The guinea pig – Cavia porcellus – is a member of the rodent family. Guinea pigs are also called Cavies. They belong to the family Caviidae.
Guinea pigs originate in the Andes and they are said to be descendants of a domesticated similar animals. Guinea pigs do not exist or live in the wild naturally. It is said that the first sign of guinea pigs was 5000BC.
They are a prey animal and as such have no natural defense against predators. Guinea pigs are herd animals and can live in large groups. They have a natural process of determining the hierarchy within the group. If an animal becomes unwell or sick, the others can turn on that animal in order to remove it from the herd so that others do not become unwell.
Guinea pigs are commonly eaten and known as a food source in South America called “Cuy”. Guinea pigs in that region are considerably larger in size than you would see in other parts of the globe, some weighing in excess of 2 kilos.
Guinea pigs do not dig but rather live in and around obstacles. As prey animals they are shy and for that reason like to hide away or just freeze should anything happen.
Guinea pigs have been used right throughout history as animals to experiment on.
Guinea pigs were introduced to western countries in the 16 century. They are known for their wonderful personalities and how they can interact with you. They bare a stricking resemblance to the capybara that is far larger in size and weighs 35- 66 kg.The Capybara is the largest living rodent in the world.
However, rodents are not always small in size. The “Josephoartigasia monesi” was an animal that resembled a guinea pig but weighed nearly 1000kg! That is one very big rodent! It stood approximately 1.5 metres high and approximately 3 metres in length. This animal lived 2 – 4 millions years ago in the Pliocene to early Pleistocene periods.
Another rodent – the second largest was Phoberomys and it was estimated is weighed up to 650kg. The large rodent teeth on both of these animals were strong and as well as foraging about on the ground for food may have also been used for fighting.