Guinea pigs enjoy widespread popularity as household pets because of their cuteness, playfulness, and friendly nature. They make ideal pets, especially for children with short attention spans. They won’t bite or scratch and they have soft fur to play with. They can also bond well with other pets like dogs and cats if you allow them to interact properly.
Since most people don’t know much about these furry animals, we have collected 5 fun facts:
Guinea pigs are tail-less rodents which were first introduced into North America by European traders in the 16th century. However, they are originally from the Andes in South America.
- There are 10 types of guinea pigs in total. The most popular is the American which has short hair with a smooth coat. The second is the Abyssinian Guinea pig and it has a longer, thicker coat with hair that forms swirl patterns. The third most popular is the Peruvian Guinea pig which has long straight, silky hair.
- Guinea pigs are not related to pigs and don’t even come from New Guinea. The Guinea refers to when sailors brought the animals from South America and sold them for a guinea, a term for an old English coin. The pig refers to their stout pig-like appearance and their squeaking noise.
- Guinea pigs play an important role in South American culture, especially for indigenous people who used them as a food source but also in religious ceremonies. The Indigenous people would hold the guinea pig against different parts of the body until it squeaked, telling them where the disease was.
- Guinea pigs are very social animals and they are much happier when kept in pairs or groups. In the wild, guinea pigs live in social groups called “herds”. Domestic guinea pigs need to have lots of attention and love to be with you when you are around.
- A female guinea pig is called a sow and the males are referred to as boars. Baby guinea pigs are called pups. Male guinea pigs will mate from 1 month of age and females can have their first litter from 3 weeks of age. Because of the long gestation period and the large size of the pups, pregnant females may become large and eggplant-shaped. Unlike most other rodents, newborn pups are well-developed with hair, teeth, claws, and partial eyesight. They are immediately mobile and can fend for themselves after only five days. Their teeth continue growing throughout their lives which is why it’s important for them to constantly gnaw on the things they like to eat so they wear their teeth down
Guinea pigs are cut little creatures and can be great pets, especially once they get to know their owners. If you look after them well, give them interesting environments to live in, and regular attention, they will live up to 7 years or even longer.
Guinea pigs are funny little creatures, they are also very affectionate once they get to know and trust their owners. Making sure they are well looked after, have interesting environments to live in and regular interaction with you, helps build up this all important trust.
If you need a vet for your Guinea pig or any other pet contact us HERE