Guinea pigs originated in the Andes – they do not come from Guinea and they are not pigs! They were introduced into Europe by traders in the 16th century and have become very popular as household pets.
There are three major varieties of guinea pig – the short smooth-coated English American or Bolivian, the harsh-coated rosetted Abyssinian and the long-haired, silky Peruvian.
Some live in the wild in South America and are very social animals who live in large groups in grassy areas. They like to hide in rocks and burrows as they are often prey for larger meat-eating enemies.
They weigh, on average, 1 kilogram and have a life span of 4 to 7 years. They have a whole range of high-pitched squeaks, chatterings, chirrups and grunts and are sure to raise many a smile when they take up residence in the petting area of the farm.