Are Guinea Pigs from New Guinea?

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When a species is native to a particular place, it sometimes adds to its naming. For example, the Tasmanian devil is native to Tasmania in Australia. 

Now when you think of guinea pigs, you’ll probably wonder the same thing. But are guinea pigs really from New Guinea?

No! Guinea pigs are not from New Guinea. They’re also not little pigs from New Guinea as many might think.

Moreover, guinea pigs are native to America, particularly the southern American continent.

You’ve now learned that guinea pigs are not from New Guinea. You need to know the place of origin of these little creatures.

Where are their native homes? Let’s find out below! 

Where Do Guinea Pigs Originally Come From?

Guinea pigs come from different countries in South America where they naturally live. 

You can see that their naming doesn’t have anything to do with where they’re from. These creatures are called guinea pigs for a different reason.

Moreover, the different places guinea pigs come from are:

  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Venezuela
  • Columbia
  • Uruguay
  • Northern Chile
  • Guyana
  • Northern Argentina
  • Paraguay

In addition, guinea pigs live in the wild in all of these South American countries listed above. However, this was a long time before they were domesticated.

Presently, guinea pigs no longer exist in the wild in South America. They now live as domestic animals.

What Did Guinea Pigs Evolve From?

The guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) we know today evolved from their wild ancestors. These ancestors were also guinea pigs but of different species. 

However, the particular species of wild guinea pigs that were domesticated are not yet known. What’s certain is that the present guinea pigs evolved from these ancestors.

Furthermore, the evolution of guinea pigs had much effect on their behavior more than on their physical features. 

As guinea pigs evolved through domestication and selective breeding, they’ve become more social, lovable, and cuddly.

You’ll never think these little creatures lived in the wild before.

Are Guinea Pigs From the New or Old World?

Undoubtedly, guinea pigs are New World animals. Know that New World species are animals that are found in the Americas alone. 

The Americas (or America) here includes both American continents – South America and North America. In addition, guinea pigs are native to countries in the South American continent. 

Hence, this makes it clear that guinea pigs are from the New World.

Furthermore, you can say guinea pigs are from the Old World only if they were native to places like Africa, Asia, or Europe.

These locations are referred to as the Old World. However, it’s certain that guinea pigs are not from any of these locations. 

Female Capybara with Two Cubs - Guinea Pigs'Relatives

Guinea pigs are closely related to members of their Caviidae family. 

They share similar characteristics like their large heads, stocky bodies, and hairless sole of the feet. See some guinea pigs’ relatives below:

  • Rock cavies
  • Yellow-toothed cavies
  • Maras (e.g. Patagonian maras, Chacoan maras, etc.)
  • Capybaras

However, if you ever thought guinea pigs were related to pigs, you’re wrong. Pigs aren’t even distant relative to guinea pigs. These little creatures are so much different from pigs.

In addition, some distant relatives of guinea pigs are agoutis, chinchillas, and porcupines. These animals are equally rodents like guinea pigs.


Final Thoughts

To conclude, guinea pigs are not from New Guinea. They’re native to countries in South America like Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, etc.

The cuddly guinea pigs we know today evolved from their ancestors that live in these South American countries many years ago. 

Furthermore, guinea pigs are from the New World since they are native to South America. This continent along with North America is New World.

Moreover, if guinea pigs were native to places like Africa, Asia, or Europe, then they would be considered an Old World species.

Since guinea pigs are domestic pets, does this mean they can live anywhere in the world?

If you’ve thought of living outside California with your cavy, click here to find out if it’s a good idea! 

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