Do you consider yourself a guinea pigs expert? Do you know how the guinea pigs got their name? Or what is the link between them and the popcorn? What the “wheek” sound is? By reading the article below you will find out the answers to this and many other questions that you will love to know. Let’s break the rodents’ prejudices together and maybe you will start to wish of owning it as a pet!
ORIGIN OF THE GUINEA PIGS
Guinea pigs don’t look like pigs at all and are not related to them. Also, they don’t come from Guinea! So, what is the mystery behind their name?
The origin of this rodent is South America. There is called Cuy. Throughout history, it was kept for food. The thing is, people in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc still eat guinea pigs and they consider it a cuisine specialty. It’s shocking but don’t you forget that different parts of the world have different traditions. Nowadays guinea pigs live all over the world and in most countries are appreciated as a great pet choice.
The root of the “Guinea pig” name is not known for sure but there is the assumption that came from England back in time when guinea was the official money currency in Great Britain. The price for a guinea pig was one English guinea. The word pig probably comes from its body appearance which looks like a tiny pig.
In some European countries, the name for this animal is “sea pig”. It is obvious why it is named like that, coming far across the sea to Europe.
GUINEA PIG AS A PET
These little beany-shaped creatures might be the best friends you ever had! They are sociable and attached to their owners that much which can create a strong bond with humans! Guinea pigs are very intelligent and can be easily trained because they are fast learners. The prejudice that rodents are boring as pets are not true at all! They enjoy petting, can learn to come when being called and to enter and leave the cage when needed (just watch out for power cables if left on the floor because it might bite it. They love to bite everything they see).
Guinea pigs have a strong sense of smell and hearing very good. Their eyes are located on the side to provide they can see from many angles and have greater peripheral vision. Never forget that in wild they are prey so need to have all-natural “equipment” to save their lives.
Sometimes they are noisy and produce this cute “wheek” sound that is similar to squishing baby toys. Be sure it will warn you if hungry and will ask for food. It just can’t be ignored!
If you are thinking about getting yourself this pet, be ready for the fact they don’t sleep too much. Better said, guinea pigs just take a nap through the day and are awake about 20 hrs daily.
An unexpected fact: guinea pigs eat their poop. They do it just to be sure that all food nutrients are well absorbed. It is a strange but grounded phenomenon that many animals do. Don’t be surprised to see this weirdness.
These rodents are physically very active and energized but don’t do mistakes and compare them to hamsters! While hamsters are flexible, guinea pigs’ bodies are not like this. Don’t expect it to run on a hamster’s wheel because they can’t do it. They are not good climbers too, but they do run fast. The best they can do is run through the tunnel equipment (so provide it in the cage). Because of unflexible bodies, the owner must be aware that pigs’ falling injuries could be fatal and better watch out.
Yet, they are well-known for their popcorn dance! When guinea pigs feel happy they become crazy and suddenly squeak, jump, twist, and jerk at the same time. It looks like popcorn popping and it is funny to watch this. This is a kind of owner’s reward and love in return.
WHAT DO GUINEA PIGS EAT?
Guinea pigs are vegans. They usually eat a lot of fresh grass, hay, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Hay and grass help their digestive system to work well. Fruits and vegetables provide a sufficient amount of vitamins they need (especially vitamin C). Most likable are carrots, lettuce, parsley, strawberry, blueberry, and pineapple.
The fruits have to be given a few times a week but not so often because of the high sugar content. They also love to eat guinea pigs’ mixed food from the pet shop.
GUINEA PIGS HYGIENE
Dental health is very important. As in other rodents, the guinea pig’s teeth are always growing. This might be a problem if the pig is not spending its teeth properly. They need to trim it by constantly chewing food (especially grass and hay). If it is not spent enough by themselves, the vet might trim it. It is important to keep dental health at a high level to prevent some dental diseases that might happen.
In domestic guinea pigs, it is a must to file the claws. In the wild, pigs spend their claws constantly but when living in a cage there is not an opportunity to run a lot and file it on the ground. This also might be done by the vet but the owner can do it by himself too. It is only important to watch not to hurt a pig’s nail quickly with the nail clipper.
In general, guinea pigs are clean animals. They do need to be bathed from time to time. It depends on the season but the average is once every month when it is warm weather and once every two or three months in the cold season. They are not impressed with the idea of bathing but it has to be done if the owner wants his pet not to stink.
Daily changing of the bedding and cleaning of the cage is required. Guineas poop so much because they are always eating.
Bonus tip: we recommend cutting the hair on the butt to prevent it from being dirty. Pigs’ hair sometimes grows so big that it needs to be removed to ensure the required hygiene level.
Guinea pigs’ lifespan is longer than in other rodents. They can live for several years (the average is 6 years) if having good living conditions and necessary care.