Not in the pig family, nor do they originate from Guinea
September 5, 2016 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Guinea Pigs: not just symbols of science. Loyal friends to other species! Adorable eaters of watermelon! Talented actors! If your lifestyle is compatible with their needs, they make wonderful pets, and are available at numerous rescues. [previously]
posted by wheek wheek wheek (35 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eponycutenes.
Wheet wheet wheet indeed!
posted by BlueHorse at 7:05 AM on September 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, in addition to not being pigs or from Guinea, in Spanish they are called "conejos de India". Needless to say, they are also neither rabbits nor from India.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:14 AM on September 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


I had a guinea pig I loved as a kid, he (I think, vets gave us different opinions), was named Oreo and I was very very allergic to him. I'd take him out of his cage and play with him until my I couldn't see and was covered in hives and then I'd put him back while I recovered.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:27 AM on September 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


Not to traumatize animal lovers (and I haven't tried this personally) but: NPR: From Pets To Plates: Why More People Are Eating Guinea Pigs
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:34 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


They started out as 'readily available protein sources'. I understand they would just run loose in the Andean houses until needed for a meal.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


posted by wheek wheek wheek

I suspect self-linking.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:55 AM on September 5, 2016 [24 favorites]


One of the oddities of the guinea pig is that it's one of the few animals in which penicillin is toxic, because it has an unusual gut flora. Hence the popular factoid that if penicillin had been tested on them early on, it would never have have made it through development. Which is true and not true.
posted by Devonian at 8:03 AM on September 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


In the otherwise unmemorable novel "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" by H.F. Saint, the protagonist finds himself near a protest where a group of protestors are about to blow up a guinea pig for, I dunno, symbolism. He decides this cannot stand so he decided to rescue the animal and release it, but then confronts the question many of us have pondered: where the hell do guinea pigs live in the wild?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:03 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, in addition to not being pigs or from Guinea, in Spanish they are called "conejos de India". Needless to say, they are also neither rabbits nor from India.

What do the Spanish say when they need to carry out experiments on something?
posted by biffa at 8:23 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


where the hell do guinea pigs live in the wild?

In South America.

I had one as a kid. I used to put him out on the lawn, in a big bottomless cage I made from a screen door and some hardware cloth. He loved it, and the lawn loved it. Then one day he was gone. Either he somehow lifted a corner of the cage, or some neighbor kid or other predator took him out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:23 AM on September 5, 2016


mmmmmmmm cuy
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:41 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


While passably tasty, the bone to meat ratio is far too high for a satisfying roast. Best in soups.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:49 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, in addition to not being pigs or from Guinea, in Spanish they are called "conejos de India".

In Spain also cobayas, from the tupí language (probably). In Peru it's cuy from the quechua, in Chile cuyi, and so on.

What do the Spanish say when they need to carry out experiments on something?

In Spain, either conejillos de indias (the diminutive is more idiomatic) or cobayas.
posted by sukeban at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


What do the Spanish say when they need to carry out experiments on something?

Same as us: conejo de indias or conejito de indias. Or they use the native word for the animal: cobayo. Although many regions call the animal by another native name, cuy, this tends not to be used as a figurative expression. "Cuy" actually tends to be for the animal as food.

It does, in fact, taste like chicken, only much more chewy. It's also usually served with its face, teeth, and claws still attached.

On preview: Beaten to the punch!
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:01 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Doesn't taste at all like chicken. Chicken is essentially flavour-neutral. Cuy meat is very flavourful.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2016


We have three. I'm curious about how they taste but think the children would never forgive me.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:26 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nosey is not thrilled about your speculation as to her flavour. Also not sure about being set on the table. [Obligatory guinea pig link.]
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:43 AM on September 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


As a child, my first pets were guinea pigs, and now my daughter's first pets are guinea pigs too. They're really great if you want something that's cute and furry but lower-maintenance than a cat or dog.

