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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.


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- Marie, 09 March 2015

Thank you this helped so much because I am doing a report on piggys in class!

Claudia, 18 December 2014

I have 4! Cornelius Barney Cow and Lenny love my guineas

Craig, 17 October 2014

Thank you very much for the super cool info, I now know where my Guinea pigs Casper & Amber are from. Amber is pregnant & Iam so looking forward to the babies!!!

Dawayne, 22 September 2014

Thank you so much! The info was very helpful. Speaking on that I have over 27 guinea pigs, which came from 4 of them, I love them! I treat them as my children. There, so adorable in friendly. My basement is there home which I created for my pets. I so love em!!!

Peyton, 23 July 2014

Thanks for the info. I was wondering where they came from. I knew that some were native to Peru, but that's about it.

Makena, 05 July 2014

We had a guinea pig name Oreo and Ollie who have since passed. Now we have two more named Apollo and Truffles but we call her Troubles. Apollo is a long haired and really awesome. Troubles likes to burrow into your neck and it tickles a lot. Love my guinea pigs!

Jen, 24 May 2014

I have 4 guinea Pigs. Two males amd two females. Toffee, Fudge, Bella, Stella. Males are a year old and females 14 months. I love them all.

Graham, 27 April 2014

I have had guina pigs all my life and still have them I am 53years young I had one that lived 7years They are amazing pets

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

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