article is SATIRE. I do admire your empathy for the guinea pig.

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