Guinea Pig

 

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Range: Extinct in the wild, once found in western South America, relatives still exist in small numbers in Peru.

Natural Diet: Grasses, seeds and nuts

Diet at Rain Forest: Fresh greens such as romaine lettuce and turnip greens.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root crops.  Prepared guinea pig pelleted diets.

Keepers Notes:  The name, Guinea pig itself is often synonymous with "testing".  The cavy, or guinea pig is actually a native of South America that has found it's way into many homes as a pet. 

The actual animal we know today as the guinea pig no doubt started out thousands of years ago as a food source for the native peoples of the South American Cavia aperea, a medium sized rodent that had a natural range from Brazil to Chile and northwestern Argentina

Thousands of years ago the Inca cultures were known to have kept the guinea pig as both a food item as well as a symbolic offering to their gods.  It is first noted by Andean and Brazilian natives of South America that the guinea pig is kept as a pet. 

Given the relatively small size of the animal they were transported back to Europe by various sailors where they were both sold as food items in markets as well as kept as pets. 

An interesting note concerning the diet of the captive guinea pig is the critical need for vitamin c in the diet of these pet animals.   Guinea pigs are one of the only other animals on earth, besides humans, that cannot produce their own vitamin c.  Prepared diets available at pet stores contain the right concentration of vitamin c for you pet.  Natural sources that can be used as treats for you guinea at home include the various fresh fruit and vegetables we feed ours here at RainForest.  The natural sources of vitamin c can include cauliflower, strawberries, and various types of citrus such as oranges. 

 

Size:  1 to 3 pounds, males tend to be larger and more robust than the females. 

Status in Wild: . Extinct in the wild, several closely related species can still be found in western South America