The guinea pig, cavy or domestic guinea pig, or cuy for livestock breeds, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family Suidae, recent studies applying molecular markers, in addition to studying the skull and skeletal morphology of current and mummified animals, revealed that the ancestor is most likely Cavia tschudii. Since the 1960s, efforts have made to increase consumption of the animal outside South America. In Western societies, the guinea pig has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet since its introduction by European traders in the 16th century. Their docile nature, friendly, even affectionate responsiveness to handling and feeding, biological experimentation on guinea pigs has been carried out since the 17th century. They are still used in research, primarily as models for medical conditions such as juvenile diabetes, tuberculosis, scurvy. The guinea pig was first domesticated as early as 5000 BC for food by tribes in the Andean region of South America, statues dating from circa 500 BC to 500 AD that depict guinea pigs have been unearthed in archaeological digs in Peru and Ecuador. The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted the guinea pig in their art, from about 1200 AD to the Spanish conquest in 1532, selective breeding resulted in many varieties of domestic guinea pigs, which form the basis for some of the modern domestic breeds. They continue to be a source in the region, many households in the Andean highlands raise the animal. Folklore traditions involving guinea pigs are numerous, they are exchanged as gifts, used in social and religious ceremonies. They also play a role in healing rituals by folk doctors, or curanderos, who use the animals to diagnose diseases such as jaundice, rheumatism, arthritis. They are rubbed against the bodies of the sick, and are seen as a supernatural medium, black guinea pigs are considered especially useful for diagnoses. The animal also may be cut open and its entrails examined to determine whether the cure was effective and these methods are widely accepted in many parts of the Andes, where Western medicine is either unavailable or distrusted. Spanish, Dutch, and English traders brought guinea pigs to Europe, the guinea pig was first described in the West in 1554 by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner. Its binomial scientific name was first used by Erxleben in 1777, it is an amalgam of Pallas generic designation, the scientific name of the common species is Cavia porcellus, with porcellus being Latin for little pig. Cavia is New Latin, it is derived from cabiai, the name in the language of the Galibi tribes once native to French Guiana. Cabiai may be an adaptation of the Portuguese çavia, which is derived from the Tupi word saujá. Guinea pigs are called quwi or jaca in Quechua and cuy or cuyo in the Spanish of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia
Two adult guinea pigs
Two parti-colored Abyssinian guinea pigs
This cat has accepted this pair of guinea pigs. The success of this type of interspecies interaction varies according to the individual animals involved.