Guinea Pigs are not related to Pigs in any way! They belong to the rodent family. Unlike other rodents, these little creatures are not nocturnal; instead they take little naps throughout the day. Originally from South America, these little creatures don’t just have a cute appearance but are also capable of developing social relationships with people and other animals. That is probably why they are considered an ideal “first pet” for children.
If you are considering getting one as a pet for yourself or your ward, then read on; these interesting and amazing facts will help you in handling your new pet!
Guinea pigs are also known by the name ‘cavy’. A male is called a ‘boar’ and a female is known as a ‘sow’. Babies are called ‘pups’! And unlike most rodents, guinea pigs are born with a full coat of fur and with their eyes open.
You can know when your pet is happy; they purr like a cat! Although they cannot jump, when excited, guinea pigs “popcorn”. This is a term used to describe their short leaps into air, which is no more than a few inches. When excited, they also run around in circles.
Finally one thing guinea pigs have in common with rodents – their front teeth! Like is the case with most rodents, these are constantly growing and need to be trimmed by perpetual chewing. So, if you want a pet guinea pig, don’t forget to get a chew toy or tree branch that will keep them engaged!
Before guinea pigs were introduced as “exotic pets” they were mostly used for laboratory experiments related to drug research. In its origin nation, South America, these creatures were used as evil spirit collectors and were used in traditional healing rituals.
Some of the common varieties of guinea pigs are the short and smooth coated ‘American’, the short coat with rosettes ‘Abyssinian’, and the long-haired ‘Peruvian’. They are social animals and live in groups of 5 to 10, in the wild. The American Cavy Breeders Association has recognized around 13 different breeds of guinea pigs.
One reason guinea pigs can make good pets is that they are good communicators. They communicate by making sounds, to be more precise, 13 distinct sounds. So, if you have a pet guinea pig, start listening!
One similarity guinea pigs have with humans is their incapacity to produce vitamin C. So, like us, they need to have vitamin C as part of their daily diet. And one big difference they have with humans is that baby guinea pig, or rather; a pup can run when it is three hours old!
South Americans don’t just consider guinea pigs as ideal for their traditional treatment rituals but also consider its meat a great delicacy! Known by the scientific name Cavia Porcellus, Peruvians alone consume around 65 million guinea pigs every year. If you are thinking of a Peruvian holiday, don’t forget to leave your pet guinea back home.
The main reason guinea pigs are used for scientific experiments is their similarity to humans – we share common features when it comes to our hearing, the way our immunity works, and our need for certain vitamins. So, guinea pigs have been the reason for some ground-breaking discoveries in the field of biology and human physiology; not to mention, around 23 Nobel prizes!
If you are wondering, where the ‘pig’ in the guinea comes from, there are many theories! These creatures share a physique that is similar to pigs – large head when compared to their bodies, plump necks, and a hardly existing tail. They also sound like a squealing pig, at times.