The Guinea Pig is a rodent that comes from the Caviidae family. Mainly Guinea pigs live as pets and are not found in the wild. The scientific name of this cute rodent is Cavia porcellus.
The combination of the name guinea pig may bring some confusion to people. For your kind information, the guinea pig is not native to Guinea nor related to the pig.
They originated from the Andes of South America. Guinea pigs have been popular in Western society since they were introduced to Europe and America as pets in the 16th century.
Aside from petting, guinea pig is also used as food in many areas of the Andes. And this little (Comparatively bigger rodent) is also used to make folk medicine. By the way, the guinea pig has numerous breeds developed by biologists.
Guinea pig is widely used for biological experiments and makes the name “guinea pig” the experimental animal.
Guinea Pig: Scientific Classification
Guinea pig comes from the Caviidae family which belongs to the Rodentia order. It is also commonly known as a domestic guinea pig, cavy, or domestic cavy. The class Mammalia belongs to the kingdom of Animalia.
Here is a full scientific classification of domestic guinea pigs.
You will never find guinea pigs species in the wild or in nature. They were first domesticated back 3000 years ago in Peru. It was the time when people started to move to an agricultural lifestyle.
The Incas used to keep the guinea pigs as their food source. Also, the people who lived around the Andes, from northwestern Venezuela to central Chile.
Native from Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru used to keep guinea pigs on their food list.
Guinea pigs were brought to Europe in the 16th century somehow. From the 1800s they started to become popular as pets among people.
Basically, you have to pet the guinea pigs in the cages. But you have to ensure solid or comfortable flooring for your guineas. You can use scented bedding for them as safe bedding.
By the way, ultimately, guinea pigs are easy to take care of. But, it is needed to keep their habitat clean regularly as they are a type of messy animal. These rodents thrive in groups of two or three in numbers and socialize themselves with each other.
They chase each other and squeaking is the part of play and friendship.
Look, and Characteristics
Guinea pig is larger compared to other rodents in its class. As long as it has a robust body, it has short limbs, short ears, a large head, and large eyes.
The fur that guinea pigs hold varies in color, length, and texture. It may have cream, reddish, white, chocolate brown, black, or a combination of all mentioned colors.
The guinea pigs have short legs and could be 8 inches to 16 inches long (20 cm to 40 cm). As domesticated animals, they are fairly large and weigh around 500 grams to 1500 grams (1 pound to 3 pounds).
There is no tail to be seen in guinea pigs. The features of the guinea pigs’ coats range from smooth to coarse, possibly becoming silky. Guinea pigs, incidentally, have poor eyesight.
These charming cuties have short, sharp claws and hairless soles on their feet. Additionally, the front feet have four toes while the back feet have three.
Guinea pigs are social animals. They love to befriend people and other guinea pigs. But, sometimes guinea pigs don’t get along for various reasons.
They can learn anything easily and can remember the food path for months.
Though guinea pigs are not good climbers, they are good swimmers. Guinea pigs can bite each other for dominance, can purr when stroked, jerk their heads up for food, and chatter their teeth with each other when aggressive.
They also can mount other females, Rumble Strutting Female for dominance, anxiety, and even when they are ready to mate. Instead of being worried, you need to understand your guinea pigs/baby guinea pigs’ behavioral patterns.
Guinea pigs could live together with rabbits if they get training. People could be confused about which one is better, guinea pig or rabbit? You may also compare guinea pigs and hamsters as well. This depends upon your preference by the way.
When they sense danger, they might run fast or freeze for a long time at the same place. They also participate in social grooming. When they are happy or excited, they can jump in the air.
Though the guinea pigs are very calm and social, the male guinea pig can fight and draw blood for dominance. Another amazing fact about guinea pigs’ behavior is, that they love music and can differentiate the different music!
Lifespan and Reproduction
The average lifespan of domestic guinea pigs is about 3 to 5 years. However, they can survive up to 8 years as well. The important fact is, that they are not found in the wild.
