Guinea pigs is actually a misnomer for rodents belonging to the family Caviidae, as these mammals are neither pigs nor do they belong to Guinea. There are 8 known species or types of guinea pigs, and they are one of the most commonly kept pets in the world. We all are aware that till the 19th century, they were extensively used as subjects in laboratories. However, nowadays other rodents like rats are used in place of guinea pigs.
Physical Features of Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs look very similar to mice, but, they have no tail. The average length of a full-grown guinea pig is 25-30 cms. They are believed to be native to South America where they live in burrows in grasslands. The compact body, the friendly and playful nature of guinea pigs make them one of the best pets in the world. Secondly, they are also very inquisitive, well-behaved, and cuddly pets. Talking of their temperament, they are usually pleasant, calm, and love affection.
On an average, the lifespan of guinea pigs is 4-7 years. In rare cases, they may even live up to 8-9 years. However, guinea pigs are prone to several diseases and disorders, and hence, there are even cases of them dying at the age of 1-2 years.
Guinea pigs can be kept in solitary as well as mixed environment as they survive well in both the conditions. It has also been observed that they are very sociable and get along with other pets like cats and rabbits. You can make a home for your pet with a cardboard, or buy a ready-made wooden one. One should be aware that guinea pigs tend to chew or gnaw at their cardboard homes. It is essential to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the living quarters of guinea pigs. It is also recommended to not to keep the temperature fluctuating as it can harm them.
Guinea pigs, similar to mice, feed on grain, cereal, certain fruits and vegetables. However, it is advisable to buy standard food from a trustworthy brand. You should also know that guinea pigs are prone to diarrhea. It is advised not to experiment with their diet. Lastly, note that these animals constantly require something to chew or gnaw, hence provide them with pieces of wood regularly.
These pets are comparatively low maintenance. With proper handling and care, guinea pigs can be the best and cuddliest pets one can have.