Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guinea Pigs

It is thought that Guinea Pigs, also known as Cavies, were first domesticated by the Incas.  Today, people in Peru enjoy Guinea Pig marinated in such things as black pepper, cumin, red chilies and paprika, then fried or grilled.

Many folks prefer Guinea Pigs as pets.  They are mellow creatures who don't mind being held and petted.  They require only a small cage, figure a minimum of 2 square feet per Cavy.  They don't need an exercise wheel or swimming pool, simply a safe place to sleep at night and some material on the floor to absorb their elimination.  Of course, the larger the cage, the less often you must scoop out the soiled material.  Material?  Try sawdust, hay, newspaper, commercial pet bedding. 

A rabbit and a guinea pig can be housed together

It's a good idea to cover the cage, not because the Cavy might escape (they have short legs and a sort of egg plant shaped body leaving them disinclined to such athletics as climbing) but to keep him safe from such dangers as the family cat. 

Pet stores sell pelleted food suitable for Cavies.  If you also offer fresh vegetables, fruit, some dried alfalfa or timothy, clover, water, and a salt lick, the Guinea Pig's diet is in good shape.

Cavies have 4 toes on their front feet and 3 toes on their rear feet.  From time to time, the toe nails need to be trimmed.  This is done easily with the same kind of nail clipper you use on your own nails.

enjoying a romp in the yard on a balmy day

Some Guinea Pig Facts

- life span:  7-8 years

-  gestation: 63-70 days

-  litter size:  1 to 6

-  weight:  approximately 1 pound

-  length:  8-10 inches

- hair:  short, medium or long in assorted colors (and combos) white, yellow, tan, brown, grey, black

- no tail


Why are they called Guinea Pigs?
This is unclear.  They are not from a placed called Guinea.  Perhaps they travelled to England on slave ships via Guinea.  Then again, the old English word for foreign is guinea.  Maybe Cavies were sold for 21 shillings, which is called a guinea.  They are rodents, not pigs, but the Cavy grunts, whistles and squeals in pig-like style.  This may account for the pig part of Guinea Pig.

They are called Cavies because under the scientific classification they are of the Family Caviidae and the Genus Cavias.

See a nice picture.


  1. I've had two pet Guinea Pigs. They were so sweet.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. I had one when I was a kid. A cute critter!