You know they’re cute, you know you love them and how to feed them, but here are some fun facts about your little pet that you may not know about:
1. Have you ever heard the phrase “used as a guinea pig”? It is now used as a common phrase because guinea pigs have been used for scientific experiments for almost 5 centuries. Now mice and rats are more commonly used in laboratories. However there are still some places where guinea pigs are used for research on diabetes, pregnancy complications and scurby.
2. Guinea pigs are remarkable swimmers, contrary to common belief. Don’t throw them in your pool, they might “contaminate” the water, but be sure that if they should fall, they’ll be ok!
3 . Our little fury friends don’t have the best of sights. However, they have very fine hearing and sense of smell and touch. Their main source of communication is through scent and sounds. While humans are able to pick up and perceive 18 movements at once, guinea pigs are able to pick up as many as 30 at a time.
4. They are called Guinea Pigs but they have no relation whatsoever with that species.
5. You call a female guinea pig a Sow, a male a Boar, but piglets are merely refered to as pups.
6. If you’re really into guinea pigs, you’ll be ahppy to know that there are clubs and associations fully dedicated to these little creatures. They hold shows and fairs where you can meet breeders as well as other proud owners. They have, however, very high standards of perfection to allow breeds to enter to specific showings.
7. There are many different breeds and they all have different characteristics, especially related to their hair. If you go to a pet shop you’ll most likely find the English Shorthair and the Abyssinian, but if you want more rare breeds you might have to dig a little deeper to obtain a Texel, Peruvian or a Sheltie.
8. You might hear them referred to as Cavies which derives from their scientific name.
9. Guinea pigs are very good self-groomers and they even develop their own products! They secrete a milky substance from their eyes that is later applied to their fur.
10. In Andean cultures, the guinea pig was used in religious and social ceremonies. They were believed to diagnose some diseases. There are statues of guinea pigs from 500 BC to 500 AD found in Peru and Ecuador.