Guinea pigs or cavy's are hystricomorph rodents (related to chinchillas and porcupines) that originated from the Andes Mountains region of South America. They were probably first domesticated by the Indians of Peru, who used them for food and as sacrificial offerings to their Gods. In the 16th century Dutch explorers introduced guinea pigs to Europe, and selective breeding and captive rearing began in earnest.
Guinea pigs are very popular pets because of their availability, docile temperaments, tendency not to bite or scratch when handled, and relatively clean habits. They are not long-lived, which can be disconcerting to owners (especially children). Many parents, however, believe that having their children experience the relatively short period of companionship and subsequent death is a meaningful way to expose children to the "ups and downs" of life.
n their natural habitat, guinea pigs live in open, grassy areas. They seek shelter in naturally protected areas or burrows deserted by other animals. Guinea pigs are sociable animals and tend to live in groups. They are strictly herbivorous (plant-eating) and do most of their foraging for grasses, roots, fruits and seeds in the late afternoon and early evening.
Aside from the fact that guinea pigs are incredibly cute, there are a variety of reasons why they make good pets. In particular, the common guinea pig is a low-cost, low-maintenance animal. You will need to change their bedding once or twice a week, supply fresh water every day or two and provide them with food and hay on a daily basis. Bedding material of either sawdust or straw, which is inexpensive. Pellets and hay are also inexpensive, and fresh vegetables can be obtained from the grocery store or grown in your own back yard, not to mention scraps!
For children, the guinea pig is an ideal pet. They are extremely docile, rarely bite and are very sociable. They love to be patted, and will gurgle and grunt happily and nonstop when given this kind of attention. They are larger than most other popular small mammals, such as mice, making them easy to handle (and catch, should they happen to get away). Although they are not as intelligent as rats, the guinea pig is trainable and far more lively.
For most people, including young children, owning one guinea pig is probably enough. It will quickly adjust to being around humans, and will make an excellent playmate. Most commercially available guinea pig cages are designed to hold one or two guinea pigs comfortably.
There are however several advantages to owning more than one guinea pig. Unlike some rodents, guinea pigs get along very well if housed together, and if you aren't going to be spending a lot of time at home with your pet, it is advisable that you do get it a companion. Otherwise, your cavy will become very lonely and its health will suffer.
If you are about to get a Guinea Pig, you need to make sure you have the basic requirements, before you even bring them home! Here is a list of the basic requirements for any Guinea Pigs.
- Small Animal Cage
- Sawdust or Straw bedding
- Ceramic food dish
- Drip/Sip water bottle
- Guinea Pig Pellets
- Hiding dens & houses
- Toys, ramps, balls
- Salt & Vitamin lick stones
- Nibble treats & drops
Suitable For People Aged: 5 & over
Experience Required: None. Care sheet & info
Feeding Care Time Required: 15 minutes a day
Maintenance Time Required: 1/2 Hour Twice a Week
Minimum Space Required: Small animal cage
Cost of Upkeep: (approx) $4 Per Week
Life Span: (approx) up to 5 years
Availability: All Year