Facts About Guinea Pigs : The Guinea Pig is a small species of rodent living wild the Central Andes Mountains in South America. They are named after Guyana where they are found in the wild and “pig” for their short and stout bodies, Guinea Pigs have been domesticated by people for over 3,000 years. Today there are five species of Guinea Pig in the wild and fourteen different breeds of domestic Guinea Pig bred for pets all around the world.
Facts About Guinea Pigs
Facts about Behavior of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs are most active during dawn and dusk. This is thought to be due to the lower levels of activity from predators. They are highly sociable, living together in small groups of up to 10 individual animals. Guinea Pig groups have a well-established pecking order that is ruled by a single male and female. Fierce competition for these positions can often lead to fatalities.
They are highly vocal, communicating with each other using an extensive range of sounds, including chirps, squeaks or burbles to show they are excited or to warn one another of danger. They are also known to communicate by smell, excreting odors through scent glands on their bodies.
Guinea Pigs settle in burrows near good sources of food in their little groups, but often have their own individual nests where they sleep and hide.
Facts about Appearance of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs have a very distinctive appearance of small, stout bodies with no tail and a large head with bright, alert eyes. They have strong, short legs with four toes on their front feet and three on the back, all having sharp claws that help them when burrowing and scrambling around in the wild.
Like other rodents, Guinea Pigs have an exceptional sense of smell and hearing that coupled with their long whiskers, gives them a heightened awareness of things going on in their surroundings. In the wild, they have long, coarse fur that is grey, brown or black in color. Domestic animals, however, can be found in a variety of different colors with different hair lengths and smoothness.
One of the most characteristic features of Guinea Pigs is the four large incisors at the front of their mouths. These teeth are long and curved and grow all the time, but only the front of the teeth is protected by a hard enamel coating. The backs of their teeth are made of a softer material that wears away easily with their constant gnawing. This allows them to keep their teeth sharp at all times.
Facts about Life Stages of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs are able to breed when they are around three months old. In the wild, there is no particular breeding season, therefore they produce litters of young all year round, with fewer born in the colder winter months.
After a relatively long pregnancy period of between 58 and 72 days, the female (known as a sow), gives birth to as many as 13 young although the average in the wild is closer to three or four.
The pups are very well developed at birth and are born with their long fur. They suckle on their mother’s milk for the first 21 days but are able to begin grazing independently within the group on solid foods by the end of their first week.
Interesting Facts About Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs are known to exhibit a behavior known as “popcorning” when they become excited. Mostly displayed by young ones, they are able to jump into the air while running and quickly turn around in order to jump again in excitement. Oddly enough, they are known to rarely close their eyes even while they are sleeping. Most often seen in pets, it is thought to be a protective trait that allows them to stay as alert as possible all the time.
Facts about Size and Life Span of Guinea Pigs
Adult Guinea Pigs are, on average, 8 to 16 inches long and weigh between 1 and 3.5 pounds. They live from 3-8 years as pets.
Facts about Habitat of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs prefer grasslands, swamps and rocky hillsides where there is plenty of vegetation but has an open view so they can watch for predators. They also live in regions of varying altitudes from 1,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level, as long as they can find food and are able to burrow into the ground. Although they are capable of digging their own, they often move into abandoned burrows created by other small mammals or reside in rocky crevices on the hillside.
Facts about Diet of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs are herbivores, which means that they only eat plants and plant matter to get the nutrients they need to survive. Grasses, leaves, seeds, bark and flowers make up the majority of their diet on the mountain slopes in South America, where they live in the wild. They are constantly grazing instead of eating a lot of food in one meal. They have common paths that they use to get between their food and burrows and can often be seen in a group gathering together where there is a lot of available food.
Facts about Enemies of Guinea Pigs
Because they are small, their natural instinct is to freeze before attempting to quickly escape back to their burrow. This act means that they are preyed upon by a number of other animal species throughout their mountain habitats. Weasels and birds of prey are the main predators for wild Guinea Pigs, as well as domesticated dogs and cats when they live in areas near people.
Facts about Suitability As Pets of Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets! They are small, friendly and easy to care for. Pet stores have the right food for them to stay healthy and veterinarians are very familiar with them. So, if you are looking for a pet, a Guinea Pig could be the answer for you!