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Where did Guinea Pigs come from?

Guinea pigs live in the wild in South America, living in rocky areas, grasslands and forest edges. They live in groups of about 10 adults, and live in burrows, either dug by themselves or by other animals. They are most active at night, when they come out and forage on a wide variety of plant materials.

The guinea pig was first domesticated as long ago as 2000BC in the Andes in South America, in the region now known as Peru and Bolivia. They were originally kept for food, but some may have become family pets for the children at that time. Guinea pigs were not often bought; rather they were given as presents, especially as wedding gifts, or as gifts to special guests or children! They would be kept in the household kitchen, where they would be allowed to run around freely.

At this time the guinea pig also played the role of the evil spirit collector in traditional healing rituals. In Andean medicine the guinea pig was rubbed over the body of a sick patient, and when it started squeaking they believed it had identified the affected area! Black guinea pigs were considered especially holy, as in the wild black is the rarest colour, most wild guinea pigs are brown or grey, similar to the agouti colour we see today.

In the 1700s Dutch and English traders brought guinea pigs over from South America to Europe, where they became popular pets for the aristocracy. It is possible that on the journey over to Europe that they did stop at Guinea, leading people to believe that was where they came from. Queen Elizabeth 1 owned a pet guinea pig, which probably accounted for their popularity as pets from that time.

Guinea pigs are now extremely popular pets. They are very friendly and have no tendency to bite or scratch (if you do get nipped by mistake it is probably because they mistook your finger for a carrot!). They are also very hardy, and if cared for properly they have very few health problems.

Comments

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Darcey, 26 January 2014

I have a class pet and it is a Guinea pig but we have 2 now called Ruby and Frankie it helped me a lot for my project.


Amy, 23 December 2013

This is soooo cool I have a guinea pig and he is black, lol I have a holy guinea pig. thx a lot for writing this article it helped me soo much - amy age 11


Clair, 05 December 2013

Thank you I no i'm only 9 but my dog try to eat my 10 week old guinea pig I better be care full with my 2 guinea pigs


Madelyn, 05 November 2013

Thanks for your article, I learned a lot about my guinea pig Oreo. She is black,brown and white.


Madelyn, 05 November 2013

Thanks for your article, I learned a lot about my guinea pig Oreo. She is black,brown and white.


          

- Rebecca, 01 October 2013

Thank you so much! I have to do a presantation on Guinea Pigs (I have one of my own) on Friday so this def helped!!!!!!


          

- Averi, 11 September 2013

I thought this paragraph was very informational and it taught me a lot about my guinea pig.


Noah, 11 July 2013

Thank you i love guinea pigs i have won of my own


          

- Chloe, 19 June 2013

Guinea pigs are cute.


          

- Sarah, 12 May 2013

Me and my father where wondering where guinea pigs come and thanx this anwserd our question

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