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American guinea pig

Cavia porcellus


It was around the 16th century when American guinea pigs were brought to Europe. The ‘guinea’ part of the name comes from sailors who brought the guinea pigs over from South America and sold them for a guinea (old English coin). Whereas ‘pig’ is said to be because of the noises they make reminding you of a piglet.

Guinea pigs do not have any tails but do have short ears and a sturdy body. They have around 20 teeth which continue to grow, so it is vital that they always have something to gnaw on. Guinea pigs are social creatures and are known for making a variety of vocalisations. They do not sleep a lot during the day or night and are more likely to take smaller naps.

The American guinea pig can be up to 20 - 25 cms long and can weigh just over a kilogram.

Thousands of years ago, American guinea pigs were popular as pets plus food for larger animals. This is now a commonly kept domestic pet and not currently under threat.

Animal class

Mammal

Conservation status

The IUCN does not see the American guinea pig in risk of extinction in the near future

Habitat

Mountain – found in the Andes Mountains in South America

Population

The American guinea pig no longer exists in the wild but are popular domestic pets.

Diet

Herbivore – eats hay, fruit and vegetables including leafy greens.