Coco is a male Abyssinian guinea pig, aged four to five years old, from North Carolina, USA. 🐹
But Coco is no ordinary guinea pig – he’s a Trick Guinea Pig Champion! 🏆
After being adopted from an animal shelter in 2018, Coco’s owner, Gwen Ford, realized that Coco had a huge amount of energy.
To help Coco use up all his extra energy, Gwen began training Coco to do tricks. She enrolled Coco in a course run by ‘Do More with Your Dog!’, an organization which certifies any animal – not just dogs – who can perform certain tricks.
After learning over 70 tricks to become a certified Trick Guinea Pig Champion, Coco has now also earned a Guinness World Records title for the most tricks performed by a guinea pig in one minute, with 16.
Did you know?
Abyssinian (pronounced: ab-iss-in-ee-an) is a common breed of guinea pig. It is set apart from other breeds by its fur coat, which contains rose-shaped swirls.
As a young guinea pig, Coco was always very excited to explore the house.
"He seemed very bored in his pen," Gwen said.
Coco memorized the layout of the house and could get everywhere by himself. If Gwen brought him downstairs, Coco always knew how to find his way back up! 😃
After noticing how smart Coco was, Gwen introduced small objects to Coco, such as a bell and a ball. 🔔
"He learned really quickly so then I added spins and jumps. And it just grew from there," Gwen said.
Coco began his trick training program at the lowest level, Novice. During 2021, Gwen taught Coco many more tricks and he quickly progressed through all nine levels to become a Trick Guinea Pig Champion. 🤩
After achieving this, there was only one thing left to do – break a world record.
To prepare for this record attempt, Gwen and Coco had to choose a series of tricks that would easily flow into each other.
Coco also had the final say on which tricks made it into the routine. If he didn’t like a certain trick, he simply wouldn’t perform it, or he would chatter his teeth. 😬
However, on the day of the attempt, Gwen and Coco faced a big challenge. After Gwen moved some furniture around, Coco became upset and refused to perform the routine they had practised. 😤
"The change upset Coco so much that we had to create a new routine," Gwen said.
That wasn’t the only challenge Gwen faced. During the attempt, Gwen accidentally moved her hand the wrong way and Coco tried to jump in her lap for a cuddle. Gwen was unable to touch Coco or offer him a treat, or else their record attempt would be disqualified.
Using only her voice and hand gestures, Gwen managed to get Coco to do the next trick, but a few seconds had been wasted.
"Coco was more in the mood for treats than tricks, so it was challenging to keep him engaged and focused."
Luckily, Coco was still able to achieve a world record, with 16 tricks. 😊
After achieving his Guinness World Records title, Coco is now retired.
"Now that he’s older, he has calmed down and prefers to be a guinea pig – eat, sleep, poop, repeat." – Gwen Ford
Coco’s new favourite activity is to search for carrot bits that Gwen hides around the room. 🥕
Gwen and Coco’s achievement may inspire you to start training your own guinea pig, but it’s important to know that very few guinea pigs enjoy trick training.
"Coco is the only one of the 100 or so that I’ve fostered over the years that really took to it," Gwen revealed.
Gwen was able to teach some of her other guinea pigs to do one or two tricks, but most of them didn’t even want to learn a simple spin. 🐹
"I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned through this process is to learn to read your guinea pig. I never asked more of Coco than he wanted to give."
Coco has come a long way from being left at an animal shelter to becoming a Trick Guinea Pig Champion and a Guinness World Records title holder. 🏆
"Animals should be adopted and be allowed to blossom, instead of abandoned or shut away in cages," Gwen said.
"His story makes me feel a sense of redemption for him and all the other shelter pets. Then I come back down to earth with one look at Coco who is oblivious to his accomplishment and is just happy eating his hay and sleeping under his blanket."