Can Guinea Pigs Swim? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Can Guinea Pigs Swim

Guinea pigs are natural swimmers, but they do not like it. Swimming could be a stressful and fearsome experience for them.

In the wild, they live in underground burrows to be safe, and swimming is not something they habituate and only swim under threat or when their lives depend on it.

In this article, I’ll be explaining why guinea pigs shouldn’t swim and what would happen if your cavy swims.

Let’s begin!

Can Guinea Pigs Swim?

Guinea pigs have the ability to swim, but they don’t like it, and being in water could be a stressful experience for them.

In the wild, guinea pigs live in underground burrows, far away from water, and swimming is not something that they naturally do.

Guinea pigs will only swim in an unfortunate situation. For example, if their life is under threat or as a prey animal, they will swim a small body of water to run off the death.

While most guinea pigs don’t like swimming or getting wet, some guinea pigs might like swimming if they are exposed to water early in life and adapted to enjoy it.

Lastly, even if you have seen videos of guinea pigs swimming on the internet, don’t try this at home; it could be dangerous.

Is Swimming Safe For Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs can swim, but they are not born to swim. They have small hands and legs, so they cannot really paddle-like other animals.

Is Swimming Safe For Guinea Pigs

Swimming could be a stressful and fearsome experience for guinea pigs, and the risk of getting drowned is too high.

Whenever guinea pigs encounter large bodies of water, they try to swim out of the water as soon as possible.

Here are some other risks that might happen if your guinea pig swims or expose to water for a longer period of time:


Guinea pigs are unable to maintain their body temperature like other animals. Getting wet or doing activities like swimming in cold water could be risky.

Cavies can quickly develop pneumonia if they are in the water for some time. 

Even after bathing with warm water, guinea pigs immediately need to dry off with a cloth and then dryer thoroughly to avoid getting this fatal condition.

Thus, never put your guinea pig in water; it could make them sick, fearful, stressed, and anxious. 

Stress And Depression

Guinea pigs can swim, but they are not habituated. They have tiny legs, and their body isn’t designed for swimming, so whenever they get into the water, it can be a stressful experience for them.

Whenever guinea pigs encounter large bodies of water, they try to get out of the water as soon as possible to prevent drowning.

A sudden fall into the water could be fearsome and might cause depression and other mental issues.

Most of the guinea pigs don’t like swimming or getting into the water, and deep water can stress them even more. So, don’t force them to do an activity that can negatively impact their health.

Skin Diseases

Guinea pigs are prone to skin diseases. They have natural oil in their fur that helps them to groom themselves and protect them against skin diseases.

Swimming or staying longer in water could rip off the natural oil from their fur, leading to skin roughness, skin irritation, and other skin diseases.

Ear Infection

Guinea pigs can develop ear infections if water enters their ears. 

Usually, this happens if your guinea pig suddenly falls into water or if they are swimming and struggling to keep their head above the water.

The bacteria of water could cause this uncommon ear infection in guinea pigs, and if left untreated, it can pass through the middle ear to the inner ear and affect their nervous system, which could be life-threatening.


Guinea pigs don’t like to swim or get bathed, and this is because they groom themselves and they are pretty good at it.

Guinea pigs’ body isn’t designed for swimming; they have small arms and legs and do not have stronger muscle or stamina to paddle longer.

However, guinea pigs will swim only if the other option is to sink!

Do Guinea Pigs Like Water?

Guinea pigs are perfectly capable of swimming, but they are not a fan of water. They don’t like getting wet or bath.

They are excellent at grooming themselves, just like cats, so bathing them often isn’t necessary to keep them clean.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Water

Getting wet or bathing could be risky for a guinea pig. They are sensitive animals, and if the water is cold, they could catch pneumonia which could be life-threatening.

Guinea pigs are so small in size, so the risk of drowning is at its peak if they are left alone in a deep bathtub or swimming pool.

They don’t even like to drink water unless they are dehydrated. They usually get sufficient water from the grass and other food sources.

Lastly, contagious water could cause skin irritation, infections, and other severe health issues. So, avoid bathing or wetting your guinea pigs.

How Long Can A Guinea Pig Swim For?

Guinea pigs can swim, but they are not excellent like other animals. On average, guinea pigs can swim up to 4 -5 hours only for the sake of their survival.

But it doesn’t mean you should let your cavy swim in a bathtub or swimming pool.

I have already mentioned that guinea pigs are not meant to swim, and swimming could be a horrible experience for them.

Their small legs and arms can’t paddle for a longer period, and they might drown in the water and lose their life.

Is Swimming Natural To Them?

Generally, guinea pigs live in a dry and safe environment near grasslands, rocks, and forests. They typically live in burrows and enjoy making underground tunnels.

In the wild, guinea pigs barely encounter large bodies of water, so they are not habituated to swimming.

Guinea pigs don’t like water; they don’t even like to drink water; instead, they get it through the vegetable and fruits they eat.

However, guinea pigs will likely swim to escape death if their life is under threat.

Can Guinea Pigs Swim In A Bathtub?

No, allowing your guinea pig to swim in a bathtub is not a good idea. However, you can bathe your cavy in a bathtub, but swimming in it could be risky.

Your guinea may seem to be enjoying in a bathtub while paddling, but they are used to living in a dry environment, so leaving them to swim in a bathtub could be dangerous as your pet struggles to keep them afloat.

So, it’s best to keep your pet in a dry and safe environment rather than experimenting with them.

Can Guinea Pigs Swim In A Swimming Pool?

Swimming and getting wet is not recommended to guinea pigs, especially in chlorine water.

Chlorine water is not suitable for guinea pigs; it can cause skin and eye irritation. 

Moreover, a sudden fall into deep water like a swimming pool can scare your little cavy and put them under mental stress. 

So it’s best to keep your cavy away from the swimming pool.

Can Guinea Pigs Learn To Swim?

Guinea pigs know how to swim; they are just not habituated with it. 

Guinea doesn’t like water; making your guinea pig swim could affect their physical and psychological health.

While swimming or getting wet is not recommended for guinea pigs, sometimes cavy smell more often due to their overactive oil glands or if they have long hair and it gets muddy.

In this case, early introduction to water could be helpful so your cavy will enjoy being in water during the bath and not stressed.

Note – never leave your cavy in the water unsupervised; it could be dangerous.

Here are a few steps to introduce water to your little cavy:

  • First of all, make sure your cavy is in a calm mood and not stressed, the less is better.
  • Get a shallow container and fill it with lukewarm water (approximately 2 inches) so your guinea pigs don’t get scared.
  • Lift your guinea pig with your hand, gradually dip its legs into the water, and then slowly put his whole body in the water, making sure that he can stand without struggling.
  • If they are not showing any sign of fear or resistance, you can slowly take off your hand, ensuring that their head is above water level, so he doesn’t feel like drowning.
  • Repeat this process until your cavy feels calm and confident in the water, and later, you can switch to a bigger tub so your guinea pig can learn to float and paddle in the water.

However, avoid placing your guinea pig in a swimming pool, as chlorine water could cause irritation in their skin and burn their eyes.

Final Thoughts

There are so many activities that guinea pigs enjoy doing, but swimming is not one of them.

Swimming could be a horrible experience for cavies; it could stress them and make them anxious or even sick.

So, keep your pet away from water and don’t unnecessarily experiment with your little cavy, instead offer activities that are natural to them.

I hope this article was helpful. You can read our other articles on “guinea pigs” for more information.

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