People are often heard asking “What is a Guinea Pig”, also known as a Cavy because of its scientific name, (Cavia porcellus), the guinea pig, is actually a species of rodent. Even though we commonly refer to them as pigs, they are in no way related to the pig family. They originated in the Andes. Studies based on biochemistry suggest that these furry little creatures are actually descendants of another closely related species, and do not exist naturally in the wild.
Introduced to the western societies by European traders in the 16th century, the guinea pig has fast become a wonderful household pet in many countries, and continues to be one of the most loved pets by young children. Probably due to their calm and affectionate nature, they are also very timid, and easy to look after.
If you have ever asked “what is a guinea pig” you will enjoy knowing that guinea pigs are generally no longer than 8-9 inches, and stand no more than 4-5 inches tall, although there are always exceptions to any rule, this would be a good guide. They enjoy a relatively short life span with the average life expectancy being around 3 years.
The average body weight of an adult guinea pig is approximately 200-600 grams, and the gestation period for the female is 68 days. Generally a mother will have a litter of between 1 and 6 babies, and she should be allowed to give birth before she turns 6 months old. Females are known as “sows” and the male is called a “bear”. Not forgetting the little ones, a young guinea pig should be addressed as “Pup”.
Guinea pigs come in a wide range of colors and patterns, and have markings similar to cats. They can have different colored ears, nose, and feet but some are the same color all over. I guess it depends on the mating parents as to the final outcome of the designer juvenile fur.
So, “What is a Guinea Pig?” well he or she is a loveable, relatively docile furry animal that eats what you allow it to eat for the first few days, developing a taste for that food, and favoring it in the future. It is quiet, cute and cuddly, very affectionate, and requires little maintenance. It has become a great household pet since the early 1500s and has even taken pride of place at many pet shows. Children love them, older people love them, and they even love them in non-western countries, but unfortunately this is as a food source, and not as much for their value as pets.
For more specific information about breeds, colors, and other useful facts, such as the guinea pig body language, guinea pig health, guinea pig names, there are many great websites on the internet delivering great content on the animals. Books are available from the library or your local book seller.