Unlike dogs and cats, guinea pigs don’t feel completely safe living in many homes as pets. They hide a lot and behave in many ways very similar to prey animals.
Despite being cuddly pets, you might be wondering if guinea pigs are wild animals.
No, guinea pigs are not wild animals. They are domesticated species of their wild ancestors.
However, these creatures once lived in the wild many years ago, but this was before their domestication. Moreover, cavies are now domestic animals and are very popular as pets around the world.
The guinea pig species (Cavia porcellus) that you see today are extinct in the wild.
So why guinea pigs don’t live in the wild anymore? How did they become domestic creatures today?
Keep reading to find out!
Why Do Guinea Pigs No Longer Exist in the Wild?
Guinea pigs no longer exist in the wild because they’re all domesticated now. They evolved from their wild ancestors who were also guinea pigs but of a different species.
Furthermore, their evolution from wild to lovable domestic creatures happened through domestication and selective breeding. Humans played a role in the extinction of these creatures in the wild.
It’s equally important to know that this domestication happened for some reasons which we’ll be discussing below:
For Meat (Cuy)
This is the first-ever reason for domesticating guinea pigs. The need for guinea pig meat brought about the change of these creatures from wild animals to domestic livestock.
Moreover, the people in native guinea pig countries like Peru had to hunt these creatures, collect as many as possible and breed them like any other livestock.
This practice continued till these creatures became fully domestic animals and extinct in the wild.
For Companionship (Pets)
Another reason for the extinction of these creatures in the wild was companionship. Guinea pigs turned out to be great small pets other than food.
Hence, people focused more on selective breeding and producing different guinea pig breeds. As this continued, guinea pigs changed and became way different from their wild ancestors.
They began to have more colorful fur, lovable personalities, and a lifestyle that no longer suits living in the wild.
Owing to the increasing demand and need for guinea pigs, many people began guinea pig breeding businesses and selling them for profit.
Today, many businesses and companies market guinea pigs. This involves marketing them for different purposes such as food, pet animals, lab experimentation, etc.
RECOMMENDED READING: WHAT ARE GUINEA PIGS USED FOR?
Where Do Guinea Pigs Live in the Wild Before?
Cavies lived in the wild in South America many years ago. That’s where they originally come from.
See the different South American countries that are native homes to wild guinea pigs below:
- Northern Argentina
- Northern Chile
Furthermore, guinea pigs live in groups in the wild in these countries. Their natural habitats also ranged from low elevations to high ones.
In addition, they make their homes in different environments like forests, grasslands, swamps, and even rocky areas.
However, this is how guinea pigs existed in the wild many years ago in South America. It’s not the same now!
Today, they live as domestic animals both in and outside South America.
READ ALSO: WHERE ARE GUINEA PIGS FOUND IN THE WILD?
In summary, guinea pigs are not wild animals. They are small domestic animals. However, guinea pigs originally lived in the wild before they were domesticated.
The domestication was because of food, companionship, and many other reasons. In the wild, they lived in South American countries like Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, etc.
In addition to this, the cute and cuddly guinea pigs we know today are way different from how they used to be in the wild many years ago.
Undoubtedly, guinea pigs were once wild animals before they were domesticated. Moreover, they are the kind of animals not commonly used as pets.
These are the qualities of exotic animals, right? So, does this mean guinea pigs are exotic pets? Click here to find out!