Writer’s Crash Course #1: Guinea Pigs

I’m reading a book and the complete lack of author knowledge about guinea pigs is driving me crazy (and ruining several metaphors.) So I’m introducing a new random series to my blog. Writer’s Crash Courses are designed to be short information sheets for those who cannot be bothered to research, or are like me and end up spending hours researching something that’s mentioned in one scene in one book that I might write someday. And I absolutely invite YOU to write a crash course on something you are knowledgeable about and email it to me at theothermicheleleeATgmailDOTcom.

Writer’s Crash Course #1: Guinea Pigs

-Also called “cavy” and they have their own breeder/fancier association.

-They get their names because when first imported in the 16th century they cost a “guinea” and squeaked like pigs.

-They and their wild relatives are still very important to culture in Peru and they are both a pet and a food animal in South America.

-They average 1-3 lbs, 8-10 inches long and live an average of 4-6 years, but can live up to 8-10.

-They are fairly docile, diurnal, vegetarian grazers. Easy to tame with food.

-Keeping a guinea pig in a cage with a wire floor can be very bad for their feet. They can get caught in the grid, be broken, scraped or suffer pressure sores. Or bumblefoot.

-They can suffer from vitamin deficiencies pretty easily, including Scurvy. They also require coprophagy, or feces-eating, for proper digestion and make special soft, bacteria-heavy pellets for that use.

-They are very social (with many kinds of vocalizations) and come in many, many, many, many breeds.

-Guinea pigs are best kept in same sex pairs, in warmer environments and will chew on almost everything.

-Guinea pig babies (pups) are born after 60-80 days, year around and can run, eat solid food and live independently of their mother immediately. They have all their hair and eyes open.

-Guinea pigs can swim. Pretty well.

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