The Fascinating Story of the Guinea Pig

By: Johnsavage
Many a time when you visit with a friend or relative one of their children will drag you out to see their pet guinea pig, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself what you know about these delightful pets?

They are adorable creatures that make excellent pets, but they have not always been a family pet, so what is their history and where were they first discovered?

A cavy is the proper name for the guinea pig, and they are a member of the rodent family.

These delightful animals have been around for millions of years, and we know this because of fossilised remains that have been uncovered and it is only relatively recently that they have become a family pet.

Those same fossils indicate that the guinea pig used to be much larger than it is today, anything up to 9 feet long.

The first people to domesticate the guinea pig were the Incas, and South America is where they were first discovered. They were, and still are revered as both an Icon, and a source of food, in many South American countries.

Ever thought a rodent would be considered to have healing powers? Well in some parts of Peru they believe this and they think that the guinea pig can aid the transition from this life to the next. Now that is quite something!

It is believed that sailors were responsible for bringing guinea pigs to Europe and America, and during that time period they were sold for one guinea each - hence guinea pigs.

The second part of their name, pig, comes from their likeness, at the rear end, to pigs, and also to the fact that they tend to squeal a bit like pigs.

One of their claims to fame is that they have been popular in the field of research and who I wonder has never heard the expression 'being a guinea pig'?

Many years ago medical science cottoned on to the idea of using guinea pigs in their research, and although the downside was the end for the guinea pig, the upside is that it has saved many a human life.

Even today they are still used for research but in a more humane way which we are told does not cause any distress to the animal.

Today in Peru, guinea pigs still play a prominent role in various ceremonies, and quite often a person will give one as a present when they are trying to impress.

Guinea Pigs have come a long way over the years, and a recent poll showed that in the domestic animal popularity league they come fourth, just behind dogs, cats and rabbits.

So, next time your friends children drag you out to look at their pet guinea pig you will understand a little more about the attraction of these animals.
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