The reproduction and gestation facts of the guinea pigs are just out of the thinking. Basically, the males (also known as boars) become capable of sexual maturity between the age of 3 to 5 weeks.
On the other hand, a female (also known as a sow) becomes fertile as early as 4 weeks to carry out the litter. By this time, they don’t even properly become adults.
One gestation of a sow’s pregnancy can result in the delivery of up to 6 pups. Theoretically, it is feasible, but usually, they only have 5 puppies at a time. The crucial point is that newborns can eat and move right away after birth.
On the other hand, a sow can conceive anywhere between six and forty-eight hours after giving birth. For females, though, this is unhealthy.
The average gestation period of a female guinea pig is about 63 to 68 days. The time can vary from 59 days to 72 days. Because of the lengthy gestation, the puppies arrive with well-developed fur, fangs, claws, and partial vision.
Guinea Pig Food
Guinea pigs are herbivorous animals. Their primary food is grass, and pellets. They have amazing molars that are suited to grind plants. And another amazing fact is that they continuously grow over their life.
Most mammals have large digestive tracts. Compared to other rodents, guinea pigs have bigger colons. As a result, guinea pigs often eat their feces for supplements.
They mainly consume the soft pellet they produce which is called cecotropes. It recycles vitamin B, fiber, and useful bacteria.
The guinea pigs directly eat the cecotropes from their anus. But, the older guinea pigs may face problems releasing the cecotropes naturally. The owner can relieve them by removing the cecotrope by hand.
Aside from eating, guinea pigs’ poop can be used as fertilizer.
However, grass hay is the main food source for guinea pigs and pellets. The grass hay including timothy hay, and alfalfa hay, are on the food list of this rodent.
Also, human food like vegetables, mandarins, kiwi, carrots, lettuce, and other generic plant food could be digested by guinea pigs. This helps the pet owners to feed them when the guinea pigs are out of their natural food.
Guinea Pig as Pet
Guinea pig is one of the most adorable pets among people around the world, especially in North America. If they get proper grooming from the beginning of their life, they will seldom bite and behave rough.
Cavy clubs around the glove work for new guinea breeding worldwide. In America and Canada, The American Cavy Breeders Association governs the breeding.
There are also similar organizations in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
By the way, those who come into touch with the rodent may have allergic symptoms such as rhinitis, asthma, and conjunctivitis. You need to exercise caution and good cleanliness when keeping guinea pigs as pets.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to many diseases. They may get diarrhea, scurvy, and abscesses due to infection including ragged ear, fungus, mites, and lice.
Guinea pigs also can experience hair loss and excessive pain that could make them aggressive. Running lice is another big problem for guinea pigs’ health which is one of the reasons for hair loss.
The guinea pigs may become congested and sneeze due to dust from hay and other sources. This occasionally also manifests as excessive tears, eye blinking, and opaque film.
Guinea Pigs in Scientific Research
Have you ever heard the term “guinea pig” for any experimental subject? Yes, guinea pigs are used for many experiments by scientists. Even the term guinea pig could be offensive in many cases if people call other people to insult them.
By the way, since the 17th century, guinea pigs have been used as science test subjects. For a study on anatomical anatomy, Italian researchers Marcello Malpighi and Carlo Fracassati utilized guinea pigs.
Antoine Lavoisier tested the calorimeter, a tool for measuring heat generation, back in 1780 using guinea pigs as test subjects. Guinea pigs have been used as biological experimental objects in many cases since then.
One of the most adorable rodents to have been handled in the past is the guinea pig. In particular biological experiments, this rodent is employed in science. Scientists mostly use them to test newly developed medications, biological alterations, etc.
But in many places, they have also been utilized as food.
Aside from all things, pet enthusiasts choose to treat this rodent like a pet. As a result, guinea pigs come into children’s literature novels like “The Fairy Caravan”, and films like “Shredderman Rules.”