Guinea pigs have not been blessed with the most practical of bodies. And their short little legs have a lot to do to support their weight and movement. It’s no wonder we question whether they are able to climb stairs! With these challenges in mind, let’s find out if it’s actually possible…
So, can guinea pigs climb stairs? Guinea pigs are capable climbers and can learn to climb both up and down stairs. They generally tend to run up stairs for additional momentum, whereas they tend to be slow and cautious on the way down. Carpeted stairs are easier to climb as guinea pigs can use their nails for grip and additional leverage.
And they’re not just capable of climbing; they enjoy it too!
In fact, guinea pigs love nothing more than to run around, play, and climb different objects.
They are actually very active little rodents, despite how they appear.
And they love to be on higher ground to observe their environment.
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at a guinea pig’s climbing capabilities.
This way, if you are to own them, you will know exactly what to expect.
And more importantly, be able to help keep them safe!
Can Guinea Pigs Climb Vertically?
Guinea pigs can climb vertically, although they would struggle to get over any object or obstacle higher than 18 inches from the ground.
This is why most cages specifically designed for guinea pigs will have certain and minimal height dimensions – around 24 inches – to prevent escape!
But anything above those minimums; is enough to keep them contained.
This is why some cages do not even have roofs!
That being said, as guinea pigs actively enjoy climbing – the provision of ramps, split levels, and other climbing apparatus should be provided.
But certainly do not worry about a guinea pig being able to climb up the side of a cage vertically.
They do not have the strength nor capabilities for that!
Are Guinea Pigs Good At Climbing?
Guinea pigs are considered relatively good climbers, assuming that they have ramps or steps that they can use.
In other words, guinea pigs are not adept at climbing challenging structures, or those that a guinea pig cannot gain any leverage.
And this is important.
Because guinea pigs are relatively aware of their abilities.
In fact, if you observe a guinea pig climbing, you will notice that they tend to run for a little momentum.
They will also dig their nails/claws into the ground to help grip and hoist themselves up.
And it certainly helps that they can jump between 3-8 inches, on average.
This can make all the difference when it comes to things like stairs.
At least indoor stairs, which have an average height of 7.5″.
So it’s no real surprise they run at stairs!
It’s also why climbing toys for guinea pigs are much less forgiving.
Besides, a guinea pig will most likely climb them from a standing position, after all.
How Do You Train A Guinea Pig To Climb Stairs?
Training a guinea pig to go up stairs, or a ramp is all about building their confidence to do so. Using treats is perhaps the most effective way to entice them to do so.
Although in more confident guinea pigs, using treats may not even be necessary.
The truth is, some guinea pigs will be more confident at taking on stairs than others.
Those that like to hop on hideaways, cage items and other cage structures are often those that do not find stairs too much of a challenge.
They may even attempt the stairs on their own accord with a little time.
But if you want to get less confident guinea pigs to go up, or want to fasten the process, here is how you can do so.
Use treats as a bribe.
Some mixed greens are ideal for this.
First show them to your guinea pig – get their interest and perhaps give them a little piece.
You may have to do this is a few times, and it may not work right away.
Nevertheless, put some of the pieces of greens on the stairs/ramp.
Scatter the pieces from the bottom to the top.
Be sure to place some at the top. Along with some hay and some other, more enticing treats. The ultimate reward for getting up!
Treats = reward, so use this to motivate your guinea pigs.
While a guinea pig may get the lower down pieces of greens without having to climb up, they will soon realize they need to climb in order to get more.
They’ll quickly realize there is more at the top.
Just consider that this is a process.
You may need to do this multiple times; being persistent is key to show that the stairs/ramp is an achievable object for them to overcome.
So keep trying, and it time you will see your guinea pigs becoming more confident, more bold and more adventerous.
Some of your guinea pigs can even learn from other guinea pigs how to do so.
Just be mindful that some guinea pigs may take to the stairs in a day, whereas others may need up to a few weeks of practice to take on stairs without hesitation.
Guinea pigs can generally climb stairs; when they have the confidence to do so!
Of course, not all stairs are the same.
Either in height or texture.
Lower, carpeted, indoor stairs are much more manageable for a guinea pig.
And most guinea pigs will likely run up the stairs and cautiously walk down them.
For other guinea pigs, it may take a little practice and a little confidence building.
With treats and time, they should be able to take them on.
Either way, guinea pigs enjoy climbing.
Its a natural behavior for them.
In the wild, being high up enables them to have a look around and see what is in their environment.
It helps keep them safe.
So climbing is something you should promote.
Including climbing toys in their cage is advised at the very least.
But if you do want them to take on the stairs, give it a try.
Just ensure they remain safe, and there is nothing on or around the stairs that could harm or injure them.
And do use treats.
These are known to work particularly well.
Guinea pigs will not climb out of a cage that is of reasonable height, of at least 18 inches from the ground or higher. That being said, a cage that has climbing toys or surfaces that a guinea pig could use to get up and over, or is not sufficiently tall enough could result in a guinea pig escape.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.