Due to their small size and private nature, you may have never seen your guinea pigs tongue. In fact, do they even have one? Wondering the same, I decided to conduct some research into the topic. I’d like to share this with you here today.
So, do guinea pigs have tongues? Guinea pigs do have small tongues. While they will only show them infrequently, you can observe them within their mouths Guinea pigs use their tongues for eating, drinking and grooming.
Let us now take a closer look at what guinea pigs use their tongues for and other considerations that you should be aware of.
What Do Guinea Pigs Use Their Tongues For?
Guinea Pigs have small tongues that have a domed portion at the back.
Just like other animals guinea pigs use their tongue for several different reasons and it does serve a purpose.
The first is for eating. Just like humans, guinea pigs have saliva on their tongues which serves to support the initial break down food (such as hay and pellets). It helps to begin the digestive process, whereby the stomach takes over once the partially digested food reaches it.
Secondly, guinea pigs use their tongues to drink. Some owners report that their guinea pigs actually use their tongue to release the water from the bottle and release the non-stop mechanism found so often on water bottles.
Thirdly, guinea pigs are known to use their tongues to groom themselves. Very much like a cat. While you may not have yet observed this behavior, and they do like to do it in private, this helps to keep them clean and to maintain hygiene levels.
Guinea pigs are actually very naturally clean animals, and are known to take such proactive measures to do so. This is why it is so important that you never put dangerous chemicals or products designed for humans e.g. shampoos on their fur. This is because guinea pigs would ingest these harmful chemicals which can pose detrimental health affects.
Lastly, some guinea pigs use their tongues to show affection. The guinea pig kiss is a reported behavior from some guinea pigs owners, which is like a small lick.
It may take time for your new guinea pig to become comfortable with you and within their surroundings in order for them to start doing this. Much the same, they may never take it up. Affection with their tongue can also be shown towards other guinea pigs if you have multiple and you bring them together.
Tongues and Dental Issues
Guinea pigs teeth continue to grow at all stages of life. This is why it is so important that you provide an abundance of good quality hay, fiber and chew toys for them. This will help them to naturally file away at their teeth and keep them in a safer, more optimal length.
If your guinea pigs tongue starts to swell, or they are refusing to eat, this could be a clear indicator that they are experiencing dental issues and that they could be in pain.
These issues can include dental spurs (teeth overgrown and out of alignment), oral thrush (fungal mouth infection) an abscess/cyst or even a cut/injury to the tongue itself.
If you are expect that your guinea pig is experiencing any of the above issues, then the best course or action is to visit the vet. They will be able to examine/monitor your guinea pig and recommend an appropriate course of action. Sometimes a procedure like an X-Ray will be provided although this is not usually required and a physical examination will suffice to find the cause of the problem.
If bacteria has set in, Antibiotics are often prescribed to help reduce the swelling and eliminate the infection. Some other forms of pain relief may also be given.
Either way, the vet will help to identify the cause and then look at carefully managing the symptoms. It may be that a simple increase of hay and fiber and general reduction in the size of the teeth resolves the issue. Sometimes, treatment may be a little bit more involved.
Either way, during this time and/or when you get home from the vet, it helps to provide supportive feeding. Mashing up food, opting for safe and soft vegetables and easy to digest pellets are great during this time. Getting a syringe and feeding this way will also help support your guinea pig while their teeth and tongue is inflamed.
Prevention is always better than cure, so be sure to provide plenty of chew toys (like this excellent product on Amazon) and your guinea pig will be more keen to keep on top of their natural filing.
Guinea pigs do have small tongues. They’re very cute but they also serve multiple purposes. Most importantly; eating, drinking and grooming.
Guinea pigs are affectionate and social animals. They soon warm to their owners, with time, careful handling and general care. But they do need to feel comfortable in your company to display acts of friendship.
Never force your guinea pig to show their tongue. Always be gentle with them and in time, you may just see it!
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.