Guinea Pigs are commonly kept as pets in some societies, but in others (such as their homeland of Peru) they are a valuable food source.
Their name, Guinea Pig, came from the cost to buy one, originally 1 Guinea. The sounds they make are a little like Pig noises.
Another name for the Guinea Pig is Cavy.
They have only been domesticated for 5000 years. Guinea Pigs are not related to Pigs, they are rodents (which means they are also not related to rabbits).
Guinea Pigs should not be housed with rabbits, as the rabbits can kick and kill the Guinea Pig.
Their lifespan is an average of 5-6 years, but some have lived as long as 12 years.
Guinea Pigs do not have tails. Guinea Pigs have 20 teeth.
The Peruvian Guinea Pig is one of the most demanding breeds as it requires extensive grooming as their hair can form painful mats if not kept in good shape.
They are often kept as test animals for experimentation on Scurvy, Juvenile Diabetes, Tuberculosis, and pregnancy issues.
In their native land of Peru, black Guinea Pigs are still used by “medicine men” and rubbed on the bodies of patients.
Their activity levels are highest in the morning and evening.
Guinea Pigs are happiest when kept in small groups, however they generally are best with animals they are introduced to at a young age.
Males can be housed together if introduced young enough, and with no females present.
In Sweden it is illegal to sell single Guinea Pigs to people who do not already have one.
They need roughly 2 sq feet of space each as a minimum, but would prefer at least double.
They do not do well in aquariums as the glass walls prevent air circulation.
They cannot climb bars in wire cages.
Guinea Pigs (and most rodents) should never be bedded with cedar shavings. These have been linked to respiratory problems, Pine is only slightly better, but Aspen is safe.
Guinea Pigs are one of the most vocal of all rodents, making a serious of different sounds to indicate emotion, hunger, and warnings.
Gestation (period of pregnancy) is roughly 63-69 days, with an average litter of 2-3 pups.
Guinea Pigs must have a special diet with Vitamin C added, or have Vitamin C added to their water.
Guinea Pigs eat some of their own feces, producing special poops called “cecotropes” which they eat immediately after producing them.
Guinea Pigs should also have timothy hay. Iceberg Lettuce contains negative calories and should never be fed to a Guinea Pig, but Romaine Lettuce is fine.