What Are Guinea Pigs, Exactly?

what-can-guinea-pigs-eat1If you are going to bring a guinea pig into your home as a pet, then you really need to have a good understanding of exactly what they are. Their technical name is cavia porcellus, but they are commonly known as the domestic guinea pig. Contrary to the belief of many, the guinea pig does not make up part of the actual pig family.

Plus, they do not come from Guinea but actually were discovered in the Andes mountain range, therefore they are South American. While many like to think of them as being a wonderful furry small pet to bring into the family, in other parts of the world the domestic guinea pig is actually used as food as well as a medicinal sources in folk medicine. Unfortunately they are also used in lab experimentation for research.

The guinea pig was introduced as the ideal household pet back in the 16th century by European traders. What makes the guinea pig such an ideal pet is its many attributes. These tiny little creatures have a very calm nature about them and when handled correctly they can be quite friendly. They really respond well to being handled and fed. In addition to this, they don’t take up much space in a house and they are simple to care for.

If one takes a look at the history as to when the guinea pig first became known to be a domestic animal it would go back to 5000 BC where they were actually used as a source for tribal food. When they did become accepted as household pets, originally they were classed as exotic pets and only owned by those in the upper classes and by royalty. Over the years this has changed with them being relatively inexpensive to purchase as well as to keep. Technically, they belong to the rodent family and are one of the larger species to be found within this category.