name for 14 species of South American rodents of the family Caviidae,
including the domestic guinea pig.
Besides size difference, hamsters, mice, etc. are somewhat omnivores (I witnessed a hamster I had catch and eat a moth) and their prepared pellets contain meat proteins many times, as well as grain/veggies. Their young, are born eyes closed and hairless/helpless.
Anyone that has bred guinea pigs has come upon the new born cavies as little miniatures of the adults. Eyes open, and fully furred. We even had one (Daddy's Cinnemon Girl) follow her dad around the first day and tried some pellets, just hours after birth. Guinea pigs, btw are vegetarians once they are weaned. They are up and about minutes after momma cleans them off.
Here is a little about the wild ones (sorry if my notes look a bit jumbled):
Order: Rodentia (Rodents)
Sub order: Caviomorpha* (Guinea pig like rodents)
Caviomorph heads are large, the bodies plump, the legs slender and the tails short. The most distinctive characteristic of these animals is the formation of the jaws and the massater muscles. One branch of the massater extends forward through a very large foramen in the zygomatic arch to attach to the side of the rostrum. The other end of the massater attaches to a characteristic flange on the lower jaw.
is first distinguished geologically during the Miocene period. Today caviidae, consists of three genera
A close relative of the cavy, the apurea
, is found in South America at altitudes up to 13,000 feet. It is likely that the original wild cavies were found at those same altitudes.
The family is characterized by various traits such as dental formula (i1/1 c0/0 p1/1 m3/3 = 20 teeth) and digits (four on fore foot; three on hind foot). In addition to guinea pigs (Cavia), other members of this family are Patagonian cavies or maras (Dolichotis) and rock cavies, or mocos (Kerodon). All species of this family have been used as food by humans, though only Cavia is known to have been domesticated.The rock cavy
(or moko) is the Olympic champion of the cavy world. This athletic specimen can jump several yards, move quickly and easily over rocky terrain and cliffs, and even climb trees for a leafy snack.
The Berlin Zoo once had a rock cavy that climbed the smooth glass and concrete walls of its enclosure. They prefer to live under boulders and in crevices of mountain areas in southern Brazil.
The false paca
(or long tailed paca) has a rough coat, a large mustache, and a long tail. It is comfortable sitting upright. Rare and seldom seen, the false paca may be facing extinction. Such a shame to lose this unique and precious member of the family.
The nutria (or coypu)
is a marsh-loving animal that digs its burrows in the sloping banks of streams and lakes. Originally from South America, the nutria is now also found along rivers and streams in southern Canada and scattered parts of the U.S. Like the capybara
, the nutria has webbed feet, ears that close shut under water, and is a terrific swimmer.
Adults are about 3 feet long (including a round scaly tail) and weigh 10-20 pounds. These guys look like a cross between a guinea pig and a beaver.
is a big cousin of the cavy. Adults are 30" long and weigh 20-35 pounds. This animal is sometimes incorrectly called a pampas hare, due to its resemblance to a rabbit. The mara can run exceptionally fast, jumps up to 6 feet, and digs deep broad burrows. It lives in dry grasslands and thickets.
> Cavia aperea - - Brazilian Guinea pig: widespread east of the Andes
> Cavia fulgida - - Shiny Guinea pig: eastern Brazil
> Cavia guianae
> Cavia intermedia - - Intermediate Guinea pig: Moleques do Sul islands, Santa Catarina,
Brazil, first described in 1999
> Cavia magna - - Greater Guinea pig: Uruguay, south-east Brazil
> Cavia nana
> Cavia porcellus - - Domestic Guinea pig: wild ancestor unknown found in Brazil
> Cavia tschudii - - Montane Guinea pig: Peru south to northern Chile and north-west Argentina
> Cavy Boliviensis - the high Andes
> Cavy Cutleri - Peru
Kerodon rupestris is considered one of the wild ancestors of the modern guinea pig.
Unlike many animals the boar Guinea Pig is kind to his newborn children. He shows them and his wife affection with a low, contented purr from his throat and often helps the mother take care of her children. When going on a walk or stroll, the new family of guinea pigs will walk with one parent in front and the other behind so that nobody gets lost.
The golden agouti (black hair tipped with red) or cinnamon agouti (chocolate hair tipped with red) colored American cavy, with it's short smooth coat, would most resemble the wild cavy.
The animal called an Agouti, is similar in structure but is not a member of the cavy family. http://www.wellingtonzoo.com/animals/anima...als/agouti.htmlhttp://www.honoluluzoo.org/agouti.htmhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agouti
Technical stuff: According to most biologists, guinea pigs are categorized as follows: class Mammalia; order Rodentia; suborder Hystricognathi; family Caviidae; genus Cavia; species Cavia porcellus. Some researchers choose to elevate the two suborders within Rodentia to the status of order; under this scheme, "true" rodents (squirrels, rats, mice, etc.) are distinguished from so-called "hystricognath" rodents (porcupines, chinchillas, capybaras, mole rats, guinea pigs, etc.). The distinction is primarily a semantic one, since both classification schemes acknowledge two major lineages among the animals known commonly as rodents. In South America, wild or feral cavies inhabit rocky areas, savannas, forest edges, and swamps from Columbia and Venezuela southward to Brazil and northern Argentina. They live in groups of up to about 10 individuals and inhabit burrows that are dug by themselves or by other animals. They are most active at night, when they forage for a wide variety of plant materials. In the wild, guinea pigs mate throughout the year. Females typically give birth twice a year to litters of 1-4 pups. Adults reach a top weight of about 700 grams. The pelage of wild forms is generally courser and longer than domestic short-hair breeds, though it is mostly shorter and straighter than the various long-hair and other fancy breeds. The color is much less variable in wild populations than among domestic cavies. It tends to be uniformly grayish or brownish and may be considered most similar in appearance to some of the solid "agouti" varieties. (See my pic of Jasmine in Step 2 for an example of one of my own, as she is Agouti colored).
One final thing, I was informed of a children's book concerning Guinea Pigs that might be worth a look. It can be gotten @ Teddy & Pip's a Tale of Two Guinea Pigs site