You Call That a Pet?

Guinea Pigs, More Than Just Cute Pets

06/24/2014

Guinea pigs are cute. And so is this video.

Here in the United States, most people think of guinea pigs as a cute pet...but there's more their story of than that.  

Guinea pigs are native to the Andes region of South America, where they are known as cuys. Over 7,000 years ago, Andean native peoples domesticated an animal known as the cavy, not as pets but as a food source (several species of wild cavy can still be found in South America). In addition to food, guinea pigs play an important role in religious rituals, holiday celebrations and traditional medicine.

Guinea pig is still commonly available on the menus in South American countries. As rodents, they are related to rats and mice as well as larger South American rodents such as pacas and capybaras. 

Would you eat a guinea pig?

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Guinea pig in a Peruvian Restaurant.  Photo by Jorge Gobbi via Flickr Creative Commons.

This is a cavy, the wild ancestor of the domestic guinea pig.

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Photo by Miguel Vieira via Flickr Creative Commons. 

 


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >
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