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Thread: Guinea Pigs Can Form Cognitive Maps

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave MaschoHerd's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Guinea Pigs Can Form Cognitive Maps

    I'm not sure if this is mind-blowing or not, but as much as I believe my babies are the smartest little animals in the world, I never actually realized just how smart they are. I have eighteen total guinea pigs, sixteen of which are kept together in one cage. (The other two are intact males, so they have their own cage.) My piggies have a three story cage, and the middle story is two sections [B] and [C] connected by a bridge. The top [A] and bottom [D] stories each have two ramps, one that goes to each middle section. Kind of like this: (____ is a floor, \\ is a ramp, == is the bridge)

    ____[A]____________
    // . . . . . . . . . . . . . . \\
    ___[B]__ == __[food]_____[C]_______
    \\ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . //
    _________[D]_______________

    (I hope this makes sense)
    So the food is in Section C. The food bags are kept next to section B. When I rustle the food bags (hay, mostly) everybody runs to Section B to check it out. They all squeak excitedly and crowd together. Then I bring the hay to section C and drop it. There's understandably a traffic jam through the bridge. But many of them either run up the ramp to Section A and down the ramp to C, or run down the ramp to D and up the ramp to C. There they can take the food from the other side.
    So they understand alternate routes, but here's where it gets crazy to me.

    When they're all crowded around the hay, sometimes it becomes impossible for a pig to move between other pigs to get to it. If a pig is on the side closest to the bridge, they will turn back and cross the bridge to go around to the other side, or vice versa. Even though the hay is right in front of their noses, they go the long route to find another angle.

    This means that not only do they understand alternate routes to something, but that don't see the food and immediately think "FOOD THERE" and barge through anything to reach it. They understand circular paths and different angles, and that even though it's a lot of running, going around the circular path is actually the easiest way to reach the thing that's right in front of them. That's smarter than some humans I know!

    Any other weird guinea-pig-smarts observations?
    Last edited by MaschoHerd; 06-23-18 at 04:21 pm. Reason: spacing issue with cage map

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea Pigs Can Form Cognitive Maps

    First of all, let me just say that you have one LARGE HERD! I would be surprised if anyone else here on the Forum can match that. Would love to see pics of your cage(s) and the herd +2 that you have.

    I have no doubt that cavies are far smarter than most people give them credit for. I consistently see my boys work out a solution when confronted with a problem. I have had to be creative with trying to outsmart a 2lb cavy who is determined to constantly rearrange the furniture! He will also use a circuitous route to get to his dinner, even though it is placed in front of him. He circles around the base of the ramp to get to the plate on the opposite side of his brother.

    Hopefully, others will contribute to this thread.

  3. "Thank you, spy9doc, for this useful post," says:


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