Guinea pigs are the best known species of the rodent family.
They are extremely popular around the world as a pet and known for their pleasant and tactile nature.
They are very wary animals who know how to survive and look after themselves as well.
So where do guinea pigs come from?
Wild guinea pigs come from an area in South America, in north western Venezuela spanning across to central Chile.
These wild guinea pigs are the original ancestors of the domestic pet guinea pig that we see today.
There are four other members of this genus that exist in the wild. They all exist in South America.
In South America, they live in areas of rocky terrain, the edges of forests and in areas of grass land.
As social animals, they tend to live in groups where they live and support each other.
They reside in burrows which have either been dug by themselves or by other animals and have been abandoned.
These burrows serve as a base for the guinea pigs and help them keep their young safe.
They serve as a place to store their food and to keep cool or warm during extreme temperatures.
Guinea pigs are prey animals and so use their burrows to hide from predators and will then come out at night under cover of darkness to hunt for food.
Guinea pigs and humans have not enjoyed the easiest of relationships.
They were first known to be domesticated as far back as 2000BC.
They have been used since then as pets, for food, for their beautiful coats and also given as gifts.
The were first brought to Europe by English and Dutch traders in the 1700s and they became a popular pet for royalty across Europe.
Since then they have grown in popularity as pets, but wild guinea pigs still exist in the wild today in the Andes region of South America.
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