Cavy Breed Menu

Physical Characteristics - General Cavy Information

In Western societies, the guinea pig has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet since its introduction by European traders in the 16th century. Their docile nature, their responsiveness to handling and feeding, and the relative ease of caring for them, continue to make the guinea pig a popular pet. Organizations devoted to competitive breeding of guinea pigs have been formed worldwide, and many specialized breeds of guinea pig, with varying coat colors and compositions, are cultivated by breeders.

Traits & Environment
Guinea pigs are large for rodents, weighing between 700 and 1200g (1.5-2.5 pounds), and measuring between 20 and 25 cm (8–10 inches) in length. They typically live an average of four to five years, but may live as long as eight years. According to the 2006 Guinness Book of Records the longest living guinea pig survived 14 years, 10.5 months. In the 1990s, a minority scientific opinion emerged proposing that caviomorphs, such as guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus, are not rodents and should be reclassified as a separate order of mammals (similar to lagomorphs). Subsequent research using wider sampling has restored consensus among mammalian biologists that the current classification of rodents as monophyletic is justified.

Natural Habitat
Cavia porcellus is not found naturally in the wild; it is likely descendant from some closely related species of cavies, such as Cavia aperea, Cavia fulgida, and Cavia tschudii, which are still commonly found in various regions of South America. Some species of cavy identified in the 20th century, such as Cavia anolaimae and Cavia guianae, may be domestic guinea pigs that have become feral by reintroduction into the wild. Wild cavies are found on grassy plains and occupy an ecological niche similar to that of the cow. They are social, living in the wild in small groups which consist of several females (sows), a male (boar), and the young (which in a break with the preceding porcine nomenclature are called pups). They move together in groups (herds) eating grass or other vegetation, and do not store food. While they do not burrow or build nests, they frequently seek shelter in the burrows of other animals, as well as in crevices and tunnels formed by vegetation. They are crepuscular, tending to be most active during dawn and dusk, when it is harder for predators to spot them.
Horse Herd