Guinea Pigs Habitat & Origin
Wild cavies are found on grassy plains in forests. They live in small groups of females, males, the young ones. Wild cavies eat grass or other vegetation and do not store food. Usually, wild cavies seek shelter in burrowing other animals, tunnels, or crevices. They stay active during dawn and dusk when there is less chance of predators to spot them.
Let’s take a look at the interesting history of cavies and some Guinea Pigs Facts.
Guinea Pigs History
Guinea pigs are so cute and lovable animals. They have been popular as food and as pets for thousands of years. According to National Geographic, Spanish conquerors took Cavies from South America to Europe in the 16th century, where they became popular pets in Elizabethan society. Guinea pigs have also played the role of spirit collector for the traditional ritual of healing.
At this time the guinea pig also played the role of the evil spirit collector in traditional healing rituals. In Andean medicine, the guinea pig was rubbed over the body of a sick patient, and when it started squeaking they believed it had identified the affected area! Black guinea pigs were considered especially holy, as in the wild black is the rarest color, most wild guinea pigs are brown or grey, similar to the agouti color we see today.
Guinea Pigs as Pets
Domestic cavies can live in a group of two or more. They learn to recognize and bod with other guinea pigs. Domestic guinea pigs are kept in cages by their owners. Sometimes cavies tend to get messy in the cage; they jump into their food bowls or will kick the bedding outside of the cage which makes the area messy.
They urinate within their cage and sometimes it crystallizes which makes it hard to clean. Guinea pigs usually mark their territory by dragging their lower body across the floor of the cage.
Generally, domestic cavies do not get along with other housed pets though some pets can be trained to accept guinea pigs. Some say that guinea pigs and rabbits each other well.
Q. Do guinea pigs come from new Guinea?
A. No, they are not from New Guinea. They were originally from South America where they were domesticated by the Incas.
Q. Does guinea pigs still live in the wild?
A. No. Guinea pigs are not found in the wild now. They were domesticated 3,000 yrs. Ago in Peru. The Incas have kept them as pets for food and offered them as sacrifices to their Gods.
Q. Where are guinea pigs originally from?
A. Originally they were brought from South America to Europe. Wild guinea pigs used to live in rocky areas, forest edges, and grasslands. They used to live in a group of adults and in hideaways.
Q. Guinea pigs as food?
A. Yes, I know it’s heart-breaking to all the guinea pig owners but this is the truth. Guinea Pigs are a very common dish in Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Bolivian diets. Their meat has a high level of protein and low fat and cholesterol.
Note: Guinea pig is illegal in several places including California.
Guinea pigs are also used as laboratory animals for testing and research purposes internationally. Guinea pigs have helped in getting essential information for the respiratory disease through which new medicines were developed.
Q. Are guinea pigs related to rabbits?
A. Cavies or guinea pigs are hystricomorph rodents (related to chinchillas and porcupines). They are a part of the rodent family including rats, mice, hamsters, beavers, and squirrels.
And if you’re thinking is a guinea pig a pig? No, it’s not.
Q. What is the Guinea pig breeding age?
A. The Female cavies are known as Sows and the male cavies as Boars. A boar can impregnate a sow as early as 3 weeks old. A sow can give birth to 3-4 babies on average. After 8 months of age, it can be dangerous for a sow to give birth.
Q. What are the babies of Guinea pigs called?
A. The baby of a guinea pig is called a pup. They are born with hairs, claws, teeth, and eyes opened already. Right after birth, they can easily eat solid food.
These were some of the awesome facts about guinea pig habitat. Please tell us which one was your favorite or let us know if we missed any. The bottom line is our little furry friends are just amazing and full of surprises. Aren’t you planning to adopt a guinea pig already? If not, then you should because they are the cutest little thing on this planet.