The guinea pig was domesticated by the Peruvian Inca Indians, who bred it for meat - it tastes like a pig, so the animal was named pig. Guinea pig dishes can still be found in restaurants in Peru and Ecuador. During the time of the Incas, they were also sacrificial animals for the poor, unable to buy a larger animal. A rich man donated a llama, and a poor one donated a rodent.
In the 16th century, pigs were brought to Europe, where they began to be called guinea pigs (that is, brought from overseas). At first they were considered an expensive rarity; in England one animal was worth a whole guinea.
Animals feed on plant food, live up to 15 years. They become sexually mature 50 days after birth and begin to reproduce. They do it all year round. They hatch cubs for about 65-70 days. One to four babies are born.
Guinea pigs have a well-developed sense of smell, which helps them recognize individuals in their group. Animals are color-sensitive and can pick up very high-pitched sounds.
Most of the time, the guinea pig is awake, and sleeps only a few times a day for 8-10 minutes. Guinea pigs live in burrows in small groups of 5 to 15 animals. Active at night and at dusk. They give each other signals with a whistle.
Guinea pigs are herbivores, so animal products (including milk) should not be given to them. Adult guinea pigs do not metabolize lactose, which can lead to digestive upset.
Guinea pigs eat their droppings. Vitamins of groups B and K are absorbed from them only when they pass through the digestive tract again. Thus, eating the droppings is necessary for the pigs to be healthy.