Step 6: Some Information, Background and Relatives...

CAVY {cavy} ,
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.

FAMILY: Caviidae
SUBfamily: Caviinae
Caviidae 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.

The mara 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.
> Also:
Cavia anolaimae
> 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.html

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
<p>hi....guys...I hv 4 guiinea pigs babies ,all female..around 3 months old...one of them somehow managed to jump out of the cage...while we were out somewhere ..when we came back we found her exhausted...itz been 24 hours now.....she seems weaker,..almost no activity...I had her hand fed.she ate some hay n pellets..but itz not the same pig now...SHEZ collapsing...her voice has gone...only air comes out when she tries to wheek...shez not running around in the cage...I have put fleece now in place of sawdust that I had before....I hv taken her to a vet but here where I live...nobody has any knowledge about guinea pigs...so the bottomline is ..my guinea pig is dying and I don't hv any access to a good exotic vet..PLEASE REPLY ASAP...ny medicine if I could give her</p>
<p>go to the vet. you can also find some good advice at &lt;a href=&quot;http://guineapigowner.com&quot;&gt;http://guineapigowner.com&lt;/a&gt;</p>
Wow that is awesome I hope it all goes well.?
<p>There is a lot of good stuff here but the guinea pig cage pictured is too small and they are not supposed to run in those 'rodent balls' - this is bad for their backs, they have much shorter and less nimble legs than other rodents.</p>
I asked you a question a couple of weeks (months?) ago and have another. Our baby is having trouble with pooping. Every week or so, sometimes sooner, she gets a large piece of it stuck in her butt. It sticks out and is visible, so we have just been kind of squeezing it out like the vet did when we took her in for her foot. Is this a known issue? We know she is ready cuz she will make these little noises which we mistook for sneezes at first, little grunts of effort as she tries to pass it herself. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hi just saw this. I hope your baby is ok. How old is she? It isn't unusual for guinea pigs (especially males) to have poop problems as they age. The muscles in the rectum begin to relax and not everything gets cleared out, so a little ball forms that has to be cleared out every few days. This happened to our boy when he got to be about 4 years old. Usually as long as it is soft and moist it is easy to gently squeeze it out, but if it seems harder or is causing the piggy distress you can use a q tip with a water based gel (such as ky jelly) to gently clean it out. Hope all goes well with the critter.
Thank you for your advice, unfortunately we took her to the vet and we ended up putting her to sleep. We found her on her back in her cage and it freaked me out and I rushed her in, and when we got there her breathing was really labored so the doctor said we can try antibiotics but I think she's just really old and ready to go. We had no idea how old she was because we got her when she was full grown from the animal shelter, and we'd had her for over a year. So we decided that we didn't want her to suffer and we all gave her kisses and put her down. :( We were having to squeeze her poop out every day, or she would start to make little sneezy sounds as she tried to push it out. Poor baby. And her poo was hard, which made it very uncomfortable for her when we did. RIP Rica
<p>I am so sorry to hear that... well, as long as you can remember her, e will always be in your heart o -</p>
Oh! What a pretty little piggy you had! I am so sorry to hear about your loss. That little piggy looked so sweet! I bet she liked to be petted.
Yes, my wife and I have gone through this scenario many times...
im so sorry about rica
Thank You very much!
so ddid you decied on geting anthor
No, not yet. I just can't imagine having to go through that again. I cried so hard I thought I'd never stop. I have three dogs and two cats though, which is enough to keep me busy!
Yeah, even if you get a Cavie nearly new born, they will probably only last 3-5 years at the most (if there are no health issues)......It is hard to go through it I know, we do so every few years since we always have at least 3-4 of them around :-)
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of one of your friends, they are definitely like friends, and the one's we have are more like family :-)
I'm so sorry. It's a very hard thing to go through when you have to make that decision. We still think about our boy and he's been gone for over ten years - for such little creatures they really have a way of getting into your heart.
Yes, they certainly do.
Aww, what a sweety (sorry I missed seeing your other post). Yes, their excrement IS pretty firm so that wasn't the problem, But yes, they can get blockages too in the bowel and it becomes more difficult for them as they age to move it along, so I believe you did the right thing.<br> <br> Sadly, being so small, they can &quot;turn&quot; so quickly.&nbsp; One day eating and running about and the next not moving&nbsp;much (but&nbsp;when they stop eating or begging for treats, that is a SURE sign of distress).&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;
