By Jessie Rayburn
What has four stubby legs, makes a plethora of sounds, and loves to munch on leafy greens? Cavia porcellus of course, the scientific name for the guinea pig. March is adopt a guinea pig month.
In honor of these piggy pocket pets, here are some interesting facts about the g. pig.
Guinea pigs are also known as cavies. Part of their species name porcellus means “little pig”. The America Cavy Breeders Association recognizes 13 different breeds of guinea pig. They have a variety of coat types ranging from short, long and even crimped.
In the guinea pig world, males are called boars, females are called sows….but babies are called pups, not piglets. Their young are born “precocial” meaning they are born highly developed and active. Their babies are born with their eyes open, a full coat of fur, and their teeth are already erupted. They are able to eat whole food within a few days.
Guinea pig teeth are hypsodontic meaning they are open-rooted and continuously growing. They require hard food or toys to keep their teeth ground down. Some pigs may need to have their teeth trimmed as well.
Guinea pigs are unable to synthesize their own vitamin C because they lack the appropriate liver enzyme. Owners need to provide this essential dietary requirement via vegetables high in vitamin C or vitamin supplements.
In Switzerland, it is illegal to own only one guinea pig due to a law governing “social animals”! This law has given way to an interesting guinea pig business. There are places that will rent out guinea pigs so no little pig has to be alone and no owner needs to find themselves in violation of the law.
Once believed to have medicinal powers, guinea pigs were prized in ancient times. Physicians supposedly rubbed or placed a guinea pig over the affected area of the body, drawing out any aliment, thus healing the patient. While we may not use guinea pigs in this fashion anymore, they are known to be wonderful companions that help promote emotional and mental well-being. They are used as therapy animals, especially for children.
If you wish to learn more about these adorable and soft bundles of fur, adopt a cavy today and experience all they have to offer first hand!