There's way more easily-available information about guinea pig care available these days, compared to thirty years ago. We have a guinea pig right now that is perfectly healthy at about five years old, which is significantly older than my childhood pets' lifespans. We adopted her as part of a pair from a local rescue a few years ago. She just spent last week as a boarder at the rescue while we were out of town on vacation.
One of the oddities of the guinea pig is that it's one of the few animals in which penicillin is toxic, because it has an unusual gut flora.
Guinea pigs are also some of the only animals (along with humans) that do not produce vitamin C internally, and must get it from their diet instead. This played an important part in the 20th-century (re-)discovery of the cure for scurvy (previously).
posted by mbrubeck at 9:51 AM on September 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


where the hell do guinea pigs live in the wild?

In South America.


ok so the biggest rcc cathedral complex in qusqu is built on the ruins of old incan temples and other sacred buildings, specifically the one to viracocha in the center of town. like of course the douchebag conquistadors were all "no, sorry, we will destroy ur gods as we will destroy all of u, lol," and tore down all the old bldgs and replaced them with churches made from the same stones as a extra F YOU AND UR HEATHEN SHENANIGANS to the incans.

anyway the majority of the artwork done inside all these cathedrals is the work of incans trained in renaissance painting methods at art schools set up throughout the andean colonies specifically to train indigenous artists how to paint in the accepted european church art fashion, as part of their efforts to exterminate native customs and religions and languages. but it didn't work out exactly as they planned, because the indigenous artists kept sticking local familiar things into their works, like native plants and animals.

tl;dr there are a bunch of very elaborate beautifully gold-leafed cathedral paintings of the last supper in which jesus and the disciples are eating cuy and drinking chicha.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2016 [24 favorites]


A coworker and I shared custody of two guinea pigs at work about a decade ago. It was great!

People would come in and ask to borrow one of them for a cuddling session at their desks, or just come and hang out with them. They lived in two large aquarium tanks (sans water, obviously) and seemed to really enjoy the nonstop attention. You'd often hear a WHEEK WHEEK WHEEK coming from deep inside the cube farm.
posted by vickyverky at 10:05 AM on September 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Okay, but kids everywhere want an answer to the age old question of whether their eyes will fall out if you pick them up by the tail.
posted by JackFlash at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Guinea pigs have no tails! You're thinking of hamsters or gerbils.

Pro tip: if your guinea pigs have babies (which ours were allowed to with some regularity), they will be born with eyes open, ready to stumble around immediately. The best source of fun is putting them in a well-furnished dollhouse and letting them wreak havoc. (I attribute my childhood time doing this as the source of my high tolerance for watching user testers struggle with interfaces. "Oh, you're going out *there*? I thought it was a window, but clearly it's a door. And yes, I think the fridge looks much better sideways." *makes notes for the devs*)
posted by gusandrews at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


My brother got a pair of guinea pigs for his birthday when he was little. They were both females, and as we discovered soon after, they came home from the pet store pregnant. From previous experience with my sister's hamsters, we expected gross, hairless, ugly little babies when they were born. We were thrilled to see that they were just mini versions of adult piggies, eyes open, all their hair, ready to go. Newborn guinea pigs are some of the cutest things you will ever see.
posted by azpenguin at 11:09 AM on September 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


Guinea pigs have no tails!

They did until some jerk picked them up by their eyes!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:09 AM on September 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


They're really great if you want something that's cute and furry but lower-maintenance than a cat or dog.

I disagree, at least WRT cats. As I said, I had a cavy as a kid, and my wife had one as an adult. We now have a cat and a rabbit. The rabbit requiress about as much maintenance as the guinea pig, but the cat is far, far less work. Or maybe you don't clean your cavy's cage as often as my wife did.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:56 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I want to publicly thank azpenguin for an awesome squee-inducing image google topic. Baby guinea pigs are indeed one of the cutest things ever!
posted by holyrood at 12:39 PM on September 5, 2016


We have three. I'm curious about how they taste but think the children would never forgive me.
"Did you check everywhere? ...under the desk?"
posted by ftm at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Guinea pig babies!!!! (youtube link) Squeee!
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:09 PM on September 5, 2016


