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The Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus)

This species has been widely popular as a pet and was domesticated over 7000 years ago. They were so popular that it was not uncommon for these rodents to climb in and out of people's houses at will. Guinea pigs are still kept as pets to this day, but it is still important to know more about them.

Physical Description and Behavior

Guinea pigs are cute, small, fat, fluffy bundles of fur and noise. They can be as much as 3 pounds, and up to 10 inches in length. They can come in a variety of fur patterns and colors, including whites, oranges, browns, and blacks. Different breeds can also have different lengths of hair, from those with long hair, or hairless ones called skinny pigs.

They are also herbivores, being able to consume grasses, hay, and most fruits and vegetables, seeds, etc. This makes them a great pet for people who are, or are considering going, vegetarian or vegan. But it is important to understand that the sugar content of vegetables has risen due to farming, so food like carrots are only good in small quantities.

Fun fact: Guinea pigs are smart, and can remember complex paths in order to find food. They are also known for jumping in the air in small hops when excited (they cannot jump very high, and are poor climbers), this is known as popcorning. The most interesting trait is that they are very good at swimming, despite disliking water and rarely needing to bathe.

Guinea pigs usually live only 4-5 years, but the oldest one to date lived to the ripe age of 14. Due to the fact that they are fairly social animals, some places have laws preventing guinea pigs from being alone. One has to buy them in a pair to ensure the animals can live in emotional harmony.

Habitat and Location

In the past, guinea pigs were found in the wild on the west coasts of South America. They were found in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and the southwestern part of Colombia. In South America, they were commonly bred as a food source as well as pets. In the 17th century, they commonly were being used for scientific experiments as well.

Now, due to habitat loss, the use of them as pets, and the like, this species does not exist in the wild anymore. However, there are two species: Cavia guianae and Cavia anolaimae that are believed to be feral versions of the guinea pig that were released into the wild and went through speciation.

Find out more about these cute mammals by checking out the video below:

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