History and origin of the guinea pig
Today the guinea pig is a very popular pet in Europe, North America and Asia. The animal requires little care and is very easy to cuddle. Originally, however, guinea pigs played a completely different role in South America, they have been bred in very large numbers for thousands of years.
Guinea pig identity
The guinea pig’s native habitat is South America. They mainly live in abandoned burrows of other animal species. Originally they are not good diggers themselves. They mainly live in dry regions, they avoid the areas of the rainforests. The first true guinea pig was the wild guinea pig aperea. As this guinea pig has spread, several mutations have developed. 9 different variants of the guinea pig aperea emerged. One of them is the guinea pig aperea tschudii, which lives on both sides of the Andes mountains. It has an agouti color in red-gray or black. Its fur resembles the fur of a wild rabbit and that of the field hares. The hairs of the guinea pig aperea tschudii are so dark that the top side appears almost black. The belly is colored yellow or even white. Very different from the rest of the body. Our house guinea pigs descend from this species.
The domestication of the guinea pigs probably took place during the time of the Incas. For them, the guinea pigs were first regarded as sacrificial animals and later they were eaten for the meat. The guinea pigs were mainly meant for the poor people, the rich people sacrificed llamas. Even in the past there were many different colored guinea pigs. Guinea pigs have been found in almost all colors that guinea pigs have today. The color black was not found. This color is believed to have been associated with evil spirits by the Incas.
House guinea pigs are still eaten in the high Andes mountains today. Here Cuys, guinea pigs that can weigh up to 5 kilos, are still bred for their meat. The guinea pig also has a function there in traditional medicine. When someone is very sick and it is not known what is bothering him, the guinea pig is pulled over that person. The doctor cuts open the guinea pig and believes it has taken over the sick person’s disease in the same intestines.
After the discovery of America in 1492, guinea pigs soon came across the ocean to Europe. A little later they were also taken on slave ships. In the beginning guinea pigs were very precious, even Queen Elisabeth 1 of England had a guinea pig. Because of this, the bugs have probably become a lot more popular. They were also bought as toys for small children and displayed in markets as precious commodities. In England, a guinea pig cost a guinae. It is not known exactly how much 1 guinae is now worth. Probably also the name that is sometimes given to the guinea pig stems from, guinea pig. A guinea pig is called a pig because the sound of the voice and the physique resemble a pig.
When it was discovered that guinea pigs were not difficult to maintain and that they mutually reproduced very quickly, the guinea pig became more and more a common pet, even suitable for the poor people. In the 18th century, the numbers of guinea pigs really increased. In the 19th century, elections / exhibitions were even held in England about who had the most beautiful guinea pig. You could earn substantial prizes with this. After World War II, it has become normal almost everywhere in Europe and other continents to have a guinea pig as a pet.