Guinea pig

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Domestic Guinea pig
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricomorpha
Family: Caviidae
Genus: Cavia
Binomial name
Cavia porcellus

Guinea pigs are small animals. They are rodents. Their scientific name is Cavia porcellus. Guinea pigs are not related to pigs and are not from Guinea. They originated in the Andes. Studies on biochemistry and hybridization suggest they are domesticated descendants of a closely related species of cavy . For this reason, they do not occur naturally in the wild.[1][2]

Guinea pigs as pets[change | change source]

In many parts of the world, people keep them as pets. In Peru, Bolivia, and several other countries, they are raised for food. The first people who domesticated the animals, did it for food. Besides being a pet and a source of food, in some places people think guinea pigs keep bad spirits away. In Quechua, the language of some the native tribes of Peru, they are called quivi. The Spanish-speaking people of the region call them cuy (plural: cuyes).

Name[change | change source]

This perception of pigginess occurred in many languages other than English; the German word for them is Meerschweinchen, literally "Little Sea Pigs" (sailing ships stopping to reprovision in the New World would pick up stores of guinea pigs, which provided an easily transportable source of fresh meat), the Russian and Polish word for them is similar, "morskaya svinka" (Морская свинка) and "świnka morska" respectively, meaning also "Little Sea Pig" (it comes from archaic use of the word to mean "overseas"). The French word is Cochon d'Inde, (Indian pig), the Dutch used to call it guinees biggetje (Guinean piglet), and in Norway, Sweden and Denmark they are called marsvin (a combination of the Latin word mare for ocean, and Norwegian/Swedish/Danish svin which means pig). In Greek they are called 'indika xoiridia' (Small Indian Pigs ; ινδικά χοιρίδια), and in Portuguese, the term is "porquinho da Índia", literally "little pig of the Indies". In Italian the term is either "Porcellino D'India" (Little Indian Pig) or "Cavia Peruviana" (Peruvian Cavy). However, this perception of pigginess is not universal to all languages or cultures. For example, the common Spanish word is 'conejillo de Indias' (Indian bunny rabbit).

Housing and Breeding guinea pigs[change | change source]

Guinea pigs need large open air cages in which to romp and frolic. They should have a diet of 1/8 cup of high quality pellets like kmshayloft or oxbow. They should also have unlimited grass hay, and at least one cup of a variety of veggies. Guinea pigs like to be held in hand. Guinea pigs should be kept in cages larger than 7.5 square feet or 10.5 square feet for 2 pigs. They should always have a friend as guinea pigs are social animals. Breeding guinea pigs are not recommended as the rate of pregnancy complications are very high.

Other uses of the word[change | change source]

Guinea pig is also slang for a person who is the first to try something. It can also mean the subject of an experiment. This is because guinea pigs are used by scientists to do biology experiments.

References[change | change source]

  1. Weir, Barbara J. (1974). "Notes on the Origin of the Domestic Guinea-Pig". In Rowlands, I. W.; Weir, Barbara J.. The Biology of Hystricomorph Rodents. Academic Press. pp. 437–446. ISBN 0-12-6133336.
  2. Nowak, Ronald M. (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9.