How Did Guinea Pigs Get Their Name? 8 Shocking Facts!

Guinea pigs are common pets but one may wonder “how did guinea pigs get their name?” To tell you, no one is sure where the name guinea pig originated.

Some people think that guinea pigs get their name from the squealing sound which they make.

How Did Guinea Pigs Get Their Name

I have a pet named Ginger, but why did I choose that name?

how did guinea pigs get their name

Well, because Ginger always tries to sneak for that root when she was still a baby. She was so cute, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time I caught her. Thankfully, she hadn’t eaten one and stopped after she sniffed it.

In this blog post, we will further explain many amazing facts about guinea pigs, and the main focus is where the name of these adorable rodents came from.

So, without any more delays, let us get right into the discussion!

How did guinea pigs get their name?

In scientific explanations, guinea pigs are indeed not from the pig family, as to which their name implies.

Here’s the truth:

They came from the Caviidae family that includes mountain cavies and other South American rodents.

How did guinea pigs get their name

We’re clear to the fact that they are not from pigs that goes “oink-oink”.

So now that you know that guinea pigs are not pigs, why are they called like that?

The answer is simple.

These cute rodents make some squeaking sound that resembles piglets, so people added pigs into their name.

However, some sources claim guinea pigs are more like suckling pigs.

Why Are They Called Cavy Or Cavies?

If you are new to being a pet owner, you might wonder why I keep calling guinea pigs cavies, am I right?

Well, the explanation for that is accessible.

The first thing you need to know is that the taxonomic name for these tailless rodents is Cavia porcellus.

Why Are They Called Cavy Or Cavies

Does it ring a bell now? To further explain, cavy and its plural form, which is cavies, are derived from the genus Cavia, so guinea pigs have a shorter name.

It is nice that guinea pigs can be called different names because it’ll be redundant to call them guinea pigs throughout this blog post.

Guinea Pig Facts

There are many interesting facts about guinea pigs that you need to know about them so that you can have enough knowledge about their nature and characteristics.

Guinea Pig Facts

In this part, we are going to discuss some of them. Let’s go!

#1. Why guinea?

They are named guinea because it is believed that when sailors brought these rodents to South America, they sold them for guinea, which is a term for an English coin.

#2. Why pigs?

These animals are not pigs, but they are rodents and originally came from the Andes Mountains, which are located in Peru.

They have the ‘pig’ in their name because their squeaking sound resembles the noise that baby piglets make.  

Truly fascinating!

#3. What’s the sound?

Guinea pigs are adorable and every time their owner enters the room, they would make squeaking sounds.

The squeaking sound represents their excitement and joy.

Ginger, my cavy, would always do that as well.

In her body language, she is happy whenever she sees me, and I am also delighted about it.

#4. Are they extroverts?

Cavies are social animals and live in small groups in their natural habitat. They interact with each other by making different sounds and body movements.

So, it is suggested to keep at least two individuals as pets to make them feel less lonely.

#5. Why do guinea pigs chew a lot?

These cute rodents’ teeth grow continuously as they also grow, that is why they need something to chew or gnaw on every time.

Chewing on something helps them trim their teeth because it will be too bad for them to have 20 very long ones (and they might look scary, though).

For this very reason, I invested in some good quality chew toys for guinea pigs for my Ginger. 

#6. What are the varieties?

There are many different breeds of guinea pigs but mainly three are most common as pets.

Namely, these include the Abyssinian, the Smooth-Coated, and the Peruvian.

#7. Are they vampires?

Cavies are crepuscular, which means that they are mostly active during dusk and dawn.

Guinea pigs’ sleep schedule is not fixed as they take small naps throughout the day and night.

If they are awake, their time is almost spent eating or investigating their cage (super cute!). Oh, they’re like vampires, huh!

#8. What food do they like?

Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means that they feed on plants and not on other animals.

They also love to eat pellets and munch on hay. Vegetables and fruits are also their favorite foods because of the texture when they chew them.

Guinea pigs seem to enjoy oranges and are capable of making Vitamin C for their body, unlike other pets like rabbits.

The Appearance Of A Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are small animals that only weigh about 700 to 1100 grams as an adult.

Their cylindrical bodies have a length of about 8 to 10 inches.

Their mouth is shaped like a triangle and has twenty small teeth to chew their food. A cavy’s ears are small and are in a petal shape.

Guinea Pig Offspring

I might add this part because there is also a difference between the names of male and female guinea pigs.

Males are often called boars, and females are called sows. The baby cavies are known to be called pups (which is another confusion).

Sows are pregnant for about 59 to 72 days before giving birth for an average of three of four babies but the number can rise to thirteen pups in extreme cases.

These cute babies will be matured for about two to three months and can immediately eat solid foods.

Guinea pigs’ high life expectancy is another reason to have them as pets because they can live about 5-7 years.


 Guinea pigs are named so because of an old English coin for which they were sold and the squeaking sound they make.

Some owners name them after their favorite food, and some name them with cute stuff that they can think upon. Many factors can affect that decision, but surely, an owner will know best for her beloved cavy.

Being called a cavy or cavies makes sense that it is derived from its genus Cavia. This blog post is the answer to some common queries regarding guinea pigs and surely one of the most important things to read if you own a guinea pig.

The first time I had Ginger, I was in your shoes and very curious that why they are named so. Calling them pigs and knowing that they are not pigs, bothered me so I immediately researched. 

Thank you very much for reading, now you know “How did guinea pigs get their name?”

May your cavy grow into a healthy and energetic one!

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