Q:

Where do guinea pigs come from?

A:

Quick Answer

Guinea pigs, or cavies, originated in the northern and western parts of South America. They were originally domesticated about 5,000 B.C.E. and are now found worldwide as pets, laboratory animals and as a source of meat.

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Where do guinea pigs come from?
Credit: Toshihiro Gamo Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Guinea pigs are no longer found in the wild; some biologists believe that the domesticated variety never existed in the wild and is the result of hybridization between closely related cavy species. They are highly adaptable and can tolerate a broad range of altitudes and a wide range of temperatures. Guinea pigs have been a traditional food source for natives of the Andes Mountains; they have also used guinea pigs in folk medicine and in social and religious ceremonies.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes?

    A:

    Red ripe tomatoes are considered a safe food for guinea pigs, but only the ripe fruit should be fed to guinea pigs. Green tomatoes, tomato leaves and stems contain toxic compounds that can make guinea pigs ill.

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  • Q:

    How do guinea pigs reproduce?

    A:

    Guinea pigs reproduce by engaging in intercourse, during which the male (boar) will ejaculate a solid lump of sperm into the vagina of the female (sow). The evolutionary purpose of this coagulated lump, or "copulatory plug" is to deter other males from mating with the same female. A guinea pig's gestation period lasts for between 59 and 73 days, with an average gestation of 68 days.

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  • Q:

    Do guinea pigs have tails?

    A:

    Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, do not have tails. They have round-shaped bodies and short legs, and are furry and sociable creatures. There are a variety of different guinea pig breeds with different coat lengths and colors.

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  • Q:

    How do you care for guinea pigs?

    A:

    Guinea pigs require a cage, bedding, food and water for basic care. The animals should also have plenty of exercise and regular health care checkups from a veterinarian.

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