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Table of Contents
Guinea Pigs are a domesticated species of rodent native to South America. These little rodents are so domesticated today that none exist in the wild.
See the fact file below for more information on the Guinea Pigs or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Guinea Pigs worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Etymology, Anatomy and Life Cycle
- Scientific Name: Cavia porcellus
- Common Name: Guinea Pig
- Species: Rodent
- Average Life Span: 5 to 8 years
- Average Size: Up to 10 inches long
- Origin: South America
- Activity: Diurnal
- Diet: Herbivores
- It is believed that the Incas domesticated guinea pigs about 3,000 years ago. According to The Guinea Pig Handbook, they were bred for food and as a sacrificial animal for the gods.
- In present-day Peru and Ecuador, unearthed statues depicting guinea pigs date back from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. Archeologists suggest that the Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped guinea pigs, which often became the subject of art.
- At the end of the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors transported guinea pigs to Europe where they were kept as exotic pets during the Elizabethan Era. Guinea pigs were known pets of royalty and noble classes.
- Some believe that it was the English sailors who named the South American rodent the guinea pig.
- In Spanish Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, guinea pigs are called cuy or cuyo.
- Guinea pigs are rodents like beavers and chinchillas, so they are not related to pigs even though they make squealing sounds like pigs.
- Guinea pigs have different names in different languages including meerschweinchen (little sea pig in German), lapins de barbarie (barbary rabbits in French) and porchitas da India (little pigs from India in Portuguese).
- These rodents are tailless with compact cylindrical bodies measuring from 8 to 10 inches and weighing between 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. They have small petal-shaped ears and a triangular mouth with 20 teeth. Like other rodents, their teeth grow continuously, which is why they need to chew to avoid them growing too long.
- Different breeds are characterized by hair color, texture and color patterns of the pelage. According to Animal Diversity Web or ADW, there are 13 commonly recognized and domesticated types of guinea pig including American, American satin, Abyssinian, Abyssinian satin, Peruvian, Peruvian satin, teddy, teddy satin, texel, coronet, and white crested.
- They have four toes on the forefoot and 3 on the hind foot.
- Guinea pigs are herbivores meaning they do not eat meat. Processed pellets made of alfalfa hay or timothy hay are commonly used today but feeding them with fresh vegetables and fruit like bell peppers, mustard greens, carrots, apples, bananas and blueberries are also good. They do not usually drink after eating moist food. Unlike other animals, guinea pigs are unable to produce vitamin C, so pet owners should give them supplements to keep them healthy.
- Baby guinea pigs are called pups. Males are called boars. Sows or female guinea pigs have a long gestation period of 59 to 72 days. On average, they can give birth to three or four babies. Sows need to give birth before 6 months old before their pubic bones fuse.
- If sows get pregnant after fusing of the pubic symphysis, the birth canal will not widen and may lead to dystocia or death in the attempt of giving birth.
- Pups are born with open eyes, teeth, claws and covered in fur. They can eat solid food and wean in three weeks.
- Within 2 to 3 months, guinea pigs are considered fully mature. Compared to other rodents, they live longer – from 5 to 8 years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest guinea pig died at the age of 15 in England.
- At the age of 4, guinea pigs are considered senior and are prone to diseases.
- Male and female guinea pigs do not differ in their appearance, except that males are larger by 30%.
- According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System or ITIS, confirmed species of guinea pig are as follows: Cavia aperea (Brazilian guinea pig); Cavia fulgida (Shiny guinea pig); Cavia intermedia (Moleques do Sul guinea pig); Cavia magna (Greater guinea pig); Cavia porcellus (domesticated guinea pig); and Cavia tschudii (Montane guinea pig).
- There are two general categories of guinea pig: the short-haired and long-haired variety.
- One of the oldest breeds are Abyssinian guinea pigs, which are often used in shows. This type of breed is a high-maintenance pet. They have notable swirls in their hair.
- American guinea pigs are also known as the classic guinea pig with short and smooth fur.
Behavioral Traits and Medical Research
- Guinea pigs are social animals, meaning they want to be with others of their own kind. Sometimes, they seek affection from their owner. These rodents are crepuscular which means they are most active during dusk and dawn. They spend most of their time eating, being social and grooming.
- Like elephants, female guinea pigs practice alloparental care, in which females may adopt pups if pups are separated from their original parents.
- They can jump small obstacles but are typically poor climbers.
- Vocalization is their primary means of communicating with one another. They can make purring, bubbling, rumbling, chattering, shrieking and chirping noises.
- They march in single file led by the largest guinea pig and the youngest in the middle.
- In the Andes, guinea pigs are still used in traditional medicine for treating arthritis and jaundice.
- Since the 1800s, this furry rodent has been used for laboratory experiments in studying toxicology, genetics, pathology and nutrition. They are also used as subjects in biomedical research for tuberculosis, scurvy, diabetes and even pregnancy complications.
- In English, the term “guinea pig” is often used as a metaphor for being the subject of experimentation.
Guinea Pigs Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Guinea Pigs across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Guinea Pigs worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Guinea Pigs which are a domesticated species of rodent native to South America. These little rodents are so domesticated today that none exist in the wild.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Guinea Pig Facts
- Oh Facts!
- Guinea Pig Anatomy
- Kinds of Guinea Pig
- Guinea Pig Fact File
- Fill it All
- It’s Me, Guinea
- Fact or Bluff
- Face Off
- Doctor Guinea Pig
- Guinea Pig Lover
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Link will appear as Guinea Pig Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 25, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.