"Not under the desk, hmmm? Maybe in the barbecue sauce?"
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:28 PM on September 5, 2016


Thank you for posting this, wheek wheek wheek. I will never forget (recover from?) my experience with these gentle beings. I had dogs and cats, and even a pet rabbit and rats when I was growing up, but never had a guinea pig. Had never spent any time with one, and really never gave any thought to why one would want to. Guinea pigs came into my life much later, when, as a grown adult with no children in need of America's go-to "starter" pet "to help teach them responsibility," I found an abandoned guinea pig (cage and all) on top of a dumpster in the alley behind my house. You can see a photo of that handsome fella (Arthur!) in my profile. I carried Arthur upstairs, cursing under my breath both the heartless asshole who discards a frightened animal in the literal trash, and also Arthur for making me late for work while failing to be something I understood, like a rabbit.

Long story short: I learned to understand. Arthur--and soon after, his rather elegant but decidedly assertive habitat-mate, Sheila, another (although a less desperate situation) rescue (turns out, you can have guinea pigs neutered if you find an experienced "exotics" vet--and as social, prey animals guinea pigs REALLY DO need to live with another guinea pig friend!)--were a colorful, easy-going, ever-amusing, and almost always joyful part our every day for the ~six full years of their natural lives that they shared with my husband and me. I still miss them. My life is better because of their part in it.

(Here's a video I made with Arthur and Sheila.
posted by applemeat at 7:43 PM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


mmmmmmmm cuy - posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates


^ A public service for those who enjoy Metafilter, and yet also long for the rich wit and earthy immediacy of a half-asleep teenager's YouTube tl;dr.
posted by applemeat at 8:18 PM on September 5, 2016


Tell Me No Lies: While passably tasty, the bone to meat ratio is far too high for a satisfying roast.

Yup, not a lot of meat on them (sorry, little rodent - you were on the menu, and I was in Peru). I can't say the flavor was particularly something worth facing the wrath / sorrow of your kids, TBH.

poffin boffin: anyway the majority of the artwork done inside all these cathedrals is the work of incans trained in renaissance painting methods at art schools set up throughout the andean colonies specifically to train indigenous artists how to paint in the accepted european church art fashion

Here's an example of modern artists keeping some of that tradition alive. There were piles of similar modern paintings, unframed, in various shops in Cusco, and they weren't very expensive (for a tourist from the US).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:30 PM on September 5, 2016


I rescued a pink-eyed white mouse left behind by a tenant and cared for it for about a year (RIP Cuica!). So when a friend posted on Facebook that she was going to list her guinea pig , I thought I would spare the cruel uncertainty of a craigslist ad, and take the guinea pig. After all, the mouse was little trouble and a cute addition. After I got the little guy (Surdu) I did some reading. I learned the little cage he came in was too small, hideys were not optional, cheap hay and cheap fill were not optimal, and neither was the fact that he was solo. I also learned they eat leafy greens and other veggies twice a day. So I got a C&C nearly as big as a twin bed, layered with towels and topped with fleece, with lots of hideys. Found the best hay. Then I rescued another one, for the first one.
I don't know about ideal pets for kids, but as long as you don't mind sweeping up a little poo twice a day and assembling little mini-salads with a variety of leafy greens and groovy tasting herbs and veggies and maybe a little fruit, they are content little tribble things who make adorable noises.
And their LIPS. And their humor.

posted by Jezebella at 8:11 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Omg how could I forget THEIR LIPS
posted by gusandrews at 8:56 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Another pro tip: parents, guinea pigs make excellent alarm clocks. My parents used to wake me up by putting one in my bed. It was nice to snuggle for a little while but even half asleep I was aware I only had so much time before it released a stream of their acrid, curiously milky urine.

The guinea pig alarm clock was such a part of my life that long after ours passed away, I would sometimes jolt awake in the morning imagining Shannon, the orange and white one, lifting his head on the sheets beside me and issuing a loud WEEEEEEET!
posted by gusandrews at 9:01 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


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