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All guinea pigs that are domesticated, also known as cavies, were created from the wild guinea pigs which their scientific name is Cavia aperea of Brazil and Peru. They were domesticated by the Incas over 500 years ago and brought to Europe by the Spaniards.
The term 'guinea' may be a mispronunciation of the South American country of Guyana it is thought. Or another alternative is that it could be that when Spaniards called at ports in Guinea, and then arrived back in Spain, that the animals had come from Guinea so people thought.
Guinea pigs are used as a source of food in their native regions. Folk doctors in the Andes use guinea pigs to detect illness in people. They believe that when the rodent is pressed up against a sick person, it will squeak when near the source of disease.
Guinea pigs live for 4-8 years.
Guinea pigs inhabit grassland and rocky regions from Peru to North Argentina.
Wild guinea pigs live in family groups and occupy underground burrows. They are active at dawn and dusk and feed on grass and leaves.
They breed in the summer with the female producing a litter of 1-4 young after a gestation period of 60-70 days. The young are well developed and look like miniature versions of their parents when they are born. They are able to survive on their own after 5 days.
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