This means GREENS (spinach, collards, dandilion greens, etc), and not just pellets; best if they will eat it is Timothy Hay.
Has she been getting enough fiber? Timothy hay is the best way to make sure they get it....they'll eat much of it (and then bed in what get soiled :-) But it is a lot lower in stone causing calcium then regular alfalfa hay.<br> <br> &nbsp;&nbsp;She needs plenty of clean water and also other greens with Vitamin C in them (collards, parsley, dandilion {pesticide free}, etc.)&nbsp; It keeps their digestive track moving well.&nbsp;&nbsp; Lettuce of&nbsp;any kind is mostly water, so is of little nutritional value.<br> <br> <br> Doesn't the vet have any suggestions?&nbsp;&nbsp;
She always gets things like carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower on a daily basis, and she of course always has fresh water. I give her plenty of timothy hay too but I have just recently taken over feeding and she didn't always get enough in my opinion. Maybe this is what will help. And no, the vet didn't even seem concerned! PS Do you have any other suggestions of vegetables that she would enjoy? I feel bad giving her the same old thing every day. But she looooves her carrots.
<br> Carrots are considered junk food for Cavies.&nbsp; They are very high in sugar content.<br> Broccoli and cauliflower are of the species <em>Brassica oleracea</em>,&nbsp; and although are ok, they are also full of minerals that may adversely effect your cavy (bladder and kidney stones can be common) unless they are given in moderation with a lot of other greens (the Timothy hay is good, and the parsley, collard greens, and dandelion greens are great too, with an occasional sprinkle of spinach - our gals LOVE spinach LOL but it is high in calcium and so again, moderation).&nbsp;<br> Hopefully they don't have bladder infections.<br> Because the cavy is a prey animal its instincts are to hide pain or illness so you do&nbsp; need to be watchful.<br> <br> One of the lists I normally give out includes: Parsley, turnip greens, kale leaves, collard greens w/o the stems, spinach, dandelion greens and orange slices if they will have them.&nbsp; Some piggies can be a little fussy about high acid fruits. Any of the white, what most humans consider bitter &quot;peel&quot; between the orange colored peel and the fruit itself is appreciated by most piggies, as this contains MOST of the Vitamin C&nbsp; of the fruit, and they seem to know this naturally.<br> <br> Don't feed them the orange colored portion of the peel however, as these are orange only because they were gassed.<br> <br> <br> &nbsp;<br>
Thank You so much for all your advice, it really helps us out. I just had one more question, what about celery? I would guess it's like iceberg lettuce, mostly water, but I'm not sure. Also, she loves to play with cardboard, is that okay? (okay maybe two questions!) Again, thank you so much for your help. And Happy Holidays to you and your little piggies!
Celery in moderation would be ok, just not overly often.<br> <br> We give ours the cardboard tubes that oatmeal comes in (with the label removed of course) and they happily chew on that to help wear down their always growing teeth.&nbsp;&nbsp; And they use it as a hiding place for awhile too.<br> <br> Any cardboard containers that you do use though make sure there is no &quot;printing&quot; on them as they will ingest the ink along with the cardboard. The colored tubes for guinea pigs bought in most pet stores &quot;SHOULD&quot; only be dyed with organic dyes.<br> <br> Hey I am happy to help with anything you need on the subject.&nbsp; I am just so glad you want to make your piggies as happy and healthy as you can.&nbsp; Happy Holidays to you and yours also.,<br> <br> <br>
ours are only 8 weeks old and we got them from aa pet store that is also a customer of mine where i work and he is really knowledgable too! i love them so far
<p>which pet store???</p>
<p>hello, one of my guinea pig broke his upper front teeth. he still manage to eat, but i do help him. my concern is that he didnt poop at all. i checked if it is blocked, but i can not see anything. any advice you would have? i am getting really worry now.</p>
<p>K, here's the thing, DO NOT WORRY! guinea pigs teeth never stop growing, but in this case, teeth may not grow (until... or if... you go to the vet and maybe they will have something to help your precious little guinea pig. they might as well check if there is something blocking.............. well, if you have any questions, just ask me, your trustworthy piggies owner!</p>
<p>well, if you just got him, and he is 3 years old (you should have really gotten younger guinea pig ;) )) then yes, you should try to bathe him. you can check out so instuctables on how to bathe a guinea pig! ( BTW I am an expert on guinea pigs, had and still have 2 for over 7 years ;D )</p>
I just got a guinea pig and he is three years of age and I need to know if I should bathe him or not?
<p>Is your guinea pig a long hair or short hair breed? </p><p>Generally, short haired pigs do not need bathed unless they get themselves into a mess as they will groom themselves to keep clean. </p><p>Long haired pigs will need baths to keep them clean. I recommend a bath every two months. </p>
