In fact, guinea pigs originate from the Andes region of South America.
They are not related to pigs at all
Even though male guinea pigs are called boars and females are called sows, they are rodents.
They don’t get on with rabbits
It’s a popular myth that you can happily keep guinea pigs and rabbits together. Not only will rabbits bully guinea pigs, they have very different needs. Rabbits can also carry diseases which can be very harmful to guinea pigs.
They scent mark their stuff
Guinea pigs scent mark by rubbing their chin or cheeks across things, which helps keep their home smelling familiar and reassuring. They also drag their bottoms across the ground to leave scent secretions as messages, which are only understood by other guinea pigs.
They only sleep for short periods
Although crepuscular creatures, who are most active during dusk and dawn, guinea pigs are awake for up to 20 hours of the day.
They can break dance
Well, not quite, but when they are excited, guinea pigs can jump straight up and down, often turning 90° in mid-air, performing a slick little move known as ‘pop corning’.
They have an odd number of toes
Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet, but only three on their back ones. While this may be good for tunnelling and burrowing, it means they are not very agile and are very poor climbers who will only manage to scale low-pitched ramps.
They are fast learners
Baby guinea pigs, known as pups, are born with fur and their eyes open and are able to run when only a few hours old – something that comes in very handy for a prey species.
They need vitamin supplements
Just like humans, guinea pigs are not able to make or store Vitamin C. Find out how to make sure they're getting enough vitamin C with our diet guide.
They need to eat lots and lots of hay
Good quality feeding hay should be the main part of a guinea pig’s diet. As mini grazers, not only does this help their digestive system to work properly, gnawing on hay keeps their constantly-growing teeth the right length.
They can lead quite long lives
The average life expectancy for guinea pigs is 4-8 years. However, the oldest recorded guinea pig, called Snowball, lived to the ripe old age of 14 years, 10 months, earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records!