By Dane Bergen
Guinea pigs originated from the Andean region
of South America, presently known as Ecuador,
Bolivia, and Peru. They were a food source for
mountain tribes around the year 2000BC. They
are still to this day used as a food source in that
area. They also live off of families scraps and
are used as pets or collectors of evil-spirits in
healing ceremonies. European trades
transported quinea pigs to Europe, people saw
them as exotic pets.
Where do Guinea Pigs get their name and why?
No one knows for sure just how the guinea pig
came to be called a "pig". They really are not
pigs but are larger rodents. However they do
tend to make noises that are very similar to that
of a pig. They alos have some similar physical
features with a pig. Their heads are large, with a
rounded hind end, and with no tail. The guinea
pig is also able to survive in cramped
conditions such as a "pig pen" therefore they
were easier to transport to England. Even in
other languages they are referred to as pigs.
The Dutch often called them "Guineas Biggetie"
(Guinean piglet). In Germany they use the term
"Meerschweinchen" (little sea pigs). The
Germans gave the guinea pigs the name from
when they would stop in the New World to
stock up on provisions and would purchase
large amounts of guinea pigs for their main
source of meat.
What kind of environment do Guinea Pigs live
Guinea pigs are very social animals living in
large groups consisting of sows (females) and
boars (males), the offspring are called pups.
Their life expectance is any where from four to
eight years. In the year 1997 it was recorded
that a guinea pig lived for a record of 15 years.
Guinea pigs mate for life unlike similar rodents
who have several different mates.
Domesticated guinea pigs generally are kept in
groups of two, either all females, all males, or
one female with a neutered male. All male
groups usually do well as long as there is no
females brought into their environment and
they have enough room in their cage.
When in the wild they can be found in little
groups grazing grass a lot like a herd of cattle.
They are more active during dawn and dusk
making in harder for predators to see them.
When the are frightened they can move
surprisingly fast. Domestic guinea pigs are
often more active for longer periods of time and
taking little naps in between.
Domestic guinea pigs usually are kept in plastic
cages with softwood chip bedding. They are
kept indoors, they are not capable of handling
exposure to the elements or predators.
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