Guinea Pig Anatomy
A Guinea Pig is a small, burrowing rodent that has a compact body. Guinea pigs have small ears and eyes, a small snout with sensory whiskers each side and no tail. Like most rodents, they have two gnawing teeth at the front which continue to grow throughout their life. Because these teeth are continuously growing, it is very important that Guinea Pigs have something to gnaw on to help keep the teeth trim.
Guinea Pigs have short legs and little feet with claws on. Their front feet have four toes/claws, however, their back feet have only three. Guinea Pig claws do need a regular trim as these too continuously grow. When trimming Guinea Pig claws, care must be taken to trim after the ‘quick’. The ‘quick’ is recognised by its pink coloring. If the ‘quick’ is accidently caught, it will cause the Guinea Pig much pain and discomfort. It is a good idea to have a qualified vet trim your Guinea Pigs claws unless you are very confident about doing this yourself.
Below is a basic diagram of the external anatomy of a typical piggy.
Internal Anatomy of a Guinea Pig
The skeleton of a Guinea Pig has some specific adaptions made to suit its life environment in the wild.
The skeleton of a Guinea Pig can be separated into three seperate parts:
The axial skeleton which contains the skull, the hyoid apparatus, the vertebrae, the ribs and the sternum.
The appendicular skeleton which contains the pectoral and pelvic girdle and the pectoral and pelvic limbs.
The heterotopic skeleton which contains the sesamoid bones.
Below is a skeletal diagram of a Guinea Pig:
The vertebral column contains between 32 and 36 vertebrae. These can be divided:
7 cervical vertebrae
13 – 14 thoracic vertebrae
6 lumbar vertebrae
2 – 3 sacral vertebrae
4 – 6 coccygeal vertebrae
A Guinea Pigs skull is mostly constructed of flat bones of a developed structure containing partly cartilage and partly fibrous membrane. All bones are joined together with a total of six suture joints.
A Guinea Pigs skull has four main functions. These include protection of the brain and the organs of specific senses. It provides openings of passages for air and food and has jaws and teeth for chewing
The teeth of a guinea pig form a V shape with the apex directed towards the front. There are twenty permanent, rootless teeth present in the buccal cavity. These teeth grow continuously throughout the lifespan of the guinea pig. Guinea Pigs teeth comprise of molars, incsiors and premolars – they do not have any canines.
Lear more about these adorable animals in our guide to Guinea Pig history!