Guinea Pigs

Temperament

The domestic Guinea Pig although timid is usually docile and easily handled. The rarely scratch or bite and respond well to frequent handling.
Guinea Pigs live on average 5 - 6 years


Breed Origin

The domestic Guinea Pig originated from the South American burrowing Guinea Pig that still inhabits South America today. It is thought to have been domesticated since pre Inca times, approximately 1450 AD. The Guinea Pig was first introduced to Europe from South America by the Spaniards in the 16th Century, where it became a pet.

The four main breeds of Guinea Pig generally recognized are:
  1. English Short Haired (short smooth hair).
  2. Abyssinian Short rough hair (rosetted hair patterns).
  3. Peruvian (long rough hair).
  4. Rex Guinea Pig (rough bristly coat).

In addition

  1. The Shelti has hair (like the Peruvian) but its hair grows away from the face and around the body.
  2. The Coronet is like a Sheltie with a crest on its head.

Did you know?

  • Many people believe that is how they got their name the 'guinea pig', because the sailors sold them for one guinea and they make squeaking noises like a pig.
  • Before the Spanish conquest of South America in the 16th century, the Incas kept them for food and even today the Peruvians breed them for their meat. Sailors, who were probably the first people to do so, kept them as pets and brought them to Europe from South America.
  • The male guinea pig is called a boar and the female is called the sow.
  • In the wild, Guinea Pigs live in small groups of 5 - 10 in burrows that have been abandoned by other animals.
  • Guinea pigs should be pregnant prior to 7 months of age to allow for healthy pregnancy and birth. After 7 months of age the females pelvis becomes solid and pregnancy and birth can be fatal to the mother guinea pig.
  • The guinea pig has a long pregnancy of 62 - 72 days. Due to the long gestation period, young are often born very highly developed with eyes open, body covered in hair and teeth well developed. Young cavies are not born in the safety of a burrow but out in the open. A newborn Guinea Pig can eat solid food and survive independently within two days of being born. The average litter size is 4 - 5 Guinea Pigs with a sow (female guinea pig) producing 3 - 7 litters annually. Guinea Pigs are naturally herbivorous in the wild and live on a variety of green foods, seeds and roots.
  • They do not produce their own vitamin C, so it must therefore be provided in their diets.
  • Guinea pigs have their own language.

Behavior What It Means
Touching each others nose Greeting & acknoledgement/checking for infection
Murmurs, gurgles & grunts Contentment, comfort
Jumping Happiness
Squeaking Pain, fear, loneliness or begging for food
Cooing Calming sound, reassurance
Sitting up or standing Begging for food
Tilting the head at an angle Signaling strength
Lowering the head, growling Fear, offer of peace
Rattling, hissing, teeth chattering Aggression, warning the 'enemy', trying to impress
Mouth wide open, showing teeth Female rejecting male's advances
Stretching the head forwards Watchfulness, alertness
Retracting the legs under the body, pressing against a wall Helpless, need for protection
Turning rigid Playing 'dead' to distract the 'enemy'
Extending the head Fear, could panic
Grunting Friendly greeting
Stretching Relaxed comfort
Growling, grunting, rattling Male mating sounds

For Fun

A must visit for hilarious fun music videos featuring Bing the Guinea pig (who looks a lot like Toby) is www.members.aol.com/bingtheguineapig


Guinea Pig Care

Make your guinea pig's life a happy and healthy one by educating yourself on proper care.Two AMAZING helpful links to check out when you are deciding to add a guinea pig to your life are www.guinealynx.info and www.cavycages.com

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