<p>I might be getting a guinea pig soon thanks this helped</p>
<p>I got two guinea pigs for Christmas and this works Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much!!!!! :D</p>
<p>This is really helpful, I want to get a guinea pig sometime soon, and my birthday's coming up, but my dad's probably not gonna want to get me a guinea pig on my birthday xD I hope he decides too, though. </p>
my wife and i just got 2 and this was really helpfull in our decision making tlo get them, thanks
I hope your cavies live long, healthy lives (long is a relative term meaning for guinea pigs, up to 7 years or so). <br>They can be a real joy when kept healthy and clean.
I just want to say that this is one of the best (if not the best) cavy guide I've seen. My wife and I hand-raised our 3 boys (CJ, gizmo, and mesquite) after their mom died a week after giving birth (petsmart sold mom as a male and surprise!). Mesquite died at 3 weeks but cj and gizmo lived on for almost 7 years. They traveled with us from NC to AK and back to NC. One thing I would add to your guide (unless I missed it) would be make sure their nails are trimmed at least once a month. Also, make sure your vet knows how to treat piggies. Your vet rocks!
Thank you.... <br> <br>Grrrrr, mad at myself for forgetting the nails (I did include the teeth IIRC). <br>Yes, our vet raised them for YEARS and learned a lot about them. Her experience and ours (my wife and mine) are compiled above in synopsis. So much that people never knew about them (one thing I don't remember including was that they don't tolerate well (read: come out of) anaesthesia. The vet confided in us that their skin is extreemly thick for their size and drawing blood for a test is a major task too :-) <br> <br>I am SO glad you found some use in my instructable.
I found a pretty good thing to do was have a small wall partway up the side of the cage, as it helps block drafts and keeps them from kicking stuff out. <br>Last cage I had was one of those big under bed rubbermaid containers with the target brand wire shelving thing (plastic bits that connect it all together in many different ways) around the container. Container fit perfectly withing the wire frame, and extras could be sued to make shelves, a maze for them, or whatever you could think of. No lid needed, and it worked really well. <br> <br>Until I ended up being quite allergic to them, that it.
And that is generally enough. We HAVE had 2 different piggies that were olympic jumpers however. One managed to jump over an 18 inch wall. We were all amazed but had to take stricter measures for her. :-)
2 of my guinea pigs pasted away 1 by lung problem and 1 from another lung problems we had a funeral in our garden, and now i have 2 guinea pigs 1 Patches and 1 Lily. After a while Patches was gonna die lucky we saved him and now he got better. Patches lives on 3 years, hopefully lives on more.
Lung problems &quot;can be caused by&quot; use of Pine or Cedar shavings for bedding. Switching them to Aspen or Paper based products prevents a lot of that.
I rescued a guinea pig from the local shelter, and now she had bumblefoot. I cannot afford to take her to the vet, and they have showed very little interest in small animals before with me, so should I be ok with soaking it in betadine and cleaning her cage constantly? I really don't want to do anything to endanger her, so I guess if I have to take her to the vet, I'll just have to find a way, but doing it ourselves would be so much better. Any advice?
One of ours has it now too.....we are giving her antibiotics and soaking her foot in a perscribed solution the vet gave us......these infections can go into the heart and become very serious.....
Well with a loving owner like you, I have no doubt she will get better in a jiffy and be just fine. She's lucky she has you!
He finally came down with some sort of seizure and nothing was helping him....It is always sad to have to make a decision like that, but the seizures made him look like he was in SO much pain, we just had to put him down.
I sure try :-)
amcord, I am really sorry to say this, but that is one serious infection and your guinea pig needs medical attention right away if you hope to have it survive very long. Sometimes you kind of have to call around for a vet that will help in such cases, but that is about the only thing that will help it now. It probably needs a good dose of anti-biotics. I am sorry it took me so long to get back to you.....I've been kind of swamped.
This is such an informative and interesting 'ible- it makes me want to go out and get some guinea pigs (though I'm a little wary of all the potential problems). I think I'll stick to my Sea Monkeys at present , but have had some lovely little guinea pig pets in the past. Can't go past them for sheer cuteness.<br><br>I'm definitely favouriting this 'ible for future ref, though ;)<br><br>Here's a couple of pictures that I took of children's guinea pigs at the school where I teach; I made them into computer jigsaws (the pictures, not the guinea pigs!) <br><br>

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Bio: I am, most definitely older than 00010101 and to put it simply, still curious about nearly everything :-) I then tend to read and/or experiment ... More »
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