Contrary to popular belief, these adorable rodents did not come from Guinea. So where are guinea pigs from? The cavies originated from South America and the Andes in Peru almost eight million years ago. Unbelievable as it might sound, in those early years the guinea pigs were over 8 feet long and were standing over 3 feet high (just kidding). Today, the heaviest guinea pig is about 6 pounds unlike their ancestors who weighed over a thousand pounds.
While they are kept as pets today, the original guinea (ginny) pigs roamed free and lived in herds. One thing that has not changed about them is that they are extremely social creatures and just like people, they are a lot happier when they have a friend to keep them company.
When the guinea pig was discovered, the people of Peru developed the peculiar habit of worshipping them and exchanging them as gifts and at a certain level it may sound a lot like what young kids are doing today. The medical professionals in the Andes Mountains also believed that they could be used to diagnose diseases by rubbing them against the skin of sick people. Nobody really knows how that worked exactly but they are said to have cured a number of different ailments.
When they were brought to Europe, their popularity grew extremely fast and most people in the upper classes began keeping them as pets. This included royal families for instance Queen Elizabeth the first. Today, half of the world’s population knows about guinea pigs. They make wonderful pets for kids as they are gentle, adorable and easy to maintain.